I hate dressing rooms.
I hate the process of having to take off what you are already wearing and awkwardly trying to fit in and out of a handful of clothes you found on the rack at the store, while trying to envision what it would look like on…or what it would look like with those white pants and pumps you have at home…or with your hair pulled back or straight…or if you were only a bit taller, thinner, filled out, etc.
I think the latter vision is probably why I hate dressing rooms the most.
My inner critic likes to come out to play.
Just yesterday, I was at Anthropologie (my go-to shop) and, of course, found a stack full of precious ‘gems’ that I was ‘interviewing’ for a potential spot in my closet.
(Note: I believe shopping is like inviting special friends to a special party; you don’t just invite everyone to be part of your ‘party’—closet—you have to be selective).
And, as I was trying on some potential new purchases…I was very aware of a little voice that occasionally likes to come out from hiding to play.
Since being in recovery, as well as naturally maturing (i.e. no longer in middle school), this little voice has most definitely gotten quieter over the years (a few more birthdays help)…however, when it does decide to launch an attack, it can be quite overwhelming—and an ever-present reminder of the daily, hourly, minute-by-minute struggle I used to have with that bad boy.
“You’re so ugly.”
“Your shoulders are too narrow, and your hips too wide.”
“That looks awful on you.”
“If only your hair was perfectly straight.”
“You would look much better if you looked like…XYZ.”
Like a really, really, really annoying fly, my mission for trying on clothes quickly turned into a little tug of war—with myself—over finding a cute top or two for summertime, and simply hating on myself because of what I look like.
Encountering, what I like to call, my ‘inner critic’ yesterday reminded me of a very real struggle that many people, particularly us women, deal with at some point or another in our day-to-day lives.
I hadn’t heard this voice in quite some time, and it was also a great reminder to reflect on how far I’ve come—tapping into the ‘secret’ I have discovered to ‘push past’ this voice when it does choose to ‘fire away’ nowadays (coping in MUCH HEALTHIER ways today than I did in the past).
Think: Genuine contentment with yourself—inside and out.
Whether you are trying on clothes in a dressing room, or comparing yourself to others’ photos on Instagram, or ‘suiting up’ for the bikini season ahead, there’s no doubt that at some point or another, you are going to be challenged to think about what you look like.
In the past, if I didn’t like what I saw (i.e. like all the time), I instantly turned to ‘making things right’: Hitting the weights and ab routines harder in the gym; restricting my food intake a little bit more or obsessively planning and measuring out my food; spot-training; investing more money in more clothes and beauty treatments (new hair, makeup, nails, etc.); new diet or exercise programs or challenges…
None of these things: Healthy eating, exercise, self-care and beauty care are bad in and of themselves…but when we turn to them to ‘fix us’ or to be ‘the answer’ to us liking ourselves more is when we fall into a trap that is never fully satisfied.
Google the words “bikini challenge” alone and you are sure to find more than 17,600,000 results pop up with various bodies of people we want to look like, exercises, nutrition plans and movements to incorporate into your gym routine.
Are they secrets to success?
Perhaps for the outside.
Are they lasting or the secret to contentment?
A bit overwhelming?
While achieving a ‘bikini body’ or an appearance you like when you look in the mirror, are 100% completely attainable through these various methods [given some hard work, dedication and potentially sacrifice of things (like your social life, food, the current joy you find in a healthy amount of fitness, etc.)]…what if instead you could have a ‘bikini body’ that was every bit as fit and fabulous on the inside as it was on the outside?
I am talking deeper here.
A thing many of these programs and methods to ‘being prettier’ (or ‘fitter’, or ‘leaner’, or ‘more filled out’, etc.) do NOT tell you is that, although you may be able to realize what having a bikini body (or magazine-cover worthy body) looks like (You can get more chiseled abs, leaner legs, more toned arms, etc.)…You will probably NOT learn what it means to maintain this body (i.e. What happens when a challenge is over? Or when you stop dieting or trying so hard? Or if you really will be happy when you reach your goal? And, heck, are you supposed to eat and/or workout like you did on the challenge forever?)
And moreover, will you ever just be satisfied, gosh darn in!?!
The answer: Nope.
The more we look to the mirror to satisfy and measure ourselves up, the more we tend to find dissatisfaction with things about ourselves…or want for more:
-A flatter stomach
-More defined shoulders
-More ripped biceps
-A more pronounced v-shape up top
-More muscular legs
Want the secret to building a bikini body that lasts—one you can genuinely appreciate and find peace with what you look like (bikini and all)?
It all starts with building a healthy base from the inside out.
Here are a few simple steps to get you started:
THROW OUT the scale. Yup, you heard me right. Ditch it. A number does not define you, and with this new ‘bikini body challenge’ mentality, you are going to start focusing more on how you feel and how you perform in the gym—not on numbers. How do your clothes fit? How are your lifts improving in the gym? What about your energy levels? These are the factors to begin turning your mind to.
DELETE the calorie counting apps. Another one bites the dust. Just like we aren’t focusing on the number on the scale, you are not focusing on the number of calories in your food either. Instead, you are going to be focusing on eating real food, and plenty of quality foods at each meal: proteins (like pork, beef, chicken, fish, eggs), veggies (all sorts!) and healthy fats (avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, ghee, black olives, etc.) with breakfast, lunch and dinner, and in between meals, a protein and/or fat source with your snacks. In short the basic prescription for your foods should include: meats and seafood, lots of veggies (particularly greens), essential fatty acids, some fruit, little starch, no sugar, plenty of water (half your bodyweight in ounces).
Do what you love. Find what moves you in the fitness realm—and do that. For when you are doing something that is fun for you…it won’t have to feel like work or a chore at all. Keeping in mind that your exercise and training is about 20% of your results (nutrition is about 80%), then it really can take the pressure off of ‘having to workout’ in a particular manner. Dance classes, bootcamps, CrossFit, individualized program design, and weight training. And you don’t have to hit the gym for 2-3 hour sessions either-even if weight training and cardio is your jive. Think about maximizing your time in the gym. Less can actually be more when done right. This could look like 2-3 days per week of high-intensity ‘sprint’ type of exercise (HIIT interval training for 10-30 minutes several days per week) and at least 2-3 days of weight training (supersets in particular work well for improving body composition and maximizing time) for anywhere from 30-60 minutes. Also, don’t negate the powerful benefits and effects of walking. Walking is the simplest, most universal form of exercise and can be done anywhere. Start making it a habit and routine to park further away from the door, get up every hour at work to walk away from your desk, occasionally stand and work at your computer—don’t just sit. Daily movement people.
Positive affirmations. As you think, therefore you become. The more you can begin to practice the art of speaking positively to yourself…the more you are going to begin to believe you are actually the amazing individual you are. You don’t have to be anyone else but yourself! So stop with the negative self-talk already. Reflect for a moment on today alone…how many times have you cut yourself down or thought negatively towards yourself (i.e. “I’m so stupid”, “Ugh, I hate my thighs,” “You’re so gross,” “She’s so much prettier,” etc.).
On the same note as #3…start seeing yourself as the healthy, empowered, beautiful (or hot) specimen you aspire to be. What does he or she think like? What decisions does he or she make surrounding his or her food, exercise and other daily self-care decisions? What would he or she do in this or that situation? You get the picture. Think and therefore become. Start acting out of intention: that person you want to be.
Consider making it personal. Working with a professional who can customize a nutrition and training plan, specific to you and your body type can be a huge way to get to your goals faster—and keep you from going crazy with planning and construing exercise and food yourself. In other words: Take the thought out of your food and fitness…And let someone else deal with it. (Not to mention: Learn how to develop a healthier mindset and relationship with yourself, your body, food and fitness!). And while this may sound like ‘just’ personal training or even life coaching, I have expanded upon a newer, more holistic approach called Lifestyle ReDesign. In short: Helping you ‘design’ and attain the life and health you want and deserve. If we were to work together, after conducting an in-depth initial assessment and interview, I then customize a plan of care (entailing counseling, coaching, training and/or a nutrition plan), based around your body and your goals. Then, on a regular basis, you begin following a customized nutrition, and/or training plan, as well as talk about the things you want out of your life (your career, education, etc.)—and finding freedom.
Bikini Challenge. Want to be part of a ‘challenge’ unlike any other with this name (bikini challenge)? Look no further…it’s coming. I am excited to announce the 28-Day THRIVE Love Your Body (in a Bikini) Program. This program includes a nutrition and training plan, aimed at helping you become more confident, as well as daily challenges for developing a healthy relationship with food, your body, fitness AND your goals. The cost is $28 for 28-Days and is meant to help you launch into the summer feeling good in your own skin. Tell your friends too! If this interests you, fill out this form here, and write: “Sign me up for the 28-day challenge!” More details to come.