Total TLC

Coming to you live from a steaming bathtub filled with Bath N' Body Works peppermint scented bubbles and Epsom salt infused water, I'm back! 

Life has been pretty chaotic lately. Last minute college preparation duties, graduation planning (36 more school days until the big day, but who's counting?!), and grinding hard in the gym has been the structure of my life lately. Everything has been a complete whirlwind of emotions, and I am starting to feel like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz when she's being whipped around in her cyclone swallowed home. It's all starting to take a toll on my body. 

According to Google, TLC means...

TLC: (noun) Tender loving care, or considerate and solicitous care.

According to me, TLC means...

TLC: (noun) Tasty large cookies; Tender loving care towards one's own self. Usually resulting in peaceful bubble baths, blissful cat naps, and dense chewy cookies (Lenny and Larry, I'm talking about you guys).

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I've pushed myself harder than ever before in the gym this past week, and my body is definitely feeling my determination. Bruised shins, terribly callused hands, aches and pains from hell, and a ravenous appetite to follow. It was an amazing week filled with new PR's (personal records), delicious food, and true happiness. 

I've always had an issue listening to my body, but for the first time, today I listened to her. After a smooth set of 2x8 squats, paused deadlifts were next on the menu. When I can't even lift up a warm up set without my hips feeling like they were being scraped with a sharp knife, I know that my body was screaming at me to just simply stop. I began to shed guilt filled tears while Ed internally yelled at me for not finishing a workout, and taking the rest of the day and tomorrow off.

"You CANNOT and WILL NOT give up. No whining. No pain no gain. You'll be so thankful that you kept lifting when it comes time to eat later." said Ed.

And then, a moment of triumph and bravery arose out of me. 

"If I keep going, I'll injure myself even more than I am right now. I'm not whining, I'm ignoring you and listening to my body. You never let me listen to her, and it's not fair to her. She deserves to be heard, because she knows what's best for me. She says that if I want to come back on Monday ready to go, I need to tell you to take a hike, and stop this workout." I answered. 

I didn't even give Ed a chance to respond. 

This was a humongous deal for me. Willingly not finishing a workout? You'd never expect that coming from the bull-headed perfectionist that I am. I'd never even expect that from me. I'm constantly pushing myself to go go go and am always going past the point of comfort. Today I learned that there is a distinct difference between not wanting to finish a workout because it's too hard, and not finishing a workout because it's physically painful and would be creating more injuries if I were to continue. 

I'm treating my body with total TLC tonight. She soaked in a hot bath earlier, rested her aching joints and muscles with a solid 3 hour snooze, and will soon indulge in a double chocolate peanut butter swirl cookie that is the same size as her face. My body deserves to be cared for in a gentle manner. She is a temple, and as her caretaker, it is my responsibility to keep her taken care of and deeply nourished. 

Your body is not a battleground. There's no workout worth finishing if it means you'd be hurting yourself in the end. Know when your body can't mentally handle a workout, and when it can't physically handle a workout.

Acknowledge your temple. Care for your temple. Feed your temple. But most importantly, love your temple. 

Be Your Own "Fitspo"

When you do a Google image search of "fitspo", you find that 99.9% of the pictures are of girls and/or guys with a shredded six pack, a thigh gap, or "motivational" phrases such as, "Would that cupcake taste as good as a flat stomach would feel?" These are the pictures that can cause self destruction, comparison, body shaming, and eating disorders. You start to think, "I must not be fit if I don't have a visible six pack or a gap between my legs", so you do anything in your power to achieve society's definition of "fit". I say this, because this was me (and yes, I do still have days where this IS me, and I struggle with comparison).

You know what I say to that?  

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In the fitness world, abs are glorified and being lean 24/7 is prioritized. Have you ever truly wondered what makes visible abs so much more "important" than any oher muscle? Why is it that having abs is the only indicator of one being classified as "fit"? 

Society. That's why.  

(Insert middle finger emoji here) 

For years (and still some days today, I'm not perfect), I have picked at my self image and done everything I can to achieve society's definition of fit. I have fallen into the trap that society makes it oh so easy to fall into; the self destructing trap that led me to the weakest points in my life. I've restricted my calories, exercised the life out myself, done an endless amount of sit ups, and tried every new diet phase that was put out there, in hopes of achieving the perceived definition of "fit". And I still didn't have a six pack or an "acceptable" image according to what the media says. I thought, "What's wrong with me? What am I doing wrong?". The answer to that is...

Everything

The calorie restriction? Wrong

Obsessive exercise habits? Wrong.

Low carb, high protein diets? (Disclaimer: This may work for some people, but wasn't sustainable for me)  Wrongo.

And most importantly, the self hatred and overly critical mindset. WRONG.

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The truth is, I've now realized and am learning to accept that there are SO many factors that can play into how your body looks.

The first? GENETICS.  

I don't care what fitness guru said it or what the magazines say, genetics play a huge role in your body shape and how it transforms/performs. Even at my lowest weight of 89 pounds, I didn't have a six pack. So if I didn't have visible abs in the single digits for a body fat percentage, maybe I'm just truly not meant to have them. Take my dad for example, Mr. 12% body-fat-I-can-eat-whatever-I-want, is incredibly muscular and doesn't have a six pack. Our body shapes are extremely similar. Genes are a larger part of the equation than one thinks. Genetics affects your muscle shape, how quickly it responds to activity, ect. We are all different heights. Our bodies all store fat in different areas. No matter how hard you work, you will never look like person X. Your bone structure may cause your back to arche out more, your hips may be wider or narrower, or whatever your body type is, it comes down to the fact that everyone. is. different.

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Number two: Normal Weight Fluctuations & Hormones

There is not one single human being on the face of the planet who walks around, looking exactly the same every second of the day. Our bodies' weight and appearance change ALL THE TIME throughout the day. What you eat/drink, how much you eat/drink, sodium levels, ect, ALL play a part at the same time, Sorry not sorry, but I don't have a flat stomach after eating or drinking a gallon of water. In fact, I have a pretty pronounced food baby, AND HIS NAME IS CARLOS AND I LIKE HAVING A LITTLE FOOD BABY OKAY.

But seriously speaking, being lean 24/7 is unhealthy and shouldn't be sustainable for long term. Your body likes a little layer of fat, so leave it there! Would you take away a cookie from a child? No (unless you love crying kids). So think of that little layer of fat your body has, as your body's cookie. LEAVE IT AND THE CHOCOLATE CHIPS BE. 

More specifically speaking to women, our hormones play a huge role in how our bodies look. You know that lovely part of the month that makes us so happy, fun to be around, and feel super confident? (Apply an intense amount of sarcasm to the precious statement) Yeaaaaah. When our favorite Aunt Flo pays us a visit, our bodies can look like they belong to a different person. Water weight, water retention, hormone freak-outs...the amount of side effects are countless, and as sucky as it may be, it's natural, it's normal, and it. will. pass.

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So as you can see, there are many things that play into how your body looks, and not just based off of what you eat or how much you exercise. 

I would rather be able to eat some carbs than have abs. It isn't in my best interest to lean out. I don't want to skip family gatherings for food in public places in hopes to maintain a "fit body". Being incredibly lean really serves no functional purpose. It doesn't make your body preform any better than it would at a normal state. Having visible muscles doesn't make you any stronger than if they weren't as visible. So many people hire someone as their personal trainer just because they are shredded or have the "dream 6-pack". Just because someone is insanely lean doesn't mean they are physically capable of more than someone who isn't as lean as them. Yes, for some people they are incredibly strong at a lean state. That's how their body works. Genetics. Hormones. It's who they are. 

It may not be who you are. Who are you? That's for you to decide.

My definition of fit: Being mentally okay with myself and food. To feel strong in the activities I preform. To learn to accept myself in all stages, whether I'm having a bad body image day or not, because bad body image days are going to happen. To recognize the self critical thoughts on bad body image days, and realizing it is just Ed in disguise, trying to rear his ugly head into my life again. To have balance in all areas of my life. To not be afraid of food. To be okay with not being okay sometimes. Flawlessly flawed.

There are some areas of my life that I'm working on within my definition of fit. I'm a constant work in progress. I always want to look for new goals, ways to better myself, and to give myself something to look forward to.  

You are a constant work in progress. Be your own definition of fit. The more pressure you put on yourself to become what society portrays as a "fit" individual, the more guilty you feel when you just aren't able to, and the harder it becomes to create a balance within your life. Be strong, regardless of what you think it should look like according to media. Be cool. Be dope. Be confident.

And most importantly (and as cliche as it may sound)...

BeYOUtiful.   

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Treat Yo' Self

It gets to be about mid-week, and my cravings kick into high gear. I long for sweet, chocolate therapy inspired, sugar overloaded goodness. I crave salty, fatty, cheesy food. I begin to dream of stuffed crust pizza, or an overload of a carb-filled pasta dish. Not to mention, I'm already salivating over the pints of Ben & Jerry's at my local grocery stores days before I decide it's time for a treat that doesn't fit my macros. Now, since I am a flexible dieter, I can choose to make those kind of things fit my macros if I really wanted to. But I would rather eat 500 calories of this:

Rather than 500 calories of something like this:

I would much rather eat a nutrient dense meal that hits all the food groups, fills me up with a healthy amount of fiber, and have a little bit of peanut butter goodness on the side. Hey, peanut butter makes everything peanut better. ;)

Every week, (usually on Saturdays), I allow myself one treat meal of whatever the heck I want to eat. Usually, it's a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. However, the last few weeks, I've decided to challenge myself and eat a treat meal with dessert included. The disordered part of me said that it was "too much" to have a main meal as a treat meal, and dessert to follow. But I've learned after many failed attempts of not challenging that voice, that the only way to win is to indeed challenge it. Do the opposite of what it's telling me. And doing so, I have reunited my taste buds with foods like...  

And capping it off with the BEST pint of Ben & Jerry's known to man kind...(I mean seriously, just look at those fudgey swirls!)

People ask me, "do you really eat the whole pint?"

Yes. Yes I do. Because:

a.) It's impossible to stop at just one serving size (I mean really, who eats only 1/2 cup of ice cream at a time?!).

b.) I work out hard 6 days a week, eat clean 90% of the time, and doing so allows me to have ANYTHING I want in moderation, because I live a balanced lifestyle.

Those word right there. Moderation. Balance. 

The two words that I have struggled with for years and years. Thanks to IIFYM (if it fits your macros), I am no longer afraid of foods that society would classify as "bad". That's the beauty of IIFYM and why I wish people who struggle with finding a balance between healthy and not so healthy foods would try it. It teaches you the concept of that there are no bad foods. Food is fuel. Period. Your body only views food in forms of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats). 

It is SO SO SO important for you to treat yourself. I hate when people say, "there are no days off". Everyone needs to give themselves a break. Unless you are striving to run your body and mental state into the ground, you need to stop, breathe, and live a little. It doesn't matter whether you decide treating yourself is a massage, manicure, or a meal at your favorite place to eat. If it is going to make you feel good and at peace, it's a treat. It's not "cheating" the lifestyle. It's treating your lifestyle. 

So I have one assignment for you. Go out and treat yourself this weekend. Take yourself on a date. Get all dressed up. Feel beautiful (or handsome!), and truly cherish the time you're taking to enjoy your own presence. Because you are enough, and you're stuck with yourself for the rest of your life, so why not enjoy it? ♥ 

Confidence is Key

It's something we all struggle with. It's what can cause or moods to go from 'happy-go-lucky' to 'talk to me again and I'll punch you in the face'. It dictates what we wear, our attitudes towards others, and our outlook on ourselves. I'm talking about a little word called...

Confidence.

That's not even a little word. It's a big word, with an even bigger meaning. The meaning in which we struggle to find all our lives. I struggle to find it everyday. Confidence is the key; it's the key to overall happiness, health, and life.

I truly believe that accepting yourself is the most challenging and mentally exhausting things you could do. I also truly believe that it is a beautiful process. It's a roller coaster of days where you look in the mirror and think, "damn, who's dat hottie?!" and days you look in the mirror pinching all of your flaws, trying to smooth out the areas that you think should be flatter. I've found that the longer you stare at yourself in the mirror, the more you notice your "flaws", flaws that might not even be there. Our eyes tend to play tricks on us, morphing our true image of our self perspective. We all have something we don't like about our appearance, but some people have the ability to not let it affect their day, happiness, and self image. For those who do let it affect their lives greatly, suffer from an actual disorder called "body dysmorphic disorder". BDD is a disorder in which an individual analyzes themselves in detail for extended periods of time, picking out flaws that are nonexistent. This is nothing to be ashamed of, but if this is you, please seek help immediately. 

During the 5 year peak of my eating disorder, I would wake up everyday and look down at my flaws. I would hope that my stomach would be smaller, my thighs slimmer, and other "flaws" had disappeared. If the way I looked wasn't up to Ed's standards, my day would automatically be ruined. My attitude would suck. I would sit in my dark room for hours. I wouldn't talk to anyone. Ed made me think, "You don't deserve to talk to anyone knowing that you look like that. No one wants to talk to something who doesn't have a thigh gap." Sadly, I would believe him. I believed him for half a decade. 

Do I still have days where I wake up and struggle with my body image and confidence? Of course. But what I have learned, is that it's a choice. Every morning you wake up with a choice. You can either decide that you're going to be happy and give off positive vibes, or you can decide that you're going to sit in your room and pick out flaws that aren't event there. 

After many, many, MANY days of trial and error, I have found some coping methods that help me deal with bad days, body image, and self acceptance. 

Remind yourself of these things:

(courtesy of NEDA)

  1. Appreciate all that your body can do.  Every day your body keeps you alive and breathing. It allows you to dance, run, walk, laugh, smile, and so much more. 
  2. Keep a top-ten list of things you like about yourself—things that aren’t related to how much you weigh or what you look like.  Read your list often.  Add to it as you become aware of more things to like about yourself. YOU ARE MORE THAN YOUR BODY.
  3. Remind yourself that “true beauty” is not simply skin deep.  When you feel good about yourself and who you are, you carry yourself with a sense of confidence, self-acceptance, and openness that makes you beautiful regardless of whether you physically look like a supermodel.  Beauty is a state of mind, not a state of your body.
  4. Look at yourself as a whole person.  When you see yourself in a mirror or in your mind, choose not to focus on specific body parts.  See yourself as you want others to see you–as a whole person.
  5. Surround yourself with positive people.  It is easier to feel good about yourself and your body when you are around others who are supportive and who recognize the importance of liking yourself just as you naturally are.
  6. Shut down those voices in your head that tell you your body is not “right” or that you are a “bad” person.  You can overpower those negative thoughts with positive ones.  The next time you start to tear yourself down, build yourself back up with a few quick affirmations that work for you. 
  7. Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel good about your body.  Work with your body, not against it.
  8. Eliminate people and social media outlets that cause you to compare yourself to others. You are not a fitness model. You are not a tumblr girl. Those images are so edited. You are you, and that is more than enough. 
  9. Do something nice for yourself--something that lets your body know you appreciate it.  Take a bubble bath, make time for a nap, find a peaceful place outside to relax.
  10. Tell yourself you are beautiful. Actually look in the mirror, and say it outloud. 

The truth is, no one looks at you and thinks, "She doesn't have a thigh gap, so I'm definitely not going to talk to her." You are the only one who thinks that. You have so much more to offer than just your appearance. I would say that the biggest thing that stops me from accepting myself some days is comparing myself to others. STOP comparing yourself. I am at fault of this. It's so hard not to scroll through your social media accounts and think, "Why can't I look like her?". You can't avoid these people, it's a part of every day life. Deal with it. Accept you will never look like them, you will only look like you. Move on with your day. 

Self acceptance is a choice. It's a journey. It's frustrating. It's a life long process. Slowly, everyday, I accept myself more and more. I have learned that I am happiest doing what works for me. Not being on a program, listening to my body (still working on this), lifting heavy, and eating my pints of Ben & Jerry weekly. I appreciate my body and all that I've put it through. I no longer pinch at the flaws I wish were gone. I have been waking up everyday happy. I look forward to tomorrow, I reflect on yesterday and grin, and I truly smile in the moment...and it is a beautiful feeling. 

Give Your Body A Break!

Eat. Run. Lift. Sleep. Repeat.

Repeat x a billion kajillion times till you pass out from exhaustion.

Sound familiar?

Orrrrrrr if that's not ringing a bell, does this?

That's just a typical quick post rest day selfie from me. ^

I can't even BEGIN to tell you how important giving your body proper rest is when you're constantly on the go and working out. 

Actually yes, yes I can. Starting now. :)

I love training. I love working out. I love lifting. And I REALLY love that post workout pump ;) It's the one part of my day that I actually look forward to. There's no doubt it's my #1 stress reliever. People often confuse my passion for fitness to associate with my eating disorder. Do I agree with this accusation? Sometimes. ED always tries to take over every aspect of my life, so sometimes ED does play a role. I'm not ashamed to admit that. I'm not ashamed of my struggles. I try and listen to my body the best I can.  Working out daily keeps me sane, healthy, and balanced. HOWEVER, I do make sure I take at least 1-2 rest days a week. 

This week has been particularly challenging for me for a number of reasons. On Monday, I woke up feeling like absolute dog crap. This literally came out of nowhere, but I knew I could not go to school, let alone work out that day. Tuesday came along, annnnnd I felt like an even bigger pile of dog crap. Something wasn't right.

After hours of the typical waiting game at the doctor's office, they diagnosed me with pneumonia. My heart sank. WHY DID I HAVE TO GET PNEUMONIA THIS WEEK?! I had been planning on going to a concert I had bought tickets to months ago the next night. I was only hoping and praying that laying around on my patooty, staying hydrated/fueled, and being on the antibiotics from the doctor would give me enough energy to go to this concert. 

Wednesday came, and I was definitely at the peak of my pneumonia. I knew I couldn't go to this concert, and had no choice but to sell the tickets. A little piece of me died inside when I sold those tickets. 

The hardest thing about this whole pneumonia thing for me wasn't the the fact I couldn't go to the concert (although I didn't handle that too well either), but the fact that I couldn't go to the gym.  The guilt has been killing me. A WEEK OF NO WORKING OUT? On top of that, eating my normal amount of calories and laying around alllllllll day long?! That is UNHEARD OF in ED's book. 

I needed to separate my voice from ED's. After an inspiring pep talk from my girl Tyra, I knew that it truly was okay that I am taking this week off. And I wasn't going to change. My body was not going to "gain weight". I wasn't going to lose all my progress. 

Did you know that for every 8-10 weeks of training, you should be taking a complete week off?

I didn't. However, now I do. And I will be using this to its advantage fully when the time comes now. If you don't ever give your body a break, you're going to lose motivation. You're going to become bored. You're going to plateau. I know, because I've been there countless times. 

But Lauryn, how do I know when that time is right?!

  1. You are physically and mentally exhausted. I'm not talking just your average getting out bed exhausted. I'm talking all day every day for an extended period of time.
  2. You're not motivated. It's getting to be workout time, and you are NOT feeling it. In fact, you are DREADING it.
  3. Your entire body is sore.  This is kind of common sense. You'll definitely be able to tell when your entire body is sore. 
  4. You're at a plateau. You've been working your butt off at the gym, eating healthy (and the right amount), but you aren't seeing or feeling any progress. 
  5. You're sick. Exhibit A = Me
  6. You don't feel as hungry. When you don't give your body anything else to think about, your metabolism begins to slow down. Variety is key. 
  7. Your sleep schedule is off. Ever have those nights where no matter what position you're in, you're not comfortable? Or you just plain and simple haven't been sleeping good? If these are occurring frequently, its time to rest up. 
  8. You don't have that "post workout buzz". Working out is supposed to elevate your mood, not decrease it.  

The truth is, your body isn't making any gains in the gym. Your muscles are torn, but the rebuilding is happening when you are RESTING! So yes, when you're sleeping, you're growing dat booty (muscle booty that is!). Take your legs for example. How can you expect them to get stronger and bigger if they're sore all the time from training them hard every single day?

They won't.  

Squatzilla = Quadzilla

If you're experiencing any of these, you need to take a break. You'll know when you've had enough rest when you're feeling motivated and HEALTHY ENOUGH to crush the next workout. 

I mean I'm on day 5, and I have some serious ants in my pants. Not only do I have ants my pants to get back on my lifting grind, but 5 Christmas cookies happily sitting in my stomach.

#christmascookieshavenocalories

ESPECIALLY THOSE PEANUT BUTTER BLOSSOM ONES. Those have negative calories. ;)

As mentally challenging this break is for me, I know my body needs it. My body is the home for my soul. It needs to be nourished, rested, and balanced. 

You can best bet I will be eating peanut butter every day of this rest week as well. And mini Oreos. And holiday themed sugar cereal. And quest bars. And...A LOT OF FOOD OKAY. Moderation not deprivation. 

Treat yo' self.