The “Fitspo” Dilemma.

Lately in the media, there has (gratefully) been a slight shift in the way being “healthy” is portrayed.  Most advertisements, memes, inspirational quotes, etc. are  beginning to emphasize to women that strong and fit is better than skinny and gaunt.  Which, duh. I think deep down, we all knew that cayenne pepper and lemon juice were not the keys to long-term health.

Here’s the thing though: The idealized end result of these new campaigns is still a far cry from where most women start or end. Let’s take this one for example:

Really

 

 

…..Alright, confession time. I totally pinned this hardbodied little brat  athlete to my fitness board on Pinterest.  And I thought to myself, “YES!! Healthy it TOTALLY the new skinny!”

But then, seriously. Ladies, I think we can all agree that she looks phenomenal. Her results are the kind you get when you dedicate your entire life to the cause. From what you eat and how much, to how many hours a day you spend in a gym.  And for many of us, outside factors (age, injuries, jobs, children, love of cookies and cheese…) make such a commitment impossible.  She looks fabulous and fit. You know how else she looks? UNREALISTIC.

We’re being told that healthy is the new skinny, yet being bombarded by photos and “inspirational” quotes that tell us that in order to lead healthy lives we must be constantly disciplined and eventually reach “perfection” in the form of toned arms, a lifted butt, and six-pack abs.

A couple I found today:

1. “You will regret eating that cookie. You won’t regret running that mile.”

2. “Unless you puke, faint, or die–keep going” – Jillian Michaels

 

Ugh…does anyone else hear the shame here? Look. I don’t want to send the message that aspiring to be in kickass shape is a bad thing. I desperately seek it myself.  I want to be the girl who chooses to eat an apple instead of a donut because it’s better for my body. I want to be the girl who would rather go for a run than watch edited Sex and the City reruns on E! when I have the entire series in my possession.

I’m not there yet. I may never be. But can I be honest with you? This no-excuses, no rest, relentlessly striving fitness culture we’re being bombarded with isn’t helping. I’m personally finding it a little discouraging. If I work my butt off and lose ten pounds and still don’t look like that picture, then what? Am I still “not there”?  Anyone who’s ever tried to change their life through changing their lifestyle must hear me on this one: DO NOT BE FOOLED.

Do not believe the message that if you are eating something besides kale you’ve failed.

Do not believe the message that if you didn’t leave the gym feeling nauseated from exertion that you’ve failed.

PLEASE do not believe the message that if you aren’t ripped, or are terrified of Crossfit or hot yoga, you aren’t doing something great for your body and your overall health.

Here’s my take on the above quotes, by the way:

1. Will I regret eating that cookie? Nope. Will I regret eating three of them? Absolutely. Everything in moderation is not crap, or we wouldn’t continue saying it. 

*Side note, If any of you have notes on moderation and how I can achieve it, CALL ME.

2. Jillian, for the love of all things reasonable. If I feel like I’m going to faint, puke, or die, I’m going to stop. Same goes if I’m sick and my body needs to heal. A workout should challenge you and exhaust you. It should certainly not kill you, or cause you to vomit (almost worse, in my book).

I’ll be honest, y’all. I’m not expert on this stuff. I skip more workouts than I complete, and eat way more pizza than is wise if I hope to achieve my goals. I struggle too. I just wanted to put it out there tonight that maybe, just maybe, all this inspiration is doing more harm than good.

If we keep looking at our efforts and measuring them by “perfection” or “failure” (and nothing else), I have a strong suspicion where the needle will end up pointing.

Maybe we need to look at today, and ask: Did I get enough sleep? Did I drink enough water? Did I try to fill my body with good fuel, and limit what I don’t need? Did I exercise? And more importantly: Did I do MY best? If we can answer yes for all  or most of those questions today, then you know what? We won today. If not, tomorrow is coming.

And that’s pretty damn inspirational to me.

Bright Enough.

I’ve been spending a good chunk of the afternoon preparing to serve on my church (www.eastlakeccc.com) music team tomorrow. And the song selections are kicking my butt. They’re not particularly challenging to learn or difficult to sing, but the lyrics are hitting me in a way I didn’t anticipate but really, really need.

 You know that catchphrase all over Pinterest, about never letting anyone dull your sparkle? No?

Here’s one. It has chevrons, so you know it’s current:

Image

 

Those words about refusing allow someone to take away what makes you shine have been haunting me, as of late. I don’t think that I’ve been letting anyone else make the smudges lately (though goodness knows I have in the past) but the fact remains: My sparkle has been dulled. I don’t feel the way I used to, and no amount of exfoliating or pretending is restoring ME.

This is the me I’m talking about, by the way. Baptism Day-November 20, 2009 : CIMG1349

 

That was certainly not my prettiest time, my skinniest time, or my most successful time. I wouldn’t even call that period of time a happy one. I wasn’t married, and was a year from meeting my future husband. In fact, I was a year and another bad breakup away from all of that. It  wasn’t the time when I got it all right and stopped making the kind of selfish decisions that never served any purpose except to bring more pain. But that time remains so precious to me. It’s when I fell in love with Jesus for the first time. It’s when I learned the kind of sweet dependence that can only come from brokenness and the simple need to be saved–sometimes daily. Life wasn’t perfect then, but I look back on it and recall being so completely content with ME. I felt loved, beautiful, and always ENOUGH.

Now…eh, life gets in the way, doesn’t it? A full-time job that takes some serious energy, a spouse, and age creeping on slowly but steadily. Not enough hours in the day and always too much to be done.  And I find myself striving. I find myself struggling to be “enough” in my job, in my relationships, and usually in my bathroom mirror. Or any mirror. John and Stasi Eldredge made the point in Captivating that STRIVING–the quiet yet glaring desperation so many of us wear, is often what robs us of contentment with ourselves and our lives. Stasi writes:

“What if you have a genuine and captivating beauty that is marred only by your striving?”  

Huh. I can see that. I’ve been striving more often than not since birth, I think. And if you ask me, my husband, my friends, or even my coworkers, it certainly isn’t an attractive quality. So in my car on the way to work, or in the shower at the gym, or on the wrong end of a pizza box, I’ve asked God, “WHAT! What is the deal? Why aren’t you fixing me?”

To which He has been gently replying: “Beloved, because you haven’t asked.”

And in a brief but sweet moment of clarity, I got it. I understood that the secret to restoring my sparkle lies in the One who placed it within me. Singing these lyrics today confirmed it:

“Oh God of Mercy, God of Light

 God in my darkness, would you be bright enough?

‘Cause I’ve got no fire in my eyes

Oh God of mercy, would you be bright enough?”

(David Lunsford, “Bright Enough”)

I guess no one really dulls your sparkle. It’s the striving and stressing of being alive that does that, if you let it. And oh, I’ve let it. So many times over. But I feel myself being called to a brand new season of being brand new. It’s not an overnight transformation, and it may not lead to me losing thirty pounds. Which is okay. Because what I need to do is get to know once again the God who created me. Every part, every imperfection, every piece that shines. It’s so simple yet so hard to believe, that I’ll never shine the way I should without Him. I’m not bright enough, not on my own. But He is.

More than enough.

 

 

 

 

(OMG it’s) Fall Musings.

Well, it would seem that another season has arrived. I daresay that fall 2013 did so in style. After being blessed with a nearly-perfect summer, the PNW weather has been more or less kind to us throughout the transition. And while it’s no East Coast, the foliage around here is gorgeous.

I’m pretty convinced that fall exists solely for the purpose of easing the transition from summer to winter–especially where I live. Summers in Washington state are pretty tough to top. Winters in WA? Not difficult to top. At all. So thank God there exists this interim of Autumn, where the air is crisp but not frigid, and football, boots, sweatshirts, and yes–pumpkin spice lattes give us all a reason to get excited about storing away our flip-flops.

Huh. Perhaps after rereading the above, I should probably revise: All of us suburban white girls. Good Lord, Jessica.

Hubs and I have been keeping busy. September brought a trip to see his family in the Midwest, where we met our new nephews, Owen and Titus (now 6 and 4 months old, respectively.) We also saw our existing nephew, Cooper. We love him, but he’s 4, rather opinionated, and cranky about the whole “little brother” thing. We’re confident he’ll be back to being awesome by Christmas. It was a fast but relaxing trip, and I was reminded again how lucky I am to have in-laws I absolutely love. Best part: Marrying into some siblings! I now have, in the legal sense, two big brothers and a big sister. They rock.

Two weeks after our triumphant return west, we boarded a red-eye headed east. Hubs slept. I squirmed and complained, mostly. We were headed to Virginia to celebrate the wedding of our dear friends (clearly dear friends, or we might not have made the trek.) It was worth the travel, to witness them committing to each other. A week later we witnessed another pair of like-family friends say I do… I thought I was emotional at weddings before–HA! These events seem to have taken on a new significance now that I’m someone’s wife. Marriage is a BIG freakin’ deal. It’s exciting and fun and frankly, a little terrifying.

But I wouldn’t trade the rings on our fingers and what they mean for anything. I’m learning more and more about this guy to whom I committed my life. And he is so cool. I always knew I loved him and he was awesome, but reaching a new level of “best-friend-ness” is so so so fun. And as seasons change (as evidenced by the fact that I finally got around to another post here) I am so thankful to be in this crazy marriage club with him.

Well, goodness, that got real cheesy, real fast. Sorry. I’ll be sure to include pictures and heavy sarcasm next time

Until then, Happy Fall!