How’s it going this Monday morning?  I heard some of the eastern coast of America got hit pretty badly with snow this past weekend!  I have to say, as much as I dislike the weather here in Scotland, I am pleased not to be surrounded by freezing temperatures and snow.   I grew up in northern New Hampshire, and lived most of my life in New England and New York, so, I know how frustrating (and also how fun?) snow storms can be!

The other day I was re-watching, “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and I came across an episode when Titus used the word, snowbesity to describe a person who you can’t tell if they are fat or not because they are wearing a winter jacket.

 

 

While my first thought was, “that is a funny word”, my second thought was, “who cares if somebody is overweight or not?”  And my third thought was about how there never seems to be a time that isn’t the “right” time to start convincing people that they need to change their bodies.  In the winter, it’s all about getting ready for spring break.  In the spring, it’s all about maintaining the now ultra-offensive term, “bikini body” for the summer.  In the autumn, it’s all about getting into that “little black dress” for the holidays.  Over the holidays, it’s all about changing for the new year and starting a clean slate — this is the year you’ll get your body back!

“Skinny bitch.” “Fat bitch.”  “You’re unhealthy.”  “You shouldn’t wear that.” “Dad bod.”

It seems like society is more judgmental than ever.  It’s on both sides of the coin and it’s got to stop.

We never get a break from feeling like we’ve got to change.  That we’ve got to look better.  The cycle seems like it will never end either.  However, changes are taking place and while the shift is still evolving and it’s momentum is growing, the body positivity movement is a real thing, and you can be a champion for its cause too.

I struggle with loving my body.  I struggle with keeping my weight off.  I struggle with taking compliments.  I also have made the, “when I’m thinner, I will _” statements.  I do all of this, and I am a personal trainer and nutritional therapist.  Nobody is immune when it comes to feeling insecure or uncomfortable in their body.

I, for one, am so tired of all the body shaming and all the superficial bullshit.  I think most of us are.  So, this week I want to share a  TED Talk from an influential person working to bring greater understanding of what makes us feel uncomfortable in our skin and how we can all be more patient and loving to ourselves and our bodies regardless of size.

The TED Talk I chose for today is from fashion model; Ashley Graham called, “Plus-size? More Like My Size.”   In this talk, she discusses why she believes there is more than one body type and that we all possess a wonderfully unique and diverse physique that shouldn’t be defined by anybody but ourselves.

Preach, girl.  Preach.  Enjoy, you guys!

[Tweet “Body Confidence Talks #SelfLove #BodyPositivity @AshleyGraham via @BeetsPerMinute”]

Do you believe the size current is shifting?  Isn’t Ashley amazing?

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Happy Friday! This week has been super stressful, but I was able to accomplish things way ahead of schedule so let’s pop champagne for that! (Unless you don’t drink in which case have some chocolate?)

This week’s posts were all about addressing some of the areas we can let negativity dictate our lives without even knowing it. Whether is’s giving yourself ultimatums, taking criticisms personally, or the inability to accept compliments — we have got to be better aware and to shift the way we talk to ourselves.

Today I want to share a video with you that is one of my absolute favourites. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the London-based psychologist, Marisa Peer, but if you’re not, you should be. This video is a talk she gave at AwesomeFest called, “The Biggest Disease Affecting Humanity: I Am Not Enough” and it is brilliant. If you have ever asked yourself the question, “Am I enough?” this talk is for you.

[Tweet “If you have ever asked yourself this question, “Am I enough?” You need to see this. #SelfImprovement #IAmEnough via @BeetsPerMinute”]

I wanted to close off the week with this inspirational video.

And something for you to print out and put on your mirror/desk/computer/wherever.

Iamenough

You’re welcome.

Have a great weekend!

How was your week? 

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So I saw the latest Dove Beauty Experiment several weeks ago, and I’ve been thinking to myself about it ever since.  Being that it’s Thursday, and I’m allowed to #TOL, let’s link-up with Amanda at Running with Spoons, and discuss my latest rant, shall we?

 

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Please don’t jump on me yet!  CONTROVERSY ahead, but please hear me out!  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of Dove Beauty experiments that have resonated with me — and made me want high five each and every member of their team — but this latest one, I don’t really care for.

In case you haven’t seen it, or didn’t click on the video above, the experiment took place in cities around the globe.  Two sets of entrance doors to buildings were transformed into a set of “beautiful” doors and “average” doors, and each woman passing through had to make a choice about themselves; do I choose to see myself as beautiful or average? Some headed straight through either door, some hesitated and changed their minds, and I think even a few walked away.  I probably would have walked away myself, but not because I couldn’t decide, but because the whole experiment rubs me the wrong way.

NO, I don’t think there is any harm in asking women to think about how they see themselves, or to be honest about what their self-perception is.

I just wonder why the only two options are “Beautiful” and “Average”.  Why isn’t there a “Clever” or “Original” or “Amazing” or “Strong” door to choose?

I know it’s a beauty campaign and the word “beautiful” could be assumed in its use to encompass clever, original, amazing, and strong, but why why WHY must those qualities have to be assumed under the (more superficial) blanketed label,  “beautiful“?

This is where (I think) the latest Dove Beauty Experiment failed.

“Choose whether you find yourself to be beautiful or average.”

Beautiful or average?

What if you don’t choose to see yourself as just either of those two?  Seriously, we’re ALL so much more than beautiful or …I’m already sick of saying it, average.

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I think this experiment is taking steps away from an empowerment message about what makes women beautiful.  That message, in my opinion, is to see themselves as capable and multidimensional people who don’t need to define their self-worth as being one of two superficial choices.

choosemore

Dove, I love what you do for my skin and hair and I’m ALL about you showcasing photoshopped images to us that prove how badly the advertising industry wants us to all hate ourselves “just enough”.

However, limiting a woman’s choice to be between “beautiful” or “average” missed an even bigger opportunity.

The bigger opportunity to allow women to choose more, because choosing to see yourself as beautiful should be about more than just liking what’s in the mirror.

As a woman, I don’t always find my biggest struggles to be whether or not I see myself as beautiful or average.  Truly, my biggest struggles are whether or not I see myself as capable, strong, and respected.

That being said, if I choose to think that labeling myself as capable or strong also makes me beautiful, that’s my choice, but it’s not my first choice.

While it’s important that we all  #ChooseBeautiful for ourselves, it’s also important that we all #ChooseMore for ourselves first.

[Tweet “Where (I Think) The Latest Dove Beauty Experiment Failed via @BeetsPerMinute  #ChooseMore”]

What do you think of the Dove #ChooseBeautiful experiment?  Do you think we should #ChooseBeautiful or #ChooseMore?

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Why My “Imperfect” Body Makes Me A Better Trainer

I grabbed your attention, I hope!  The other day I was watching a video by the fantastic Miss Cassey Ho of Blogilates, called The Perfect Body.  

Wow.  It spoke to me, and I’m sure it spoke to you.  I feel for Cassey and the message she is sharing, because, let’s face it, we’ve all had people judge us by our looks. It happens all the time in life, but when you get judged based on the way you look as a basis for your professional ability, that is a whole other issue!

The thing is, I’ve heard that sort of stuff being said about me too.

“You’re a trainer?  You don’t look like one.”

“She isn’t even fit.”

“But you’re not skinny.”

whatever, you’re mean

I don’t know when it happened, but people have their soapboxes piled to the sky these days, and it’s getting old.

By the way, I throw the word imperfect in *quotes* because it’s such a bullshit term.  Seriously, how many times do you hear in a day/week/month/year, “there’s no such thing as perfect, ” but yet it’s so easy to judge people for being less than this so-called status?

I’ve heard all sorts of (albeit rhetorical) questions about professionals and appearance, and, after giving it some thought, I also came up with the following responses.

Would you go to an overweight doctor?  Yes, most of my doctors have been slightly overweight, and when I was sick, they helped me get better.

Would you go to a hairdresser with bad hair?  Plenty of hairdressers I have been to do things to their hair that I would NEVER do, but they still make me look great, so yes, I do and I would.

Would you go to a dermatologist with bad skin?  Yes, I have also done this, in fact, my dermatologist told me the reason he got into the field was that of his personal suffering with painful cystic acne his entire adolescence.  He uses his genuine connection to help others every day, scars and all.

What’s my point here?

My point is that just because these professionals don’t look like what (supposing you pigeonhole people based on their physical appearance) a doctor, hairdresser, or dermatologist  “should”  look like, doesn’t diminish the quality of services they are trained to provide.  In fact, the very reason they most likely became interested in their field, probably came from their personal experiences or struggles, which motivated them to want to help others.  It also means, they are only human and still struggle.

All of these observations applies to the fitness world as well, if not more so.  Many people think that because a person is a trainer or fitness instructor, they should have 0% body fat and look like a fitness model.  While some trainers do look this way, a lot of us, well, don’t.  I am not a heavy person, but I am petite and curvy, and even though I have muscular legs and arms, I don’t have a washboard stomach and probably never will.

My “imperfect” body makes ME a better trainer.

I know, in this society, I am a walking advertisement.  And just because maybe I don’t look the way another person believes that I should, doesn’t mean I’m any less talented or worthy of what I do.

true.

When I was at my ZUMBA licensing, our ZES (Zumba Education Specialist) was incredible; she exuded confidence by being bubbly, energetic, and shaking it like it’s nobody’s business.  She’s also not a size 4 or 6, and doesn’t apologize for it – she is awesome at what she does, and that’s all that matters!  At about 5 hours into the training, she sat down to talk to our group about the importance of not judging people or allowing people to judge us by our size.

You don’t know why a person is out of shape or overweight, and believe me, I used to be one of those quick to judge types. Years ago, I probably NEVER would have listened to a person my size trying to teach me about how to make other people fit, but I have struggles and ZUMBA is what gave me my life back.  Don’t deny that from others and don’t allow anyone to judge your ability to lead based on how they view your body.”

However, people do this all the time, and it’s got to stop.

I’m not a good trainer because of what I look like.  I’m a good trainer because I’ve BEEN THERE.  I’ve been overweight.  I’ve struggled with bulimia and emotional eating. I’ve overexercised and injured myself.  I went through periods of despising physical activity.  I have struggled, and I have overcome, and I can help others do the same.

I used to be a person who didn’t have the tools to make myself healthy, and NOW I HAVE THEM.

I know how much work and commitment it takes.  I know that changing your life and working out isn’t easy.

I’m not always going to be the best fit for some people, but for others, I might create a sense of challenging comfort or a relatable struggle.

My body fat percentage and abs are not what make me a better trainer.

What makes me a better trainer is:  I’m the struggle and the progress, and whether the package I come in changes from pregnancy, aging, illness, or just a series of life events, the service, and passion I provide will be the same.  The only lasting change will be the wisdom I gain along the way – and that, in my opinion, can only make me more valuable.

I’m linking up with Jessica and Jill for #DishTheFit today and you should too! 

Do you feel fitness professionals have a duty to “look” the part?  Have you ever not taken a class because the instructor “isn’t fit”?  Do you believe in fitness at any size?

 

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This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, a week that is very important to me and so many other people throughout the world. An eating disorder is one of the most painful and challenging disorders out there and is also a disease that affects nearly 30 million people in their lifetime.  I am one of those people.  Eating disorder issues have not only been a problem of my own, but also have affected other members of my family and my friends.

I have suffered from bulimia nervosa since the age of 18.  I have also suffered from binge eating disorder since the age of 25.  This is something people who know me are usually aware of, but it is always something that I struggle with and have felt ashamed of for nearly half of my life.

My bulimia was not limited to binging and purging, but also overexercising, abuse of laxatives, diuretics and dangerous diet pills as well as self-destructive social behaviors.

People who have bulimia nervosa judge themselves harshly on their body weight and shape. In order to help them cope with these feelings, they follow a strict diet to try to lose weight. But over time the hunger from the strict diet triggers them to binge eat. After binge eating, they feel out of control, ashamed, guilty, and afraid of gaining weight. This distress causes them to purge, in hopes of “undoing” any possible weight gain from the binge.

My problem wasn’t always obvious to those closest to me, because I had always maintained a normal weight and often times was slightly overweight.  However, despite the fact that I didn’t look sick, I was suffering from a disease that was controlling my mind and body and was deteriorating my quality of life.  Much like an individual suffering from anorexia nervosa, people with bulimia become obsessed with their weight and appearance.  The obsessive nature of an eating disorder drives its victims to a sometimes very dark place; a place where reality is no longer an option and pain and punishment seem like the only feelings possible.  I spent a long part of my life feeling like I should be or was being punished for being less than what I thought was acceptable.  I spent years avoiding social situations, mirrors, and cameras so that I could avoid any form of feedback about myself.  If I could have disappeared, I would have happily done so.

Over the past several years, after the death of my father and my renewed love of fitness, I have learned to come to terms with the value of my health.  By finally shifting my focus to health, I have been able to lead a much more normal life; a life where I feel thankful for the body I am in rather than feeling ashamed of it.

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2007                                                                                       2015

Dealing with a person suffering from an eating disorder can be very frustrating.  My eating disorder threatened and destroyed many of my relationships with other people.  I mean, come on, is it easy to sit around and listen to a person rip themselves to shreds verbally? Hell no.  Is it easy to watch a person you love run their body into the ground and harm themselves day in and day out?  Hell no.  Is it easy to feel powerless and unable to help a person you care about who is hurting?  Hell no.  This is why often times an individual suffering from an eating disorder can actually wind up feeling more alone than ever. However it’s important to know that there are things you can do to help yourself if you or someone you love is a person suffering from an eating disorder.

        • Focus on feelings and relationships, not on weight and food. Share your memories of specific times when you felt concerned about the person’s eating behavior. Explain that you think these things may indicate that there could be a problem that needs professional help.

 

 

        • Tell them you are concerned about their health, but respect their privacy. Eating disorders are often a cry for help, and the individual will appreciate knowing that you are concerned.

 

 

        • Do not comment on how they look. The person is already too aware of their body. Even if you are trying to compliment them, comments about weight or appearance only reinforce their obsession with body image and weight.

 

 

        • Make sure you do not convey any fat prejudice, or reinforce their desire to be thin. If they say they feel fat or want to lose weight, don’t say “You’re not fat.” Instead, suggest they explore their fears about being fat, and what they think they can achieve by being thin.

 

 

        • Avoid power struggles about eating. Do not demand that they change. Do not criticize their eating habits. People with eating disorders are trying to be in control. They don’t feel in control of their life. Trying to trick or force them to eat can make things worse.

 

 

        • Avoid placing shame, blame, or guilt on the person regarding their actions or attitudes. Do not use accusatory “you” statements like, “You just need to eat.” Or, “You are acting irresponsibly.” Instead, use “I” statements. For example: “I’m concerned about you because you refuse to eat breakfast or lunch.” Or, “It makes me afraid to hear you vomiting.”

 

 

        • Avoid giving simple solutions. For example, “If you’d just stop, then everything would be fine!”

 

     Adapted from: National Eating Disorder Information Center and National Eating Disorders Association.

While I would love to say that I’m “cured” of my issue, I am not.  An eating disorder will sadly never be far from me, but having support and being aware of my ED tendencies does help me to avoid relapsing.  One thing that has really helped me to stay away from the binge/purge cycle has been utilizing the ability to talk about my feelings.  Sometimes I feel like I may be “burdening” my friends, family, and husband talking about how I feel or my anxiety, but I know that just getting those feelings out of me is what is helping to keep me straight.  The truth is we have to feel to heal.  The minute I told another person how I was suffering, I knew it was the first step to getting my life back. I encourage anybody else out there who is suffering with an eating disorder to please talk to someone you can trust and start the path to recovery.  There are lots of resources for friends and family to help a loved one who may be suffering from this painful disorder. Please visit The National Eating Disorders Association’s website for more information on how you can help yourself and others begin the path of health and healing.

Have you or someone you know been affected by an eating disorder? How have you offered support to a friend or family member suffering with an eating disorder? Are you on your own recovery path?

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