What if I don’t want razor abs or a “thigh gap”?

As a woman, I feel like we are expected to strive for flat stomachs, thigh gaps, and a sleek physique.  I have always hated my love handles and “muffin top”, something that I have struggled with my entire life.  I have always felt like I jiggled a little too much in too many places, and yearned for that flat stomach.  I thought that eating less food, and taking up jogging/running was the answer.  But my problem was, I thought that was the only answer.  And I thought that this was the only body that was “acceptable” and that this is what I should be striving for.  So when I would try running, and hated it, I felt doomed to ever feel good about myself, because no matter what routine, style, etc. that I tried, I hated it.  I didn’t realize that there are many types of people and many types of bodies.  I also have Hashimoto’s Disease.  I have been living with it for over a decade, and although it presents challenges, I don’t want to use it as a crutch.

I have been feeling displeased with my body, and one day, out of the blue, thought “well, what if I don’t want a six pack?!”.  And I got to thinking…….What if I don’t want a perfectly sculpted body?  What if I don’t mind if my thighs touch, or my stomach jiggles a little?  What if I don’t want to be a runner?!  Now, I am not suggesting unhealthy lifestyles, but rather, the expectations I had been carrying around for myself were unrealistic, and not very well thought out.  I didn’t ever truly think about what I ACTUALLY wanted for myself, I just thought about what I felt I SHOULD be wanting.  I just assumed that is what I should look like, and being a runner with razor abs is what I should be striving for.  It was like a switch flipped in my brain.  After some reflecting and long conversations with the Artist, my goals and aspirations became more clear….

I want to…

  • exercise regularly doing a variety of activities, and lift even heavier weights then I already do
  • improve my yoga practice
  • get a minimum of 8 hours of quality sleep every night, 9 is actually my preferred amount for me to feel well rested
  • eat a clean, whole foods diet

I DO NOT want to…

  • rely on meal replacements or other “diet” products
  • be a runner/jogger, because that is not me or where my interests are, nor do I not enjoy it…kudos to all you runners out there!  Doing what you love is the most important thing!
  • wake up at 4am every morning to work out
  • want to work out in my living room (I know this works well for others, and that is awesome, but this is not for me.  My living room is my special relaxing space, where I read, listen to music and spend time with my Artist, and I do not want it associated with working out.)

I want to aim to incorporate exercise and fitness into my life, and NOT the reverse- trying to fit some “life” into my exercise schedule.  But mainly, I want to feel healthy, energetic, and most importantly: STRONG.  As I said above, there are different types of people and different types of bodies- we are all different!  And if we are all different we should have a variety of goals, and I should not be comparing myself or my goals to others.  I consider myself as “thick” and “dense”, and for the first time, I am perfectly ok with that.

The Artist and I are 2 months into our new workout routine.  To simplify, our routine goes as follows: lift often (3 times a week for us), and left heavy.  That is all (with the occasional walk or bike ride thrown in there).  When I started dabbling in weight lifting about 3 years ago, I didn’t really know what I doing, and I was more experimenting to find what kinds of exercise I enjoyed.  I wasn’t really lifting anything heavy, I wast just trying to figure myself out.  I thought it would be pretty cool, if one day, I could put 25lb plates on the squat bar (95lbs total) and do all of my sets that way.  This was my “dream goal” that I 100% thought I might never actually achieve.

Here I am, 2 months into our “lift often, and lift heavy” regimen, squatting 25lb and 10lb weights on the bar, for a total of 115lbs, above and beyond what I thought I might never be able to do!

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And I also wanted to share a video of me doing deadlifts.  My “dream goal” on this was 45lb plates on the bar (135lbs total), and again, I 100% thought I would NEVER be able to do this.  I could barely do a 40lb barbell 2 months ago, so I am really proud of myself on this one 🙂

When watching these videos and viewing these photos of myself, I was kind of disappointed at first.  I don’t look nearly as strong or good as I feel, but then I realized that is the most important thing right?- how I FEEL!  So although I am still working on changes and improvements, and as I feel discouraged when things aren’t happening “fast enough”, I just remember that me going to the gym, or taking that bike ride, or going on that walk, is better then me sitting on the couch.  Everyone knows that famous quote, that every journey starts with a single step, and it is very true.  I am just trying to make healthy choices for myself, one day at a time.

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Life and Homemade Kettlecorn.

As adults, we have so much going on that days slip away in an instant, which turns into weeks and months.  How easy is it to walk in the door after a long day and be so tired, you microwave something for dinner and watch TV until you fall asleep?  How easy is it to waste precious time mindlessly browsing the internet?  How easy is it to give your full self to your work, and be so busy with that you forget about other aspects of life?  It is hard to find the energy to go to the gym, spend time in the kitchen doing home cooking, and and be “present” as a wife, mother, daughter, whatever your roles may be.

This is something I have been finding hard lately.  The evenings are spent trying not to fall asleep before 8pm.  So The Artist and I devised a plan.  We decided to think about what we wanted, and what was important to us, and how we would incorporate that into our lives.  It is like a vicious circle….you’re too tired to go to the gym or cook a meal, but if you exercise and eat well you will have more energy.  One day, it was like “enough is enough”!  This cycle of no exercise, bad eating, and crashing in front of the TV every night HAS to stop!  Here is what we decided we want; more time together, a clean apartment, more home cooking and healthier eating, more sleep, more exercise.  These are our goals to achieve them.

1. Go to the gym 2-3 times a week to lift weights together.  Yoga etc. at home on the “off” days for me.  Lots of exercise during weekdays, so weekends are reserved for “fun exercise” like a day walking around the zoo.

2. Home cooked meals every week night.  Even if it is leftovers, it is healthy, balanced left overs.  We like to make meals in bulk solely to have leftovers 🙂  Weekends are for extra special homemade meals that are more time consuming (we put on some music, pour some rum, and make a night of it!).  Or the opposite: we have “cheat” meals like chicken strips or poutine.

3. We limit mindless internet browsing.  We catch up on how each other’s days went, and then sometimes returning Facebook messages or reading the latest on blogs I follow is a good way to wind down.  In the evening hours, we try to limit this to 15 minutes. The Artist uses the internet during the day when he has some free time, and I like to “browse” in the mornings when I first get up.  So only 15 minutes in the evenings isn’t so bad because we have used our “non-together” time to complete emails and check out our favourites sites already.

4. We do one thing together every day.  Whether it is cook a meal together, watch a movie together, play cards, etc. we do at least one thing together per day.  This comes naturally, and isn’t really something we have to think about.

5. We do one fun outing or event together each weekend.  Sort of like a date night.  We might go to Forest Park, the zoo, thrifting, we might marathon a TV show until 3am all snuggled up on the couch, or even decorate for an upcoming holiday.  Recently, we went to a fundraiser for an organization I used to volunteer at and caught up with friends, and went to the zoo!  The sea lion loved The Artist.

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6. The Artist does day to day household chores like dishes and making the bed.  We don’t have a dish washer, so they pile up on the counter quickly!  I do the more weekly jobs during weekends like laundry, cleaning the bathroom, or dusting.  That way, our place stays clean and neat and we share the chores.  For both of us, a clean and tidy place makes relaxing easy.  It is hard to relax your body and mind you are surrounded by a mess.

7. We do things for ourselves, at least once a week.  For example, I am taking a pottery class right now.  It is something I am doing just for me, and that I have been wanting to do for awhile.  Or writing a blog post on here 😉  And as of lately, the Artist likes to browse magazines with a coffee when I am out and about.

8. Minimum of 8 hours of sleep a night.  Minimum.  No less.  Sleep is something we value and that is important to us.  Every night, we think of what time we are getting up the next day, and count 8 hours (minimum!) backwards to get and idea of when we will go to bed.  We also leave lots of time for teeth brushing, and actually falling asleep.  So if we are getting up at 8am, by 10pm the night before we will settle down and do quieter activities, usually watching TV.  By 11pm we are getting ready for bed and brushing our teeth.  And sometime between 11pm-12am, we are asleep.  So that is 8-9hrs of glorious slumber.

Now, these things sound sort of obvious, and I get that.  But as we get older and our careers and families begin to blossom, these things are easily forgettable.  I know lots of couples who spend very little quality time together, and lots of people who forget about their hobbies and interests because watching TV after a long is much easier and more desirable- let alone remember to eat well and exercise.  And I can especially think of many busy folks who don’t get enough sleep and are tired on a daily basis.  I understand there are lots of reasons as to why, and that is fine.  But at this time in our lives, we don’t have many reasons as to why we can’t get more sleep, so we are taking advantage.  I am sure this will change should be we lucky enough to have children one day.

And honestly, having this conversation and making this list helped 100%.  We felt like the days were slipping by and we weren’t stopping to smell the roses in life- and we were not ok with that.  It brought these wants and needs to our attention, and we decided on realistic goals.  From thereon out, there was a difference.  We no longer feel like like life is flying past us.  We have healthier bodies, more energy then before, active hobbies and interests, and we are not being lost in the dust ❤

During one of our stay-at-home nights together, we watched a movie late at night, when the rest of the world was quiet and peaceful.  We made a “nest” of blankets and pillow on the couch and I made some homemade kettle corn.  It was a fabulous night.  Here is my recipe 🙂

1/3 canola oil

1/3 white sugar

1/2 cup popcorn kernels

salt to taste

In a large pot (that has a lid), heat the oil.  I like to throw in a kernel and when it pops, the oil is hot enough.  Turn of the heat and add the sugar and stir.  Add the popcorn kernels and return to medium-high heat.  Hold the lid on the pot with oven hits on your hands on each side.  Alternate shaking the pot up and down, side to side, and in circles for a few seconds.  Place on heat for a few seconds.  Repeat back and forth, shaking, and having it sit on the burner, for a few seconds each.  Do this until it is all popped, there will be several seconds in between kernels popping.  Remove from pot immediately into a serving bowl and add salt.  Stir gently.

Notes:

– leaving the popcorn solely on the burned will burn it (badly)

– solely shaking it and not alternating having it sit on the burner will take forever for everything to pop, it just doesn’t get hot enough

– I have a gas stove, all stoves will be different and temperature will vary

– the first time or two I made this, I scorched it (like the sugar went black and it was a disaster to clean lol!) so it might take practice

– it is worth it because it is delicious 😉

– when you pour the popcorn into the serving bowl, it will be sticky- don’t worry, it will cool almost instantly and be very crunchy

– it may seem like there is barely any sugar or anything on the popcorn at first, but there isn’t much colour in this, when it cools, it is the texture that you will notice, and each piece should be coated (the picture below looks like plain popcorn, but it is all shiny from the sugar!)

– when I add the salt, I gently toss/stir to avoid the popcorn sticking into a bowl-shaped chunk as it cools

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