Perpetual Progress

Progress Report: July 2015

I’m working on another more emotionally-intense piece – so I thought I’d take a break and share something light and awesome with you all first!

Pictured below are photos of me from three months ago, taken April 5th, 2015, alongside photos of me currently, taken July 8th, 2015 (at an ungodly hour of the night).

Before-After 1 7-9-2015

Before-After 2 7-9-2015

The difference is about 12 pounds, more muscle, and a much brighter outlook. I’m not done working hard – I still have a ways to go before I’ll feel I’m at my healthiest, and even then I won’t stop striving for fitness and progress.

Back in April, I made the commitment to get back into shape. I joined an online accountability group, and had my own “coach” that I would check in with each week. I bought the 21 Day Fix Extreme, and even though it felt weird working out in my tiny loft, I stuck with the workouts and cleaned up my eating significantly. In that month alone, I lost nearly 5 pounds.

In May, between the stress of finals and the fun of having a new boyfriend, I gained a bit initially, but came out of the month with a net loss of about a pound. In June, I took a trip with said boyfriend to Austin and weirdly lost 2 pounds? And post-breakup (the day our trip ended, yikes), the rest of the weight has slowly but steadily been falling away.

Now, posting these pictures is hard. Taking those starting photos was pretty miserable, because I had to finally own up to the negative behaviors that had made me feel and become so unhealthy. The evidence was right in front of my eyes, and I couldn’t deny it any longer. I’m very glad I have these progress photos on file, though – because when I start feeling unmotivated or dissatisfied about myself, I have a reference of where I WAS, how FAR I’ve come, and just how much I’ve GROWN in these few months.

butterfly

An important thing to note (and something I constantly have to remind myself) is that there isn’t anything WRONG with the “before” pictures (or the “current” ones). Fundamentally, I was, am, and will always be ME. In the “before” pictures, people found me attractive, I had great friends, and my life was perfectly alright. The true difference between the photos my attitude.

Not to diminish the personal pain I’m still sorting through, and the residual fear and confidence issues related to my recent breakup – but this is the BEST I’ve handled myself in a very long time. Sure, sometimes I do feel a bit wary about future romances, or like something is wrong with me, or even just sad in general – but those feelings don’t own me and my reactions anymore. I’m finding things to focus on (like new workouts, clean eating, photography, nature walks…), and they make me happier, make me feel good about myself, and truly do make me better in the wellness department.

Life happens. We all have to deal with what it throws our way. We won’t always be happy, but we also can’t let a spot of negativity ruin our entire outlook. Over the years, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs – everyone has! – but this is the fastest I’ve come out of a slump, the most positive way I’ve treated myself during a sadness, and the most excited I’ve felt about life since I don’t know when.

2d388817f7c6366ba7b7c71932d50417

I just wanted to share a little piece of cheer with you guys! Thanks so much to everyone who has helped me along the way these past few months (and longer) – your support means the world to me. I’m doing more than alright (I am AWESOME), and I trust in myself and my resilience to bounce back no matter how many times life knocks me down.

Please feel free to reach out (comment, email, Facebook, ANYTHING!) if you want to talk. Even if it’s just let me know something cool that’s happening in your life – I want to know how you are doing! Seriously!!

I love you all lots, and I’m wishing you the best!

Categories: Perpetual Progress | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Life Update(s)

The last time I wrote a post was MONTHS ago, and I apologize. It was a rough time to say the least. But I’m back from a relaxing spring break that gave me time to refocus and think, and I realized that I definitely want to keep this blog going. So, this post is a general life update on the major things that lead up to this point, and it will also set up a pattern from here on out!

Here we go…

I stressed myself out A LOT last semester. It was the first time I took an upper-level economics class, and I let the courses intimidate me. My GPA took a hit, which caused more stress, and my confidence as a whole went down. All of that, combined with being off campus, led to a decrease in exercise (“I’m too busy!”) and an increase in stress eating. I didn’t feel great AT ALL, but I kept up with my bi-weekly counseling sessions up until the semester ended.

I survived though, and the world did not end with a few bad grades and a few good grades to balance them out. Overall, I enjoyed being home for winter break. It was good to be with the family again! My eating still wasn’t so great, but I exercised more, played with my dogs, went out with my friends, and it was nice.

Sadly, the week before classes began, my dog of 12 years passed away. Lex was a good boy, and we all miss him a lot. I still feel upset when I think about him, but I have a lot of happy memories of him that I look to when I start feeling down. Lots of love for that dear dog.

2014-06-21 20.59.47          2015-01-05 18.40.16

Look at that smile! Plus one of many forced selfies I made him take…

Later that week I got a tattoo. My grief over Lex was the impetus, but I had wanted one for awhile. I just realized that time wasn’t stopping – so what was I waiting for? I went down to the tattoo shop, talked to the artist about my ideas, and he came up with a killer design. It took 2 hours and it hurt like HECK. The ribs were the worst, and I couldn’t sleep on my side for month!! But it was worth it.

There’s some symbolism to it all, and I have zero regrets about it. In a way, I’m glad that I went on my own – I saved myself the embarrassment of people seeing me cry, but it was also an experience that is uniquely my own. The tattoo is not fully complete – I will be getting color done later on down the line – but it’s the real deal.

Since then, we’ve started a new semester and things have still been somewhat rocky. I participated in a test group for a program called “The Body Project” hosted by Rice’s Wellbeing Office. I am really grateful that I got to meet other people who were working through similar body image issues. It was helpful to have an open place to talk about what we were going through, as well as have other people offer their perspectives and advice.

I’ve also been trying to preempt my stress before it gets out of hand. I went to the Wellbeing Office to talk about my worries and problems before I reached a point of distress – where it started impeding on my daily activities. It’s another resource specific to the Rice campus that I recommend, but I’ll talk more in-depth later.

To sum it all up: I feel like I am in a better place than I was last semester, or even a week ago before spring break. I am ready to finish out the semester in a strong and positive way. Current goals include staying on top of my school work, gaining control over my emotional eating, finding ways to relax, and working on other “healthy” habits (this blog being one of them).

I hope you all are doing well! I’m sending lots of good vibes your way. And as always, I am here if you want to talk about anything!

Categories: Perpetual Progress | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Relationship With You

A few days ago, I stood around in my gym shorts and sports bra, and I looked in the mirror. For the first time in such a long time, I could look at my reflection – really look – and like the person staring back.

Even as I write this, I genuinely cannot understand how it’s possible to feel like this. Acknowledging that I disliked myself was easy, because it was so normal for me. Feeling this free and confident – it is such a strange state, but I love it.

Here’s the weirdest part: in addition to a lot of uncomfortable situations (like biking for the Beer Bike races and awkward public parties), the tipping point into this state of mind all started with a rejection from a boy.

I guess that’s unfair, as it is less of the rejection and more of the overall experience. It was short, sweet, and had closure – so honestly, I can’t complain. But it left such a meaningful impact on me that I have to get it out into the open.

So it started with me being seriously confused about why a guy was interested in me (much less someone so attractive). How was that even possible? And actually interested about my life, what I was doing, what I thought about certain things – just me in general. Sometimes I don’t like myself, and so it is borderline impossible to understand why someone else would.

But this guy was totally quirky and so REAL – it was almost overwhelming. Interacting with him made me feel like I could actually express myself, even if that meant being dorky, or saying something totally ridiculous. He was just himself, and I think that is exactly what I needed to see in someone.

 “I think it’s intoxicating when somebody is so unapologetically who they are.”

— Don Cheadle

And when it comes down to it, the experience was an empowering one. He always asked me what I wanted, what I was comfortable with, and essentially reminded me that I DO have a say in what happens in my life. Let me give a typical example:

Him: “Do you want to go for a walk?”

Me: “We can.”

Him: “I know we CAN. But I’m asking – do you WANT to?”

Such a simple question, and it never occurred to me to say no (or yes, or maybe later, or ANYTHING). I wasn’t thinking about me at all, really. This happened a lot over that short frame of time, but with every question and every chat, I was reminded that I was important, that I was pretty, that I was interesting, that being with me meant something, that I had a choice in what was happening – and I guess you could say that the message started to hit home.

Happy Bunny

Yes, putting others first is commendable. Yes, we should be considerate of others’ emotions. Yes, we need to be polite and understanding.

But that doesn’t mean we put others first at the expense of our well-being. It doesn’t mean we ignore our emotions in favor of everyone else’s. It doesn’t mean we have to compromise our desires and beliefs to make someone else happy.

Life is full of relationships – but at the end of the day, the relationship that matters MOST is the one we have with ourselves.

I know this can be hard to see, especially in the context of a college lifestyle, but also just in general. Here are some of the personal relationship issues I’ve encountered, just to name a few:

1) The pressure to be involved in SOME sort of relationship, no matter what it is. There is this pervasive idea that if you aren’t in some sort of relationship – hooking up, dating, crushing on someone, or what have you – then something is wrong.

For example, there is this one girl that I think is absolutely beautiful, and she is so ridiculously sweet on top of that. She’s just fantastic, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people are in love with her. So when I mentioned her to my roommate, my roommate said, “Oh, she’s beautiful. I don’t know why she doesn’t have a boyfriend.” Well, maybe she’s too busy. Maybe she likes someone back home. Maybe she just isn’t interested in dating right now. (All of which are valid reasons, though she doesn’t need to justify her status). Regardless, we don’t know, and it doesn’t matter because guess what? Being single doesn’t mean there is ANYTHING less amazing about her. Dating someone wouldn’t change that, either.

2) Relationships lack closure. Whether it is because we have led someone on (or someone is leading us on), or we refuse to accept that something is over, most times I’ve had any sort of relationship, it has ended awkwardly and without any sense of finality. Rejecting someone is not fun. Getting rejected is not fun. But it is so much easier and less painful to be honest and end something quickly, rather than drag it out until the only emotions and thoughts left are negative ones.

Imaginary Relationship

3) Finally, we put a lot of emphasis (too much??) into what others think. Quite frankly, we shouldn’t worry over what others think about us. If you want to chop your hair off and dye it brown, THEN DO IT. Who cares if that guy doesn’t like it, or your friend thinks it’s weird? Forget it, it’s not ABOUT them. Only you know what you want or don’t want, how you feel, and what different things mean to you. It’s a bit cliché, but also true: only you can do you. So do it. Like I said before, that guy was quirky to the max, but at least he let me be myself.

VIDEO: Shailene Woodley on confidence.

The most important relationship in our lives is the one we have with ourselves. It’s about you. And if you’ve never heard it before, or if you don’t think it could be true, I repeat: IT IS ABOUT YOU. Other relationships – no matter how open and enhancing and positive they might be – will never be as fulfilling if, at the core of it all, we aren’t happy with ourselves.

Others can be the stimulus of our emotions, but we are in control. I’m not saying we have to be happy all the time, because the struggles are just as important as the good times – but we have got to love ourselves. We can get so much out of relationships, even the ones that end. But don’t let the ones that end (or the unhealthy ones you may be keeping…) make you forget how important and great you are for just being you.

So in my case, sure – I am bummed that whatever happened with that boy ended so quickly. But for once, I like myself enough to 1) not be mad at him and 2) not let the rejection send me spiraling. Instead, I’m lifting weights at the gym again because it makes me feel strong. I’m controlling my eating A LOT better – because I care about myself, and I don’t want to hurt myself again. I’m wearing what I want – and feeling confident about it, even if it’s gym shorts and a tank – since it’s my choice. I’m going for walks, petting dogs, dancing around my room, and doing things that I love.

Patrick Stump Love

I’m just more relaxed about who I am in general, no matter how awkward or goofy that means I come across. It’s me, so…there is nothing for me to be embarrassed about, especially not when I’m happy about where I am.

Sometimes, you might just CLICK with someone and they will be with you for a long time. But other times, a person might walk into your life to show you good music and remind you that you are important…and that’s it. And that’s also okay. People will walk in and out of our lives, we will be sad or disappointed, and we will be happy and comforted. But the highs and the lows and the people that come and go should never, EVER make us forget our true value and worth.

So in closing, I just want to reiterate how amazing and important you are RIGHT NOW. Not a few weeks from now, not after you lose a few pounds, not once you start dating someone…right NOW. Do what it is YOU want. Be unashamedly who you are – quirks and all – because you NEVER know the kind of impact you might be having on someone.

Beautiful Dogs

And please, love yourself above all else. You matter – to me, and to so many other people. Stay strong, friends!

Also, a huge thanks to everyone who has provided support and encouragement for this blog (and just in general!). It means a lot. Much love to you all!

Categories: Perpetual Progress | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.