I feel ________ (squishy, chunky, etc.)

“I FEEL CHUNKY.”

I have heard this from several people in my life recently. Some are just saying it as a statement with no negative intent, and some are saying it because it’s making them doubt themselves or feel sad. I just want to tell them they aren’t and it wouldn’t matter if they did gain weight, but I don’t want to make anyone’s feelings less valid. I understand that bodies change, and sometimes we don’t love what they do… but maybe we should focus more on why things are happening instead of just getting upset that it did happen. I’m a health positive advocate, meaning I care about overall health, first and foremost, and do not base that off of weight.

What is the worst thing if you did gain a little weight? Are you still you? Are you any less of a person because of a fluctuation? Is your overall health still good (lungs, heart, brain?) If a little “squish” is the worst thing happening to you right now, I’d say that you’re doing pretty well. I know it may seem like a bad thing, but it may not be! Maybe your body is trying to protect you or tell you something?! Try to give yourself some grace right now. Use this time to heal, to listen to your body, and to take care of yourself.

I understand that we all may feel certain ways about our bodies, and that sometimes we can’t help but feel we are being judged for how we look. We may feel uncomfortable sometimes and have things we don’t like, and I know I definitely have times where I don’t love how I look and feel. BUT I know there is a balance that we can all find, and it’s different for everyone. I have done so much work to heal my body after torturing it for years. It’s taken a lot of work with a lot of support, but I have been able to learn what my body is telling me a lot of the time. We can teach ourselves to listen to our bodies and if we pay attention, we can address things that need to be and accept and embrace our individual selves.

So, I feel squishy and watery, why?! It could be something salty I ate. It could be hormones that are out of sorts a little and trying to adjust themselves. It could be that I have been having a glass of wine or beer that my body is not used to. It’s not the end of the world, and after you do a little work to see what’s going on, you can address how you feel mentally and physically.

If you don’t like what I just said, that’s fine, but here is some science-based info on what may be happening right now if you are feeling squishier than you’d like:

Water retention, which can have several causes. A lot of us are not drinking the same amount of water compared to a few months ago. We are all in a heightened stress state right now, whether you feel it or not, and that means there is probably a little more stress hormone (cortisol) running through your body. Due to stress or just the changes that have happened we may be drinking more coffee and/or alcohol. These changes can all be part of what is causing this feeling, and here are a few possible explanations, and some tips on how to adjust them (if you want to.)

Dehydration- Did you know that if you drink more water, you retain less? It’s a biological response to hold water when it is scarce. Your body decides to hold onto water when you’re dehydrated because it’s not sure when you will get more, and it is vital for survival. Not sure if you’re dehydrated? Look at your pee. It should be a pale-yellow color, and if it’s darker, work on increasing water intake slowly each day. (You can do it all at once if you don’t trust me, but you will pee constantly and have a real bad time.) Keep a water bottle nearby, and check in with yourself throughout the day to see how much you’re drinking. (P.S. I realized how little water I have had today as I was writing this. Even if you know something, that doesn’t mean you always are perfect at it. Be kind to yourself and do what you can.)

Stress- What does cortisol and stress have to do with how I look and feel? A. LOT. When your body is stressed and cortisol levels increase, that causes a spike in the hormone that controls water balance in the body, known as the anti-diuretic hormone or ADH. Prolonged stress can also lead to other issues such as Adrenal Fatigue (but I am not qualified to diagnose/treat any of these. I know people though, so please ask if you think this may be a problem for you.) What can you do to help with stress? Meditate. There are a ton of free apps out there if you are like me and have a hard time doing self-guided meditation (I use one called Stop, Breathe, Think.) You could try to minimize unnecessary stressors in life, like reading article after article of negative information. Stay informed, but pay attention to body language, and if you start to realize your shoulders are migrating towards your ears, maybe that’s enough for the day.

Alcohol and caffeine- These are both psychoactive substances, meaning they affect your brain, which is why we take them. Alcohol slows things down and caffeine speeds things up… can you see where this is headed? It’s VERY easy to have a drink with dinner, go to bed, and wake up tired. Then you have some coffee because you’re tired. Then you are super awake since you pounded coffee all day and now you just need something to relax. If this sounds like you, please know I am not judging at all. I have done the same thing at points in my life, and it’s a challenging habit to start breaking, but totally doable. Start by cutting the daily amount down by either limiting each serving, or cutting down on frequency.

Sleep- Everyone knows we need it, but it’s still a challenge for a lot of us. A lot of times our sleep is disrupted due to the three things we already discussed: dehydration, stress, and psychoactive substances like coffee and alcohol.  You’re dehydrated so you’re thirsty. You drink a bunch of water before bed, and now you have to pee several times in the night. You’re stressed out and can’t shut your brain off. Then you stress out about only getting 7, 6, 5, hours of sleep and it takes even longer (or maybe that is just me.) You can’t sleep because you have coffee too late, and now you want a nightcap. You fall asleep, but alcohol decreases the time of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep which is where your body gets to recover. Then you wake up tired and have some coffee. Your sleep is super important, and by working on improving habits listed above, you can hopefully improve your sleep habits. This will in turn help with stress and allow you to feel better throughout the day. You may not need as much coffee to feel alive. You may not feel as stressed throughout the day because you had a nice deep sleep the night before.

I hope this has been helpful, and has given you some things to think about. Regardless if this is the cause of your “squishy” feeling or not, improving these areas is only going to help benefit your overall health. You can only control so much in life, and you get to choose to do something about it, or just talk about it. One is a positive and the other is a neutral, at best… you decide what you want to do, and if you want help, I am always here for you.

 

O.W.N. your body. O.W.N. your strength. O.W.N. your life!

X- Shea

  P.S. Jack Jack is always a little chunky, and he loves life. Be like Jack Jack (loving life no matter what.)

Photo credit: dirtiedogphotography.com (Marika is the best! Check it out and if you’re in Seattle, she can capture your furry, scaly, or hairy loved ones and all of their personality!)

 

 

Why? WHY?! WHY!

Find your “why” to get to the what! So deep and moody huh? Seriously though.

Why do you want to go to the gym? To lose weight? Why? To get jacked? Why? Because you know you’re supposed to? Why? A lot of times, people have a goal, but don’t really dig into why that is their goal. If someone told you that you should eat only cornflakes, would you just blindly follow them? If so, you’d probably be a really easy client to have, but you wouldn’t get the results that you COULD if you knew the why behind that. *I am NOT saying to do that… with any food.*

The why behind your actions will help you truly connect to the process, help with accountability, and make it more realistic because it’s something only you can decide and it’s what YOU want.

The goal of “weight loss” is a perfect example:

  • We still need the why behind each goal. Do you want to lose weight because you “should” so you feel healthier? What is healthy to you? Being able to do the activities you want to do?
  • Do you want to “look” a certain way? Why do you want to look that way? Are you wanting to look like YOUR version of that, or an exact copy. Spoiler: One of those thoughts can cause some serious issues with food and fitness relationships.  
  • What about your health specifically do you think would improve with weighing less? Heart rate so you don’t feel winded as often? Cool, let’s focus on building your cardiovascular capacity as our main goal and let the weight not be our focus.
  • Is it hard to get up and down because you don’t have the strength and balance to do so? Cool, let’s work on strength and balance first and see how you feel.

If you go in with the only goal of “weight loss” or a vague idea, you will have a huge range of emotions. Mostly frustration and disappointment because the scale will never be a true statement of progress. It measures your weight, not health. The mirror is slightly more dependable, but not when you compare yourself to others, only your past self.

I workout because I enjoy being strong. I workout because it’s stress relief and helps keep me sane. I workout because being strong makes me happy and feel confident. I love the feeling of a challenge, and I am constantly adapting and accomplishing mini goals (and valuing the little wins for how important they are.) The sense of joy I get from working out is so powerful, I chose to make it my career. It saved my life, and I feel that I can influence someone to help make their lives more positive through being active. That is my why.

What is your why?! Reach out on IG: @ownfitnesspnw or FB: facebook.com/ownfitnesspnw and let me know!

LISTEN to your body!

Most people think that the hardest part about reaching your fitness goals is making it to the gym. For some that may be true, but personally, I have a hard time listening to my body when I should NOT go to the gym. I love working out; it’s a great escape for my brain from everything else I have going on, and as silly as it sounds, it’s my “me time.” I try not to think about work, the dogs, what’s for dinner, the dishes that are in the sink, how dirty my car is, nothing. I feel great and can manage my thoughts better afterwards. The hard part for me is to remember more isn’t always better, and although I know this, I still have a hard time putting it into practice.

I recently went to visit my family for the Fourth of July. They live in a small town and my dad organizes the fireworks show there. That means that we help get the fireworks moved, built, wired, taken down, and moved back again. Now add that to my normal lifting schedule, sleeping on a different mattress, and bookend it with 6 hour drives. As I write this out, it would only make sense to take a day or two off, or maybe have a light week. Guess what I did the day I got back? Deadlifts… or I tried. They felt awful, I was tired, and the weight was super heavy. I left feeling annoyed and like I should have stayed home. Luckily, I stopped before I hurt myself,  but I should have let my body recover more, and gone back when I was ready and crushed it.

I could have listened to my body saying that it was tired when it was more challenging than normal to get up off of the ground after playing with the dogs. I could have listened when I felt my whole body giving on lazy vibes taking forever to get ready. I could have listened when I was more focused on the annoying people at the gym than on my own warm up. I could have, but I didn’t, even though I know better. I am not worried anymore that I will lose results if I don’t go, and I know that recovery is immensely important, and yet I still made this mistake. But, instead of going back again today to make up for my poor workout- I took a rest day!

              Instead of pushing my body even harder when it is so clearly telling me to rest, I chose to do some light mobility work, organize a bunch of files I have been neglecting, work on my business and write to all of you wonderful peeps. I am sharing my story because we all need reminders, even if this is just to myself. I need to make time for my body to recover. I need to make time for my brain to recover and find other ways to manage my stress. You need to listen to your body when it comes to a workout. It is okay to take rest days. It is okay to need time away from the gym. You will not “fall off the wagon” for missing one day, and you will be better prepared for your next workout when you allow proper recovery.

              Our bodies are amazing and we should treat them as such! What do you guys do to help keep balance with the gym?

What Body Positive means to me

Sometimes I hesitate to post things in fear that they will be misconstrued. Pretty much anything can offend someone now, and that’s just the time we live in. We also live in a time where people like me have a platform to explain and possibly educate others on certain topics; or at least spark some thoughts and provide a different perspective; or maybe even validate what someone has been feeling already.

I am a “body positive” advocate and that is how I train my clients, women AND men. When that term first started coming out, it made me gag a little. It drove me nuts that people were “perpetuating obesity” as a healthy way of life. But then I thought about what it meant to me, and maybe that’s what some others thought as well. Maybe we didn’t have to let it get hijacked by those who wanted excuses to not put in effort to take care of their body.

I don’t believe there is a certain “look” of health. We set goals based off of what my clients want to do in life. I don’t think that bodyweight is the determining factor of someone’s overall health. I also believe that healthy individuals value their amazing bodies, and want to maintain or improve them so they can be the best version of themselves.

To me, it does not mean that you are morbidly obese with Type II diabetes and high blood pressure, but that you are healthy and should “rock it.” It is not my place to tell you what you need to do, but in my opinion if you are body positive, that means you appreciate your body. If you appreciate your body, you will take care of it the best you possibly can. That means practicing some sort of exercise in our sedentary lives. (I’m a huge fan of weight lifting for everyone, literally everyone, and that doesn’t mean competitive bodybuilding or powerlifting, but we’ll touch on that another time.) That means thinking about the things you put in and on your body. That means actually being proactive about ensuring your body stays healthy, not just saying “eff it, this is how I am and you have to like it and say that I am attractive, health risks and all!”

To me, body positive means valuing the things your body is capable of, not comparing it to *insert anybody who isn’t you.* It doesn’t matter how much you weigh, but it matters that you overcame your fear of the gym, and now are doing deadlifts! It doesn’t matter if you have a size 27 inch waist, but it matters that you have built the strength you need to take the kayaking trip you have been planning for years! It doesn’t matter if you are “heavier” than some chart says you should be, but it matters that you put in the effort to make smart decisions when it comes to what foods and activities your body needs.

Look at the amazing things that you are able to do because of your body. Walking, running, standing up, carrying groceries, going on hikes, playing sports, etc. Body positive means feeding the machine that gets you through life, both literally and metaphorically. Be kind to yourself. If you are nervous that someone is going to notice something on your body you don’t like, ask yourself: “Why would I care what they think?” “Why would I give that other person any power over how I view myself?” This is your O.W.N. journey, and you control the outcome.

If you have thoughts or would like to share what body positive means to you, please send it via Facebook or email: shealeonardpt@gmail.com! Let’s have people hear your story too!