Today, I didn’t move much. I worked from bed. I played with my dog. I got my nails done. I even flowed through some yoga tonight. But I didn’t move much.
And that’s okay.
You know what else I didn’t do today? I didn’t change my eating habits just because I didn’t hit the gym. I didn’t get mad at myself for not moving enough. I didn’t guilt myself into moving more. I didn’t think of myself as less of a person simply because I wasn’t active today.
Today I didn’t move much. I was still productive. I still felt good. I still did right by my body. But I didn’t move much.
I love activity. I love moving my body and seeing what it can do. I love being outside, hiking or walking with my dog. I love riding my horse. I love doing yoga. Sometimes, I even love running. But today, I didn’t move much.
And that’s okay.
Movement shouldn’t be a punishment for what you ate, nor a chore you have to do. You should do it because it makes you feel good. It makes you feel like your best self. It makes you happy. You should move because it’s good for your body and your soul. But there are going to be some days it just isn’t what your body craves. These are the days you rest. These are the days you recover. These days make you lazy. They don’t make you anything.
Today, I didn’t move much. I felt good. I ate healthy, I was happy. But I didn’t move much.
Something has really been weighing on my heart lately. Why do people find it so necessary to put themselves down? Why is it that we feel the need to believe we aren’t skinny enough or strong enough or good enough? Why do we love to hate our bodies? Why do we love to hate ourselves?
I’m going to be real here: I’m a size 14-16 (women’s clothing sizes are dumb), I have a major sweet tooth, and I probably don’t work out as much as I should. However, I do meal prep to some extent every week, I include some kind of fresh produce in every meal, and I’m always looking for fun and creative ways to eat healthy, clean, nutritious ingredients. Additionally, I love to be active (most of the time) and try to incorporate some form of exercise, be it the gym or some outdoor activity, at least three or four times a week. However, as much as I try to live a healthy life, I am not perfect. I enjoy my ice cream sometimes. I occasionally eat take-out. I have some lazy days. I do what I know will help me live a happy, balanced life. And you know what? That’s okay. None of that makes me an ugly person or a bad person. None of that makes me LESS of a person. It just makes me a person.
Now I’m not saying I’m positive about myself all the time, nor am I saying I don’t want to make improvements. But here’s the cool thing: you don’t have to put yourself down to make yourself better. You don’t have to think you’re “too fat” to want to work out. You don’t have to think you’re “too skinny” to want to get bigger. You don’t have to be anything at all in order to improve your relationship with yourself. You don’t have to be anything or anyone else to live a healthy, happy, balanced life.
Something I’ve been noticing a lot of among our society is that self-love is incredibly undervalued, while a negative self image is glorified. In particular, I’ve been seeing a lot of people vocalizing their self-deprecating thoughts on social media. This practice can not only be detrimental to you and your own self-worth, but also can hurt those who are struggling with their self-image. Our society is so focused on putting ourselves down and obsessing over our flaws that we shut out any love we could have for ourselves.
By all means, work your butt off in the gym, eat your veggies, and drink your protein drinks if that’s what makes you happy (and yes, that makes me happy too). But do it in a way that honors your body and your mind. Don’t do it to spite yourself, do it to love yourself. Don’t do it to be better than anyone, do it to be a happier you.
Please, please remember that your body is completely and utterly unique. It will never, nor should it ever, be identical to anyone else’s. Continue to strive to be your best, continue with whatever journey you’re on, but understand that part of being your best is loving yourself no matter what you look like. It’s about loving who you are and honoring that. Health isn’t just about being skinny. It’s about strength, happiness, and self-love. Self-deprecation will only stand in the way of your health and wellness, and the sooner we all realize that, the happier and healthier we will all be. Self-love can be achieved regardless of your body type or fitness level, and it’s imperative for living a fulfilling, happy, balanced life. Just as you must learn to love yourself before you can truly love someone else, you must first love who you are to truly love who you are looking to become.
Remember back in kindergarten when everyone would ask you what you wanted to be when you grew up? What did you say? Personally, when I was little, I wanted to be an artist because my dad told me I was probably the only kid my age who drew fingers on the hands of the people I drew. I thought I had this great artistic ability. I even drew a picture for the bankruptcy judge when I went with my mom to court one day (she’s a lawyer). However, my perception of my artistic abilities was vastly inaccurate.
As I got older, I decided I was going to be a veterinarian. My experience with livestock, horses, and companion animals had me convinced that saving animals was my destiny so I began pursuing a bachelor’s degree in animal science. While that passion for animals still drives me today, one undergraduate biology class quickly convinced me that veterinary medicine was not my calling. With that in mind, I began simultaneously working on a second bachelor’s degree in agricultural business. Little did I know, that decision would take me down a path I’d never even considered: pursuing a master’s degree in agricultural business.
In terms of hobbies and sports, volleyball was always a sport I thought I’d be playing my whole life. These days, I have every intention of returning to the sport in a recreation capacity, but it has not played the role in my life I always thought it would. The same is true for roping and rodeo. While I still have an immense love and passion for the sport of roping, my life’s has diverged from the rodeo road, taking me to a much different place: graduate school. Luckily, I’m still able to ride and share my love of horses with my younger cousin through riding lessons, but had you asked me three years ago what I’d be doing at twenty-three, I would have confidently said I’d be going to ropings every weekend and practicing as much as I could.
Lately, I’ve been feeling conflicted, as we all do from time to time. I have felt the pressure of these past expectations and goals I have set. I have been experiencing disappointment and even shame for not having met most of them. I’ve been thinking about how I’ve let me past self down by now having different priorities than I did then. Was I not dedicated enough? Did I make the wrong choices? Would I be happier had I stayed on that path?
With all of those questions rushing through my head, I’ve been able to realize a few things:
Nothing in life happens as it “should”. You can try to plan and prepare as much as possible, but life will always have a way of throwing you a curve ball that might change the way you swing your bat (yay baseball analogies).
There are so many paths you can take in life, and very few of them are “wrong”. Any path can be the “right” path if you don’t know your destination. And let’s face it, no one in this life really knows exactly where they are headed. So embrace the journey and see where it leads.
You are NOT letting down your past self by having different priorities today. As you move down your various paths in life, each step requires different choices. Three years ago, my priorities were roping and college, paying very little mind to my overall health and wellness. Today, roping has taken a back seat pursuing my master’s degree and a balanced lifestyle. As much as I miss roping and have every intention of returning to it someday, right now, it simply can’t be a priority.
STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS. This one continues to be a major challenge for me. With social media allowing us all to share our lives, it’s so easy to see some fitness guru posting what they eat in a day or how much they workout every day, and start feeling inadequate. One thing that has been a bit difficult for me to swallow is seeing all my old rodeo friends going to rodeos or ropings, practicing during the week, and really showing their dedication. As proud as I am of all of those individuals, when I see those things, I can’t help but think “I’m not near as handy as they are,” or something along those lines. Then, I remind myself, that we are all on different paths. We all have our goals and no single person’s goal is any better or worse than anyone else’s because they are all so unique. Comparison will never benefit you as your life is so incredibly different from everyone else’s.
When I was young, I thought I’d have everything figured out by now. I thought I’d have a steady career, exciting hobbies, and possibly even a family. After all, when you’re five years old, you think twenty-three year olds are real adults (oh how wrong we were…). Throughout your life so far, you’ve thought you’d be a certain person by now. Chances are, you aren’t the person you expected you’d be by now. Our paths through life are incredibly unpredictable and honestly, that’s kind of beautiful. What fun would life be anyway, if we knew exactly who we’d be tomorrow?
My fitness journey has been, and honestly still is, a crazy rollercoaster ride. As an athlete in high school, going to the gym wasn’t a necessity.I was so active and my metabolism was much faster (oh, how I miss my teenage metabolism) that I didn’t have to worry about getting in extra exercise or eating right. I wasn’t by any means a stick, but I was fit.
During my first two years of undergrad, I somehow managed to avoid the “freshman 15”.I had minor weight fluctuations but I was relatively active, and tried to eat okay, so it was never really a big deal. Junior year, after turning 21, I started gaining weight. It’s common knowledge that alcohol doesn’t exactly shrink the waistline, but being newly 21, I didn’t care.I just wanted to have fun! But I got to a point where I wasn’t nearly as active as I had been and I certainly wasn’t eating in a way that positively influenced my health or my body image.
Spring semester of senior year, my friends and I planned a trip to Cancun for spring break. It was the perfect motivation to get back to the gym and start eating right. And those habits stuck with me well after the trip and throughout the summer after graduation. I was eating well, exercising, and felt amazing.
Fast forward to graduate school. For the first couple weeks, I was able to keep my health and wellness as a priority. However, as classes and research became more involved, my priorities changed. I began eating more junk and spending more time at my desk. My diet consisted of take out or mac-n-cheese, anything that was quick, easy, and tasty. The gym fell out of my daily rotation and I felt I had no time to be active. After a while, my body started showing these changes and I felt terrible. At the end of my first semester of graduate school, I decided I didn’t like who I was becoming and how it was making me feel. I never had any energy or motivation, I was depressed and struggling with anxiety. I was a mess and I needed cleaning up.
So I made the decision to start reincorporating healthy habits back into my life. When I went home for winter break, I worked with my mother on preparing healthy meals and being more active. I started going to the gym and hiking with friends. I just made changes that made me happy.
I’m now about a month into my second semester of graduate school and I’ve been able to stick with these habits. I’ve been working out consistently, eating (mostly) clean meals, and, most importantly, listening to what my body needs.
My main motivation is simple: I want to be the best version of myself that I can be. These new habits are not only helping me physically, but mentally as well. I eat what my body craves, and it’s craving real food. I workout not because it’s a chore, but because it makes me happy (yay endorphins!) and I want to. I am doing this for my overall wellness. I’m doing this for me.
So my challenge to you is quite simple: if you are dissatisfied with something in your life, take the steps to change it! It might not be easy. In fact, it’s probably incredibly difficult. But it’s the small steps that will lead you to where you want to be.
Or you woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Or you’re just particularly cranky. Well, I have a few tips to help you out. I’m by no means “Little Miss Sunshine”, but I’ve had my share of challenging days, too many of which I made no effort to improve. Lately, however, that has changed. Whether I’m not feeling well, school and work are absolutely insane, or any number of other things bare making my day difficult, I now know, there is always a way to fix, at least, your mood.
Eat good food. Whether it’s good for you, fulfills a craving, tastes amazing, or any combination of the three, eat something that will make you happy and makes you feel good. I always like to start my days with some form of a healthy breakfast. My favorite, due to its the limited amount of required effort and limitless possibilities, is overnight oats. To the right is my new favorite. Here’s the recipe:
Oats: 1/2cup Rolled Oats, 2 Tbsp. Chia Seeds, 1/2-3/4 cup Almond/Coconut Milk, dash of vanilla. Toppings: handful of blueberries, 1 sliced banana, handful of gluten-free granola. Directions: combine all “oats” ingredients in a mason jar and mix. Put in refrigerator overnight. Top with blueberries, banana, and granola when served.
Look good, feel good. Even if looking good to you is a messy bun, leggings, and your favorite sweater, wear something you feel your absolute best in. It’s amazing what your favorite outfit will do for your morale. In addition, if you’re anything like me, having fun with makeup helps too. If you’re happier without makeup, than go bare-faced! However, if you’re not, rock that smokey eye or winged eyeliner, that bold lipstick or those contoured cheeks. Have a little fun with your appearance! It could make all the difference.
Do something for yourself. Even if it’s just an hour of Netflix, a short hike, a little retail therapy, or some time at your favorite gym (workouts are my new go-to), do something that allows you to forget the negativity for a bit. Have a little you-time to clear your mind and just be happy. Be careful not to use this time to dwell on your frustrations, as can sometimes happen. Instead, try not to think of anything aside from what you are doing in that time. It’s a great way to reset and start over, even if it’s late in the day.
Crank the tunes. I know how lame that sounds, but honestly, the power of a good song is incredible. If you’re feeling down on yourself, throw on some pop or hip-hop music that empowers you. Feeling angry? Hard rock or even metal can sometimes do the trick. Whatever makes you feel good, listen to that.
Even though it’s just four little things, throwing them into the mix on a less-than-ideal day can have a major impact. A little positive action and thinking can improve your whole day. While sometimes, the challenges of the day seem insurmountable, there is still good in every day, even if you have to make it yourself. Always remember, happy people are the prettiest, inside and out.