Friday, June 29, 2012

Dear self, you look damn good today.

"By our thoughts we forge the weapons by which we can destroy ourselves." 
- As a Man Thinketh, by James Allen

I started to draft this post and realized something: I've made a lot of confessions to you lately! I owned up about my freakout over the measuring tape, I admitted that I was sandbagging in the weight room, and I came clean that I wasn't doing my best. Well, I have something else to confess, and then I promise to try to pull it together.

I have a really bad habit of talking dirty to myself. Not dirty talk in the good kinda way, but dirty talk in a very bad way. To be specific? I used to say mean things to myself about my stomach. You see, my stomach has never been my favorite part of my body. I have to be dancing on the precipice of single digit bodyfat percentages in order to see my abs. I don't lose sleep over it but apparently it bothers me enough because I caught myself making derogatory, rude little comments to my stomach. Things that might... maybe... possibly... resemble something like, "You're so gross. Will you ever get leaner? You look so puffy."  I actually didn't notice I was doing it until a couple of months ago but once I made myself aware of it, I realized I was doing it all of the time. Each time I'd undress to hop in the shower I'd pause to stare at my stomach critically in the mirror, give it the stank eye, and then say something cruel to it. This, I am embarrassed to admit, was happening on a regular basis, and - get ready for this one - I'm convinced that my thoughts were making my midsection look worse not only in my mind, but physically as well.

 "Wait", you're thinking skeptically. "Is that even possible?" 

You better believe it.

This is akin to having a day in which you are simply exhausted, and you tell anybody that will listen, "Ughhh, I'm soooo tired!" and the more you repeat it, the more you believe it, and the worse you feel. Or when you frequently tell Fido that he is a bad dog, and then you're shocked when he continues to act naughty. Of course he is going to misbehave, because you keep cramming it down his throat that he is, in fact, a bad dog!

Further proof: I am quite fond of my legs, ass, and back, therefore whenever I peep them in the mirror I always think lovely things about them. Coincidentally, those 3 body parts (in my opinion) are my best physical attributes. Food for thought: do those body parts look nicer than my middle because they are just naturally better? Or is it because I have programmed my mind to believe that they look better, hence actually causing them to look better? I'll let you chew on that for a moment.

Needless to say, I've been working very hard to put a stop to the midsection madness. Of course, it's a work in progress but I'm doing a good job. I've been making a point to look in the mirror and say nice things to myself. At first this felt kind of weird. Almost conceited. But I pondered, why can I pay a genuine compliment to others, yet I feel uncomfortable if I talk nice to myself? If I want to help myself then I need to get over it and unabashedly let the compliments fly!

Dear self,
Well, thank you!

I recently read a wonderful book titled, "The Genie Within" by Harry Carpenter. It focuses on the importance of the things that we tell ourselves, both consciously and subconsciously, and how those things can change our lives. What you're feeding your mind can cause you to have more or less success, health, energy, sleep, strength, intelligence, etc. I highly recommend this book. You may be surprised at what you're telling yourself through your subconscious without even knowing it!

Here is a great example of feeding your mind with positive thoughts:
On one of my many recent trips to Vegas to meet up with my best girlfriends, my friend's fiance, Tom, flipped open his wallet to generously buy us a round of drinks and a piece of paper caught my eye. A quick (and nosey) glance at it showed that it was a positive affirmation and I immediately pounced, eagerly asking if I could see it, asking him all about it, and then obnoxiously snapping a pic of it.

"I am more than I appear to be, 
all of the world's strength and power rests inside me.
(Visualize it!)"

How powerful is that!? Each time Tom opens his wallet, he is greeted by these influential words. Seeing this little note of his inspired me to do something similar and now I frequently include positive affirmations in my daily journaling - these things include quotes like his, goals with our company, physique changes I'm making, and many other things. Notice the present tense used in Tom's note above. One of the lessons that Harry teaches us in "The Genie Within" is to speak of things in the present moment. If you want to close that deal at work, you'd better tell yourself, "I am closing the deal at work." If you want to be leaner, you'd assure yourself, "I am ____ % bodyfat." and so on and so forth.

Whatever you tell yourself creeps up into your mind and quietly plants a seed and pretty soon, that thought sprouts and manifests itself into physical form. Are you planting flowers or weeds? Okay that was cheesy. But you catch my drift! And besides, we all know somebody (crazy Aunt Betsy) that whispers sweet nothings to their plants in order to help them grow, and I'll be damned, it always works! The same principle applies to the relationship between our mind and our body. Start telling yourself wonderful things, whether it be about your body, health, strength, or success, and watch the changes take place! The trick is that you have to be convincing. Similar to how you react when you see your bestie in her wedding dress for the first time - you gush, you ooh and ahh, and you vehemently tell her how gorgeous she is. You need to be that kind of convincing.

What are you telling yourself? Do you participate in positive affirmations? 
If so, has it helped? 
Drop me a line below and lets chat! 


Recommended reading for this topic:
The Science of Being Great by Wallace Wattles
The Genie Within by Harry Carpenter
As a Man Thinketh by James Allen


37 comments:

  1. Awesome post and thanks for the honesty!

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    1. My pleasure! I vow to always write with complete transparency!

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  2. Love this article. Thanks so much for sharing. I seed positive messages to myself in my screen saver and smart phone passwords. Things like "strsmcon1" = I am strong, smart and ocnfident. I must type those passwords 50 times a day or more. It really helps reinforce the things that I am trying to work on and keep them top of mind. BTW: I too struggle with negative mid section msgs. Time to change that one!

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    1. Hello!
      YES - I do that, too sister! I had to give my password to our IT guy at work one day and felt kind of weird when I told him "strongandhealthyin2012". haha!

      Lets make a promise to each other: We will say at least 3 nice things to ourselves today, and stop negative thoughts dead in their tracks! :)

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  3. Thank you for posting this. My stomach is my least favorite part too -- it always has been. I've lost over 20 lbs in the last year and I still am not fond of it. I'm in this weird place where I feel like I look the same as I did 20 lbs ago. Realistically, I know that isn't true at all, but I have a hard time seeing and believing it. Sometimes I wish I could see a picture of my body without my head attached and not knowing it was my own body - I think seeing it subjectively like that would make me think, "Damn, that girl is a bad ass!"

    Thanks again for sharing. It's always nice to know that other people have these issues too.

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    1. Hi Morgan!
      I completely understand where you are coming from in regards to thinking you still look the same. Sounds like body dysmorphia, which affects more women (and men) than I even want to think about!
      My midsection has always been an area I've been self-conscious of, and even when I prepped for my first show and actually HAD visible abs I still used to swat my boyfriend's hands off my stomach because I didn't see the change. It wasn't until months later, after my abs were gone again, that I wished I still had them. Do your best to embrace what you have right now, because if we are blessed enough to become very old and grey, we don't want to look back wishing we would've been more grateful for what we had at the time ;)

      Bottom line: We need to be ourselves #1 fan, and speak to ourselves in the same way that we speak to our greatest love :) You can do it! I have faith in you!

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  4. I'm passing also through such period: If 30 days ago I wrote in my journal that I like the way I look, last night I wanted to write the opposite and then I stopped and realized that my mind is a powerful tool but the great thing is that I'm the master and I can tell it how to work. At your suggestion I read The Happiness Project and this book is on my list. Thanks Jen. We are awesome!

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    1. Hi Jules!
      Isn't it interesting how our minds can flip-flop so quickly on our body image? I swear, one morning I can feel like I look amazing and that same night I will be complaining about how squishy I feel.

      You are so right - our mind is a very powerful tool and we need to write encouraging things and think beautiful thoughts!

      I'm so glad you read Happiness Project. That book is a favorite of mine. The 3 that I listed at the bottom of this post are wonderful, and I think you'll really enjoy them!

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  5. Every morning my dad would tell himself how handsome and sexy he was. As a child it annoyed me. Yet as an adult, I find myself imitating him. I intellectually know that I need to lose some fat, but his example keeps me loving myself while I do it.

    If you want to steal my mirror talk, feel free. As I stand naked looking at myself in the mirror, I tell myself that I am strong, smart and beautiful that I am the total package. I know that it is a little embarrassing to share such private thoughts here on a public forum, but if it can help one person it is worth it.

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    1. I absolutely love this comment! Your dad was undoubtedly on to something. I think what you tell yourself in the mirror every day is wonderful and so crucial for health and happiness. Keep it up, girlfriend, and I'll be joining you! (Don't worry. In my bathroom. Not in yours. Lol!)

      On a slight different, albeit still similar note: my uncle sings in the shower every morning to pep himself up and get ready for his day, and the more tired he is, the louder and more enthusiastic his singing is. He's done this ever since I was little and he swears by it! :)

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    2. Thanks, it makes me happy to pass it on. If every parent changed the way they talked to themselves maybe the next generation wouldn't struggle as much. As John Prine once sang --- little pictures have big ears.

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  6. I love this! A long time ago I stopped saying things like "I'm fat" or "My gross thighs" or "My flabby this..." etc. It really does wonders for your self esteem. I guess I fee like instead of wasting time complaining about something, do something to change it. And if it's something you can't...accept it and move on. Life's too short. People don't want to hear you complain about how ugly or fat you are. ;-)

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    1. "I feel like instead of wasting time complaining about something, do something to change it. And if it's something you can't...accept it and move on. Life's too short."

      YES YES YES! I agree with all of this wholeheartedly. If it's not positive, don't say it or even THINK it. Being negative is completely fruitless, and often just plants seeds for even more negative thoughts.

      Thanks for stopping in girl!

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  7. SO. I have been thinking about this subject a LOT lately and I think it is something more women would do well to embrace. If you have some time and/or listen to podcasts, I *highly* recommend Stefani Ruper at http://www.paleoforwomen.com/ . Regardless of whether one is 'paleo', she talks a LOT about women & body image and drops some pretty remarkable life-insight bombs. I interviewed with her for the last podcast and it definitely opened my eyes to how universal these kinds of thoughts are amongst women in general and yet it feels so lonely sometimes.

    ANYWAY! PleasePLEASE keep up the positivity because you are beautiful and strong and worthy of your love.

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    1. Hi Juliet!

      Thank you so much for the recommendation. I am looking that website up as soon as I finish typing this.

      Negative thoughts and poor body image runs rampant among women, and even many men nowadays! I'm all about doing everything I can to help people be healthy and feel good about themselves. Maybe I'll start some sort of movement or challenge on here for that exact same thing! Hmmmm... ;)

      Thanks girl! You, too, are beautiful, strong, and worthy of your own love. Have a wonderful weekend!

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  8. I absolutely adored this post. I loved all the honesty, because I think "self body bashing" has become such the norm that if you DO compliment yourself, people think it's strange or that you are being arrogant. In a time when people are so awful to their bodies, this type of positive thinking and talking is the direction we need to go. I realized how bad mine had gotten when I pinched my stomach so hard I created a welt. My husband noticed and asked me about it and I really thought hard that each day I would focus on not speaking in such a harsh manner to myself. Thank you so much for this!

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    1. Thanks Hayley!

      Unfortunately you are right that body bashing is the norm. I'll be honest - I was a little nervous to post this because I was worried some people might think I'm conceited... then I thought, "Oh well." haha!
      I'm determined to start a positive self-talk movement!

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  9. I loved this post. It was odd timing stumbling onto it because it's something I've been grappling with on a daily basis for the last several years. I am one of those people who has a tendency to project and encourage positivity in everyone else and silently torture myself. What you've said rings very true because my negative energy absolutely coincides with the way my weight yo-yos.
    I do have to say though, it's not always as simple as just writing a note, you have to be able to let yourself believe in whatever message you are feeding into your own mind. You can be surrounded by all the positive energy and words in the world but if you aren't able to accept that their is something good about yourself it's as good as trying to break down a brick wall with a feather.
    I just say that from experience. Self loathing is exhausting and destructive, it's even worse when you would give anything to be able to agree with whatever encouragement is offered. It is so much more than just a physical effect. It carries over into all of your relationships and every aspect of your life and can very easily turn things into a lonely dark place.
    I suppose it all comes down to will power and determination just like everything else.

    Whatever the case. Thank you for writing this and for reminding me that more often then not. I should ignore what I have to say to myself.

    -P

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    1. Hi Peanut!

      I agree. You can tell yourself nice things all day long but if you don't believe them then it just won't have the same effect. I think, like anything else, this will take consistency, work, and a whole lot of heart. The book "The Genie Within" talks about reprogramming your subconscious with different thoughts, and it may be worth your while to check out.

      Thank you for taking the time to write, and I hope you have a wonderful and positive weekend!

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  10. How interesting! I went from not liking my body to not seeing it at all...I look in the mirror and don't see, which has not helped because every once in a while I catch a glimpse and realize I'm overweight. Same with pictures. So I've decided to take pictures of myself to see the real me. That way I can keep on track and not go snack-crazy because I feel so good!

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    1. Hi there!

      How interesting! While I think it's crucial to keep things realistic so that we can stay healthy, I have to admit that I am genuinely envious of your self-love! :)

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  11. Awesome post! I do the same thing with my stomach multiple times a day, and I never thought about the consequences of my negative words until now! Thanks!

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    1. Thanks Lindsay! What I wouldn't GIVE to have your stomach girl! ;)

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  12. This is awesome! It's also biblical. Pretty good stuff ;)

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    1. Hi Keri!

      Thank you so much. And is it? I'm curious what scripture(s) you are referring to. I'm very strong in my faith and always looking to increase my knowledge on the Bible. Anything you could pass along for me to reference would be very appreciated!

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  13. Jen,

    Thank you for this post! I really needed to read this today. I'm sooo freaking hard on myself because of my legs, so I'm always ashamed to wear shorts. But today I'm going to wear those damn shorts and be proud of my strong, powerful, ATG squatin', deadliftin' legs! I really just need to change my whole mentality regarding my legs and be proud of what they can do and what their size represents.

    And I do believe that you're onto something with this idea that the way your mind views something might physically make it better. I notice that when I wear shorter dresses and shorts more often (and thus feeling more confident about my legs) it seems they start looking better than they previously had.... I'm glad I'm not going crazy by having though this! Hehe.

    -Jess

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    1. Hi Jess!

      I hope you rocked those shorts with pride today, because it definitely sounds like you work hard enough to deserve it!
      As I've gotten stronger, I've had to accept some changes in my body as well, and I admit that sometimes I struggle with that as well. But when it boils right down to it, would I rather be my skinny-fat self? Or what is now a muscular curvy form? The former, for sure!

      And you are SO not crazy for thinking that our mind skews how we physically look! It really can happen!

      Wear those shorts my strong friend!!!

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  14. I LOVE THIS! I do the same thing about my midsection and for the past week I have decided to stop the madness and replace every negative thought with two immediate positive thoughts about my body..like the progress I have made or the determination to continually challenge my body I have shown!
    Thank you so much for this!!! Because reading this helps me realize how much positive feedback from ourselves is something a lot of us tend to forget the importance of! :)

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  15. I have to admit that I'm guilty of being a bully to my belly. It's the hardest area for me to change. It seems that I can never get rid of the tiny layer of fat that's stopping my abs from coming through.

    I will join you in being a little kinder to myself next time I look in the mirror.

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  16. Great article! My husband always tells to not talk negatively to myself nor be disappointed....he tells me to focus on the progress I will make, to visualize myself the way I want to look, to make the mind/body connection, etc. Its just so hard for me to do that for myself, and I don't know why. I just have to keep working at it and not give up.

    On another note. I've been out of school for a long (14 yrs!) time. During the spring in my English class, I wrote an essay about high endurance cardio training vs training with heavy weights, and I wanted to share it with you: http://lilisnotes.com/high-endurance-cardio-vs-training-heavy-weights

    I hope that is OK.

    Looking forward to reading more articles, and seeing your day to day life as well. Its great insight when personal life is shared.

    ~ Liliana

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  17. I LOVED this post! I am just getting over doing this too. I actually used to pinch my stomach and say nasty things before I got into the shower too. The past month I have been trying to change this. I say something nice every time I see my stomach now and I know I'm eating better but I think my positive attitude has definitely helped.

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  18. I love this post Jen and I know you hit home with SO many of your readers. It is so hard for people to just accept themselves for who they are. (me included) we spend so much time thinking about things we *dislike* about our bodies that we neglect to think about how many amaizng and beautiful things we have to offer. I hate my upper body. Of course there are parts of my body that I dislike more than others bvut you know what? OH WELL. We will always feel this way and life is too short to nit pick and try to attain perfection. its exhausting! Love yourself the way you are and work hard at what you want to achieve. The best is yet to come!

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  19. This made me think of something my best friend said to me a few years ago when I was being self-critical. She burst out with "you make me SO ANGRY!!! You are so mean, so cruel and hateful to my friend Leona, who is GREAT and I LOVE HER and you're just HORRIBLE to her! I want you to stop it!"

    Really made me sit up and think.

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    1. Leona,
      that is an excellent point!
      How would it be if we were as kind to ourselves as our friends are to us?

      Thanks for chiming in!

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  20. this is really great writing! I found this by writing into google images search: "I am a great catch , but I won't be easily caught". Was just curious what might come up. And the first lines hooked me. I had the same experience, made to many unnecessary confessions, talked myself down. Not bout my belly, but about something else that seems to be a repetitive theme of my life. Well- I love your style, great work!

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  21. WOW!! I have the exact relationship with my belly! It is my most hated part of my body and I do the same thing when I look into the mirror before getting into the shower. I keep thinking that if I could fix my midsection, I would be much happier about myself. My legs, back and behind are coming along SO nicely. My chest is looking pretty muscular as well. BUT my belly taunts me and tells me that I need to work harder and eat better. Maybe the eating could improve (not treating myself as often on the weekends) but I am busting my booty at the gym 5-6 days a week doing some pretty heavy lifting! Thank you SO much for being SO open about yourself and sharing this with us. After reading this, I am going to start a journal and start talking more positive to myself! Could prove to be difficult at first...but what do I have to lose?

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    1. Hey Jennifer,
      I understand exactly what you are saying, and it is SO hard to get away from that thinking... but we have to. The more we tell ourselves the same thing over and over again, the more deeply we root those feelings into our brain.

      For me (and I'm by no means perfect with this, but it has improved), I had to make a conscious effort not to sit and stare at my stomach in the mirror. I couldn't let myself. It was getting so bad that I'd pull up my shirt and think mean things about it every time I went into the restroom! EEK!
      Had to stop, cold-turkey!

      A journal is such a great idea! Thinking happy and beautiful thoughts for you... and your stomach! ;)

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