What IS Beautiful?

Re-Post…as a reminder to LOVE the SKIN You are IN! 

What IS Beautiful?


The word itself evokes so many images, so many definitions…and sadly, SO much distortion.  Women have such a skewed perspective on the subject and it is worth settling in and really getting to the HEART of the matter.  So grab a cup of coffee, take a deep breath and “sip” on this…

When a baby girl is born her mother looks at that precious child and sees beauty.  Crushed nose, bug eyes, stork bites, red face, and wrinkled fingers do not alter the beauty that her mother finds.  Her father sheds tears at the sight before him.  This little girl is BEAUTIFUL.  She grows up to the tender age of 5 or 6 and her little snaggled toothed self with freckles and a cowlick continue to scream BEAUTY to all those around her.

So what HAPPENS?  When does the shift occur?  The deception of this world slowly creeps in.  The outside voices begin to penetrate the TRUTH that has held her together for those first few tender years of life. 

The outside voices say—

“What are those ugly dots on your face?”
“Your legs are too long, too short, too big, too small.”
“Your cheeks are FAT!”
“Your hair is too frizzy, too flat, too poofy, too short.”
“Your teeth are not straight.”
“Your glasses make you look like you have 4 eyes.”
“Your nose, lips, forehead or chin are too big, small, or long.”

Some of the voices are NOT audible, they are merely suggested.  They are magazines and television shows with images of gaunt (not to mention air brushed) women wearing elegant colorful dresses, with fun, flirty shoes and dating “hot” boys.  Each picture sends the message:  “You are NOT enough…you are NOT beautiful…in fact, you are ugly.”  

The voices that had so loudly spoken to us before that made us secure, not question, and even comfortable in our own skin, are drowned out by the world’s  messages around us.  (Sadly even those that we loved and trusted can become the voice that breaks our spirit and causes us to believe that we have somehow lost our beauty.)  The deceivers, in the many forms they take, then lead so many precious pre-teens and teens in to a downward spiral of body image issues, self-loathing, and a general sense of DISCONTENT.  It is a slow progression that takes place over long periods of time…but unfortunately, those same voices can linger in to our 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s…some of us will actually live out all of our days shaped, molded and haunted by those voices.  The messages sent may change, but our question remains the same:  Do you think I am beautiful?  We live confused about what beauty truly is—and it steals the joy from our daily lives. 

 We look to the mirror or a scale to measure our self worth.  We look to those around us to tell us we are beautiful.  Through outward actions and inward thoughts we ask over and over again, “Do you think I am beautiful?”  We listen to voices that were NEVER intended to speak truth over our lives.  So where does it end?  Where does a new definition of beauty begin? 

It starts with a fresh voice, new vision, a friend sharing a cup of coffee and saying:   “Honestly girl, you are BEAUTIFUL!  You are not just beautiful, but you are SMOKIN’ HOT!” 

As a personal trainer I want to start by saying beauty is SO much deeper and so much more than a six pack.  Beauty is so much more than being thin or even dare I say healthy and fit.  I have met plenty of trainers that might externally have the perfect physique but they are missing an inner peace and an inner beauty.  Beauty is more than big boobs, a rockin’ hair cut, and a great pair of pink pumps.  Society and this culture have REALLY done a number on women. External beauty has become our obsession and it is not only a complete fallacy, it is a lot like chasing a shadow of what society determines is “beautiful” at that moment in time. Janine and I are both constantly striving to realign women with the truth on this matter.  

Beautiful is a timely word of encouragement.  Beautiful is a thoughtful note or email to a hurting friend.  Beautiful is seeing those around you as more important than yourself.  Beautiful is a song sung from the heart…on or off key!  Beautiful is a long belly laugh.  Beautiful is a vulnerable cry after hearing sad news.  Beautiful is confidence and security.  Beautiful is the ability to lavish others with words of affirmation—knowing that you yourself may not have those same attributes.  Beautiful is the opposite of obsession…it is contentment. 

What does a beautiful body look like?  A beautiful body is found in a woman who is comfortable in her own skin.  A beautiful body is much more thankful for the way her body moves than how much she weighs.   A beautiful body is wrapped around a 70-year-old women wrinkled with time wrestling on the floor or running around the park with her grandchildren!   A beautiful body is covering a tired and sweaty 41-year-old woman who just finished her first 5k.  A beautiful body is one that adorns a bikini for the first summer in a long time only to share her curves and her stretch marks knowing that they gave her 3 beautiful children.  A beautiful body is one that has been worked hard and her muscles reflect her effort and discipline. 

I am reminded of an old folktale that I heard many years ago.  It is a story of an antique shop that carried all kinds of ornamental glass, and wooden treasures.  There was China and crystal and Venetician glass, all items that held great value intertwined with just old junk that families dropped off unable to part with or throw away.  One night a mischievous thief broke in to the store.   Instead of stealing anything, he just exchanged the tags on the merchandise inside.  The items that were most expensive he replaced with a tag of the least expensive item.  Once all the tags were switched he left.  The next day as customers came and went they purchased the China paying pennies for it, not realizing the gem that was in their hand.  Other customers paid high dollar believing that they were receiving an antique treasure when in fact they were paying for an overpriced piece of JUNK!   

The same is true for the world in which we live today.  In this world the BEAUTY tags have been SWITCHED!  We have foolishly bought in to our culture’s overpricing of external beauty, a beauty that fades, a beauty that is never fully satisfied or attained.  We have walked down the isles and have been duped in to believing that the right make-up, jewelry, clothes, highlights, or “look” would set us a part and send a message to the world that we are beautiful.  We have even chosen more toxic routes like eating too little or exercising too much or have altered our hair, skin, or body in hopes to feel more beautiful and please others.  In doing this we bypassed the gem sitting on the shelf marked “unconditional love”…”generosity”…”kindness”…”contentment” and went straight for the big ticket items believing that they would not only bring us happiness but they were more valuable.  We have ALL done this in some form along the way…I know I have!    My encouragement is to take a long look in the mirror before we make our next purchase.  Try it on…does it ooze of the deception of this world—or does it shine with an ever-lasting quality?   Be certain that the investment that you are making is one that will last!

Why as women do we look at one another’s weaknesses and flaws instead of pointing out our strengths and gifts?  Truly beautiful women do this…but they are rare.  I also hope to tackle the messages we are sending our children and those around us by having our own distorted sense of beauty.  How can we change this?   I will end with this loving reminder…YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!  You are not just beautiful but you are SMOKIN’ HOT!

May You Be a Blessing and May You Be Blessed,

Jenni 





Shedding Our Masks Promotes True Sisterhood

Insecurity masks herself in such ugly ways.  She comes across as aloof, abrasive, angry, or rude.  More pleasantly, insecurity masks herself as overly apologetic, the eternal martyr, or “super woman” who in one single leap conquers her entire universe.
While donning this mask of insecurity women send other women a message.  Sometimes it is, “don’t mess with me, my job, my husband, or my network of friends”.   Her actions say, “keep your distance, don’t look at me or talk to me”.   Other messages say, “I am weak and any feedback from you might send my fragile soul over the edge”.  Still another message might be… “you could never keep up with my schedule or my good deeds.” 
All of these messages are in some way or another toxic.  They are relationship killers and they are what keep women at odds with one another.   Whether she wears the mask of insecurity and is frightened of the external arrows that might come her way, or whether she does not believe that she is worthy of the affection of another…no matter the reason…masks destroy sisterhood.
Healthy female relationships are hard to come by.  Rarely do you see great mother/daughter models.  Sisters who invest and care for one another the way that we think they “ought”.   Our masks are rarely lifted over an occasional chat on the way to the mailbox, a trip to the movies, or at a random bunko night.    I do not pretend to grasp the full female relational breakdown but I believe that the masks we wear inhibits us from full being “seen” and from fully being “known”.  To take off that mask would force vulnerability.  A vulnerability that we are hesitant to expose. 
For the past few weeks in POWER we have removed the mask.  We have personally examined our preconceived notions and core beliefs on the subjects of beauty and health.  We have uncovered our faces, exposed our bodies, and taken our thoughts captive.  Hopefully throughout this time of self-exploration we have grown more honest, more confident, and more comfortable in our own skin.  The more we take off the mask, the more okay we are with leaving it off.  Then…and only then, can we see women and be seen by women in a way that promotes sisterhood.  

In true sisterhood, other females are not competition, and what they have is not to be coveted or resented.  In true sisterhood, other women are not seen as the enemy but yet another amazing being that is almost assuredly full of flaws as well as absolute beauty.  When we look without the mask we see with different eyes.  These eyes are filled with love.  Love for self and love for others. 
Women then become partners in this life.  Women become sojourners on this adventure toward health and wellness.  Women are considered friend and not foe. 
This week we challenge you to leave the mask off.  We challenge you to look to other women with a new fresh set of eyes.  Eyes of love.  May each note you write this week be sincere and heartfelt.  May the women who receive them be blessed.  May this refreshingly new sisterhood make deep impact daily in the lives of all of the women you encounter! 
May you be a blessing and may you be blessed. 
Jenni

Fierce Reflections Cause Us to Fly…

It hit me this week when walking through my studio watching the layers come off (literally and figuratively); that this month in our studios is all about COURAGE.  It is about courageously taking a look at our bodies, our thought life, our reasons for why we do things and the reasons why we don’t.  It is about looking at our inner thought life and our bodies in a different way.  It is about embracing the good for how great it is; and positively viewing areas in which we are typically negative.  Even more importantly it is about getting unstuck.  It is about moving past “ourselves” so to speak.   

The kind of introspection we have done this month takes GREAT courage.  It takes a fierce woman who knows there is more to this life than striving for media induced ideals of beauty.  She also knows that there is more to this life than keeping up with Mrs. Jones’ body.   She recognizes that in this life we will stay stuck if we can truly only see skin deep.  This fierce woman believes that her life is a culmination of experiences and relationships.  So while reflecting in the mirror she does not stop with the epidermal layer…she actually is beginning to see what others’ see.  Daughter, sister, mother, wife, neighbor, friend, and confidante.  She sees beauty that runs deep, high, long and wide.  In her reflection this fierce woman sees life experiences that have shaped, formed, and carved her in to who she is becoming.  This fierce woman is able to find joy in her “now” and hope for her  “soon to come”. 
I commend each of you for the brave steps that you have taken thus far.   There are two weeks left in our challenge.  The first two weeks of this month were about getting comfortable in our discomfort and taking an inner look.   This coming week we will shift and look outward to our sisters around us.   We believe that next week other women who have watched your courage might decide they themselves want some of the inner strength that you possess. 
“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.”   Anonymous
It is time to stop looking in the mirror and seeing the caterpillar that “was” and recognize we have beautiful wings.   Simply spread your wings.  It is time to fly.  Inspire others.  Fly.  


May You Be a Blessing and May You Be Blessed,
Jenni 

Robin Rice’s "The Problem With Beauty"

Sometimes there is no need to re-create the wheel.  In this circumstance Robin completely got it RIGHT!   As we ask you to take this week to “look in the mirror”…we are given an opportunity to hear from Robin Rice and the lessons she learned while looking in the mirror…

The Problem With Beauty
Houston, we have a problem.  Miami, you too. Hollywood, it’s big. London, Paris, Dublin, you’re included. Podunk, Littletown, and No place Special—don’t think you’re exempt. It’s everywhere. Invasive and pervasive. Beauty has gotten out of hand.  Not real beauty, of course. Not the kind of beauty that emerges, even erupts, like a wildflower in the wilderness, in response to what we love. No, I mean the kind that we are trying to buy, wear, and posses in order to get love. Or prestige. Or even a better “in” with the hottest new spiritual guru. The kind we are sold a long side everything from diamonds to dog food. The version we are told via every magazine ad and television commercial that we will absolutely need if we are to have any hope of being happy in this life.  It’s not pretty. And it’s not new. In fact, it’s so old-news, so accepted, so normal, most of us no longer really notice the tactics that steal the soul of beauty. It’s just how things are these days. Even the costs, so obvious in the modern life, are chalked up to “the way of the world.”  So while we might say it’s a shame that there is an outrageous number of young women (and men) are starving themselves to death because they think they are “fat”, it’s not really news. And though it might make us gasp to hear of a 5’6”woman checking into a hospital at 94 pounds and feeling terrified to eat, unless it is our own daughter, or sister, or best friend, the conversation quickly sails on.  Likewise, we might groan at the truth that women spend billions of dollars every year on beauty products, not to mention diet foods, pills and programs. But we’ve seen enough infomercials and strip mall diet club storefronts, and we have spent enough of our own money at the cosmetics counter, that no real alarm sounds.  In fact, while we might all agree that the way food is grown, processed, modified and marketed is actually creating less beauty, not more, given the growing obesity epidemic that kills millions in one way or another every year, most of us don’t feel that’s really any of our business. It’s a matter of personal choice, isn’t it? People do what they want to do, right?  Even our very own insecurities, the ones that show up as criticism in the mirror every day—often many times a day—seem normal. The negative self-talk (“Look at those thunder thighs…those puny, sagging breasts…the wrinkles…and that gray!”) is so accepted, so expected, it’s viewed as nothing more than the annoying drone of a radio, the standard-issue background noise of a woman’s mind. The idea that there is something wrong with the message, not the woman, seems almost radical. Maybe even unpatriotic.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against physical beauty. Even the striking, wow-ser kind. I don’t think unattractive is better than attractive, or that we all ought to ugly ourselves up to make a point. I love to see the standardized beauty out there. There is a reason we all respond to a form that is easily recognized as lovely, and it is not only conditioning. Yet I also happen to get a rush from non-standardized beauty—the cracked and edgy, the burnt shadows, the otherwise overlooked. No, it is the idea of selling my soul for society’s current version of beauty, and only that version, at the same time as watching our young daughters sell their souls at younger and younger ages, that gets to me.  It’s Global, But It’s Also Personal.  I remember the exact day I sold my soul for beauty. I was just home from high school, all of fifteen years old. I don’t recall what happened to bring me to the bathroom mirror. But there I was, sitting on the vanity, my feet in the sink, crying. What do they see that I don’t see? I kept asking the young woman staring back at me. I’m ugly, unacceptable, substandard. Or so they say.  I, myself, didn’t feel that way. Sure, I knew I wasn’t going to win any beauty contests. But ugly? Unacceptable? Substandard? Bad enough to be rejected and ridiculed, day after day, like a game with a pre-designated looser? I might have been able to argue the validity of my own opinion to myself, if it weren’t for the fact that there were so many of them. So many standing against me, and only little old me standing for me. It was beyond what I, at that terribly vulnerable age, could pull off. I recall nodding to my image, eye to eye, tear to tear. It was a matter of majority rule, I told myself. They must be right. Not only must I be unattractive and unlovable, I decided, I must not be able to see any kind of beauty clearly. My judgment was obviously as distorted as my body. “Don’t trust your own opinion from here on out,” I said aloud, already becoming angry at myself for not seeing flaws that were so obvious to everyone else.  Yes, I would listen to them. I would side with society. I would ignore my own opinions, and I would learn the ways of the world. I would become beautiful, by the world’s standards, whatever it took. I walked away from that mirror a different young woman, and it would be twenty years before I went back to reconsider my true opinion of myself.  Twenty years, two children, two plastic surgeries, a wide array of diets, a divorce, and a spiritual awakening had to occur before I would tell myself I had been wrong that day. Twenty years before I realized that they—no matter how great their numbers—had no more right to decide what was beautiful than I did. Twenty years before I realized that virtually every woman I knew had sold out to play the game right along with me.  Twenty years, but I did go back. I sat on the vanity, put my feet back in the sink, and stared at the older, wiser woman in the mirror. I asked her, and my younger self, to forgive me. I told them both that I had made a mistake. I really was beautiful, not only before that day at age fifteen, but in all the twenty years between. I also told my younger self I’d make it up to her. I’m doing that here, now, with my reader as witness.

Robin Rice is a personal mentor to women leaders. Her award-winning, internationally published novels offer personal growth and healing atwww.BeWhoYouAre.com. These books offer genuine entertainment through well-woven tales of personal growth in a real world setting. They engage the harsh realities of being human while pointing us all toward a more rewarding and soulful existence.


Taking Thoughts Captive…

We tweet and twitter our thoughts.  We blog them and log them and even run and jog with them.   They are everywhere and in everything…they are constant and for many of us they dominate our mood and even our very lives.   

There are some thoughts that never make it on our facebook wall…they are not “pinned” as interests.   Those thoughts, they plague us.

Our thought life can set us free or shackle us. 

Janine and I feel that it is crucial to develop a practice of “taking our thoughts captive”.  Holding them in time and space and then if proven toxic…releasing them to the garbage where they belong.  The exercise that we have developed for this week of the challenge is one that acknowledges we all have thoughts that are not always building or encouraging.  They are a force to be reckoned with.   While standing in front of our mirrors “exposed” we certainly may be filled with words or phrases that are not constructive.  They also might follow us through carpool, to a business luncheon, or even creep in while having a peaceful quiet time alone.   No matter what moment of the day a thought floats in; if it is an unwelcomed ‘intruder”, recognize it as such.  Take the thought captive.  Don’t soul search and wonder where it came from or why it is there…and certainly don’t entertain it…simply ask it to be gone.  Ask it to leave you alone.  It was uninvited and must be properly escorted out of your beautiful psyche once and for all. 

I make this sound simple and for some it will be.  For others we have had tapes playing over and over for years or even decades.  This practice will take work.  We might take a thought captive and within minutes we must do it again.   It might take weeks or months to master.  It might even take therapy.  This week is a wonderful starting point to acknowledge that we have thoughts that don’t deserve the time that we give them.  The sooner we recognize them for what they are:  toxic and destructive, the sooner we can request their departure. 

Symbolically you might want to write down your negative thoughts…you might want to place them on scraps of paper and trash them…or toss them in to the fire.   If you have faith in God, then release them through prayer.    Be intentional with your thought life.  Find positive words to fill their place.   If you don’t have words, borrow a few mine.  (Even if you only partially believe them…try mine on for size and see where they take you.)
You are beautiful.   A jewel, a rose, a rock, a pearl, a peach, a diamond, a cool breeze, a lily, a shooting star, a sunset, a warm wind,  a soft whisper, a strong rhythm, a sparkling waterfall, a moon beam, a princess, a warrior, a mountain, a raging ocean.

You are a play maker, a trend-setter, a peace-provider, a giver, a dreamer, a healer.  

You are intelligent, witty, strong, whimsical, unique, passionate, creative, humble, powerful, kind, helpful, honest, and wise. 

You were not meant to be shackled…you were made for much more than this. 

You are loved, and lovely. 


May You Be a Blessing and May you Be Blessed,

Jenni

Uncovering My Dr. Pepper Lip Smackers Addiction…

I know what you are thinking…
“NICE,  Janine and Jenni!  You work in a sweaty gym all day…from your home no less!  Neither of you wear that much make up regularly.   Convenient for you to choose a subject that you are comfortable with, and then design a weekly challenge requesting the rest of us to ‘feel beautiful’ or ‘uncover the real me’!” 
It is confession time.  This week is NOT an easy week for me, because of these 5 little words…
“Go put on some lipstick!” 
Those 5 little words (heard all throughout my adolescence) started a “lip stuff” addiction in my life.  For the past 2 decades I went through a Dr. Pepper lip smackers “phase”.  It was in every pocket, purse and bag that I owned.  The genius thing about Dr. Pepper Lip Smackers is that it was cheap and also had a hint of color so when wearing it I would avoid hearing those 5 little words! 
Those 5 words were often followed by, “your lips look transparent,” “you look like a ghost”.  No matter what the words were, the message was clear:  without some sort of color on my mouth…I was not attractive.   Lesson learned.  Hundreds and hundreds of dollars later investing in tiny little tubes of great smelling chap stick…I never left home without it. 
I shifted in my mid-20s to a more “sophisticated” addiction.  I discovered a grand little green tube of gloss from Bath and Body Works.  Mentha Lip Tint that has a nice warm plum color, a fabulous sheen and even a little peppermint oil.  So now my lips are always “luscious” and I have a hint of fresh breath.  I feel VERY beautiful when I wear it.  (Or certainly not naked.)  
This week is a great challenge for me.  It is asking me (a girl who wears little to no make up) to put down the tube and dig a little deeper as to why I think I “NEED” to wear my “lip stuff”.   The answer was deeper than I had imagined.  I personally did not start wearing make up because it made me feel beautiful.  I wore make up to avoid feeling ugly. 
After this week you may still occasionally see me with a fabulously luscious set of lips.  I do not think make up is innately bad or evil.  I do think it is a great idea to question the status quo.  It is a great idea to question our motives or the things we have done forever…”just because”.  It is always a good idea to figure out why we MUST have or do something.  
Apparently Janine and I are not the only ones with this idea.  After we had drawn up our challenge for the month, we found this duo.  We would highly recommend checking out their journey and find out why they have started the “Naked Face Project”.  Their mission statement shares and we concur: 

“We’ve only approached feminine beauty in one way for our entire lives.  What might reveal itself when we give ourselves the opportunities to experience another way?”   
      
May this week not fill you with dread but with a new opportunity to question the status quo.  Or  more importantly, may you land on the other side of the next 7 days discovering a deeper, more complete sense of your own beauty.  

I will share with you the words I hope my daughter hears over and over until I have no more breath to speak them, “You are beautiful… just the way you are.”  (Quietly under my breath, I might add, “with or without the lip stuff”!)
May you be a blessing and may you be blessed!
Jenni 

Who Says? What is Beautiful? Video!

In hopes to inspire the women of POWER and women across the nation who are not in the area, we have created a video.  A visual with the questions that Janine and I ask oursevles all the time…

WHO SAYS?   WHAT IS BEAUTIFUL?

Thrilled to share this video and hope that it will spur conversations in your office, among your girlfriends, and even in your homes.

Just showed it to my 7 year old and asked her…”what IS beautiful?”   Her response was astounding…she teared up seeing the women with the lip plates and neck rings.  She said, “what was wrong with their bodies before?  Why did they feel they had to do that?”   I explained that the same women who were the fancy dresses, wearing lots of make up, or were simply “too thin” were trying to alter their body to achieve the standard of beauty in our culture.   Wide eyed she said, “mom, I think true beauty MUST come from the inside then!”   Well said.  Once again, from the mouth of babes.

VIDEO

Thanks sweet Christopher for sharing your skills and time to make this happen.  Your daughter will thank you someday too!

May you be a blessing and may you be blessed!

Jenni

Body Beautiful

POWER Studios are focussed this month on LOVE… 


LOVING THE SKIN YOU’RE IN. 


I realized this month was too good to keep to ourselves and to the confines of our studio walls…

You’re invited to embark on a journey over the next few weeks.  This month in POWER is Body Beautiful:  Love the Skin You’re In!  The theme is “standards and sisterhood”.   Standards of both beauty and health – who sets them?  What are yours?  Do you even have them or have you just been doing “whatever everybody else is”.  Sisterhood – working together to create the change we want to see in ourselves.  Rather than sitting around comparing each other, which usually results in feeling insecure, this is then projected as jealousy, envy, anger or disgust.  Why not build each other up?  Let’s quit comparing and instead reach out and support one another.  This first week in POWER we’d like you to reflect on what beautiful and healthy mean to you. Please answer the questions below. There will be poster boards in POWER for you to hang your definitions up. You may remain anonymous. Or you can email them to us. If you live far away, you can either email them to us at janinepower4me@gmail.com or jennipower4me@gmail.com or if you’re confident enough post them on our facebook page.   You can follow this message and movement as well as join our challenge.  More information will be posted on this blog, as well as http://www.power4me.com, and our p.o.w.e.r. llc facebook page.  

This month is a very important one. A month of reflection, education, inspiration and ultimately love. So we humbly ask of you to please take a few moments throughout this week to reflect on the questions below and tell us your thoughts. 

With much LOVE,
Janine and Jenni



·      Write your definition of beautiful. Think about your definition. What standards is your definition based on?

o      Are these standards the same ones you want your daughter/s or the next generation of girls to use.
o       Who/what has influenced your definition or standards?
o      Has your definition of beautiful changed over the years?
o      What does beautiful look like to someone who was born blind? Lives in a different culture? What if you were on a deserted island? Would you still conform to the same standards? The same “daily beauty routine”?



·      What does it mean to be “healthy”?

o       What parameters have you set that determine whether or not you’re healthy?
o       Have you achieved them? Are you healthy?
o       Would you consider your family healthy?
o      Does size/weight determine health? What about BMI?
o      Do you have an objective means to measure health?



Feel free to post your answers (or parts of them) to these questions in my comments section on my blog.   I value your honest answers to tough questions, I know other women will be inspired by your honesty and vulnerability.  

So much more to come…stay tuned and stay beautiful! 

May you be a blessing and may you be blessed!

Jenni 

Collection of Lies: The Truth about our Bodies

Comfortable in my own skin.  I do not recall the day that I actually felt comfortable in my own skin.  I do not recall the day that I did not loathe going to my closet to pick out something “cute” to wear.  The day when I did not feel the fat on my stomach hanging over my jeans.  The day when my bra did not cut in to my “back wings”.  The day when I did not shift in my seat 50 times or pull my clothing away from my body.  But one day I woke up and did NONE of those things.  I was in fact, comfortable in my own skin!   I had achieved one of my primary fitness goals.  I didn’t care what the numbers on the scale said or what size jeans I was wearing…I wanted to be comfortable in my own skin.  I am sure there were some silent celebrations…there was happiness.  I probably went shopping and enjoyed walking in to my closet for the first time in years.   I remember going for a run and feeling lighter and that my body moved more efficiently.  I silently celebrated. That confidence bolstered my inner beauty.  I felt happy.   Then it happened.  A few quick months later my focus was suddenly drawn northward.  My eyes became fixated on areas of my face that I had never noticed before.  My face was in fact not only covered in cute adorable freckles, but was filled with an ever-increasing number of wrinkles.  What?  Where did THOSE come from?  I had never noticed them before?!  (Probably because I was so focused on my clothing discomfort!)  This shift was slow, but it became clear that my skin was annoying me.  Is this really happening?  Am I struggling with feeling beautiful because of lines on my face?  What were my options?  Unlike the change of lifestyle that I had undergone with food and exercise, a change that not only brought about confidence but also life long health benefits…this wrinkle thing was not going to be fixed without a surgeon or some serious botox.  It was at this point that I realized that if I wasn’t careful I could really move to a place where my body and an obsession with it could turn super sour super fast.  I was going to have to get comfortable in the skin I was in today with no significant surgery or other drastic measures because what would be next?? 
This leads in to the final “chapter” of lies that were shared among the women of my pods.  The lies women believe about their bodies and the truths that followed…
Beauty is defined by what size I am. 
You are beautiful right now.  Beauty is a combination of your internal (character, personality, passions, etc.) and your external (how you look and feel on the outside).   These two cannot be separated…they are interconnected.  When we train hard we are developing our external beauty AND our internal beauty.  When we push ourselves to exhaustion or accomplish something that seemed completely impossible we build our confidence.   Confidence is beautiful.   We build character when we develop discipline and commitment…a faithfulness to show up and not quit.  These are incredibly beautiful attribute.  When we allow God to change our character we are developing our internal and external beauty. 
I believe in a strong relationship between body, mind and spirit.  The more I focused on this, the more I found how interconnected they are.  The more that I focus on the internal beauty—the less I think about the external beauty.  Ironically, the more my body transforms the less I think about my body and the more I focus on the internals.   Barring sizes and numbers—the more you are transforming both internally and externally the more beautiful you feel and become.
Beauty comes in so many different packages, colors, sizes, inside and outside.  I remember Jenni once using the expression “skinny fat” for the traditionally skinny girl who eats terribly and couldn’t do 2 burpees to save her life.  She may be small but is nowhere near healthy or fit.  That makes me so aware of how size is such a poor indicator of health, beauty, or what really matters.
The number on the scale dictates my mood and how I eat that day. 
The scale is a poor indicator of our health and fitness levels, a terrible judge of our beauty, and an even worse director of our mood.  Don’t let the scale make you its bitch.  Our mood flows from the things we find our significance in.    You are valuable and significant, because you were wonderfully and beautifully made and you are loved by your creator.  
You are enslaved to a digital machine.  You want to own your body not let the machine own you.  You want to make food choices based on what is best to fuel your body not what a number tells you for that day.  You want to move your body regularly so that you can grow stronger, faster, healthier, not because a number tells you that you need to.  You are a STRONG, BEAUTIFUL and INTELLIGENT woman.  Do not let a scale replace your intellect and become the driver of your actions.  TAKE CONTROL and throw out your scale! 
Do not give so much power to a number on the scale. It is just a number and not a reflection of who you are as a person and who God created you to be.  It is important to eat balanced and healthy meals not matter what the number on the scale shows.
The number on the scale is a moving target.  Turn the scale over to Jenni. Go by how your feel…and if you have to find a measure…clothing fit is a better option. 
I will always have a little pudge around the edges. 
No you won’t.  It didn’t get there overnight so it won’t melt away overnight either.  It took regular and consistent behaviors for that “pudge” to get there, and it will take regular and consistent behavior to remove it.  It is easier to take off the first 10 pounds than it will be take off the last 10 pounds.
Every body is different and where your body holds on to fat is different.  Some of our body types have curves, some do not.  You need to know the difference between curves, your body type and “pudge”.  In the end, your body will continue to lose fat when you eat mindfully (often our nutrition is the difference maker in those places) and exercise the way we do in P.O.W.E.R.’s studio.
Give your pudge a purpose!  Put it to work–use your pudge as energy to run the bowl or do some squat jumps.  Use it up and let it be put to good use!  If anyone knows that transformation can happen and pudge can melt away, it’s you!  You have seen it happen time and time again in this gym!  Believe what you see and trust it for yourself…you’re not an exception to the rule!  Hard work and wise nutrition will have no place for that pudge..your body is a machine!!! 
I will never be at my desired weight. 
You have a bigger vision for your life…(clearly) as you are in the Inner Strength studio.  You recognize that doing the “same thing” may not have been working but you are pushing your body to its limits.  You are learning to do this at home as well as in the studio.  You are making mental shifts and striving to meet your demands.  You are shaking up your metabolism and strengthening your muscles…which inevitably will burn fat.  Your body composition will change as you continue to put on muscle and fire up your metabolism.   Commit to the process.  Do not hold back..trust the process and trust your trainer. 
The process of losing weight takes time.  We do not get there overnight.  Starving ourselves is not an option.   Our body and how we view it is key.  We are God’s temple…so our actions and reactions to our body need to be continually tempered with this in mind.   A mental shift is helpful…my body, God’s vessel, needs to be around for a long time to…long enough to chase grandchildren…my body God’s vessel needs be healthy and strong so I can be the best wife, mother, sister, friend, that I can be.  My body, God’s vessel, needs enjoy life to the fullest and not be focused on the vessel itself but the people and relationships that I cherish most.   You WILL get there…one day at a time…one burpee at a time…one small step at a time.
I will never be able to keep up this exercise regimen. 
You have worked so hard to not only get to where you are…you have been incredibly disciplined week in and week out to faithfully show up.  80% of the battle is showing up.  If you are not in pod, you will find a workout buddy, you will take your lunch break to walk with others, you will find a gym that caters to your comfort level and you will take all the things you have learned and do them.  Because you already have displayed an incredible amount of discipline and commitment—I do believe you have moved to a place of “defending” in your personal journey.   You are an inspiration and a new creation!
Would you ever consider saying I won’t be able to give up the routine of brushing my teeth daily, or taking a shower?  No, because we know these things are a priority to maintaining overall health.  Exercise is als as important if not more so than the time we take to wash and style our hair.  Once we reframe our priorities of where exercise falls in our life it’s a lot easier to keep up the routine. 
Jenni will tell us when we are ready to leave POD.  Trust Jenni.  When you are ready, you will have the tools needed to continue to defend & practice this exercise regimen.
“I applied my heart to what I observed
And learned a lesson from what I saw.”
Proverbs 24:32
I encourage you to pray the following prayer “Lord, thank You that I am never finished learning.  I pray that my heart will be supple and open to whatever teacher You put in my path.” 
I believe that I am unlovable.  So, why should I care if I’m fat?
 First, you are lovable.  There is a quote somewhere that says “Someone in this world loves you more than you can ever imagine.”  THAT is true.  Your tunnel vision of WHO YOU ARE has blinded you to seeing your true self worth.  I know what it’s like to be fat too, and I can remember living under the LIE that because I was fat, I, too, was unlovable.  My dear friend, we are so wrong.  Yes, the extra pounds are a part of us, but they do NOT define us.  The extra pounds are optional, they WILL go away with a little bit of commitment and surrendering to the process that Janine is walking through with us—the beauty inside of you is unshakable!  Say something nice about yourself today.  Tell someone something that you really like about you!  Pick out a feature that you’re thankful for.  Reflect on why other people love you so much…and please stop selling yourself short!  I love you just because I can!
😦 Would you let someone speak to a friend or family member this way? No way! No one would. It’s not okay to give your internal voice this kind of negative power in your life. Whenever I hear one of my children say something negative such as, “I hate my  handwriting!” or “I’m a terrible singer.” or anything else of the like I always tell them, “Don’t talk to my baby that way! Be nice!” It’s hard to be objective about ourselves but it’s so vital that the one voice that always chimes in – that little one in our head – is only allowed to come in peace! Be kind to you. Encourage you. Believe in you. 
Listen, whoever made you believe you’re unlovable was cruel. Whoever gave you this twisted truth about you was wrong! You’re lovable. And you deserve to feel good about yourself – whether heavy or thin. You deserve a new belief. 
Being comfortable in my own skin took hours and hours of discipline, great nutrition, and hard work in the gym.  It also took a mental shift to believe that I am more focused on what my body can do than what number a scale tells me I am.  It also meant celebrating the mile markers of a life spent laughing and telling animated stories.  (Isn’t that the source of all of these lines on my face?)  It means celebrating the journey and the mile markers along the way like child birth and breastfeeding which brings about 3 beautiful children, stretch marks, and a less perky chest.  It means celebrating what society does not…a body that has lived life.  A body that is weathered and worn through the ins and outs of this life.  It also takes a recognition that I will ALWAYS ALWAYS, ALWAYS be able to pick apart my body and find another thing to fixate on…or I can focus on the parts worth celebrating.  Yesterday at Starbucks a woman in her late 60s kept eyeing me.  I wondered what in the world she was looking at and she had a rude look on her face.  Finally I got my latte and got out of her line of fire; as I passed I smiled and said hello.  She said,  slightly under breathe but also slightly embarrassed that I had caught her staring, “I was just admiring how good you look in those jeans.”  I need to get my focus off whatever part of my body that I am annoyed with this week and celebrate the jeans that fit great.  Celebrate the sprints that I do with my kids.  Celebrate the low cholesterol score that I just received.  Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate.  
We miss it ladies.  We can make a choice to spend our WHOLE LIVES believing lies about our bodies.  We must STOP today and take our focus OFF of what we HATE and be ever so THANKFUL for what we HAVE !   We need to let go of the strongholds and demons that tell us we are ugly and will never amount to anything.  We need to fix our minds on truth.  Surround yourself with positive people who aren’t obsessed with the exterior, but who value the interior of our lives.  
Who is a woman in your life that is comfortable in her skin?  What do you admire about her?  What are the things that your body can do?  What are the things that should be celebrated as mile markers in your life?   
“The greatest lie on the planet is that we believe we will be happy when we get what we want.”  That is like trying to fill a bottomless cup.  True contentment starts with attitudes and actions shifting now.  True contentment starts by figuring out the secrets of those around us who are comfortable in their own skin.  True contentment comes from  knowing we are an incredible creation…worth far more than this world could ever imagine. 

Love the Skin You’re In

Wellness Wednesday encourages you to… 
Love The Skin You’re In

Six women.  A barrage of squats, burpees, and lunges have led to sweat…and lots of it.  The scene is my studio and the night is like any typical Monday or Wednesday at 7pm.   The same 6 women come through my door for training…some tired from a long day of work, others are excited about the challenge ahead, and some are a little nervous as each pod night looks and feels a little different..  This night is no different than the rest…except that my A.C. is on the fritz.  The room is considerably warmer.  The 90 degree weather outside and the physical activity inside is producing quite a sauna effect.

“It’s too hot in here, Jenni!!” they complained.  I explained that sweat is good for the body to release toxins, but the positive spin on the situation was not appreciated. Then it happened.  Patty, my 59 year old client who trains with a bunch of 20 and 30 year old women, tucked her shirt into her bra.   Such a simple solution to the heat, but it turned out to be one of the most profound actions that has occurred in my studio to date.   I smiled and announced to the room, “Yep—Patty is getting naked!”  The next thing I know one by one the shirts came off.  One by one, woman after woman was working out in her sports bra.   I have women of all different ages, shapes and sizes.  There was no concern for the 6’ x 10’ mirrors that surrounded them.  There was no concern for the fact that some of the bellies had not seen the sun in many years.   All that mattered is that they were in a safe place with other women who were working toward a common goal: to become healthier stronger versions of themselves. 
The moment stopped me in my tracks.  I have trained several hundred classes and pods before—but never before had the environment and the situation been “just right” that 4 of the 6 women in the room felt comfortable enough to take their shirts off and work hard.  This level of vulnerability was beautiful.  
In this moment a statement was being made:  I am comfortable in my own skin.  I am comfortable in this place and with these people, and I love myself and my body, imperfections and all.  I don’t need to wait until I am a size 2 or at an optimal body composition for someone to see my belly button.  They listened to an inner voice that said, “it’s hot in here—if I were by myself I would probably take off my shirt and wear my bra—I don’t care who is watching, I am comfortable right here and right now—it’s hot–the shirt’s coming off!”  
Janine and I dream that women will find this type of security and comfort in and outside of our studios.   I think it is only here that a woman will then be able to continue to move through transitions with her body and her life.  If we cannot accept who we are today, but instead constantly hate the place where we are, we have not surrendered to the process.   And get this: I believe Life IS the process.   If we spend countless hours worrying, comparing, and wishing things to be different, then we are wasting precious life moments.  Those same moments can be spent in acceptance of who we are now and excited about where we are headed in the future!   We must first accept and love ourselves right where we are, knowing that we will NEVER be perfect.  Yep I said it, and let me repeat it:  we will never be perfect. 
Just when we think we have the perfect skin…wrinkles start to appear.
Just when we think we have the perfect jean size…skinny jeans come in style.
Just when we think we have the perfect smile…the dentist suggests veneers.
Just when we think we have the perfect chest…gravity takes the twins down south!
Just when we think we have the perfect (fill in the blank)…this world distracts us from a place of contentment and encourages us to strive for something different.  
We must be thankful for a body that moves freely.  For legs that are able to run and jump.  For arms that can lift and hold.  For a brain that brilliantly tells our body where and how to move in perfect unison.  We must be thankful for the opportunity to wake up and move each day.  To feel sore!   We must be thankful for a body that can run, kick, jump, or swim.  For a body that can embrace those we love, and playfully lift, carry and race our children at the park.   We must be thankful for the curves (or lack of them) that make us uniquely individual and make us who we are.    Internal and external transformation falls upon those who actually are thankful for the skin they are in—right now.   
Those same women in my little “sauna” that night were not looking around sizing one another up.  They were not concerned with how their clothes fit, how so and so’s squat looked, or whether or not they were sweatier than the rest of the women in the room.  They were fully focused on the task at hand.  There were no comparisons.  That is a rule in P.O.W.E.R. studios…and most of the time the rules are respected.  In comparison there is self-loathing, or wishing, or wanting, and it is toxic.  Each journey looks different. We must embrace the journey that we are on.    It will steal our joy to constantly be comparing ourselves to others.   The sooner we can keep our eyes fixed on the task at hand and the journey WE are on, the sooner that we can stop trying to keep up with the “Mrs. Jones’ body, physique, jean size or convertible for that matter”!
When we strive for the body of someone else…and start chopping women in to pieces, “I would like her Kelly’s legs, Amy’s arms, and Abbie’s stomach… we are creating a completely unrealistic version of ourselves..    Bodies are shaped differently…they (even when lean) look VERY different.  If my sweet Patty was constantly looking at the 20 year old who is a size 0 and wishing she could be in her skin…with everything perky and in place, she would leave each week deflated and beating herself up for the ways she is constantly coming up short.  She would miss the absolute blessing of the journey she is currently on.  A journey that is committed to building strong bones and beating osteopenia without medication.  In the process she has become stronger than she has ever been in her lifetime.  She is replacing fat with muscle, her body continues to transform to a healthier, stronger, leaner version of Patty.  I could not be more proud of this woman as she is a picture of loving the skin that she is in and embracing each step of the journey. 
Those precious six women taught me a powerful lesson that night.  One that is worth sharing with others.   Change starts from the inside out.  Change starts with vulnerability. Change starts when we feel safe.  Change starts when we stop comparing ourselves to others.  Change starts when we love ourselves right where we are.  Change starts when we recognize simply—“it’s hot and I don’t care who’s looking…I don’t care what shape or size I am…I am taking off my shirt.”  Thank you night pod for inspiring women and me…for challenging others to look at the larger picture of this life and say—I am ready to embrace the skin I am in!