Self-Image

So my dad said the magic words tonight, “Want to have Chipotle for dinner?” Mexican food and chocolate are my trigger foods. If I even THINK the word chocolate or tacos, my life is pretty much downhill from there.  I struggle with trigger foods because I know I should not eat them, but they are SO GOOD. Hope did a great vlog the other day about deprivation. I did the deprivation thing once. It actually works fantastically until one day I said, “Well, one piece of chocolate won’t hurt.” And now here I am where I just think the word chocolate and I’m like a gremlin, you guys. It’s terrible. So, don’t do it. It just turns whatever you give up into your trigger foods.

This week has been good from an exercise front. I met my favorite ladies, Mary, Jen, Alexa and Meghan to walk on Monday around Lake Calhoun. Now, let me say something about these women. They are in one word: amazing. I’ve only known them for maybe a month or so and the connect I feel like I have is completely irreplaceable. Maybe it’s because they get the healthy journey and the ups and downs and how much it can suck. Maybe it’s because they push me to continue and stay on my path. And quite frankly, maybe it’s just because they are AWESOME. I feel like I have my own Ya-Ya Sisterhood. So, I full embrace how incredibly corny this paragraph was. But, I digress. I’m not deleting it.

So, some days, I have great make-up application days. Some days I have great outfit days, hair days and the list goes on. Well, today, I had amazing bang day . It was like, “Damn, Gina.” Only, my name is Cindy, and I know that. In any case, this was really quite exciting given the circumstances that most days I have a hard time looking in the mirror and saying, “You are beautiful. I don’t know what it is. Deep down I know I don’t believe that, but for the most  part I really kind of do. I grew up with this sick understanding of what “beautiful” means. I grew up in schools where what was on the outside was more than likely more important than what was going on inside.  And let me tell you, I have not always been a woman of great substance so I spent my days ogling over what was not right in the mirror. I’ve gotten to a point where I can be “okay” with my own reflection, but sometimes, I still feel like I am sixteen when it comes to my body image issues. Most days I feel good about where I’ve landed at this point in my journey, but man. There are days that before I even make out the door in the morning, every single piece of clothing is on my floor and I have shed many tears and all I want to do is go to bed. And you know what? In most social situations, I compare myself to women based on my body proportion size.

Wow. I think I just threw up on this page. I think this is where I end for now. It feels good to write these things down sometimes.

Positive Solutions and Wellness: Hand in Hand

I am excited to host my first guest blogger today. And more than that, Erica has a great cause to talk about. It’s something she is passionate about and myself as well. In a nutshell: She is raising money to provide fresh, clean water for years to come for those who do not have any. What a thing we take for granted. CLEAN water. Anyone on their road to creating a healthier life for themselves understands the importance of having water. So, imagine if that was taken away from you. I challenge you today to give up your 3-5 dollars you might spend on coffee to help Erica provide clean water for those who have none.

Water. It’s something a lot of us forget about. Forget how important it is to survive. It prevents health issues such as: chronic fatigue, allergies, depression, digestive problems (yup, I’m talking about poo), urinary tract problems, etc… It’s easy to take water for granted, until you hear the stories of people who go without. I was shocked to find out 4,500 children die every day, due to unsafe drinking water. But, I don’t believe in inspiring through negative action. You can get that from the TV ads about poverty, complete with violin background music. I know that’s not what you’ve come here to read. 😉

Now, getting to the point. I stumble upon an organization looking to help the epidemic. But, I’m not delusional. I know others don’t have the same passion for this cause (charity: water) as I do, because…frankly, I don’t have passion for their causes either. So I decided to offer photo sessions in return for donations of $50 or more. A barter of sorts.

What happened then?

Amazing things. $7,000 in donations later…I’ve been taking photos non-stop. But, do you know what I’ve realized in the process? Still photography has a power to help someone with their mental wellness/well-being. 90% of my donors have said things along the lines of, “I’ve never felt this happy about photos about myself before.” That floored me.

Now, I could credit my amazing skills. But, to be honest…they don’t exist. I’m not a great photographer when it comes to technical know-how, lenses, etc…in fact, I’m a true beginner. Instead, I use my video directing background to coax people out of the standard “photo” mentality, and  into a place where they feel comfortable joking around, rolling their eyes, and showing their true emotions during our sessions.  I even found out that Miss Cindy has some crazy ninja-like jumping skills. Hiii-ya!

Why does this have anything to do with wellness? Well, once you can see the beauty in yourself, you see more beauty in the world surrounding you…and it’s easier to find a sense of zen. I don’t take photos of people, I capture moments of their personality. Because, in the end…the different looks, laughs, and silly grins are what makes us all beautiful. Thank you, Cindy…for being beautiful on so many different levels. And thanks for inviting me to post. It’s truly an honor to know you, my little ninja.

Now, remember everyone…when life gives you rain, puke a rainbow. Be well. See the beauty in yourself. Today.

To learn more about my charity: water campaign and the world water crisis visit: http://charitywater.org/ericamayer

To see the donors in action in front of my lens go here: http://www.facebook.com/pukerainbowsphoto

Quirky ramblings, made up words, quotes, and a dose of me: http://twitter.com/ericamayer

A Full Confession: It Took Me 26 Years to Realize I am Awesome

One part of being healthy is being healthy of mind. I know that sounds incredibly corny, but think about it. There are lots of people around the world who are fit, in shape, or however you want to look at it, but are not healthy of mind.  The statistics speak for themselves:

  • Eating Disorders affect up to 24 million Americans and 70 million individuals worldwide.
  • At least 50,000 individuals will die as a direct result of an eating disorder.

Being on the get-healthy journey has been great for me because I’ve been able to set goals for myself, have a place to outlet my frustrations and also have a place to celebrate my successes. Now, this isn’t meant to be a post regarding eating disorders. It’s just to get you and even myself thinking. Our minds, and what we see of ourselves in the mirror is not always the true reflection of what is going on inside your head, or your heart.

Allow me to reverse a few years back. I started at my current company straight out of college on a temporary basis and then was hired on full time. While I loved the company I worked for, I was just another drop in the bag as far as they are concerned. I didn’t have any value-add from their perspective, so I came to work everyday, did what I needed to do and went home.

In late, 2009, I was asked to be part of their Inclusion journey. So, what is Inclusion?

A sense of belonging. A feeling of being respected, valued and seen for who we are as individuals; there is a level of supportive energy and commitment from leaders, colleagues and others so that we — individually and collectively — can do our best work. – As defined by the Kaleel Jamison Consulting Group

Seems simple enough, right? Well, a group across the organization – 28 of us, went through this Inclusion Journey. We talked about the “tough stuff” that has happened within the organization. No company is perfect, right? So, we had three, three-day sessions of training. Or, 9 days, plus life as we liked to call it. The beauty of it was that this training made me look inwardly to think about what I could do within my current work groups to begin to be the change I wanted to see happen. (Have you seen the connection yet?) So I walk into this training, thinking I have literally NOTHING of value to add, why was I chosen to do this, etc. Turns out those who were chose to be included in this journey are those who are seen as change agents, leaders in the organization and so forth. So now I’m at this training going, “Say what?”

Now, fast forward. I have now completed my nine days of training and I had the opportunity to present on my journey with two others at the Global HR Staff Meeting. This was an excellent opportunity for two reasons:

  • This journey was important to me and I wanted to be able to share my learnings.
  • I hate speaking in groups of people, so why not the GLOBAL staff meeting?

So, the night before, I am in bed, cold sweats and all thinking about this. I’d had a conversation with the SVP of HR that day and I knew I had his support, but holy bananas was I ever scared! So, the next day, my three coworkers who were all involved in this training, two of us in person, one person on the phone gave this presentation. We arrived to the part of the presentation of “Inclusion is important to me because…”

And when it was my turn, I said, “When I started on this journey, I truly believed I did not bring any value to the organization. And now, I realize the importance of Inclusion, because it made me realize that, actually, I’m pretty awesome.” and I paused, and the room filled with applause. I did everything I could to hold back my tears at that point and continued on through the end of the presentation. And I felt good. Still, this week, two weeks later, as I am running into people, I am having conversations with folks who were blown away at my ability to speak in front of people and be open, honest and touch people’s hearts. It was brought to my attention that my story pulled at heart strings and caused tears.

So here’s the deal. Being healthy: Outwards appearance, obviously important. We need to be healthy and in shape because we want to live long, full lives and not cut ourselves short. But also important: being healthy of mind. Don’t sell yourself short because I almost did.

Thanks to The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness for the statistics on eating disorders.

This Stuff is Hard

Anyone who says trying lead a healthier lifestyle when that has not been the case in the past is a liar.  I struggle every single day to make the right choices. I would stay 6 times out of 10, I don’t. I was doing incredibly well about not eating candy from the candy dish at work, but seriously. Chocolate is SO good. I need to stock up on my sugar-free or WW candy because I like it just as much as the sugar-packed candy. I was really moved by what Lindsay had to say about how tough it is to keep at it. We are going to have lots of bad days to get to the good ones. We’re human, and sometimes we want to eat that handful of chocolate and sometimes we grab a piece of fruit instead. Eventually, we’ll crave the fruit. But until then, this is a journey for a reason.

So, I had a delicious little dinner tonight!

I grabbed my light mayo:

I spread a bit on my Pepperidge Farm Deli Flats along with some deli chicken and cucumbers:

I finally topped it with some spinach and paired it with something quite delicious:

I really do love the 100-Calorie Snacks and so I tend to buy these Doritos as it satisfies my cheesy chip cravings.

And look how wonderful this dinner looks!

And for dessert I enjoyed…

I really love the yellow apples because they are a lot sweeter and so it takes care of sweet-need craving.

I find that when I eat “lighter” I feel better because it’s eating to fix feeling hungry vs. eating because I like the taste of food. I always make something I enjoy, but I know the more I make healthier foods, the less I’ll crave things like pasta, pizza and the list goes on.

Feeling Healthy

I was just thinking today about how right now, I feel the most “fit” I have felt since probably high school. And high school was when I quit all my sports. I continued to race down hill slalom through the end of high school, but that was about it. And I didn’t do it with Cretin-Derham Hall, but with a ski school, so it was a little different. It wasn’t “serious” – it was FUN! That was the reason I had quit all my sports, especially at CDH. It wasn’t about having fun, it was about WINNING. And I was all about having fun. But when I quit my sports, so did my exercise because it was one of those, “If I had known then, what I know now.” parts of my life. I didn’t know that the future would bring the current shell of myself.

I have to say, never in my life did I think I would want to wake up early to go to the gym, or that I would think about the food I am putting in my mouth or even care this much about being HEALTHY. But it feels so good and no one can argue with me about my quest to have a healthier heart because there are so many gains to this journey. I am going to feel healthier, happier, more confident and the list goes on.

While on this part of my journey, I am learning I have to give up things, and really there are just a couple that I just have to avoid right now: sweets, ice cream and  yummy yummy treats. I know I can eventually put those things back into my diet, but it isn’t until I learn to have just one piece of chocolate. I am not there yet and it is a struggle of mine. If I have just ONE, it opens a can of worms and I am not ready to revisit the worms, yet.

What has been the toughest part of your journey? Have you had to give things up that you didn’t really want to give up?

Healthy Hair = Happy Hair

Well, yesterday I did fantastically with tracking my food! I was so excited. Yeah, I know, only one day. I am usually pretty diligent about tracking…when I want to track.

I started my day off with a wonderful bowl of Raisin Bran CRUNCH with skim milk. Not the best of breakfasts, but better than nothing. And yes, I am very well aware of how un-sustainable I am by using paper bowls. So, save the lecture.


My picture-taking usually goes downhill after breakfast, so that is all I got. I tend to get very wrapped up in my work, so there isn’t much to talk about after that.

I have a fun story, then onto my hair. Tonight at dinner, my dad (yes, I still live at home. What of it?) made BLTs, french fries and a fresh fruit salad. When I sat down to eat, I said, “I won’t have any fries.” Then of course as the meal goes on and I am eating my fruit, the fries just look SO MUCH MORE APPEALING. In any case, I turned to my dad and said, “Pass me the fries, please.” He grabbed the bowl, then looked at me and he said, “You know what? No. Have more fruit.” I think I was almost stunned, but was thankful all the same. Because honestly, I LOVE fruit. So it was a win-win.

Onto my hair. So, I’ve been battling with what to do with my hair for a while. I have always had shoulder length or shorter hair, but am growing it out for upcoming weddings. I am so nice, I know. I have had my hair foiled, dyed and fried and when I finally got it back to my original color, I was done. WELL. A little devil sitting on my shoulder (my brain, so I guess sitting in my head) told me I must add some UMPH to my hair. So.

Waiting while my stylist mixed colors.

Waiting while the color set.

And VOILA.

I know it doesn’t look much different, but my hair was just blah blah brown, and now it’s blah blah brown with some UMPH. Also, no I was not driving in the last photo. My keys were not even in the ignition. #JustSayin.

Also, today, I am SO PROUD of Jen for accepting and beating down her challenge from Tony. Did you do your 60 minutes of working out, too? I did strength training for 30 minutes this morning and then walked for 30 minutes this evening. It really feels good to split it up that way, too. I must say.

Well, my beautiful readers, that is all I have today. Time to drink some water and get some shut eye!