Love Who You Are

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This is a picture of my daughter’s pajama top. She loves it because it’s comfortable and because it has hearts, gold letters, and pink sparkles on it. After she’d worn it a few times she actually noticed what it said and read it out loud. “Love who you are…Who doesn’t love who they are?” She asked this as if the statement on the front of her shirt was as ridiculous as telling people to breathe air.

I wanted to just stop right there and hold her in a big bear hug at that point. Her self confidence right now is so great. She makes comments every now and then about comparing herself to others, we talk about it, and she moves one, still confident in who she is.

“Who doesn’t love who they are?”

Unfortunately so many people do not. I know someday Devin will understand why people need to be told to love who they are, even if her confidence wanes only for a brief moment. She’ll go through puberty and despite my best efforts, she’ll compare herself to others. Her strong athletic legs that can outrun many now will be “too big,” and she’ll find many other things that are so wrong with her, ignoring everything else that is awesome. I will be with her every step of the way, and I’m going to try to make her a strong confident young woman, but very few escape being critical of their bodies in some way or another.

I’m not going to get into the external pressures, like unrealistic images in the media, there are plenty of those. What I want to talk about today is something I’ve struggled with off and on quite a bit the internal pressures and disordered relationships with food. This leads to emotional eating.

We think that if we can control everything and get our bodies perfect, then somehow everything else in our lives will be perfect. But there’s no such thing as perfect, is there? Our broken view of ourselves is caused by looking at everything through broken lenses. We compare everyone else’s highlight reel to our bloopers and feel like we’ll never measure up.

I know some people think that because I’m a health coach, a personal trainer, and a figure competitor that everything is going great for me in this area. I must live a perfect clean eating life where not only do I never find soggy wilted greens hiding at the bottom of my produce drawer because I always eat them right away, I definitely never eat emotionally or have a stray craving to eat an entire bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough. Let me assure you, I’m not perfect. If it appears like I’ve got my shit together it’s only because I’m standing in it. (That’s not even my quote, it’s a paraphrase of a quote from author Steven Levine.)

In the weeks after my last competition I found myself doing a lot of emotional eating. It wasn’t about the food. Competition prep took up a lot of my time before that which made me fall behind on my business goals. Reevaluating where I was compared to where I wanted to be hit me hard. Especially since December is a crazy month for everyone and I didn’t have a lot of time to play catch-up.

Rather than admit my limitations, face it head on, and come up with some new goals and a new game plan, it was easier to turn to food for comfort. Food never tells me “No!” or measures me against anyone else or gives me deadlines. It’s always there for me and it always tastes so good. When you think about it, no other relationship can really give us that much security. But the problem with that is that when we turn to food to solve our problems, our problems don’t really get solved, and we end up experiencing the crash that eventually comes after the sugar high.

I went from months and months of strict dieting where I told myself that I couldn’t have so many things that when the competition was over I had no reason not to eat them.  Instead of listening to what my body really wanted to have- all of the good clean foods that properly fueled it in the off-season- I wanted what my competition diet had told me that I couldn’t have. See the difference there?

Once you let go of crazy dieting rituals and the idea of taboo foods, you stop putting pressure on yourself about all of the things that you’re not supposed to eat. There’s a release in that that allows you to listen to what your body really wants you to eat.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved competing this season. Pushing myself toward a goal, seeing how good I could be. Putting good clean fuel into my body and pairing it with intense workouts then watching them ignite into the figure that I brought to the stage for both of my competitions. There was a great sense of accomplishment in that.

But when I came off of that high and had to face my other goals that had fallen behind, I just got off-track. I can’t blame anyone but myself. I do like food, but again, it’s not about the food. Plus, if I really liked the food, if I really considered it such a good friend, I wouldn’t hide away while I ate it like I was ashamed of it, would I? That’s not how you treat a friend. I wouldn’t scarf down three cookies before the first one even made it to my stomach.

If you’re buying a candy bar on impulse while in line at the grocery store, even though you’re not even hungry, and then eating it before you even get out of the parking lot, that’s not a sign of a healthy relationship with food. There’s something missing there. You’re going to call me crazy and I’m not going to sound very much like a health coach when I say this, but if you really want it then buy it. Don’t eat it quickly while hiding in the parking lot though. Take it home and sit down at the table with a cup of tea or just a glass of water and really enjoy it.

I know many people like me that go through boughts of emotional eating and claim it’s because they like food and just can’t give it up instead of facing what’s really going on. I was re-listening to a lecture by Geneen Roth the other day. She’s written several books on emotional eating and runs several retreats a year. Her story is really interesting and I encourage you to check her out if you have a problem with emotional eating.

One thing struck me is the way she encourages you to eat. Treat food like a friend that you are enjoying. Don’t eat while distracted like when you’re driving or watching TV. Think of it this way, if you had a friend that you wanted to meet for lunch, then you got a phone call that you took and ended up spending the whole meal on the phone you wouldn’t be able to enjoy your friend (and your friend may not want to meet you for lunch again). That’s how it should be with food. Eat mindfully and enjoy what you are doing.

I’m going to try to put that into practice over the next few days of Christmas get-togethers with family. Instead of fearing the food, avoiding it, then end up circling back around and sneaking treats while no one is looking, I’m going to just enjoy them. I’m going to treat food like a good friend, get a plate of the stuff that I want, sit down and enjoy it- slowly- with my family. Then I’m going to enjoy the rest of the evening with my family and not think about the leftovers on the counter.

Life is going on around me while I’m obsessing about food and honestly it gets a little old sometimes. I know that my relationship with food has been skewed since I was young and I didn’t love who I was. There are many things that I need to face in order to be truly healthy, instead of just look good in sequins and heels in my competitions. These are things that I’m going to focus on in my coaching and work on in the off-season. I know I’m not going to solve them in a few days (or even a few months) so I’m not going to give myself a hard time for having some treats of the season. I’m just going to eat them and not beat myself up for them.

Then I’m going to move on and focus on creating a better relationship with food. I’m not perfect, but I really want to help as many people as I can break free from the emotional hold of eating. I encourage you to love yourself enough to join me this year.

I want to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.

Questions? Comments? Please let me know.

Jessica

Vegas Competition to Now

I’m so sorry that it’s taken me so long to post again. It’s been a little crazy around here the past few weeks to say the least. I also wanted to have my competition pictures to share, but they have not come in yet so I’ll just have to post them later. I’ll post a few that I have here.

First off, let me start by talking about my competition. The Fitness America competition had been there in Vegas on that weekend for the past 24 years and it had never rained or been very cold. Well, it was pretty cold and rainy the whole time I was there. Not cool. A lot of the outdoor activities ended up getting cancelled so I had a lot more downtime. I was pretty tired already so instead of enjoying the sights in Vegas I went back to my hotel room and hung out. I know, wild, right? That’s me.

Even though the competition was two-days long, my part was the first day. I was pretty lucky because it wasn’t too early or too late which meant I got to sleep in before going through hair and make-up and then go out to eat afterward at a decent time. Anyway, I was really in awe when I saw all of the ladies that were in my category, in my age bracket. They looked amazing! People had traveled from Australia, South Korea, Finland, and all over the US. Being at a national show put it on a whole new level. I felt very fortunate to be on stage with them. Here are some of my unofficial pics.

Cathy Savage Fitness Group Picture:

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Getting ready Friday morning:

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I had to walk past this place every time I left and returned to my hotel room because it was right by the lobby elevators. Not cool, right?

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Here’s a list of everyone that competed in the different groups of the Figure category.

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Here’s me and my roommate before going on stage:IMG_3095

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This is the picture that my coach took from the audience:

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I was very excited and nervous. However, this time my posing was much better than in October. Because it was a national show, Cathy and several of the team coaches had traveled to watch and give us feedback. My coach texted me afterward that I did really well. I ended up getting seventh out of 17 ladies there, which was pretty good for a national show. The woman that got 6th is the one that got second at the show that I did in Dallas in October.

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We all got follow-up phone calls with Cathy in the week after the competition, which I thought was really cool because there were about 60 of us so I know that was a big chunk of her time. She told me that I still looked a little nervous on stage so posing is something I need to continue to work on in the off-season. She also told me that after seeing all of the ladies in my category on stage she had me in the top five. Two of the women that made the top five surprised her, but that’s how it is with judging sometimes. You just have to do your best and bring your best package to the stage and not worry about the judging, especially when the competition is so tough. We talked about other things to improve on for next season, goals that I’ll share later.

Here I am enjoying a bite of Vanilla Espresso Almond Butter and a Mini Dark Chocolate Milano after the show.

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I bought the T-shirt on clearance in the gift shop and the wine from the hotel bar. They both cost $9.

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Chicken and Waffles at the Hash House a Go-Go.

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The three dishes that we got for our post-competition treat meal.

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After the competition I went out to eat at the Hash House a Go-Go and even though I was very hungry my eyes were bigger than my stomach. There were three of us that went out so we got three different dishes to share. We probably could have just shared one; the portions were so big compared to our stomachs that were used to not eating very much. It was still nice to go out though.

My roommate had done figure with me  but still had to do bikini the next morning (some of the ladies do several categories like bikini, figure, and fitness in the same competition) so she was getting ready for that. At that point I was just ready to go home, but still had another day there.

I didn’t sleep well the whole time I was in Vegas. Part of it was due to the 2 hour time difference, and part was the excitement. Then I took the red-eye back from my Vegas competition so I could catch the last few games of my daughter’s soccer tournament. I got 3 hours of sleep on the plane and then stood out in very cold weather to watch her play (her team won by the way). We then went to IHOP to celebrate the end of her tournament and my competition; it was delicious after two months of low-carb meals. I spent the rest of the day in a carb coma while trying to finish up packing for our trip.

We drove up to see my family in Kansas for Thanksgiving and had a great time with them. But I didn’t plan well on the trip back because we drove the whole way Sunday and had to be back at work and school on Monday. After all the travel I’d done in the last 10-days, I woke up the Monday after Thanksgiving and looked around to make sure I was back in my own bed. Luckily that day was slow with clients so I could go to the store because we did not have a lot of food in the house. I also didn’t have a lot of clean food prepped either so I found myself making not-so-smart choices for meals, like having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. It may have been whole-grain bread and natural peanut butter with fruit preserves, but still not the best lunch for my post-competition goals.

I’ve been trying to get back into the groove of things for the past week or so, making sure I had a few healthy meals prepped and planning my meals better. It has been a little rough though. It’s really easy to fall into the trap of not planning and not getting in my healthy meals.

Back to my post-competition talk with Cathy Savage- we talked about goals and what I needed to do for the next season. She thought that maybe my asymmetrical suit may have made my musculature look asymmetrical to the judges so I’ll be getting a new one for the next season. I was ready for a new one anyway since I bought my old one online and didn’t realize how low cut the bottom was until I got it. I was a little uncomfortable in it anyway.

I’m also going to work on building my glutes and delts in the off-season. To do that I need to make sure I’m getting in lots of quality proteins, fats, and carbs. I’ll be putting on some weight, but not from eating too many cookies and cakes. The extra quality carbs will make my workouts easier to power through so I can get into the right condition for next season. I’ve already noticed in the last few weeks that my workouts have been much better. I’ve lifted harder and had more energy. Of course, for the past two months when I was cutting for my two shows, I was just getting through my workouts, not putting up any PRs or making any sprinting speed records.

It’s harder to be a natural athlete because we do have to really worry about properly fueling our workouts. The ones that use the fake stuff don’t have to worry about cutting or proper fueling because their energy is synthetic.

Well, that’s what I’ve had going on lately. In my next blog I’ll have my pictures and I’ll talk about genetics. I was inspired by seeing how different the bodies of the competitors were so I’ll go into more about this at another time.

Right now I want to invite you to check out my Blog page about my new Busy Mom Group Coaching. It will start the first full week of January, after the kids go back to school. We’ll have conference calls for an hour and a half every other week. The calls will talk about how we can incorporate a healthier lifestyle for our kids and ourselves amongst our crazy busy lives. There will be a closed Facebook group for support, handouts via the group page, and other great ideas and information to help us get healthier in the New Year.

I’ve also started a special event on my Facebook page. I started it a few days ago, but haven’t really advertised it yet. It’s called “December the Happy and Healthy Way.” We can support each other and get through this crazy time together. It will also give you a glimpse into what group coaching and support will look like.

Questions? Comments? Please let me know.

Jessica