Fit Life Adventure

An Ordinary Woman's Journey of Surviving Obesity


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Battle of the Sexists

I will never be a gym rat. It might stun some of you to know that to lose over 100 lbs I never stepped foot in a gym. I do however, love the idea of having a space for like minded individuals to go to keep fit and stay active. I think gyms are a fantastic tool for a lot of people…and I have no shame at all in admitting that I especially love the idea of sporting a cute workout outfit as I sweat alongside these individuals. Even though there are great pricing deals for a lot of the smaller chain gyms, I still cannot get past paying any monthly fee for communal use of equipment to perform exercises that I can easily simulate in the comfort of my own home using my own weights and work out gadgets. So a gym membership sounds cool, but that’s as far as that idea will likely go with me.

I get asked fairly frequently to tag along with friends of mine who do have gym memberships. I will never turn down an opportunity to visit a new space, get a workout in and catch up with friends! Last week I got the chance to do just that at an open house for non members at a newly opened gym in my city called World Gym. As it was very new, it was exceptionally clean and bright. Pretty spacious as well. The equipment had barely been used at this point and everything was in pristine condition. Very appealing for any gym goer!

My friend took me for a tour of the entire facility but mentioned she really just stuck to the “woman’s only section.” I get the appeal and the ultimate goal of having a separate area for woman. But seeing as fitness is shared by both sexes, wouldn’t it be fair to also have a “men’s only section”? A comfortable place for men to workout? Men who may feel self conscious or vulnerable being around fit woman. Because that IS one of the driving forces behind the “woman’s only section” right?? Some woman don’t want to be bending and squatting or huffing and puffing around strange guys for fear that they are either being ogled or judged based on their fitness level. I get that. So how is that men are somehow left out of that equation? They don’t have those same insecurities?

I’ve written in a previous post on how 90% of the people who are working out in a gym really just care about their own performance and couldn’t give a crap about what you are doing. Despite that, there are still reservations from a lot of woman. Thus the popularity of gyms having areas just for these ladies. Something tells me that the idea of showing that same courtesy to the male species would be met by some criticism. After all, gyms have been around for a long time and to my knowledge, equal separation of the sexes isn’t a common thing in them. Please let me know if I’m wrong.

Equality aside, there is another bone I have to pick about the areas of a gym that are “designed” for woman. The equipment. The type of equipment found in the rest of this gym gave so many options to the user. They had barbell squat racks and benches, a plethora of different leg and ab machines, battle ropes…even monkey bars for crying out loud! The woman’s section had maybe a third of that. The weight machines they had were sufficient, they would do the job, but they had just one machine targeted to each area of the body. The hand held weights only went to 25lbs and there was one barbell – no rack or bench for it. It presented a sort of simplistic nature compared to the rest of the gym. Mostly it was treadmills and elliptical machines. This really perpetuates the stigma that woman should concentrate on cardio machines to get fit. Granted it does come down to how you use these machines, but I can tell you that slow paced, steady state cardio as your only means of exercise will not yield the results of extreme weight loss. I won’t pick on this gym in particular because it is like this at SO many gyms. It seems to be the winning formula for what woman want I suppose, so they just carbon copy it over and over. Ladies, you deserve better!! You should not have to settle with these stereotypical machines! If you have enough confidence to get your butt into the gym, the least these businesses can do is to offer you equality in your work out and allow you to build that growing confidence on the same machines as everyone else.

These issues I have didn’t take away form the shared experience with my friend. We both got in a great workout and I thanked her so much for allowing me to be a small part of her day and her journey towards better health. I commend anyone who plans out their day to include a gym session. High five! You are building your strength, courage and self esteem each time you step through the doors. This goes for men and woman – you are doing so much already, you shouldn’t have to battle silly stereotypes while you are at it.


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Photo Fears

I don’t have to think back too long in my life to recall those uneasy moments of posing for pictures. My wedding aside, I am referring to the family photos taken by that  aunt who  got a tripod for Christmas and just had to bring it along to the holiday party. Or the group shots with friends while everyone is out to dinner. There’s always the same scramble to arrange yourself just so, hold the perfect smile and try not to be the one caught mid blink. While those concerns were present in my mind, my real goal was to be the “floating head”. Overweight and obese people will know what I mean.

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I’m the one in white

Seeing how these family holiday and “special moments” pictures tend to circulate around online and will inevitably outlive us, we think perhaps if our entire body is hidden we won’t have to recall exactly how large we looked. Of course I don’t speak for all overweight individuals, but I know I am not alone in how I used to feel on this topic.

I specifically remember a time when me and a close friend were posing for a photo. I kept trying to keep my left arm and left side of my body behind her , forcing her to be slightly closer to the camera than me in hopes that I might appear smaller. Yeah, that didn’t work. Neither did telling myself that it was just a bad angle. If I couldn’t be the person furthest from the lens then I  would go with the classic crossed arms pose, trying my best to hide as much of my body as I could.

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I’m the grumpy gal in black…

 

I’ve used the trusty pillow method numerous times. My stomach always seemed to expand more when I would be sitting so I would frantically reach for the nearest pillow to hug just in time for the picture to be snapped.

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Despite any compliments I would receive on my smile or how I looked, when I would view photos of myself I could actually SEE the sadness in my eyes through the smile that everyone said was so pretty. The self loathing thoughts that would go through my mind as the camera flashed would shock you.

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The amount of stress involved in such a simple act as taking a picture is incredible. So looking at past photos used to be a reminder of every bad thought I had about myself.

Before the existence of FaceBook and the like, these photos would stay on the down low. You might find them on a Christmas card or a copy might be given to you by the friend that took them, but it would eventually end up in a box or photo album never to be seen again. Now they are plastered all over other peoples social media pages and you get the honor of being “tagged” in them. These unflattering pictures can be found at the click of a mouse – along with the memories and feelings associated with them.

As you might guess, my hatred of cameras started around the same time as my weight gain. Fancy that! Prior to my fear of photos, I was quite the “ham” when it came to picture taking. My mother – who I remind constantly of how lucky she is that I’m an only child because there’s no way she could keep up the level of photo taking and memento saving for any more than just one kid – saw to it that from birthdays to just Sunday afternoons, everything gets a photo.
As a young child I was happy to oblige. Once the idea of body image entered my world, all that changed. The photos of me in my teen years reflect someone with very poor self esteem and body image.

In the spirit of getting out of my comfort zone these days, I thought that I would add something out of the realm of food or physical activity to my ever expanding list. A friend of mine who is quite the aspiring photographer (Colleen McCourt Photography) was the perfect match to help me get over my hesitation towards taking pictures. I decided I would set the tone of the photo shoot. I wanted to call the shots – I could smile or not smile – it was all on my terms this time.

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I know that I have grown leaps and bounds in the confidence department, but some self doubt will ALWAYS remain. In most of my cases with confidence – it is “what will other people think?” I really didn’t want this photo shoot to come off as self indulgent, self obsessed or too boastful. I hope no one assumes those things. (If anyone does think that, they should re read this blog post.)

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Gosh, I can remember back in the 90’s when Glamour Shots was a thing at our local mall. They had outfit changes and a make up artist.

 

Hell, I was just going to buy a simple outfit and curl my hair. Nothing over the top. For once I was hoping to feel comfortable in my own skin and try my best to translate that through the lens. When all is said and done, these photos are really just for me. No one else. The ones I choose to share in this post are to highlight the contrast from where I have been to where I am now. Of course there is the physical difference, but my hope is that you can see the confidence and positive energy that makes up my life.

 

 

These photos will serve as a reminder of my hard work and a time in my life where I didn’t feel like hiding in the background.

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Deeper Than Fat – An Introspective Look At My Expanding Consciousness

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My blog posts up until this point have been fairly light. I’d like to go a bit deeper on this one. It is amazing what just losing weight has taught me.

The point of the different challenges that we all face in our lives is to teach us something – not just piss us off. My challenge was being obese and having an unhealthy association with food. My challenge was centered around my body. My outward appearance showed this challenge but the process to heal ultimately came from its inner workings. My specific weight loss journey has taught me to REALLY listen to my body. This goes far beyond hearing my stomach growl in the morning because it is time to eat. The intuitive eating patterns that I have been developing have given me a deeper understanding for how my body, mind and spirit are all connected.

The healthy changes that I have implemented in my life have opened me up to the endless possibilities that are right in front of us all! I’m sure you’ve heard the words “wildest dreams” before. Things that seem so crazy to happen that you can’t even imagine them. Well, it has recently clicked in my head that I am the creator of my life. All actions begin with thoughts, with an image. You want to move your arm, your brain sends a signal and you move your arm. You created that. You have the power to manifest anything. Yes, anything.80193-positive-energy-quotes

What a wonderful gift that this weight loss has given me. My consciousness has become so vast that I dare say it is infinite. (In fact, I know it is!) It’s to the point where I am looking for my next challenge, constantly! I want to learn more, do more, feel more. And there will always BE more, so long as I will it into being.

You may have also heard of the “law of attraction”. If not, look it up, because it is really fantastic. But for a quick example let’s say you over slept your alarm, stubbed your toe walking to the bathroom and burned your tongue on your coffee. You might decide right then and there that this is going to be a horrible day and what else could possibly go wrong?! Likely, a lot more. You invite more “disasters” your way simply due to the negativity you are feeling and projecting. You are setting yourself up. The opposite is true as well. Feel positive, emit positive, attract positive. Like attracts like. I have found this to be 100% true. By living a more healthy, optimistic and in turn – happier life, that is the sort of experiences and people that have come my way.

I believe that the positive energy and flow that my life now has, can not only be seen by those around me, but felt by those around me too. Our bodies give off a myriad of different energies every single day that can be sensed by everything around us.

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An example is being in a room with others where there is a silent understanding of something serious and people will say things like “you could cut the tension with a knife”. Everyone is feeling that same energy. For me, I always love going to hockey games where so many of the people in the arena are there with the same positive energy, cheering on their home team. That energy is infectious! These energies just continue to grow stronger and be felt deeper when there is more of the same kind. Again, like attracts like.

The opportunities that I have created have allowed me to expand my personal understanding of my relationship with my entire body and those that it comes into contact with. What’s even more amazing is that the energy that flows through me as a type these words can be felt by those who read them, some of whom I will never meet. This blog, my radio interview and my own thoughts all amplify these positive energies and propel me (and you!) forward in our own life journeys.

I use to try and downplay the effect I had on people. But I am learning to embrace it and see it for what it truly is. As humans I think we need to stop thinking of our lives as coincidences that “just happen”. As if we have zero control. We actually have ultimate control. While we cannot control other people’s thoughts and actions we do influence them. We are capable of so much more than we are currently aware. Open yourself up to ALL possibilities. Expand. Learn. Share. Repeat.

I will encourage you to click this link and take a quick listen to this song. It’s been my mantra lately.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCtsVsQsBxo