On Self Image and Spray Tan

I spent the past weekend in North Carolina with 15 other women in my industry, as part of a year-long business mentorship led by the wonderfully insightful and inspiring Jill Coleman. I had some anxiety and nervousness leading up to the shoot, as fitness model I am not, but I never anticipated how the experience would create a powerful sense of contentment and acceptance for exactly the person that I am.

I did not expect that a photo shoot would make me feel more confident and secure in my body, rather than obsessive and overly critical.

I did not expect that spending time with a group of other female fitness professionals would make me feel empowered and connected, rather than envious and comparative.

I did not expect that a spray tan, manicure, styled hair and professional make-up would make me feel beautiful in my own skin, long after I left the shoot.

I don't normally get all glammed up in my Anytime Fitness t-shirt...but I can still feel beautiful without it!

The glammed up look is long gone…but I can still feel beautiful without it!

A huge part of the overall feeling of success from the weekend was due to the connectedness I felt to the women I met there. We have been in contact virtually in our mentorship group over the last few months, but meeting in person, expressing shared experiences and struggles with one another allowed me to feel so much less alone on the path of entrepreneurship and self-acceptance. It’s easy to spiral down into our own doubts and insecurities, but the antidote is often found in a fresh perspective. Surrounding yourself with people who see you for all that you have to offer, despite (and perhaps because of) your imperfections, allows you to let go of old ways of thinking.

Having a mentor and a support system this year has played a huge role in my journey. At times my mentorship group has been a safety net, at other times a nudge the right direction, and sometimes, like this weekend, the group has been like a friend (or 15) by my side, walking this path with me, and reminding me that I’m not alone.

 

These ladies (and more!) made the whole experience worthwhile!

These ladies (and others!) made the whole experience worthwhile!

While I won’t claim that every single day is lovey-dovey, brimming with hugs, flowers, and unwavering self-acceptance (as I have my moments of insecurity just like everyone else), I’ve come a long way in owning who I am in this world. Most days, I love that woman exactly as she is. I love who I am in mind, spirit, and, though it may have taken a little longer, in body.

Reviewing the rest of my proofs (which I can’t share just yet!!) from the photo shoot has been surprisingly positive, too. Maybe it has to do with all the hair, makeup, lighting, and tan…but I can just see me. I don’t need to obsess over the little imperfections, or focus on what body parts I wish to be different. I don’t need to look like a fashion model or fitness competitor to look healthy and happy. Instead, I see curves and softness and femininity, right alongside muscles and strength. I see a woman who creates change in the people she meets. I see a woman who is at home in her skin, who uses her body and movement to increase the joy in her life.

polaroid seated pic 6.14

A picture of a picture…from my memento Polaroid shot that I got to take home!

I can see me as a whole in these pictures, and not the physical “flaws.”

I’ve had countless ups and downs while working towards self-acceptance. It’s not easy, and it didn’t happen effortlessly. I’ve had to put in some serious time, introspection, and dig through some uncomfortable emotions. I’ve had to seek out support from others. I’ve had to want to change, and reengage every day to get where I am today.

But ultimately, with each passing day I feel better and more secure. Experiences like the ones from this past weekend inspire me to continue. I’m proud to share these pictures (and more coming soon!) with the world. And even more so, I’m grateful to be in a position to help others get to this point, too.

web_IMG_1828 (1)

Sneak peek preview of some of the beautiful work done by Ariel Perez of www.arielphotography.com … I can’t wait to share more of his work!

Do you feel like you are tackling this journey alone? Then definitely get over and like my FB page, where we can interact and I hope to help you stay motivated and engaged, and learn to feel at home in your body!

I want to hear from you! Let me know: Have you ever had a professional photo shoot done? How did the pictures change your self-image? Have you ever gotten a spray tan before? 🙂

 

Sincerely,

Jamie

 

 

 

5 Lessons From “Falling Off My Diet”

Friday marked the end of the second week of my coaching program with Dr. Jade Teta. Already I’ve learned a LOT about my body and needs, but it hasn’t come easily.

In fact, I even “fell off” my plan for a couple of days and came face to face with some old habits and demons that hadn’t come out in quite some time. (Though I hate the term “off” in relation to diet; a better term would be “overtly noncompliant.” 🙂 )

Getting off track is almost something I look forward to these days, though, because it allows me to learn something new about myself and make myself better. And now that I’ve got this blog, I can share my lessons with all of you so that you may spend some time doing the same type of introspection!

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1) I am still battling my own tendencies toward perfectionism and seeking control.

My goal in completing this 12 week program is to balance my hormones FIRST AND FOREMOST, with a secondary goal of losing body fat to achieve a healthier body composition.  I didn’t realize how easily I would get sucked back in to old disordered thought patterns within days of beginning the program. I underestimated my ability to manage the voice of my “inner dieter,” with its impatience to see results and its desire to use as much willpower as necessary to “be good at dieting.”

Basically, I forgot how much part of me loves being on a diet.

It sounds crazy, I know, but the perfectionist in me still revels in the use of focused willpower to control my eating habits. Part of me loves the satisfaction of following a protocol or a plan to a “T,” and playing the part of a “good student” for my coach. I love comparing my shopping cart to other people’s in the grocery store, and feeling a bit smug and superior when mine has more vegetables and other “healthy food.”  I love seeing and feeling the first few pounds of water weight drop (even though these pounds don’t correspond to lasting fat loss or body change). I love estimating my projected linear fat loss (which of course, is never truly linear nor predictable…) if I can “just keep this up”.

I let my old love of dieting, restriction and seeking perfection creep back in, when my focus really should have been on managing my hunger, energy, and cravings* (aka HEC), and figuring out how I needed to tweak my diet program to make it something I could do to achieve this balance for the long term.

THE POINT: Tread carefully when navigating through long standing preferences and tendencies. Be honest about your goals, and keep them at the forefront of your attention.

beautiful never perfect

2) Too much restriction and my HEC being out of check will inevitably come back to bite me in the ass.

After about two full weeks of using willpower in the program, I hit my wall. I sought a break from the diet, from the constant mental counting and awareness and assessment of what I was eating (or not eating).

My escape?  Mindless eating. I didn’t have a full out, raid-the-cupboards-until-every-last-treat-is-gone kind of binge like I may have done a few years ago, but I’ve been working hard to eradicate mindless eating habits…particularly the habit of reading and eating on repeat with no regard to my body’s indicators of fullness.

It’s become more and more obvious to me over time that I use mindless eating habits in response to a period of obsessive or restrictive dieting.

THE POINT: Restriction and feelings of deprivation will ALWAYS lead to an equally strong behavioral compensation.

3) I’ve come a long way in my overeating habits, as well as in my ability to recover after a binge.

When I use the word “binge,” many interpretations of the word may come to mind. Did I eat an entire pizza by myself while hiding alone in my bedroom? Nope. Did I secretly drive to 7-11 to buy dozens of candy bars, eat them in the car, and then hide the evidence? Not so much.

Over the course of three nights, I ate several bowls of popcorn with some chocolate chips tossed in, some homemade peanut butter Reese’s cups (made with coconut oil, cocoa powder, and stevia), had one alcoholic beverage, one or two PB&J’s (on a whole wheat wrap), and some dried figs as well.

Could it have been better? Absolutely. My mindless overeating occurred three nights in a row, and I ate to the point of physical discomfort.

But could it have been worse? Absolutely.

I could've fallen into a box of pastries like this poor little guy...but I didn't. Win!

I could’ve fallen into a box of pastries like this poor little guy…but I didn’t. Win!

http://imgur.com/gallery/vM1wT

Aside from the evenings, the rest of my diet on those three days was pretty much on point, and by the fourth day everything had run its course and I was ready and eager to get back to my normal habits.

Unlike my former binge eating experiences, I didn’t eat a whole box of Cocoa Puffs. I didn’t polish off a pint of ice cream. I avoided 7-11’s and pizzerias both (although I have never actually eaten an entire pizza by myself…).

Most importantly, aside from feeling uncomfortably full the next morning, I didn’t wake up full of regret, shame, and disappointment. I woke up feeling a little foolish, almost wearing a goofy grin that said “Oops!!”

This was the biggest difference from my prior experiences overeating, and it felt like a HUGE accomplishment to be able to accept the situation for what it was, and then LET. IT. GO.

THE POINT: It’s important to notice and appreciate progress and the little wins wherever you can.

4) Relaxation is good, but fun is essential. Even for an introvert like me! 🙂

More often than not, I enjoy being a homebody. I love being with my husband and my dog, enjoying my couch, a good book and other quiet, relaxing activities. Sometimes, however, I’m a homebody out of sheer laziness. The day I “fell off” my diet was a rainy Saturday afternoon, and after almost a full day of work at the gym I was feeling lazy and beat.  (This is a regular Saturday tradition…after all, in my house Saturday is also known as “Nap-turday.”) My husband and I had several options for fun things to do that night, but in the end, I didn’t want to put in the effort to get myself moving and get out of the house. Plus I’d have to put in the effort of figuring out when and what I should be eating for dinner, did we want to go into Boston or somewhere closer to home, etc. (Excuses, excuses!)

So, we ended up doing NOTHING at all. Later that evening, I ultimately found easy, effortless entertainment in food. Oops! I definitely would’ve been better served to put in the tiniest bit of effort to get myself moving and had an enjoyable evening out with my husband.

THE POINT: Downtime and restorative activities are great for lowering stress, but not always “fun.” Blow off some steam and take the focus off of food once in a while!

5) There is no “on” or “off” a diet – only challenges and lessons to help me grow.

I know that in the long run, a few nights off plan didn’t set me back that far. Ultimately, it was worth it for me to have the experience in order to note the circumstances and triggers so I can adjust in the future. For one thing, I have significantly increased the amount of food I’m eating in order to achieve the desired “HEC in check,” specifically with more healthy fat at both breakfast and lunch to help support my energy levels throughout the day. In a way, I’m grateful for the opportunity to face some deep-seated obstacles early on in the program, because now I feel like I’ve cleared them out of the way and can continue to grow and move forward!

THE POINT: If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not learning.

I’d love to hear from you on the Facebook page: What can your most recent mistake or slip up teach you for the future??

Always here to help,

Jamie

 *The term “HEC” and the idea of trying to get my “HEC in check” is a concept from Metabolic Effect. You can learn more about it in this article.

The Popular Diet That You’ve Never Heard Of, But That You’re Probably Doing Right Now

Snacking and grazing between meals can get us into trouble.

Having a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit to help tide us over until our next full meal is one thing.

But mindlessly eating food just because it’s there is ruining your body composition efforts.

It’s easy to ignore how much we’ve eaten when we eat mindlessly. We may eat the equivalent of half of our meal or more just trying to decide what we want to eat, or even as we prepare our meals! Mentally, the foods we graze on don’t even “count” as eating — that is, the bite size candy bar we grab from the communal candy bowl at the office, the handful of Goldfish crackers off of our toddlers’ plates, the bunch of grapes we munch on with the refrigerator door open…those bites barely register in our brain as “satisfying,” or lead us to realize that “I’m actually not that hungry anymore.”

It's tasty for about 30 seconds, but is the energy equivalent of about 30 minutes of running. And you just ate three...

It’s tasty for about 30 seconds, but is the energy equivalent of 20-30 minutes of running. And you just ate three…

http://www.thediaryofacakemaker.com/food-blogger-connect-5/

But physiologically, those foods all COUNT towards your overall daily caloric consumption.

And if they reflect habits that you practice day in and day out…your body composition will reflect that additional input.

I call it the “See It Eat It” diet plan. And it’s one plan that you definitely want to give up on.

So how do we rein in mindless eating between meals, especially if we are on autopilot and don’t even realize when the hand-to-mouth-and-repeat pattern is in effect?

It’s time to wake up and pay attention.

If you’ve picked up your own copy of the EES Handbook (You haven’t!? What!? Check out the right side of this page, stat!), you already know that the first thing you need to do before making any changes to your current diet is to recognize what you are doing right now. And the best tool for that job is a food journal.

I usually get grumbles from my clients when I assign the homework of keeping a food journal. I get that it’s a little bit of an inconvenience. But it is such a powerful tool that if often gets results without my directly assigning any other behavior changes. Plus, most people don’t need to journal forever; they just need to learn to attend to what they are doing.

If you are on the “See It Eat It” plan, then recording your food intake for a week and showing it to a coach may be just the thing you need to get back on track, see results, and to start to take control of your diet and your life.

And if you don’t see immediate results from journaling alone, then you and your coach will easily be able to find the ONE THING that you can do to start moving in that direction!

In the meantime, if you haven’t already, definitely check out the email form to the right. You’ll get my EES Handbook full of action steps for FREE, and you’ll receive updates and tips from me in your inbox each week!

And don’t forget that I’m always thrilled to get questions on my Emotional Eating Solutions Facebook page. See you over there!

Always here to help,

Jamie