#TBT

I just want to leave this here. Because epic moments of body positivity are worth remembering!

Thanks, Tyra!

Earning It

When I was overweight and out of shape, I thought humanity was divided into two groups: People who are hard-wired for fitness & People who simply aren’t.

I didn’t give my fit friends much credit. ‘They’re jocks. I’m just not that. I’m different.’

Failure to give credit where credit was due was just another way of letting myself off the hook. I assumed that for them it was somehow easier. It was natural. It wasn’t the struggle that it was for me.

jim gaffigan

I didn’t realize that the gym rats look strong because they choose their physical fitness every day.

Barring illness or injury we are all physical manifestations of our *consistent* lifestyle choices.

Will you keep your food clean? Or are you fine with the drive-through?

Is hitting the gym or going for a run a mandatory part of your daily rhythm? Or will you shuffle from bed to desk to couch to bed again?

I’m a big fan of Jim Gaffigan, but the quote above makes me a little twitchy, because it’s just wrong. It perpetuates dangerous Diet Culture Mentality – The mythical existence of a finish line.

Your hard work is doomed to fail if your day-by-day relationship with wellness is ever ‘done’.

My fitness begins to slip away as soon as I give up on my choices and opt for comfort over wellness. When I phone it in, sip my wine, lounge around, and eat that slice of cake, my  hard-won form begins to weaken.

But when I choose well, when I eat clean and train mean, I can slay dragons.

You can be whoever you want to be, but you have to choose well. You have to be consistent. You have to earn it.

genetics

Yes, it’s work. But it’s so worth it🙂

Size Happy

There’s an awesome new narrative brewing in the public square.

Female celebrities, recently body-shamed for *minor* weight gains have chosen to push back; to drop the veil at the intersection of body image & happiness.

“[My daughter] Willow said to me the other day whilst grabbing my belly — ‘mama-why r u so squishy?’ And I said..’b/cuz I’m happy baby,'” – Pink

Who also said “I am perfectly fine, perfectly happy, and my healthy, voluptuous and crazy strong body is having some much deserved time off.”

“I am not pregnant, I am just happy.” – Tia Mowry

Do those statements make the sonic boom in your head that they do in mine?

These are women in the business of Flawless Public Image. And look! They not only chose happiness over ‘Flawless’, they stood up and said so!

‘There is nothing wrong. I’m not pregnant. I have not Let Myself Go. I’m happy.’

Subtext: Don’t let the radiant red carpet smile fool you. Skinniest Me Is Unhappy.

As I learned when I first stepped away from my lowest Goal Weight and intentionally gained weight, a pin thin Goal Weight can be the enemy of happiness.

The struggle to reach my Goal Weight attacked my happiness every bit as much as my struggles with obesity.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for goal weights. They’re valuable tools in the fight for Healthy & Strong. Defeating obesity is always a good idea.

But I hope you’ll give your goals some room to breathe.

I often look at especially slender female celebrities and just want to hug them. Their bodies are under such heavy, loud, unyielding scrutiny. When they gain any weight at all, people notice. People comment. So, *generally speaking* they don’t let that happen. They fight every day to maintain a very narrow margin.

And that just hurts. That kind of pain needs a hug. It needs a break.

Tia Mowry and Pink probably knew they would hear about their sizes. But they chose happiness in their private lives over the pain of public opinion.

Their courage made them role models under a beautiful flag:

Assert your courage.

Share your truth.

Believe in the power of your light to pull others out of the darkness.

With that pep talk in the air, I will share these pictures of myself.

On the left, my ‘Goal Weight’ – the thinnest I have ever been.

On the right, pre-Happy Exhaustion days. I’m guessing probably around a size 12.

back

A different kind of Before & After

I fought hard for the size on the left. It’s what I thought I wanted, when I thought skinny meant happy. I was so wrong. I hope that picture doesn’t look like #Goals to you. I hope you see that it’s a picture of pain. My vice grip on skinny was strangling my happiness.

If you learn anything from my journey, I hope it will be this: No image is worth more than your happiness.

Care for your body. Care for your heart.

Run in the sunshine, and always aim for Size Happy.

 

Love for New Recruits

When I was heavy, the very thought of attending a group fitness class filled me with dread. I couldn’t bear the thought of being seen in a gym, of putting my own weakness on display.
I imagined walking in on legions of fitness models. I pictured gyms a bit like this:
Photo credit: AllWomensTalk

Photo credit: AllWomensTalk

I would stick out like a sore thumb. People would look at me with eyes that said I had no business being in their space.
I would be judged. I would be embarrassed.
So, I hid.
My fears were at the wheel for more years than I care to think about.
Now that I am a bona fide Gym Rat, these are the moments that will *always* make me smile through my sweat: glimpses of rockstars who have decided to face down all of the fears and fight.
They are the out-of-shape women huffing and puffing through their treadmill walks – red faced, struggling, and not giving up. They’re the senior citizens in cardigans and slip-on shoes power-walking on the track. They’re the high school students who have decided to take charge of their fitness.
Those who are just beginning their fight for healthy and strong are the toughest among us.
Photo credit: Downsize Fitness

Photo credit: Downsize Fitness

It’s not easy for them. It sure as hell wasn’t easy for me.
Those of us who have found (and fight to maintain!) personal fitness can all relate to the struggle of Chapter One.
If you are contemplating writing your own Chapter One, trust me – the gym rats are stoked to see you there. We’re a bit cultish that way – “You’ve chosen well! Just wait until you get to meet the person you’ll become! Keep showing up!”
We may not say it out loud, because we don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable – but that’s the inner monologue. Chances are, I’m behind you *beaming*.
As I stood in my kitchen today, my off-the-charts tall 3rd grader let me lift and hold her in my arms. I cradled her – not propped on my hip, but in my arms, her head resting on my shoulder. I bathed in that fleeting-treasure maternal moment for as long as she wanted to be held.
I got to seize that moment because almost 4 years ago I marched my obese, physically weak behind into Discomfort Land and I did the damn thing.
Facing down and conquering the fear of Newbie Status is worth more than I ever imagined.
You deserve to feel your strong.
Set your mind. Point your feet.
Important Notice

Important Notice

Role Models Worth Having

jlaw4

This is admittedly a non-standard Happy Exhaustion post, but when I found myself down a magical rabbit hole of Jennifer Lawrence Body Positive statements, I had to share. I am grateful beyond measure for superstars who choose to raise this flag high: CHOOSE … Continue reading

2015 Summer Challenge

out on a limbHappy Exhaustion is kicking off a summer-long fitness project!

Every 2 weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day I will be jumping into a new diet and/or exercise plan *with both feet*.

I’m game for ANYTHING. What would you like to see me beta test for you? You name it – raw, vegan, paleo, juice cleanse, barre, yoga, running, boxing, swimming, rock climbing, I’ll give it everything I’ve got! After each 2-week adventure, I’ll blog about any and all changes I experience – the good, the bad & the ugly!

In the name of well-informed health coaching, I am prepared to guinea pig myself – even with approaches that sound about as fun as a root canal. (Let’s not even pretend a juice cleanse doesn’t sound like pure torture. I’ll be calling on my inner She-Ra for that one.)

THE RULES OF THE GAME:

I will commit to complete any workout challenge 6 days a week (one day of recovery is a healthy & strong choice no matter what the adventure!) for two weeks.

Any diet challenge will be all-day-every-day for two full weeks.

I will share changes in weight, energy levels, mood, overall quality of life, and any unexpected side-effects.

Hit me with your challenge – either in the comments section here, or on this Facebook thread! I can take it :-)