Posted in Self-Esteem

Finding the pretty

In my quest to feel pretty again (sidenote: have you ever actually looked at the word ‘pretty’? Does it look weird to you or is that just me? Just me? Okay then), I’m trying to embrace the girly side of things as much as possible without making myself aware of the whole OMG I’M 6-ALMOST-7 KILOS HEAVIER THAN I WANT TO BE, which is difficult because, well, that’s all I see these days.

Part of Operation Pretty:

  1. I’ve been wearing my pretty pink skirt that I bought on Friday. It’s one of those ridiculously expensive Metalicus skirts that is one-size-fits-all, which in normal terms would mean one-size-fits-some-who-wear-small-sizes but in this case is really quite amazing. It doesn’t cling at all and I think it’s pretty flattering. At least, it makes me feel unfat and pretty, therefore it’s a winner.
  2. Yesterday, after my OMG-I-ATE-ALL-TEH-FOODZ brunch, I went and treated myself to a pedicure. I felt like I should have paid the lovely woman danger money because my feet have not seen a pumice stone in a long time. It’s been winter here and I’m not usually one to treat myself to a pedi during winter. Heck, I’m not usually one to treat myself to a pedi normally. I usually give my feet the once-over, slap on some polish and leave it to grow out for a few months. Yes, I am that person. But not now! Now I have pretty green/blue toenails and smooth feet, all ready for summer sandals.
  3. I got dressed up  (in my skirt, natch) and actually put on makeup on a weekend to meet my folks for brunch this morning. It was really nice to feel nice, to treat myself well and know that while I may not be as thin as I’d like to be, I looked as nice as I could on a Sunday morning.
I’m not expecting an overnight (or over-weekend) success but I need to try, you know? Make an effort past the flower hair clip that I’ve been wearing. I finished my last assignment for the semester and I’ve been making good choices eating-wise for the past few days (regardless of what the scale says … damn scale hates me) so I’m focusing on that.
Next on the list is to organise a girls’ night one of these nights. I think I need some girltime – anyone feel like flying to Melbourne and joining me?
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Posted in Rants and Vents, Self-Esteem

A letter to Hollywood

Dear Hollywood starlets,

I don’t care what your publicist tells you to spout to the world. Perhaps it’s true that you’ve had the body of a 12-year old all your life (I’m looking at you Shenae Grimes) or you have a super fast metabolism. Perhaps you really do enjoy eating salads everyday and have no sweet tooth at all.

And perhaps pigs fly out there in Hollywood.

We all know that you diet and exercise and work frigging HARD to get that 12-year old body that shows no curves and acts like a clothes hanger. We know that the pressures you face in your day-to-day worklife are enormous. And so we know – as much as you deny it – that your eating habits are not like most.

Almost every female star in Hollywood who has been associated with anorexia claims and denied them fervently has eventually admitted to them years down the track (Portia de Rossi, I’m looking at you) so how is it still the denial of choice? Why do female actors feel the need to be seen eating all the time and even seem to be going as far as to schedule interviews over indulgent lunches, ensuring that their eating habits are featured in the pages of glossy magazines?

Personally, I respect actors like Julianne Moore who have come out and admitted that staying slim in Hollywood is hard work and eating granola bars for lunch is awful but she does it to keep working. I respect people who admit that they exercise for hours on end to get that toned I-was-born-like-this look. I respect them because they admit that this is a product of their professional lives. In the same way that I maintain my computer skills and professional development, so they maintain their diet and exercise regime in order to stay professionally active. It’s in their job description.

Because when they admit that, I know that my lifestyle does not accommodate for that and it’s not me, it’s them. That, theoretically, if I decided to work out 3+ hours a day, I could look like that. If I had a personal chef, personal trainer and personal assistant to handle my, well, personal life, I could do it. It’s a funny little thing that makes me feel normal instead of ridiculous when I look in the mirror.

Yes, there are people who are naturally slim and have androgynous bodies. There are people who are active all day and who can eat dessert every night without feeling any ill effects. I’m not saying that every person who is slim and not trying to be is lying. But not everyone in Hollywood is like that. In fact, I’m sure if I tried, I could find statistics disproving the number of “naturally slim” actors vs. the proportion of naturally slim people in the world.

So to all those Hollywood stars and starlets, admit that you work hard to look like you do. Give the rest of us a fighting chance to feel normal and to admire your hard work instead of wondering if our metabolisms are crap and our bodies just hate us.

Posted in Self-Esteem, Wedding

Exposed – one year later

A year ago, I got The Boy to take a headless photo of me standing in a hotel bathroom. We were in Wellington, I think. I took the photo and posted it on the blog as part of the Exposed Movement and felt really quite literally exposed.

I felt so vulnerable. So silly and slightly vain. Vanity isn’t supposed to be good but it is. Sometimes it’s good to be vain. To be proud of yourself and your body.

Posting my exposed post made me face up to the fact that for the first 15 minutes, I couldn’t think of anything positive to write about my body. All I saw was cellulite and flabby arms and legs. I saw all my flaws first and I had to keep looking to see the strength and the beauty. And once I did, I promised myself that I would work on seeing that first all the time.

And now. A year later.

I’m sitting on my old bed in Melbourne, at my parents’ house. The Boy is back in Auckland in our flat. We’re getting married in 10 days and I’m working frantically to get everything done in time.

I have a very expensive dress hanging in my parents’ walk-in closet and I feel gorgeous in it. Beautiful. I still have those flabby arms since my workout regime kinda slipped down the priority list (Michelle Obama has no competition from me!), but I don’t see those arms. Or anything else. I see me.

That’s it. I see me, the woman The Boy fell in love it. The woman who is going to be a wife in 10 days. I see someone who is loved and who loves herself.

Sure I have my bad days – who doesn’t? I have days where I have to focus a little longer to remember my Exposed post and the strength it gave me. There are days where my clothes seem to hate me. Those days I find myself donating more clothes to charity since I only want clothes that make me feel good. Dress makes me hate my knees? Donate it since it makes me feel bad and I don’t need it. Shirt is tight on my arms? Not keeping it. I’m a bit more ruthless that way but if something doesn’t make me feel good and strong and gorgeous, I’ve got no business keeping it or wearing it.

That’s me, a year on. Did you take the Exposed challenge last year? How do you feel this year?

Posted in General life, Self-Esteem

L’oreal is right

We’re worth it.

This is my new mantra and it should be your’s. You can avoid telling people about the makeup-skin care connection. But repeat it often.

The last two days reminded me that if we don’t value ourselves, nobody else will. We are worth the effort and our expertise and knowledge and passion and love is worth so much more than we give ourselves credit for.

Unless it’s just me and then you can go. But I don’t think this is a Gemfit-only phenomenon.

Everyday of this freelancing life is a learning experience but more than anything it’s teaching me that my time, my effort, my expertise, they’re all worth something and I need to value myself FIRST before anyone else will value me. If I undersell and undercut myself by doing work for less than I should just to get the work, I’m selling myself short. I’m telling clients that I’m worth peanuts. And as a result, I feel like less than worthy.

I have some thinking to do this weekend but I need to remember that above everything: I. Am. Worth. It.

And this follows into our lifestyle choices too. Today I had a bad day health-wise. My stomach was NOT happy and I spent the morning running to the bathroom and lying on the couch, working where I could. I napped in the afternoon, I chatted to my neighbour as she came to help me sweep the balcony and I had a meeting with a new potential client. I didn’t go for my run and I snacked on junk food and I was disappointed. I let myself wallow but then I remembered.

I am worth it. I am worth the effort to be fit and healthy. If I don’t believe I’m worth it, nobody else will.

I stopped snacking. I ate fruit instead. I allowed myself the day off to rest and let my body rejuvenate. I promised myself I’ll go for a run tomorrow and I made a healthy dinner. Every choice is a new choice.

I am worth the best choices. Every single time I have a choice, I am worth the best choice.

Posted in Nutrition, Self-Esteem

“The first duty of love is to listen.”

(quote by Paul Tillich)

I love my body. No, I’m learning to love my body. And part of this process is learning to listen to my body. It’s a process. I’m learning what works for me and what my body needs versus what I crave because of habit and expectation and boredom.

The last two days have been tough on my lil’ ole’ body. My stomach has not been happy with me and I’m been bloated and uncomfortable and unhappy. And I’ve been lax on listening to my body. Instead of treating it with love and paying attention to what it was trying to tell me, I ate more food. I heard my stomach aching and I ignored the fact that this was not normal and I ate more food. I convinced myself that I was uncomfortable because I was either hungry or because I’d eaten too much. Or I told myself it was all the crunches I’d been doing. Ignoring the fact that this is not how my body usually feels, I self-diagnosed and hoped it would go away.

But after two days of not being comfortable, I realised that I had to listen to the most important thing in my life: my body. For goodness’ sake, it was trying to tell me something important and here I was ignoring it!

I thought carefully about the food I’d been eating. I had bought some garlic chili dried peas two days ago as a treat for the Boy while he’s studying and writing a bunch of exams. I love spicy things so I had been munching on them mindlessly. What else was different? I’d been eating a bit more white rice than normal too. The only reason I’m eating the white rice over brown rice is because the Boy has stores and stores of white rice and I’m loathe to buy MORE rice (even it is brown rice) before we work our way through this rice.

But anyway. Those were two new things in my diet in the last few days. So today, I cut both out. I made myself a healthy Quinoa salad for breakfast (quinoa, portabello mushrooms, tomatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes) and then held off for lunch until 1:30 instead of simply eating at noon because it’s lunchtime.I’m snacking less today (or at least thinking about it) and drinking more water. Being more mindful.

I can’t say I’m feeling perfect but I’m feeling better. I’m not as bloated and my body feels a lot happier. I know that sounds weird but it does.

In the same vein, I gave myself some *me* time last night while the Boy was out at cricket. I slapped on a face mask and treated my face to some rejuvenation. Voila, this is what my *me* time looks like!

There is a cute face under there somewhere ...

It’s not pretty but trust me, my skin is now lovely and smooth. SO worth it!

How do you listen to your body and give yourself some *me* time?

Posted in General life, Rants and Vents, Self-Esteem

Everything I learnt, I learnt from dancing

Last night the Boy and I went to our first Ceroc dance class. What is Ceroc, you ask? According to the Cityside Dance studio (where we went last night):

Ceroc has its origins in the Second World War, when American GI’s based in France, introduced Jive to the dance scene. Locals adapted it and described it as “C’est le roc”!  Soon called Ceroc, this funky partner dance quickly became popular, and took off in London in the eighties in a big way, and was trendy with the likes of Princess Diana and her Sloane ranger friends.

It’s a mixture of Jive, Salsa and a bit of everything else really and it’s tons of fun. It’s danced to modern Top 40 music or classic Rock and Roll and it’s fairly simple to learn. At least, if I can manage it, I think everyone can.

The way the class was run was interesting. There were about 20 people there and we set up in a circle, partnered up. The instructors demonstrated a move, we practised it and then the girls moved to partner with the next guy in the circle. There were a mix of experienced dancers and newbies like us and I found it fascinating dancing with so many different people. Each person has a different style and level of confidence and my confidence so often depended on my partner. While I try avoid the idea of having to be validated constantly, this was interesting because, as part of a partner dance where I have to follow the lead of the guy, I needed the leader to be confident in himself in order for me to feel confident in my skills.

There were two dancers there who were obviously quite experienced and great for a newbie partner. They encouraged me, even as I gracelessly spun and tripped slightly. They were confident in their leading – giving me no option but to follow and not have to think too hard about what I should be doing and they boosted my confidence by allowing me to forget that I was the newbie in the partnership. When I moved on from dancing with them, I felt confident and excited.

There was another experienced dancer there who made me hyper aware of my lowly status at times. He barely spoke to me and, after we’d gone through the routine, he would segued into freestyle dancing, with moves I hadn’t learnt yet. I kept up for a bit but I was nervous and unsure.

And then there were two other dancer who, while not entirely new, were not nearly as experienced. They may have been dancing for a few weeks, if that. One of them kept chiding me for not letting him lead but he was so unsure of his leading that, as the partner, I was lost on what he wanted me to do. So I’d automatically step into the next part of the routine, only to be chided again. I felt out of step and unsure, which made me doubt myself for the next partner.

While this may reflect on my own confidence more than anything, I realised that validation is not always a bad thing. When the two really encouraging partners made remarks like “you pick things up really quickly” and ‘you’ve obviously danced before” I puffed up and trusted myself more, because obviously they were seeing something there that I wasn’t allowing myself to see. When the other dancers chided me, I listened as much as I could and took from it what I needed to. To stop thinking so much and trust myself and my partner. I would have liked to have chided back “well, lead already then!” but I’m too nice and I kept quiet.

In the end, I came away holding onto the successes, realising that I’m not entirely rhythmically challenged. I also came away signing up for 6 more sessions. I’m hoping for more dance moves, more confidence and perhaps some more life lessons.

What life lessons have you learnt from the most unexpected things?

Posted in General life, Self-Esteem

Our body image but their love

The other day I posted my EXPOSED photo post. I put myself out there for the world and while it was majorly empowering, it was also quite scary to tell the truth. For a few reasons.

It was tough at first to think of good things associated with body parts. I really didn’t realise how negative some of my self-talk was. Even my usual techniques of joking about how I have my father’s legs with my mother’s height to explain my short, stumpy legs is completely negative. The first thing I saw when I looked at my headless photo was the mini-muffin top over my bikini bottoms. And then I realised that this bikini NEVER fit me right and it’s the only one I have by default after my favourite bikini top snapped. This is more bikini fail than Gemfit fail.

But as I completed the post, I wasn’t all that nervous anymore. The exercise forced me to confront the negative self-talk and promote the positive in my mind. So I highly recommend this activity to everyone, even if you don’t post it on your blog. Take a photo. Annotate it. Make it ALL positive. Print it out and put it somewhere where you see it often to remind yourself of the positive.

And then I had another epiphany. Often, when we allow the negative self-talk to influence our self-esteem, we push people away. We joke, we deflect, we ignore because we’re allowing the negative to drown out any other positives. How often do we respond to compliments from friends and family by making excuses? I know my mother is the QUEEN of this –

“Mom, you look really nice tonight”

“Oh I need to lose 5kgs before this outfit fits me properly” (no jokes, I’m sure that’s been a real response)

First of all, that response is ridiculous. The proper response to a compliment is simple “Thanks”. Nothing more, nothing less. By joking or deflecting, you’re often crushing the person complimenting you instead of helping your self-esteem. By finding excuses for their compliments or love, you deflect any of the possible good for all the bad. I read a blog post the other day where the blogger was remarking on how shallow people were now that they were complimenting her on looking good (she’d lost a lost of weight but people were not remarking on the weight per se, but other aspects of her appearance and self). Instead of simply enjoying the compliments, she was finding the negative in why they were complimenting her, how they’d probably never even noticed that she had the same outfit for ages before, or that she’d worn those earrings before. It’s not important WHY they were complimenting her, she should have taken the compliment and enjoyed it. Said thank you, allowed the person to enjoy complimenting her too. It’s a two-way street.

So, an exercise for everyone. It’s a two-parter.

1. Go and compliment someone today. Something small. Could be a random person, could be family or friends. Be sincere. Notice something they’re wearing or doing. Notice how they respond and how you feel. If they say thank you and enjoy it, how does that make you feel? If they deflect, again, how do you feel?

2. When you get a compliment – be it today or anytime – stop before your usual response. Stop yourself from deflecting or joking or explaining. Just say thank you. See how that feels.