A good reminder as we settle into rainy season.

those small moments

When the rain is falling outside your window, it’s the perfect time to curl up in your bed, drink some hot chocolate, and get all sentimental as you listen to that CD full of mellow songs, pretending that you are in one of those sad movies where the weather is sympathizing with you in your most recent heartbreak. Either that, or you’re just curling up in your bed and snoring the afternoon away (good for you). I know, I know, you were busy the entire week and you deserve the nap. I wasn’t judging you; don’t feel all guilty. You can sleep as much as you want, and I’ll pretend that I’m not secretly judging you for that. It’s all good, okay?

Rainy days though are more than just the hot chocolate, the cool air, and the opportunity to grab a decent nap. When it’s raining and you’re indoors, there…

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Why I’ll never look great in a bikini (and I don’t care)

Ladies, look at this bikini: is it not the cutest, sexiest thing on the planet?  Would you feel confident slipping it on, showing off your flat abs and prancing around on a beach?

I’m going to guess that most of you expressed a resounding “no way” and experienced an inner ‘shudder’ at the thought of your (belly) flab bounding around instead (if you answered yes to this, you are one of the lucky few.  And if you are naturally thin and see the drawbacks to that, still consider yourself one of the lucky few for the purposes of this article).

I went bathing suit shopping recently because I was looking for something I could swim in, because I swim for exercise (and fun) once a week.  When I mentioned this experience to other women, I was happy to find out that most of them – even people that I thought would look/feel great in swimwear – hated bathing suit shopping just as much as me!  Even people who appear to be confident, well-balanced, healthy, and in good shape – they hate it too!  It is so comforting to know I’m not alone.

Why do we hate it SO much, though?  Well, besides the ugly fluorescent change room lights  that highlight everything we don’t really want to see (ugh!! why do they do that to us?) we hate it because the beauty industry sets impossible standards.

But wait, we already know that!  By now we’ve probably read countless articles blaming the media for our body image issues, etc.  We are relatively educated about that and are probably maturing beyond many such insecurities.  We get that not every body is the same, we are learning to appreciate our ‘curves’, we are accepting of each other, etc.  We are intelligent, open minded, mature, healthy people.  Carefree but slightly less skinny TV characters (like Hannah in Girls) are popping up a little more frequently in the media and inspiring better body acceptance.  We understand the values of exercise and healthy eating, and many of us do just that.  We know why and how to keep our weight to a reasonable level, and we learn to stop judging our Oprah wings/cellulite/belly/etc.  as bad things.  So why is something like bathing suit shopping still such a bane?

I think we still have a misconception that we can all ‘get’ to looking (something) like this

if we work our asses of.  But I’ll bet that for most of us, this is an unattainable goal.  And focusing on any unattainable goal will ruin the FUN!

So, do us all a favor: the next time you are trying on a swimsuit, will you please try to think really hard about how much FUN you will have while you are in it, instead of how you look? Of course you want to find something flattering and comfortable for your needs and your body type!  Being comfortable is a given.  But, most of us will never look anything like this picture.  And that really has to be OK.  It just does.

Even if you have some kind of extreme diet/exercise regimen and get close to looking this way, how long will it really last?  What are you willing to sacrifice?  It depends what you value.

I have to say that I completely support all those out there who have made a lifelong commitment to genuinely healthy, fit lifestyles, and this shows.  Ko Kaleo is certainly an inspiration and I hope to have a journey similar to hers.  But it took her years to really get off the weight and get toned.

I am not saying you can’t transform your body or shouldn’t try.  I’m just encouraging us to be realistic about our expectations and priorities: we must align your goals to your lifestyle and your natural body type, including your naturally fatter or muscular areas.  Some types of fat will take a long time to go.  Some of us will end up with loose skin.  Sometimes we can build muscle and fix this kind of thing, but it’s just not going to be the same for everyone.

I have been exercising more and watching what I eat more, trying for a while now.  I’ve not  really lost alot of fat but I DO feel a little stronger and more energetic.  I recognize now that I have to keep building muscle for the rest of my life or that I will gain weight/age more rapidly and probably develop way more health problems.  I will probably always be a bit stocky, and have sort of muscular arms.  I am aligning my fitness goals with my body type and they DO relate to the way I look but are not about an unattainable image.  I’m expecting it to take years to really change my body composition.

Given this, here are my workout goals:

1. To lose some fat around my waist, because it is a risk factor in diabetes, etc.  This will probably also make me look more proportioned and womanly (bonus) but I’ll probably always have some belly fat.

2. To have a strong core and better posture.

3. To have more energy, especially as I age.

4. To challenge myself and learn new things.

5. To have fun, be social, and be outdoors.

I will probably never look ‘great’ in a bikini, but maybe I’ll just stay healthy and avoid many health problems as I get into my 40’s, 50’s, 60’s.  Maybe I will be good and feel loved (love myself) anyhow.  Maybe I’ll even prance around on a beach in one someday anyhow, despite the bits and pieces of flab that will probably be bouncing around.  Maybe I’ll surprise myself and my body will really transform unexpectedly as I get used to exercising more and push myself harder.  I don’t know.

I do know that every time I put my bathing suit on and have fun and get exercise, I care a little less about how I look, and a little more about how I feel, and I know that’s a huge step in the right direction.

12 Tips for getting through a breakup

Well it’s time for me to write the post, the one that almost everyone seems to write at some point or another: steps for getting through a breakup.

I am just in the first stages of separating with my live-in partner. We have lived together for about a year, dated for over 1.5. Although I truly believe that it is the best thing for us, my mind and heart are swirling: rejection, sadness, love, anger, yearning for some way to ‘fix’ everything and carry on. In writing this out I hope to bring some clarity – and hope – to other broken hearts out there.

1. Accept the change. Transition IS a part of life, and often we get stuck in patterns that seem comfortable but may actually be unhealthy. If you and your partner aren’t both equally putting the energy into sorting out your problems, or are not being totally honest (with yourselves), if you feel isolated, or the relationship isn’t evolving in a way that is meaningful to you, it is not a healthy relationship. Period. Doesn’t matter whose fault it is or what happened, it’s OK to take some space.

2. Create new ways of thinking. We all know that meditation, journalling, councelling, etc. are healthy ways of getting through the pain. But overall what is needed is a push to retrain our brain into just being OK in this new situation. Whatever therapy works for you to practice reworking your brain a bit, find it and force yourself to do it regularly, instead of curling up into a little ball.

3. Find your flow. Flow states can help us to step away from anxiety and depression. Usually they are not passive activities, but activities where you feel fully engaged. Depression in itself is the opposite of this, and may make us think we want to stay curled up in a ball. Do everything you can possibly do to convince yourself otherwise, then go and do your flow thing.

4. Believe that you are better off this way. Even if you have to fake it, write it in your journal a hundred times, ask others to tell you – it’s the only way you will have faith in your healing and your life.

5. Get through it, not ‘over’ it/the partner! Don’t be afraid to go through the grieving process (in an appropriate way). Let yourself cry, kick a punching bag, eat a bit of ice cream. Don’t begrudge yourself for grieving and being emotional. It is a confusing and disheartening time for everyone, but you will get through it.

6. Choose who to lean on, respect their boundaries, and respect the fact that you might be super sensitive right now. Sometimes we can encounter (perceived) negative judgements from even our closest friends and family. Or sometimes others may not be able to give us their full attention. Ask for a good time and make sure you have their full attention, and make sure that you can give them yours too.

7. Listen. It can be so easy to become engrossed in your own grief that you are self-absorbed, but, remember that other people need you too. Your own compassion can go a long way towards everyone’s healing. In fact you probably know someone who is going through or has gone through something similar, if not much worse. Be there for them.

8. Let love free you. I know that it’s the cheesiest line ever, but if you love them, set them free.

9. When you notice yourself missing a particular thing, do it for yourself!  For instance, if your partner cooked for you regularly, do this for yourself (or friends or family) and make it a special occasion. If you miss your partner kissing you goodbye in the morning before work, pretend to kiss yourself goodbye with that same love! It may sound ridiculous, but anything you can do to redirect those old patterns of ‘directing’ love is super important.

10. Don’t engage in unhealthy behaviours to distract yourself. Of course we will want to have a beer with a close friend and decompress, or maybe go dancing with a girlfriend. That is totally normal. But do not let yourself go overboard with this kind of thing. Especially not drugs or sex!!

11. Learn how to enjoy your time alone (again). I was alone for a long time, and when I entered the relationship, there were so many things about the daily companionship that I was grateful for. I expressed this to my partner many times. But I also learned from within the relationship that practicing being alone, no matter what, is always a good thing.

12. Do not rest in the ‘fantasy’. I still have visions and memories of times when it was good, of how I really wanted it to be. And the reason we split up is because it just wasn’t like that. My partner couldn’t offer it, maybe I wasn’t offering it either. Set a realistic vision for your next attempt at a relationship, and work towards that. But give it to yourself FIRST.

Every time I have been in a relationship, I have ended up unsatisfied. I can’t exactly say why, except that I do offer and expect the best. I expect us to cherish each other’s souls, bodies, lives- even the crazy parts. I expect there to be a relatively equal amount of give and take, of space and togetherness, of mutual support and self-sustenance. I expect for us to be able to grow together, have adventures, and generally just be OK when things aren’t that exciting!

I (we) tried for the best, and the experience was great, but it just didn’t last. And I think that I deserve the best. Don’t you?