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!)

 

 

IF YOU DON’T LIKE WHAT SOMEONE HAS TO SAY, YOU HAVE CONTROL OVER HOW YOU HANDLE IT, AND THAT’S IT.

“You can’t have a rational conversation with an irrational person.”- Gary Leonard, Mr. America 1980, husband, Pops, and my dad.

We all have more time to be online nowadays, so this seems like the perfect time for this topic.

UNFOLLOW THEM- Shea says, “Look at you, being mature and whatnot.” If this person doesn’t affect you, and isn’t worth getting annoyed over, so the easiest thing is to remove their influence from your life. I know this isn’t an option all the time, but even minimizing the amount of interactions is helpful. Trust me, cutting down on seeing negativity is going to allow you to make more thoughtful decisions, and be happier the whole time you think about them. If you’re worried you may be wrong, research it or seek out those whose opinions you value.

POLITELY DISAGREE AND STATE WHY, CALMLY- Shea says, “Good luck, and break a leg.” You’ve thought about it, you still want to say something, or maybe you can’t avoid them. Maybe this person doesn’t know any different, or maybe you aren’t the audience they were looking for, but you can be neutral and calmly ask questions. Hopefully they are willing to discuss like a human. If they get defensive or take it personally, reevaluate how much effort you’re willing to put in here. Will they ever be able to have a conversation? No? Maybe try talking to a wall instead; at least the wall doesn’t say stupid things back. Or a more practical approach is to have a “b*tch book.” I do! Anything that annoys me, but isn’t worth doing anything about, goes in there. I write it all down, why I disagree, why I didn’t say anything, and honestly, it’s enough.

GET ANGRY AND PARTAKE IN THE “CALL OUT CULTURE” THAT DIVIDES PEOPLE- Shea says, “Don’t be this person. If you’ve tried other options, do what you got to do I suppose. In that case, buckle up cupcake, the internet is rough, and everything is there forever.” What good will come of this? You’ve put someone on the defense, are you prepared to deal with a conversation that will go nowhere? I’m all for sharing opinions, disagreements, and learning from each other. Even if we don’t end with the same opinion, we now understand more about this person and maybe ourselves. Calling people out just because you have anonymity online is not awesome in my opinion, and if you don’t like my opinion, I am happy to discuss this calmly. If you insult me, or initiate any sort of engagement negatively, I’ll kill the conversation with kindness, or at worst, just kill it, and move on. My day will be fine, will yours? This is one thing that I have a really hard time dealing with, and I’m working on it, but I strongly disagree with this as a first or second option in most scenarios.  

PUT OTHERS DOWN TO FURTHER YOUR OWN POINT/OPINION- Shea says, “*facepalm & deep sigh* No! *flicks nose of person doing this* If you feel that you must go negative or insult someone to get ahead, you’re either a politician, or someone I don’t need in my life. My brain does this his pitched ‘boooooooooooooo’ sound as soon as someone does this. It’s not that I can’t sink to their level, it’s that I choose not to.” This is not really an option or shouldn’t be in my opinion. If you feel that you must put down others to further your opinion, that probably means that you don’t fully understand your own opinion to defend it or properly explain it. Just because you don’t agree with someone (whether they’re wrong or not,) does not give you the right to put them down or insult them. Have you thought about that fact that this is a human, and we are all flawed? Have you forgotten that you have been wrong before, and didn’t know until someone politely spoke with you? Or maybe some have done this to you, and now you’re just defensive of any inquiry, do you like that feeling?! Treat others how you want to be treated.

One of the first things we learn in life is that you don’t get your way when you throw a fit, (or at least that was one of thing first things I learned,) and it seems that some people forget that. Hopefully, we’ve also learned to be kind. If not, you’re an adult, you now have control over your life and can take action to change things, so pull it together. (It can be hard, you may need help, but why stay in a vicious cycle of unhappiness?)

Since so many of us have multiple sources of media input/output, we have the opportunity to interact with at least hundreds, if not thousands of people within minutes. You’re reading “Exhibit A.” 😉 I had a thought after seeing so many people just cutting each other down, I chose to write about it, and now you’re reading it. That is effing cool, right? But what if I specifically targeted someone, or spewed negativity under the guise of standing up for the ‘little guy?’ What if I stated my opinions as facts, and cut down all who don’t agree with me? You wouldn’t be here (hopefully,) and it would spread negativity like wildfire, instead of making progress by starting a conversation and asking questions.

If you have a conversation, both parties have the opportunity to learn. If you start by insulting someone, do you think that they’ll ever agree with you, even if you have scientific facts to back it up? Probably not. Or, they may come to that conclusion eventually, but due to how you delivered the information, you hindered their progress. Weird how one little snippy comment can make such a dent in someone’s life, huh?

In the gym, when you have an issue, you go back to the basics. The “back to basics” principle is helpful no matter what area you’re having issues in. The definition of a human being is a man, woman, or child of the species Homo sapiens, distinguished from other animals by superior mental development, power of articulate speech, and upright stance.(Source: Oxford English Dictionary.) Our basics are advanced. ACT. LIKE. IT. Stand up straight, use your words, and continue to grow your brains!

Do you want to be a negative part of someone’s day one time? Or do you want to help build them up, so they have more positivity in their life going forward? We all have power and resources to influence others, and that can be great, or it can be detrimental. Choose to be great. Build each other up. Ask questions. Seek out knowledge. Throughout all of that, be kind. You will help make the world better one interaction at a time.

Do you have another way to handle situations like this that I didn’t mention? I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment or send me a message: shea@ownfitnesspnw.com!

It’s Baking Season, Wha Whaaaa?!

Warning: It’s a long one!

It’s the best time of year! No, not Fall/Autumn, although I won’t argue with that, but no. It’s baking season. The time of year where you can bake homemade goods to your heart’s content, and not overheat your whole house!

If you have met me, you know that I really enjoy baking, and have been doing so for over 20 years. It started with my Grandma Leonard when I was around 5 or 6. She always made pies and would let me help by “crimping” the crust (shaping it to look pretty/ sealing the top and bottom crusts together.) From there, she taught me how to make the crust from scratch, and her tricks for kneading the dough just enough to make it super flaky. I would make some gross creations as a kid (all edible, just odd combinations and a chance of raw cookie dough as a “crust,”) but it taught me patience and provided an outlet for creativity. Now, it is one of my favorite ways to “disconnect” and take time for myself.

I love baking for the same reason I love lifting weights- it’s amazing what you can do/create, it involves failure which provides opportunities to get better, and it brings people together.  It’s a way that I can show that I genuinely care, and it comes from the heart. I have tried new ways to make things have more nutritional value (less added sugars, possibly some protein,) but not seem like the recipe is altered at all. I have modified recipes for food allergies, and I have definitely made some “protein brownies” that the texture and taste of a dry sponge. It’s all exciting and once a bake is complete, I feel a sense of accomplishment, just like after a lift.

I know what you’re thinking- having your trainer talk to you about baked goods can be conflicting right?

My opinion: I have mentioned “balance” several time before, and this is a perfect example. Some people have an “impending doom” feeling around this time of year because of all of the delicious baked goods and desserts that will be readily available and seemingly irresistible. I hear what they’re saying, BUT… you need to be able to live your life, and that life might include a homemade pie or some cookies here and there, and that is OKAY! I like talking to my clients about this stuff because it provides a platform to educate them about how to have balance in their life. I can hopefully encourage them to trust themselves when making food decisions, and educate them on how their bodies process what they put into it. It is important that they have established that inner trust and do not need to feel restricted or have “guilt” around certain foods.

The three main arguments I hear are usually: 1) So you tell your clients to eat pie all the time?! 2) That’s dumb, aren’t you a trainer, is that just job security? 3) Isn’t that just giving them an excuse to eat crappy food and never get better?

My answers to those: I can’t make a decision for anyone, but I can help make sure they are knowledgeable about how their body works and what happens when they eat different things. I make sure they know that it is okay to have some pie as long as they are listening to their bodies, and paying attention how things make them feel. If they need to eat a whole pie and feel sick to their stomach to learn, guess what, they learned and hopefully now they are self aware enough to not do that again- NOT because I told them, but because they now know how THEY feel.

Encouraging them to make their own decisions is why I have job security. We are in a time that it’s easy to get caught up in the “no pain, no gain,” “Low calorie ice cream so you can eat the whole thing,” “food guilt,” nonsense, and I have definitely taken part of that myself.  This is why I coach people through their workouts, and let THEM control what they eat. I am happy to give advice or my opinion on foods, but I do not dicatate what they can/can’t eat, and I refuse to cause the endless cycle of restricting> binging> guilt> restricting> and so on!

And on that note, favorite pies to make:

Savory- Chicken Pot Pie

Sweet- Chocolate Cream Pie (to eat), Marionberry Pie (to make)

Live your lives and revel in the season of baking!! What is your favorite thing to bake, or something that you have always wanted to try?

FIND YOUR PEOPLE!

This applies to life in general in my opinion, not just the gym. Sometimes we can get caught up with people that we think we should like. We’re drawn to something about them, and it might be good or it might be bad. In the past, I was constantly worried about “looking like a dude” if I had muscle. How did that thought get in my head? I had some of the wrong people in my life.

Full disclosure, when I started doing strength training, it was purely for vanity purposes. I wanted to “look good” and have people think that I was attractive or whatever “looking good” entailed. So, when people I was close with started to tell me that I should stop working out because I was starting to look like a man, it really hurt my feelings, and only made me workout more and eat less. What they could have done instead was mentioned that they cared about my health and wanted me to be healthy and happy, OR just not commented on my body that I was so clearly uncomfortable in.  

The cool thing is, I have no hard feelings towards those people. I now see that they were just very unhappy with themselves, and were threatened that I was trying to make myself “better,” while they were perfectly okay with staying unhappy. I didn’t realize at the time those weren’t my people; even though I was wearing dresses, low cut shirts, 6” heels, a full face of makeup, and pretty much anything screaming for attention, I just thought I had to be uncomfortable and eventually I would get used to it. Now that I have amazing individuals in my life, I am wearing what I like and what I am comfortable in, which is workout clothes and Vans/Chucks, or if we’re going somewhere that that is not acceptable or I am feeling “fancy,” it’s jeans, a shirt or tank, and nicer Vans/Chucks.

Now that I have found who I am, I can confidently build relationships with the people that I chose to have in my life. The gym has been a key part to this process. If I hadn’t started lifting, I would never have left that toxic environment. I would never have moved to a new city I had never been to, never got a job at a gym, never made great friends (including my now husband,) built confidence in myself- mind and body, and I would not have the wonderful network of positivity in my life. Now I have people who think it’s cool that I like to pick up heavy stuff, and understand that I do it for fun (because they do too!) Now I have people who say that I am “strong” instead of commenting on the size of ANYTHING on my body (unless it’s in a good way #hamstringgoals.)

If you are starting to work on your health and fitness, and you have people making that seem like a negative thing, take some time to think about if they are worth having in your life. If so, call them out on it! Tell them how important your health is to you, and why what they are saying makes you feel negative. I say “health and fitness” because my journey did not start out as healthy at all. Your “people” will support you, ask questions and check in, and maybe even go to the gym with you. They will snap you out of “a funk” when you start to say negative things about your body, strength, confidence, ect. (shout out to my husband, Adrian, for working on this with me for years! It’s our anniversary and the photo is from our wedding!) Your people should add positivity to your life and care about you, and in return you will add positivity to their lives. You get to a point where you keep bringing each other up to the next level and growing as individuals and together. IT IS SO COOL!

If you’re not sure who your people are yet, work towards your “why,” and it will just happen. (psst-> https://ownfitnesspnw.com/2019/07/31/why-why-why/ ) Find your people that make you want to O.W.N. the day, the week, the year! Find your people that see you O.W.N. your life, and get inspired to do the same!

P.S. If you’re reading this, I consider you some of my people!