Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Age, Beauty, and What's Important

In honor of Caitlin's book launch week, I knew this would be the perfect time to share this post with y'all. Her book, Operation Beautiful, hits the shelves this week and she has declared it to be Change the Way You See, Not the Way You Look week. What an inspirational way to encourage healthy body image talk!

I'm not sure if I ever really write about this on the blog, but being in tune with health, between managing my allergies, making the smartest food choices I can, and being fit is important to me. It's a commitment to being healthy and I have to say, also to feeling and looking the best I can. While always staying healthy and active as a kid and for most of college, I got wrapped up in the way I looked to my peers. I'm not sure when this started or why but it was probably a product of observing some unhealthy behaviors in others throughout college where I think I was most impressionable as I worked to define myself as an adult.

I am very committed to keeping a food journal for myself, to help guide my decisions throughout the day and make sure I keep my grazing in check. (A few times as a kid I was put on full-fat diets to bring my weight up to normal - it had been stunted as a result of my allergies, gluten intolerance, and a few other things. Doctors encouraged my mom to add extra oil to foods I ate, eat as many chips and fries as I wanted. I would (and still love to) graze all day and earned the nickname of the Bottomless Pit. I'm actually proud at how much I can eat when I feel up to the challenge!) Sometimes I've paid more attention to it than others. I skip this every so often, whether for a full day or just part of it yet the journal is something that's worked well for me.

When I injured my foot in February I was really scared about not being able to work out. When I've stopped being active in the past I've felt less than my best and really didn't want to derail the habits I'd recreated for myself. Instead, something more important has happened. I believe that it was a combination of my injury and turning another year older and wiser that allowed me to listen and accept the changes I have noticed in my mind, body, and attitude.

I've come to realize that there are more important things to think about over calories, beating myself up, and wishing for unrealistic change. Instead, I've really embraced the following notions:
  • Health is about being your best at any given point in time. When I was on bed rest, being my best was about staying off of my foot to let it heal. When I was training for the Avon Walk or the Turkey Trot, it was about completing my training walks / runs and preparing my body and mind for those experiences. Our best evolves, just like we do. It's okay to make changes and adjust how you define being "your best!"
  • I've moved to this wonderful world of acceptance as of late. I look in the mirror and see a smart, strong, capable woman who is maturing every day and capable of doing so much. Sure, I may not love 100% of what I see but A) I can't necessarily change anything (my brown eyes aren't going anywhere!) and B) the changes I may want aren't necessarily realistic. Given the time I am devoting to work, GMAT preparations, MBA classes, volunteering, family and friends, and more, committing myself to realistic goals is important.
  • There's one quote I often replay in my head and can't ever remember where I heard it. "Women shouldn't allow society to dictate how much space they should take up in the world. We shouldn't feel obligated to limit our physical presence on this earth." I've always interpreted this for myself as meaning that regardless of what anyone says or thinks, I am free to sprawl out in the sun and enjoy the summer warmth, am lovable and nothing will change even if my body does, and get to decide what's healthy and good enough for me, not the magazines or popular media.
  • What I see and how the world sees me are sometimes different. They're also sometimes the same. These facts are motivating, reassuring, and make me realize that my perfectionist tendencies can be focused on other things.
When I first graduated from college I was confident, self-assured, and ready to tackle the world. There were a couple of things that impacted this over a couple of years. I was lucky enough to find strong female role models at work and in my personal life who were encouraging of the things that I forgot I had possessed. One of these women sent me a list of 36 signs of self-confidence and I want to share my most favorite ones with you. I hope that you'll remember how wonderful you are, strive to be your best, and realize that you are loved no matter how some people may act or feel. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I know that as I continue my journey, I find new beauty in myself, my friends, and my life each and every day.

Favorite Signs of Self-Confidence:
  • I surround myself with high-quality people
  • I can laugh at myself
  • I am a positive person
  • I am resilient in the face of challenges
  • I don't doubt my own ability
  • I know my weaknesses and I am working to minimize them
  • I am always thinking of ways to be more successful
  • I actively contribute to the successes of others
  • I can say "no" without guilt or fear
  • I am not afraid to complain if I get poor service
  • I am interested in what others have to say
  • When I succeed I never respond by feeling defensive or anxious
  • I smile a lot
  • I don't doubt my ability to do a / the job
  • I speak with ease to people in positions of power
What are some of your signs of self-confidence?


  1. Your signs of self confidence and what you recently learned are really great. I think they sum up so much of what a healthy mindset is.

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience. I LOVE the signs of self-confidence! What a great exercise for all of us...

  3. I love that quote about society not dictating how much space we take up! Great post, and thanks for your nice comment on my post too!