Swimming, Sparkly Stars and Indiana Jones: 10 random things that saved my ass this week

In no particular order..sparkly star

1. Sparkly stars.  I often *feel* crafty but rarely am successful at completing a nice craft.  So I decided to keep it super simple and make some of these.  It is such a small thing, but it made me happy.

2. Swimming.  I’ve missed a few weeks, and I went during the day, and wow, did it flip my mindset to happy.

3. The establishment of a new (pre-work) first-thing-in-the-morning ritual: 5 minutes of crazy apartment dancing to uplifting/empowering music.  Try it!

4. The dirty old man joke.  No kidding, I was sitting at the legion with my friend John, and this old man hobbled over, and asked us if we wanted to hear a joke. We said ‘sure’ and then he asked us why Santa doesn’t have any kids…because he only comes once a year and it goes up the chimney.  Then he walked away without saying anything more, not even ‘have a good night’ or something.  It was priceless!

5. Not shopping.  Yes, I said NOT shopping.  Something about shopping makes me queasy sometimes.  I thought I wanted to, but didn’t purchase anything.  This was a wise choice.

6. Frozen pizza.  I know damn well that cooking makes me feel good, especially cooking healthy things.  I caved and bought a frozen pizza the other day, and was able to bring it to a friend’s house to share, instead of cooking for her, which I’d wanted to do, but it just didn’t fit into my day.  It worked out well..more time to visit with her!

indiana jones7. Raiders of the Lost Ark.  I finally found a good copy of this movie and – well – it’s brilliant.  I just don’t understand how a movie like that could be SO GOOD.  The thing that blew me away was how many scenes I remembered so vividly from my early childhood.  I laughed, I cried, I wished for my own Harrison Ford to take me on an archaeological adventure in Ciaro.  Well, maybe one day.

8. Finally purchasing big garbage bags.  Symbolic of the need to lighten my load, emotionally and physically.

9. A really awesome massage.

10. All visits and chats with friends and family make my day/week — this goes without saying.  But a highlight this week in that regard was definitely the Google Hangout chat where me and 2 awesome girlfriends discovered the application Scoot and Doodle, where you can draw something together.  This masterpiece was born: best. art. eva.

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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.

Moments of clarity

This morning a coworker commented on how I ‘look glazed over’. Throughout my life I’ve heard similar things from people: “you look…” (tired, glazed, spacey). I think that they sometimes assume that I’m daydreaming, slacking, not paying attention or uninterested.

When this happens, I worry that I appear unintelligent, and I feel underestimated (especially at work), because in reality there is always ALOT going on in my brain! I am often paying attention to multiple (complex) groups of ideas while also being very aware of my external environment. I really want to tell this to people to try to ‘alert’ me of things that I know are coming (yes, mom, I am actually getting out of the way of that wheelchair even though I’m not actually looking that way!).

Instead of taking personal offence to these observations, I’ve decided to use them constructively.

What does it say about how people percieve me? When am I actually not clear? Can I ‘fake it till I make it’ to get more focussed? How can I work towards a lifestyle that truly brings me more day-to-day clarity?

One conclusion that I have come to is that I need more opportunities to express and act on the really great ideas, while creating the space to let go of the negative-analytical thought patterns.

After having realized this, I decided to make a list of moments when my mind has felt clear lately:

1. When I’m at the pool. Going swimming (hottub, sauna) absolutely clears my head, whether I’m by myself or not.

2. During a long walk in a natural setting.

3. While taking photos. The photo at the top of this post was taken during a long morning walk by the ocean. Just looking at it and remembering how I felt at that moment brings me a sense of peace. I just love the way the water looks.

4. When I’m writing, editing, proofreading (etc). Writing this post is absolutely uncluttering my brain!

5. At work: when I’m more social or involved in teamwork.

6. When people ask me for help and I’m able to offer an absolute yes.

What things don’t bring me clarity: envy, negative/analytical thinking, watching TV for long periods of time, surfing the internet for hours, making too many to-do lists, a messy house, fighting with my boyfriend, spending money.

Maybe being perceived as a ‘space cadette’ is not the worst thing in the world, because it’s pushing me further towards being the person that I want to be, on the inside and on the outside. It’s forcing me to bring more peace and clarity in my brain (and heart). After all, when my mind is peaceful and clear, this must show too.

Do you have a ‘moments of clarity’ list? Can you acknowledge where these moments of clarity come, whether at work, home, or play? How do you integrate more peace into your life regularly?

Thank you for reading.