Releasing the Supermodel

supermodel

When you imagine the most perfectly honed version of yourself, does that person look a lot like a supermodel? I, for one, have spent a lifetime with a vision of Supermodel Self living in my head.

I think Supermodel Self is a natural response to cultural conditioning. We spend billions of dollars every year on products promising that there’s a skinny, toned, wrinkle-free, unblemished, gorgeously coiffed You just waiting to be set free. It’s why supermodels exist. They’re there to convince us that if we spend enough money, we can look just like them.

I remember watching a Pussycat Dolls video several years ago and thinking that if only I could lose the weight, I’d be built just like Nicole Scherzinger.

I mean, I’ve got an hourglass frame. What more do you need, right?

The thing is… I lost the weight. I gained the muscle tone. And, as it turns out, I’m your average human woman.

I finally understand – as long as I chase my Supermodel Self, there will always be something to pick on.

When you begin a massive physical transformation of any kind, you don’t really know what Transformed You will look like. Losing 100 lbs felt amazing, but it also revealed that my nose is bigger than I once thought. My face shrank around my nose, but my nose stayed the same. Also, my shoulders look wider when my arms and torso are smaller. Who knew? I had no idea.

Know what else happened when I lost all that weight? My once-proud tatas bailed on me. They are mere shadows of what they once were. It’s very, very sad.

So, what is one to do? Shall I sell a kidney in order to afford a boob job? And a nose job? I mean… the supermodel in my head cannot come to fruition without some serious surgical alteration.

While I’m at it, I should probably schedule some botox. I’m in my 30s now, and the lines on my face are beginning to show.

Do you think I need some hair extensions, too? My hair isn’t so full and shiny since having kids…

See how that cycle of thinking goes? There’s always something to pick on.

So, I have a new goal. I need to give my Supermodel Self her walking papers. She makes me feel bad about Actual Self. She points to my flaws rather than reminding me of my strengths. She thinks I should look like someone my husband and my kids wouldn’t even recognize.

I can’t be happy in my own skin as long as Supermodel Self is in residence in my brain. I need to release her and focus on being happy with what I’m lucky to have.

My boobs don’t stand at attention anymore, but they fed a couple of kids.

My post-pregnancy body may never again rock a bikini, but I can swim laps for an hour because the body wearing the mom-ish one piece is pretty damn strong.

I won’t be getting any surgery or hiring a beauty squad and air brushing team to follow me around. I will never be Supermodel Self. But I’m healthy and I’m strong. The sooner I embrace that, the better off I’ll be.

My ego will thank me.

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Stress Monster

I believe in fitness. I advocate fitness. I encourage everyone to sweat themselves healthy.

Also, I still kinda hate to work out.

Don’t get me wrong – I love the results. I looooove the feeling of successfully completing a hard workout. I know how vital it is to my health. But, it still doesn’t come naturally. My dear husband still has to listen to me whine and complain when it’s time to get my sweat on.

It’s why I write so much about finding motivation. I know that if you’re anything like me, you’ll need something with super strength to push you into the discomfort of effective exercise.

I know there are people out there who crave their workouts. I have -on occasion- expressed concern for their mental health.

Then, a couple weeks ago, it was late in the afternoon and I hadn’t worked out yet. It was looking like I might not have time to work out that day. I had the following thought: “Damn. I REALLY need to work out.”

Then, I almost drove off the road.

No, I wasn’t having a stroke. But the organic compulsion to work out was so new and so foreign, it felt a bit like I had been momentarily subjected to alien possession.

After righting myself and my vehicle, I took a minute to think. Where on earth had such a thought come from? I’m the girl who works out because of strong cerebral motivation, not because it’s something I enjoy. So how did the addiction-style thought appear?

Well, on the day in question, I was feeling particularly stressed out. There was nothing especially traumatic going on, but I’m not exactly what you’d call a low-stress individual. One or two screaming 3-year-old supermarket temper tantrums and my blood pressure will be on the rise for sure.

It reminded me of the compulsion I used to have for a cigarette. (Filthy, dirty habit. I dropped it the instant I learned I was pregnant the first time around. Never looked back. But I digress.) Smoking used to calm me down, give me a minute to regroup. It was rarely a conscious “I should smoke to calm myself down” train of thought. Instead, it came to me in the form of “Argh! I’m freaking stressed out of my head! I need a cig!”

On the day I was feeling stressed out, I had the exact same sensation. Stress! Must work out!

Hmmm…. Well, that’s new.

I was very excited. Scarcely a workout has gone by that I didn’t think to myself “Oh, how I wish I was the kind of person who did this for pleasure!”

I’d kill for a full-blown fitness addiction.

Of course, the next day, I tweaked my knee doing a Jillian Michaels kick boxing video. I talked to the resident fitness trainer about it, and he noted that my description of where it hurt sounded a lot like the pain he had when he tore his meniscus. His injury required knee surgery and months without leg exercises.

I pulled back on the reins HARD. I want this fitness thing to be long-term. I’m not about to mess around and injure myself in a way that could take me out of the game.

So, I took about 10 days off from my workouts to nurse my knee.

Yesterday was the last of those 10 days. And, as we were going to bed my husband said “I hope you have a nice, low-stress day tomorrow. Maybe go and get a massage or something?”

I am married to a very attentive and loving man. But, for him to suggest a MASSAGE? On a Thursday? And it’s not our anniversary or anything? My nerves were clearly showing in a big way.

Without the workouts that I seem to have developed into my go-to stress relief, I’ve been slowly becoming one seriously stressed out mama.

At least 4 nights in the last week, I closed the door after putting the kids to bed and went straight to pour myself a glass of wine. I don’t usually drink while minding my fitness. But I was bumping up against the red zone.

If you have kids, you can probably relate to the parental red zone. The one where you’re tempted to lock them in a tower and throw away the key if they whine at you One. More. Time.?

I don’t like the version of myself that doesn’t work out, stresses her face off, and uses alcohol to unwind.

So, today I did a knee-gentle workout. I modified things along the way, but I got my heart rate up. I got sweaty. I physically felt stress leaving the body.

And, when my son threw a screaming fit because I used the wrong flavor of jelly on his PB&J?

I laughed!

Cardio. It’s the new nicotine.