Thursday, December 19, 2013

More Than Just a Healthy Body

So I'm not a huge fan of "serious" posts, but after thinking about it for the last couple of days, I think this one needs to happen-- if for no other reason than to just get my thoughts out and hopefully be able to look back at this post one day and see how far I've come. [Sidenote: before reading this please know I didn't write this post to hear complements about myself, in fact I don't want that. Because then that means you've missed the point!]

Here's the thing: I have a goal in mind. I know what I want my body to look like one day, that day that I get to a point of maintenance. (Not to say one day I'm going to be the champion of the world who reaches her ultimate physique goal and is then stuck goal-less for the rest of her life. But, I do think a day will come where I'm just happy with where I am and I won't need to lean out, or gain muscle, at least for a little while.) And I also know that it's going to take me a while to get there. Not only is it going to take a while, it's going to take hard work, sacrifice, and dedication, all of which I'm completely okay with. The part that's got me not feeling myself right now is that in order to reach my goals, I have to let go of feeling and looking a certain way, at least for a little while.

It's pretty simple, in order to put on muscle (especially on a small person like me) I have to bust my butt in the gym, lift heavy,eliminate cardio and eat eat eat. In the muscle building process it's extremely hard for me to maintain the leanness I have in the summer or around photo shoots because I'm eating at a surplus in order to gain muscle. So, for the past couple of years I have gone through "phases" where I will try to build muscle over the winter months and then switch into fat burning mode as spring starts to roll around. It's a great plan that has been working, but it's during those winter months (NOW) that I find myself struggling.

I'm uncomfortable. Any time I gain, it's in my core and since I have a short torso to begin with it makes it 10x worse. I don't like that my obliques don't pop. I don't like that I don't have the vertical line down my abs. I hate that I can grab back fat. It kills me.  Knowing what being lean feels like is almost a curse because I want to feel that way all the time, but I know realistically that isn't possible. Such a mind game.

Now to be honest, I think I've only put on about 5-7 pounds, some of which is muscle, all my clothes still fit, and chances are people that see me every day don't notice much of a difference, but that doesn't mean I don't feel it. I know what I'm doing, I know why I'm doing it, and I keep reminding myself of the process every time I get down on myself-- but I'd be lying if I said I didn't have days that I just want to say F it, and go do some cardio!

This process makes me realize that there is so much more to 'health' than just eating right and working out. To be truly healthy, you have to have a healthy mind too. I love that I'm gaining muscle, I'm getting stronger, and nurturing my metabolism and the temporary side effects that come with that are just that: Temporary. Now I just need my mind to accept that and be okay with it :)

This process also makes me realize there are a lot of life processes outside of fitness that can make you feel this way... the feeling of being a little uncomfortable for a period of time in order to reach a goal. I'm actually in the middle of this in another aspect of my life, but that's a different post!

With the holiday season upon us, I'm going to try my best to count my blessings and be happy with my body- a little extra fluff and all. I'm going to be thankful that I even have the opportunity to go through this process-- that I have the knowledge, commitment, and strength to do it. That I have access to the healthy foods that fuel my body and mind and make it possible for me to reach my goals. And for the support that I have and people constantly lifting me up. I know it will all work out in the end and I just need to enjoy the ride through the ups and the downs, because in the end the ups and downs is what makes achieving the goal that much more fulfilling.

I have a feeling I'm not the only one that may feel this way, whether it relates to fitness or not, so I hope this post can help those of you that may be second guessing yourself and just know you're not in it alone!

28 comments:

  1. I completely relate. such a mind game. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. I know exactly what you mean..I go through the same thing and it sucks being a blogger sometimes because when you're fluffy you don't always feel comfortable showing how you look to the world. I get it! It's such a mind game for women. I don't think men go through this as much mentally when they try to build. Lucky them!

    Just realize that by doing this, you're totally helping out your metabolism so that next time you go to cut, it will be easier on your body since your metabolism will be improved and you won't have to cut as much. Keep your head up and don't worry, you still look great!!!

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  3. I can totally relate to this, but in very different ways. I've struggled with body image for YEARS, and I'm finally getting better with it. I had this breakthrough in November about how I feel about myself and what I want to get out of my healthy lifestyle and wrote a post about it - it's interesting to read something similar, but very different. I REALLY understand the feeling of extra fluff over your abs - it's very frustrating.
    Even though we have different views, I completely respect your goals and your dedication! Keep it up - this is where I'd say you look awesome and you're inspiring, but I'm not going to ;)
    In case you're curious - my breakthrough post on how I feel about leaning out: http://balancingclean.blogspot.ca/2013/11/sometimes-i-need-to-stop-and-ask-why.html

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing your post!!

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  4. Little B - This was a great post! I think women go through this and it turns out to be far more challenging mentally than physically. We lean out and realize we need more muscle, but in order to do that we need to get bigger, which in turn makes us a little softer and that look of being lean and fit can't remain in its entirety during the process.
    You know why you are doing it and when those doubts creep into your mind...remind yourself that you are strong for being able to go through the process. It is tough, but you are worth it! That is what I always say to myself!
    Merry Christmas!

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  5. I hear ya! I am currently in my "bulking" phase as well, and it can be quite frustrating some days. Keep up the great work, you'll thank yourself later for the hard work you're putting in now. :)

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  6. Wow. This is the best reality check that I really needed. I'm bulking right now and am really struggling with the extra % as well. Thanks so much for writing this.

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  7. Thanks for the post! I'm pregnant right now so my body is changing in ways I've never experienced. It's definitely a mind struggle some days! MY goals are obviously different from yours ATM as I'm just trying to keep working out at least 4 days a week and stay healthy for my baby but it's all relative!

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  8. I love this. I'm going through a similar goal. I love weightlifting, but I've stopped exercising at all for the past few weeks so I could gain weight to eventually get pregnant. It's super tough, because I'm a personal trainer and am doing the exact opposite of what I'm telling everyone. But, everyone's goals are different. And everyone is in a different season of life! Hang in there :)

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  9. It is about being healthy! When you have kids ( if that is part of your life plan) or start getting older, your focus will change because again, it is about being healthy and make it through life happy! I'm in the fitness industry and sometimes people just need to chill! At the end of the day, are your truly happy? I admire your dedication and inspiration to others. But is this how you want to remember your life at the end? Obsessing about bulking up and thinning out?...Sad....

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    1. Part of making it through life happy, for me, is achieving goals. This post was about highlighting that it's not always butterflies and rainbows around here and I, like many others (as you can clearly see by the other comments here) struggle sometimes achieving those goals. In the end, I want to look back and know that I worked hard for my successes because that is one of the things in life that makes me happy at the end of the day.

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  10. So, you read this whole post, and then decided to reply with this? LOSER. If you have so many 'real' problems then go out and fix them rather than complaining to everyone else on a site thats about FITNESS and healthy eating. Jerk.

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    1. Sorry everyone - i was replying to a really nasty post....but it has disappeared thank goodness. :)

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    2. Ya, that one went away... it was causing a little too much drama :) Thank you though!!

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  11. Hey Little B. I agree with your post. And whether people are jerks about this one or not - EVERYONE thinks about it that cares about their body, mind, and health. You look in the mirror daily, and those thoughts will bubble up one way or another. Thanks for being honest and saying what we all think at some point. :)

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    1. It was definitely hard to say without sounding like I was complaining about 'first world problems' but I figured it would help more people than it made mad, and I think I was right :)

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  12. I like to say I'm bulking right now but... it's not so much of a goal as it is allowing myself to eat lots of really awesome food over the holidays. For me, this keeping me mentally fit. I will tighten things up again in the new year!

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    1. Mentally fit....exactly!! It is just as much mental as physical. It's hard to get to the point of being okay with your body, let alone loving it. There's nothing wrong with having a vision/goal for your body! And, Nichole, I'm in the same "bulking" phase you are. :) We'll just hit it hard after the holidays!

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    2. I'm with you on the "mentally fit". I am purposely skipping the gym until the new year. I feel flabby, but I have to give up spending time with my three little guys and my husband in order to make it to the gym. We both work and are so stretched for time anyway. I've been really good about the gym and clean eating all year long, so I feel my family and I deserve to be together as much as possible this time of year. That's what it's all about, after all. Merry Christmas!

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  13. This is a great article and very informative. I have enjoyed lifting weights for three years now and I always change up my workout plans to try and keep my body overall healthy. I can't want for the holidays to eat all the good food but I defiantly will be working out at the same time. I usually do more of a cardio combined with light weights during times like this when I am off my usual diet. Also, I know a lot of people will be trying to start working out more in the new year. I would recommend first to learn about Fitness Blowout before picking a single workout to stick to. It is important to find the right one that will fit your body type.

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  14. Thank you for your post. You couldn't have hit the nail on the head any more with how I feel. I have been going through the same things right now and its been very difficult. I competed in 3 bikini competitions this last year and now its time for me to take a break and start bulking up so I can come in with more muscle this coming year. I think its hard because I have seen myself so lean for a good part of this last year and although I know I don't look any different to most people I can still feel the difference. Not doing cardio to me is the same as how you have to restrict the foods that you eat prior to competitions. You know its something that has to be done in order to achieve the results you want, but can still be mentally taxing. So again I just wanted to say thank you! it made me feel better reading this and knowing that I am not the only one out there that struggles with these very same things.

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    1. Yep I totally agree, and you're very welcome!

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  15. I'm a little confused...you're super fit. Why do you want to bulk up and look more "manly"? In all honesty this post kind of screamed eating disorder/body dysmorphia. Again, you're super fit so why aren't you happy? I get that there are goals and all that, but when you say that you hate that you don't have that line down your stomach, doesn't that seem a little extreme?

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  16. This post totally hit home for me. I am doing James' program right now and am trying to put on some muscle. I have a small frame (5'0) and it's REALLLLLY difficult for me to put on muscle. I'm trying to enjoy the process, but as I feel extra "fluff" in similar areas as you, but also on my glutes and legs, I'm trying so hard not to let it get to me. I feel SO much more comfortable in my clothing when I'm leaner, but I'm trusting this process of no cardio and a surplus of calories. (To be honest, I've had one too many cheat meals over the holidays as well) ;)

    Anyhow, THANK YOU for being real and honest and for posting this. I'm going to bookmark it on my computer so when I'm feeling down, I can come back and read it again!!

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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