Body image and self love

It feels like I’ve always had body image issues. Looking back, I can’t seem to remember a moment where I loved the way I looked. I would try my best to be content with my body, but I would always find something I’d like to change.

When I was a baby, I didn’t have a neck. My uncle called me Jabba the Hut since I was all baby fat. I didn’t ever crawl, because I was way too happy being immobile. Once I started walking, I lost the baby fat and thinned out. In high school, I was pretty active and stayed relatively thin but still felt chubby. I didn’t see myself as sexy and focused way too much on my extra-small boobs.

Freshman year in college I’d skip meals because I felt chubby. The other three years of college, I gained about 25 to 30 pounds that I instantly hated and tried to combat best I could. My boyfriend encouraged me by working out with me, but at the end of the day I felt fat and didn’t know what exercises to do other than run and some strength machines. Through the years, I’ve gone up and down in my weight. I started my fitness journey 7 years ago when I weighed in at my heaviest. I still hated my body, but decided to finally do something about it. So I joined a local Kung Fu school and started practicing traditional martial arts.

Even over the last 7 years, I still felt chubby and fat. In the beginning, my diet was crap as I was trying to workout 3-4 times a week. About a year into my fitness journey was when I decided to watch a few food documentaries. These altered my world and my diet. I was vegan for almost two years, and that was when I noticed the real change occurring in my body. I finally liked my body weight, and almost liked how I looked. My endurance was increasing but I felt like I needed more of a challenge. So I started running in addition to the martial arts training.

When I started running, I mostly hated it. But my friend Sarah kept me accountable and we ran many races together over the years. Even as a runner and martial artist, I still struggled with my body image. Especially after I fell off the vegan wagon and started to be more open with my diet. And, you know, got married and comfortable. When I turned 30 only a year and a half ago, I felt embarrassed when looking at photos of myself. That chubby tummy and love handles were too much! I knew I needed more strength training and a better diet, but kinda let myself go. It was when my ex left that I reassessed everything in my life, but chose to focus on self love and body image.

I turned to fitness and working out to help me get through one of the hardest situations in my life. I upped the frequency and intensity of working out. I made a conscious decision to focus on my health and everything else would work itself out. I felt called to run the Chicago marathon last year, and I chose to focus more on strength training both while running and after the race. Even after running the marathon, I still felt chubby. But I sat down and created a fitness goal for myself in order to help me work towards the body I want rather than the one I had.

And guess what? I didn’t reach my goal. My goal was to get to 18% body fat by last week. I’m currently hovering just above 19% body fat, but I started at 25% four months ago. Despite not meeting my goal, I can finally say I love my body. Just the way it is. I know I’m still a work in progress, and I still have fitness goals I’m working on. But I realized it isn’t about the numbers. It’s not about how much I weigh nor how much body fat I have (as long as I’m not obese). It’s about how I look and feel. Hard work pays off, but most of the work I’ve needed has been mental. 90% mental, 10% physical.

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What not to say after the first Hello

This past weekend I was out and about much more than I normally am since I had a few extra days off and no marathon to train for. Also, the weather could not be more perfect. I took advantage and explored many areas of the city. I got to see many lights on trees, sip some hot cider at Christkindlmarket, and I even visited my old stompin’ grounds Holiday Club to dance the night away to 80’s hits. While out and about, I also got to meet a few new friendly faces. One in particular struck me as extra-odd and has inspired me to write a little bit about what not to say when you first meet someone.

I’m talking we literally just met, face to face, for the first time. He introduces himself, I already forgot his name, and he starts telling me about what he does and asks me the same. Everything’s fine and dandy, I love talking about what I studied in school or what jobs I have. And I enjoy learning about other people as well; I enjoy networking and growing my social circle. Oh that’s a cool job, I say. I hear that’s a great company to work for.

Then he drops the bomb

The songs didn’t stop playing, the dancing continued on around us, but I took a double look at this guy. What did you just say? You’ve never kissed anyone before? You’re a virgin? How old are you? And why are you telling me this? Of all things, to a perfect stranger.

But then again maybe it’s how he weeds people out. Perhaps there will be one person out of a hundred or a few hundred who’d be like “OH me too!” Okay, maybe more like one out of a few thousand. I know because I’ve been in his shoes. Or close. I was a virgin for a long time (many years), and I also was waiting for marriage (yes, that’s what he told me). But I don’t think I walked around at a bar telling people that. It’s just not a topic that comes to mind when I first meet someone. I’m thinking that’s something that shouldn’t be addressed until you establish and both agree on dating exclusively. Not sure if he thought there was a chance of dating or not, but whatever chance there was burned up once he told me that.

And me, being the ultra-honest female I am, gave him some pointers and feedback afterwards. I told him in the future to keep the facts of his sex life private upon first meeting someone. No one needs to know your entire life story after saying hi at a bar or in a social setting. Not sure he appreciated the feedback, but I told him I was trying to help him out. For the next time he meets a beautiful woman. πŸ˜‰

You’re welcome!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever heard upon meeting someone new? I know this doesn’t just go one-way, and that it can be applied to men and women alike.

Modern art

On September 23rd I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Chicago to see the acclaimed Takashi Murakami exhibit: The Octopus Eats its Own Leg. It was the last weekend to see the exhibit, so I bought some tickets beforehand and was able to snag an early time to avoid most of the crowds.

The art was beyond anything I’d ever seen before (very interesting!). And the stories/ideas behind it were amazing to learn about. I spent about an hour exploring the exhibit and another 45 minutes seeing the rest of the museum. The entire museum is pretty small, which is nice as we know most museums can be overwhelmingly large and tend to take a day or more to take in everything.

Please enjoy my pictures below. Did you check out this exhibit? If so, leave me a comment. I’d love to hear what you thought of it!