Saturday, July 16, 2011
We all know that famous celebrities, models, politicians...virutally everyone is being photoshopped nowadays. We have to look perfect. We have to look beautiful. Beauty is defined in our society by what other people think of us. And it's not right. Having two daughters, one who just turned 5, but when she was 4 in preschool feeling pressured ALREADY to wear makeup and that she wasn't pretty enough..well, this is a subject that is close to my heart, to say the least.
I have a confession to make.
I photoshop myself.
Before you feel like I have misrepresented myself, hear me out.
It isn't every photo. It isn't any photo on Facebook, for my FB friends.
I don't make myself look thinner, or whiten my teeth.
It's just some photos that get close up and personal.
Because I suffer from psoriasis and have for over 20 years.
See, it's just parts of my skin that I "fix". I use a handy tool in Photoshop that is called the "healing brush". Isn't that a nice word? Healing.
This confession has been coming for a while now...earlier this week I was talking to my dear friend Blaize about my skin disease (yes, psoriasis is a disease but it isn't catching), and I felt the need to come clean about how I hide it in some of my photos since she could never tell.
For those Spark friends who have met me, you probably couldn't tell either.
I'm "lucky"...I have it in places that are easily hidden....and for the places on my face I use lots of coverup. However, lets just say that nude modeling is NOT in my future. My body is at times 80% covered with lesions.
But I'm coming out from the shadows...I feel sick about this and I at the time, earlier in the week, I felt this, too, and I didn't really know why. Blaize understood and knows about psoriasis and the self-esteem issues it causes, she has family members who suffer from it.
But still. I am a very honest person....and this was kind of my "dirty little secret".
Today I read my daughter Lucy the book "You are Special" by Max Lucado. In it there is a woodworker named Eli who represents God. The wooden puppets that he makes have a system where they put a star on those who are beautiful or talented, and a dot on those that aren't. Well one poor puppet named Punchinello got bombarded with dots because he was different. He was ugly. He had no talent. He meets a girl named Lucia who had no dots or stars. It turns out that because she didn't care what the others said, and only cared what God thought of her that their stars and dots didn't stick to her. It's one of my favorite stories to read the girls.
As I was reading that this nagging thought kept chipping away at my brain....about MY values and why I cared what the Spark community might think of my very real psoriasis dots.
Then I was directed to this website by a new Sparkie in the Chicago team and it touched something so deep inside of me....about beauty and how sometimes we don't find ourselves beautiful....how I don't find MYSELF beautiful.
I realized that I don't love my body....in fact I hate my psoriasis and how it alters my body and makes others look at me strange. Over the years I've heard some terrible things from mostly strangers, not my friends or family. But still...it hurts. I've been asked if I was burned in a terrible fire, or if I had AIDS and just last week a guy in my running group asked if I was attacked by a dog.
It's these comments that made me look for a solution (other than the very real drugs, doctors, naturalists, hypnosis, etc. that I've had over the years). I could just use the "healing brush". It started maybe about a year back, when I started to lose enough weight that you could tell the difference. I would actually have a picture that I LIKED. Wow! It was a new feeling. And then I would see my psoriasis...ruining the entire photo...until I discovered the "healing brush", of course. That changed it all. I could look beautiful to me and to others!
Well, the thrill is gone. It hurts me to realize that I don't honestly think I AM beautiful. That I need to hide behind a facade. I am crying now writing this because I feel I have lied to you all...let you down....
What would my daughters think...that Momma's a fake? I'm telling them to love themselves as they are. Just as they are. But I'm not doing that.
I've removed all touched up photos from my Spark page. I apologize for any misrepresentation. From now on what you will see is me.
The real me.
Left, my original photo. Right, my touched up version.
I know that the difference here is subtle...you may not notice my face, the spot on my collar bone or by my breasts. But I do....and I felt a need to hide it.
Me today, no makeup. No touchup. (taken on cell phone)
Lyrics from the song "You Are Beautiful" by Mercy Me
You're beautiful, You're beautiful
You are made for so much more than all of this
You're beautiful, You're beautiful
You are treasured, you are sacred, you are His
Monday, July 11, 2011
Remember those essays you had to write in school after returning from summer break? Well, here's what I did on my Summer Vacation...
I woke up with the sun and did yoga
I took my vitamins
I tracked my food, writing it all down on paper (no Internet connection at the cottage)
I drank only 2 glasses of wine per day, if at all.
I walked 2 miiles with Leslie.
I ran 2 miles on a rural road, admiring the blueberry fields.
I walked countless miles with my dogs.
I swam across the lake and back.
I paddleboated across the lake and back.
I ate carrots with hummus vs. chips and dip.
I made a healthy pb&j before eating a processed snack.
I did yoga when the sun went down.
I got my Dad and hubby to walk a mile with Leslie (no small feat!)
I took my dog on a walk with my bathing suit on and felt fine.
I did strength training.
I held the twins when my sister needed a break and changed them, and rocked them, and sang to them.
I biked 6 miles to the local grocery store to get baby wipes vs. my hubby driving to Wal-Mart.
I played with my girls in the sand, running up the hill, dancing with them.
I also played countless games of Scrabble, devoured books, relaxed in the sun and enjoyed a nice glass of wine now and then.
I also fully enjoyed eating all the wrong things 20% (ok, sometimes 30%) of the time.
But I felt AMAZING.
And when I got home and saw that I had gained 3 lbs. while on my vacation do you know what I did?
Those 3 lbs. are such a joke that I am not going to let them defeat me or define me. I know that they, like my vacation, won't last long. They are HISTORY.
Because, and this is sortof funny (and sort of frustrating)....when I was figuring my 80/20 plan, I forgot one small thing...
My body doesn't DO well on 20% bad. My body craves goodness 100% of the time. And yes, that stinks....BUT I am not perfect and don't strive to be. I am just going to take those 3 lbs. and kindly tell them to get off at the next stop.
I had a great time, and wouldn't have changed a thing.
OK, maybe I would have turned down the pork rinds, but hey, a girl has to satisfy that oh-so-wrong craving once in a while, doesn't she?
I hope you all had wonderful holiday weekends as well!
A picture I snapped on the trail after realizing I was in my bathing suit on a semi-public road and didn't care (untouched).
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Starting Friday I'm off work for a week and we're going to our cottage in Michigan for most of it, then returning to the area for a Staycation and spending time together as a family and doing things we normally can't because I'm working. Navy Pier, the Arboretum. We are going to have FUN.
My dear bestie Blaize will also be on vacation and we both wanted to have fun during our time away, but also to try to stay on track and not gain a ton of weight. My goal is not only to maintain, but to lose weight while on vacation.
I suggested that we try applying the Pareto 80/20 principal to our weight loss while on vacation.
The rules are simple. 80% of the time we will make healthy choices. The other 20% of the time we can do whatever we want, and no one has to know about it. We're going to text each other every day and be accountable for that 80% - the good choices. All the bad stuff? It's like Vegas, baby. What happens during that 20% stays there.
I figure if you approach a vacation like a reckless abandonment of all of your healthy lifestyle changes, and 80% of the time you make not the best choices, and 20% of the time you are "good"...well, honey, that's gonna show up on the scale. 'Nuf said.
BUT if you turn it around, and ALLOW yourself that little devilish "bad" side 20% of the time, give yourself that freedom (but not too much freedom)...and make healthy choices the rest of the 80% of the time, well the scale will even out, or even show a loss.
Factor in exercise to this equation (my goal to move in some way, shape or form every day). And a loss is pretty much guaranteed. Reach for the stars, right?
As part of this challenge we are to write about our motivation...this will help us stay on track for that 80% of the time. Now I have two main motivations -- other than losing weight and being healthy of course.
1. I am SO close to Onederland and losing 100 lbs. that I can SMELL it. I have 4 lbs. to go to be in Onederland. 5 lbs. to reaching 100 lbs. lost. That is a huge motivation for me. When I crave another glass of wine, or a big hunk of cheese what will be more important to me? Satisfying that craving (and probably feeling worse as a result?) or seeing those magical numbers on the scale. If you guessed the second option, Ding, Ding, Ding! Get that girl a prize, Vanna.
2. Now here's my super secret motivation...a desire so deeply ingrained in me that part of me feels I can't attain it...(but aren't those the best kind of goals?). My sister gave me a kick-butt running skirt that is a size Large. It fits me and it looks amazing. BUT. At present, the back of my thighs don't do it the justice it deserves. This skirt is a bit shorter than the new running skirt I bought, and it doesn't cover my imperfections. My goal is to run, walk, go up hills, go down hills, get enough ST in that the backs of my legs ROCK and are something I will be proud to strike the trail with.
SO. There you go. My two reasons I'm going to rock it out this vacation, baby. Wish me luck. No, strike that. Wish me STRENGTH.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
*****DISCLAIMER: THIS IS ABOUT GOD.*****
"I can do all things through him who strengthens me."
~ Philippians 4:13
I was born again in 2008. That is when my journey, and spark journey, truly began. I usually don't preach, or try not to, in my blogs but for this inspiration week it would be a lie if God didn't show up in there somewhere. I am a God Chick a Jesus Freak, a Born Again and I love that I am all of these things. I also respect those of my Spark friends who aren't, and who have other views. But for me, Jesus has been my savior (and is) and I have discovered that nothing is too big - or small - for Him, including my weight loss (which on the scale of the world is very tiny, I know).
I was overweight since the third grade. I was the person you didn't want to sit next to at the lunch table and always the person picked last for teams during P.E. class. I was the weirdo. Then in H.S. I decided I didn't want to be that person and took control in my own hands and starved myself. I got down to a very scary weight and looked sick. But people loved me! They discovered that I was funny, smart, kind...all of the things I always was, but they couldn't see beyond the layers of fat (walls I had also created out of my own power to protect myself).
In college I stopped the starving and started the partying. I gained back much of my weight. Then I met my husband and after we were married add about a hundred pounds to that weight gain. To sum it up in one word, I was SAD. I felt helpless.
I tried. I tried so many weight loss diets, plans and schemes. I've tried them all...some twice. Nothing, and I repeat Nothing worked. I felt destined for a life of fathood.
I found Spark in 2007 and diddled around, tracked some food then stopped...see I didn't have the strength of my own to follow through on any program.
In 2008 I gave my life over the Christ - a life that had been Godless for so long, and I was led to Him through other issues in my life, not my weight loss. To me, weight loss wasn't "important" enough to give over to God. I mean, really? Doesn't He have more important things to do?
But one day, I did. I just let it go and prayed that God help me to lose the weight so that I could be the mother He intended me to be, the wife I could be, the PERSON that I was truly meant to be, because I couldn't believe that this was it. I know many overweight people say they are happy and content, and they don't need to lose weight, they are healthy -- and that is fine for those people. But for ME. I was SAD. The pictures tell the story. I couldn't smile if you paid me.
So, I slowly started trusting God with my food. Sounds weird, I know. But I asked Him to show me when I was full, when I was hungry...and that started working. For me, it's nothing short of a miracle. Then I asked God for strength in other areas of my life...I began walking, then running. And to go from the girl who was never picked in gym class to the girl who is training for a 10K is just amazing to me. And I'm not gloating. I'm giving all of the glory to God because I know that He is my true strength. I couldn't do any of this on my own.
He is the reason I smile and have lightness inside of me now. He is the reason I can be patient on this journey that sometimes seems so long, because I know that through Him I will reach my goals. I know that God has much bigger plans in store for me than even I know.
And I'm good with that :)
Me before Christ
Friday, June 24, 2011
Make big plans, but change your plans as time changes.óMarchant
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
gang aft a-gley.--Robert Burns ("To a Mouse")
[Popularly misquoted as: The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray, or The best laid plans of mice and men go oft astray.]
Last night I had a Plan. My husband and girls were going to have a Daddy play date with a neighbor Dad and his two girls. I was going to get out of the house and run. I wanted to get one more outside run in before my running group tomorrow morning. I planned to get 4 miles in, because I know the running coach will push us to get 5 miles in tomorrow outside. I wanted to get out there in the night air and just go with it and get Ďer done.
Had I known that plans would fall through and the Daddy play date wasnít going to happen I would have gotten my run in at lunch. As much as the dreadmill doesnít inspire me, I would have done it. BUT I didnít know.
So I get home, and instead of having the night to myself, I have two eager girls and a hungry husband. I am not the happy camper. I am, in a word, annoyed.
The bonus was that I would get to make the BBQ Chicken recipe I wanted to try out. The bad part was trying to actually cook with a soon to be 2 yr. old toddler grabbing my legs from behind and trying to wrestle me to the floor, and my 4 yr. old (soon to be 5 yr. old) asking me question after question about life. Not just simple questions, but questions about why lightning bugs donít have brains, and why glass can break.
I hustle to get my pizza in the oven and make mini pizzas for the girls on tortillas, knowing they probably wonít eat them anyway (favorite foods of late are mac& cheese and hot dogs and any attempt on my part to inject them with veggies are thwarted).
By this time itís already 6:30. A late dinner. Did I mention in the process of cooking dinner I stepped on a nail that was in a board that Marlo kicked off the kitchen cabinet earlier and I hadnít had a chance to pick up yet?
Once the foot is disinfected, bandaged and everyone is fed, I look at my running shoes in the corner with a nostalgic feeling. I wanted to be on the road. I wanted to run before it got too dark out and I got scared again by a neighbor welding in his driveway looking like something out of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I didnít want to be in the house, with my familyÖ.I feltÖterrible. Like an awful mother. But darn it, this wasnít my plan! I have a great plan tonight to spend quality girl time with both of them, but that was not Tonight. Tonight was my nightÖ.(do I sound selfish yet?)
So now I go from annoyed to irritated and I half-heartedly color with Lucy, thinking about running the whole time and wishing she would just fall asleep. I sing and read stories to Marlo, thinking of how I will feel after my run instead of how she is holding my hand and putting her head on my shoulder, wrapping her hair around her finger like she doesÖ.
I start to become aware that Iím not being present and as a working mom, these moments are precious. I give myself a silent guilt trip in my head about how I should pay more attention. Then I stop thinking about running and put my Momma hat on.
45 minutes later and I look at my watch. 8:30. Itís getting quite dark out. I know if I donít go now, I never will. I kiss Lucy and tell her I need to get running before itís too dark (she has taken a nap this day so gets a later bedtime of 9). She seems OK with it, and is focused on her coloring. I cuddle Marlo and sing her one last song, and then I hit the pavement.
And Iím off!
ButÖ.I see that the recent storms caused much damage and there are downed trees everywhere. I try to go my normal route but canít, itís a busy road and I donít run in the street on that road, and after hurdling two large trees on the sidewalk, I decide to take a different route. I turn the corner and there are more trees. And more. I turn left and now I smell something like fire mixed with something else, something plastic, and I see a downed electrical wire. Iím only a mile in. I realize that I need to turn around. I canít run in this, it was too dangerous and also frustrating to keep trying to find a clear route. Oh, and the YMCA is closed due to their power still being out, so the dreadmill or indoor track wasn't an option either.
As I turn around, I see something else besides the devastation caused by the storm Ė fireflies. Lucy has been talking about fireflies since Spring and they are only out for about two weeks. They are lighting up the now pitch dark sky. I know sheís still awake. I have time.
I get home and look at my Garmin. 2 miles. Not what I wanted to do, but it is what it is.
I get Lucy and her net, flashlight and mosquito repellent. We take a walk to an empty field and the fireflies are exploding like fireworks. It is amazing. I try to take a video w/ my camera phone but it is too dark to capture that beauty. But I know I will always remember it. After much trying, Lucy catches the very first firefly of her life. She holds the net close to her chest as we walk home, she desperately wants to keep it as a pet.
Once home we get the firefly into itís home (a dome Lucy catches spiders in that has holes for breathing). I tuck her in. I feelÖgood. As I go to bed that night I check in on her one last time. She has moved the firefly house from her bookshelf to the corner of her bed so that the firefly can sleep with her. How precious is that?
I went to bed and thanked God for the day He had given me, and for changed plans. I had the best night and realized I had fought through most of it, when maybe next time I should just accept that plans change and embrace it. I got that by the end of the night though, and I fell asleep satisfied and happy. And I have a memory I will keep in my heart forever.
(From the movie "Grave of the Fireflies")
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