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Sunday, April 20, 2014

The story behind the picture

***Updated on 4/22/2014 to include website link for Amy. I have not received any compensation for linking to my blog post. I think she is a kick ass photographer.***

I changed my Facebook profile picture the other day. No big deal, right? Except for the fact that it is one of my most favorite pictures of me. I jokingly said that there was a story behind the pictures. I've actually decided to "come clean" about the photo shoot and what lead me to it.

So here's one huge confession about the picture. I did a boudoir photo shoot.

Now I could sit here and finish typing one handed while my other hand covers my eyes and I have to peek between my fingers in shame over admitting that. I could get beet red and all embarrassed in admitting that and saying it OUT LOUD that I had such a photo shoot.

But I'm not going to do that. I AM NOT doing that.

Cuz here's the thing. It took me about THREE YEARS to get the courage to do a boudoir shoot. THREE FUCKING YEARS!

What's the big deal, right? Those shoots are made so you can get pictures taken in your underwear, acting all sexy, looking like a whore/slut/tramp (insert your own derogatory term here) for your husband/boyfriend/partner.

If that's what you really, truly, with all your close-mindedness think that's what these photo shoots are about, you can stop reading right here. If you've made it this far. Seriously. This isn't the post for you.

Still with me?

What stopped me from doing a photo shoot, was....wait for it....  my arms. Yep. Those two appendages that connect my hands to my body.  Most specifically, it was my upper arms.

Does that even make any sense? Sounds a bit ridiculous, right? My arms can't be that big? No one is even going to notice them. No one is going to be looking at my arms specifically. But guess what? It doesn't matter if it sounds ridiculous to you. It was a real problem for me.

I'm just like everyone else. I get insecure about my body. I have moments that I refuse to have pictures taken of me or refuse to post pictures of me unless it's from the neck up. I'll compare myself, my progress, my journey to another person's. I have my pity parties.

Here's what I did. I did my research. (Don't forget that I'm a huge nerd, and I will research the shit out of something before I accept it as fact.) Up until I booked my appointment, I researched and researched photographers, clothing, make-up, and poses. I wasn't going into this thing blind and I wasn't going to spend my money on pics that I could have any one of my non-professional photographer friends do. I knew what I didn't want to look like, and I had a good idea about what I did want to look like. I still didn't like my arms, but I was ready.

The day of the shoot went down like this, in a nutshell.  I went to my photo shoot appointment, met my photographer Amy (, she was wonderful, made me feel at ease... she had me pose this way and that way, looking this way and that way... snap, snap, snap... click click click... and then I had to wait for an email when the pictures were ready. It was actually really fun! :)

I got my pictures back and I was beyond amazed at how they turned out. I showed my husband, and he was really impressed and really liked them too. I showed one or two to a couple other girls who told me they were really good, so I went ahead and posted one I really loved on Facebook. I left it at that. I wasn't looking for everyone to "like" it or comment on it. It's just a picture of me, right? This got me thinking... Actually, it was conversations with five of my girlfriends that got me thinking.

What kept coming up, was my friends saying, "I could never do that." "You have so much more confidence than me." "I could never look that good." "No one wants to see me in pictures like that."

And then it hit me.

My doing these pictures, was to prove to MYSELF, that I am okay with my body as it is today, as it was on the day that I went and had the pictures taken. I'm not a size 00, I have cellulite, and I definitely don't have a flat tummy.

When I look at my pictures, I can see how everyone else might possibly see me. Yes, camera angles do wonders. And yes, you have to have a lot of faith and trust in your photographer that they aren't going to capture your image from your bad side.

But my pictures... I can't stop looking at them. It amazes me that she was able to capture me so that I thought I looked beautiful from this angle or that angle. I was right to wait as long as I did because I might not have been as accepting of the fact that my body is what it is, and it's not so bad.

Tonight I had friends researching the photographers in their areas that do boudoir photos. I was getting lots of messages, and having lots of fun talking about it. They were relieved that they knew someone who had been through a shoot and could answer questions, give tips, encourage them to go for it.

I think every BODY should do something similar to a boudoir shoot. The human body is beautiful. Find a photographer who isn't going to take pictures of you that will have you feeling slut-shamed (unless that's what you're after. I'm not going to judge you on that.) If you've been hesitant, like I was, don't be. Don't be so hard on yourself. Seriously. If someone tells you that you look beautiful, I bet they're right. Have pictures to look back on so that you can maybe, hopefully, see yourself as others see you.

And my arms. Yeah, I don't even notice them in these pictures. Who would've guessed?

(I chose not to post any of the pictures from my shoot, including the one that I used on Facebook, mainly because even though I love them, they are private pictures that I am choosing to not share with the world.) 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Accountability and acceptance

I pretty much took a break from publishing posts over the winter. Life happens and blogging here took a backseat. I have some posts that I started and never hit publish. Maybe I'll go back and actually publish them. Maybe.

So why is today special?

I ran/walked my first 5K of the year. It's funny how I'm in such a different place this year than I was last year. Not a bad place either. 

This past week, I unexpectedly got a couple messages from friends. One of them I felt I needed to share because there are so many days where I just want to hit delete on this blog and take it off the list of things that I need to work on.  
Edited to protect the innocent. Just kidding. I didn't tell her I was using this.

I like helping people. It feels good to know that I have inspired someone to make a change. What's different for me now is that, I don't feel like I have to blog weekly or monthly to let people know that. Maybe it's because people already know that they can reach out to me? I don't know the answer for why I've changed things, but I'm very content with where things are in my life.

Which leads me to the title of my post: Accountability and acceptance. Back in January a lot of people were coming up with a word to describe their goal for the year. I didn't want to just pick one word, but "accountability" has been sticking with me for quite some time. I am trying very hard to be accountable for all my actions. For my activity and inactivity level, for my food intake, my moods, my parenting, and on and on. If I don't own what I'm doing, why do it? Why make excuses? Yes, some things can't be helped, but I'm trying hard to own up to each and every thing that I do or don't do.

Acceptance. It's not easy to accept who I am, and also to accept other people for who they CHOOSE to be. It doesn't mean I have to like what that person does, or even like them, but it does mean that I can accept what they've done and make a choice to continue with them in my life or be done with them. Now that may sound harsh, but really, I was hanging on to too many people in my life that didn't need to be there. In a lot of ways it was holding me back. I'm not perfect by any means, but I definitely don't have to keep people around who make me doubt myself and keep me from accepting myself for who I am.

Bottom line, I like happy people. I like being surrounded by people who don't dwell on the bad days and the misery in their life. I like being around people who lift me and others up. I know a few years ago I couldn't have said the same thing. But here I am.

Soon I will have a product giveaway to post. I was contacted by a company to review some of their clothing items and host a giveaway for up to 5 winners. Right now I'm still waiting to receive the product to review. Hopefully it arrives this week! Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

I choose happy

I don't know much, but I do know this...

I am choosing to be happy

Since running the TC 10 Miler, a lot has happened.

~~I've been in a slump.  
~~There's a lot of stress at home and at work. 
~~I changed gyms.
~~My hip hurts.
~~I've put on weight.
~~I got sick.
~~I've come to realize that relationships that used to be important, are no longer important to me. I actually don't really like this person right now. I love them, I guess, but I'm so much better without them in my life. 

So where am I going with all this?  I'm not pleased with a lot of things going on in my life right now, but I'm choosing to be happy. I'm not letting myself be a slave to meal tracking and gym workouts. Sure I still meal prep, and try to watch what I snack on, but I'm not obsessed with writing down every little thing that enters my mouth, or every ounce of fluid that I drink that's not water.  Why? Because it was making me UNHAPPY.  And stressed out. :-/

Right now, I'm choosing to do a lot of things that make me happy.  Right now, I'm not busting my ass at the gym for 2 hours at a time, or running on the treadmill over my lunch break, or doing two a days. Instead, I'm choosing to read, and talk to co-workers over my lunch, and spend some extra time with my kids and husband. 

What I've re-learned over the last couple months, is that life isn't static. You can change your mind about things. I can choose to keep doing the same thing over and over (isn't that the definition of insanity?) or I can try something new.

Tomorrow, I'm trying something new.  I don't know that I'll blog about details, but I have the support of my husband and some close friends who I trust with this. Fingers crossed! I'm kinda nervous to be honest.

Sometimes, choosing to be happy means being selfish and  making other people unhappy.  Sometimes, choosing to be happy means that you have to sacrifice. I wish more and more people realize that these things are okay.  I think, sometimes, people want permission to have their own happiness.  People get worried about what other people think and if they will think differently about them should they choose their own happiness. I'm telling those people right now, that sometimes, it's okay to put yourself first. Sometimes, other people are going to be unhappy because you are choosing to be happy yourself.  And as long as you can live with that, it's okay.

I know for some people it's not easy. (Believe me, I know how ugly depression can be.)

I just hope you choose to be happy because you want to be happy. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

I know a secret... that really isn't a secret

I'm going to let you in on a big secret... or a little secret.  Actually, it's not really a secret at all.

So yeah, did I expect it to be easy? Hell no! But at this moment, I'm struggling to be consistent in my training.  The biggest reason it's difficult is what's going on in my head lately when I take that first step to start a run.  Today I had to convince myself to even get out there. Once I started, these are pretty much my thoughts running through my head:

My toes hurt... I wish I had found my water bottle... It's a good thing I did those band exercises cuz my hip doesn't hurt that bad... I wonder if I'll lose another toenail...  My ass is jiggling too much. I need to find those compression shorts... This sucks... My throat hurts... I wonder if I have another sinus infection starting... I wish I could blow better snot rockets... My shin hurts... The time on that mile sucked... I forgot to put on sunblock... This song sucks... This song is too slow... Why do they keep playing dubstep on a the Bassnectar station... I wonder how much faster I'd be if I kept up on the weight loss... I can't wait to get my new tattoo... I need to do more core exercises... I'd rather be reading... This sucks... I need to do laundry... I need to make sure to get to the gym more and do more short runs during the week... Shit, my phone battery is going to die... This sucks... I should probably blog about this.

Sound familiar to anyone out there?  

The truth is, today, at this moment, I don't know why I'm training to run the 10 Miler.  I'm not having any fun.  Oh yeah, training isn't always fun either. :(  How could I forget?  

The truth is, I know I can run and finish the 10 Miler, and probably not be last.  I ran this race last year and the course is the same!  The truth is, I usually love to run and often use it as an escape.  The truth is, life keeps happening whether or not I'm taking the time to train.

And the truth is, it really doesn't matter to anyone else, but ME, if I end up dead last in this race or if I even start it to begin with.

When 2013 started, I had so many goals, and I accomplished so many of these goals too.  But lately, I've lost sight of why I began these goals to begin with.  I love meeting up with my friends at races, before and after.  And don't forget the race swag!!  But for this race, I feel stressed because I haven't been consistent with my training during the week, and life has me stressed, as always.  Should that really keep me from going to the gym or going for a run?  

And let's not analyse my eating habits.  They're both good and bad.  More good than bad.  I've been a terrible tracker and that's something that I know I really need to focus on, but one thing at a time, right?

Where am I going with all this?  I might be having a small pity party, but I'm human.  For the most part, I'm excited to run and train and feel accomplished.  But then I have these moments where I could give a shit if I run the slowest 6 miles on the planet because I'm not mentally present and not focused.  Sometimes we just need to reflect and figure out what the hell we're really doing and why.

Training isn't just being able to physically do something and push your body and your muscles.  There's also the mental aspect of it.  Some days our heads aren't in the game. Some days we have to get our heads out of our asses.  And some days, we need to not be so hard on ourselves and not expect perfection, and move on.

So starting today, with help and cheering on from friends, I'm going to try and move on and focus and get that voice of self doubt out of my head. 

Source: Instagram

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Protein Review - provided by Vitacost

***Disclaimer: I was given a sample of Vitacost product in exchange for an honest review***

I'll be honest that I don't know much about supplementing with extra protein, or really much about supplements in general.  I can tell you that I jumped at the chance to sample and review some proteins by Vitacost from their new ARO line.  I blame my blogging sister Joanna who got me into a special bloggers group to do some product reviews.  Be aware that this is the first of a couple of posts.

I received two flavors of the whey protein, Vanilla and Chocolate.  I also got the Vanilla casein.  There are tons of  websites out there with information on supplementing with protein.  Definitely do your research and talk to people. I spoke with trainers and nutritionists to get their input on whether or not I should take extra protein or not.  Ultimately, it was/is my decision.

This is what I can tell you about the proteins:

  • Flavor: Both the flavors are really good!  I switch back and forth between the two.  Sometimes I prefer the chocolate one in the morning with my breakfast.  It all depends on what kind of morning I'm having if I have a shake with breakfast or not.  Neither are too sweet. 
  • Whey vs. Casein:  I've been taught that whey is shorter acting and casein is longer acting.  Many people prefer to take their casein at night before bedtime.  Now, I have not tried other brands of casein, but I found the consistency of the casein to be gritty.  I tried to mix it in a smoothie and it was not really good that way either.  I will drink it at night, but I have to not think about the consistency.  The whey is definitely my preference of the two.
  • Cost:  I compared to other brands and these are reasonably priced both in stores and on line.  

Final verdict --- I'd use this product again.  I didn't find anything that would turn me off from being a return customer.  Granted, I did get all the products for free, but I would hesitate to try a new product in the same price range.  I know what I'm getting from this brand right here.

Here are the product links below:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

My first 13.1 -- Race Recap

So, I turned 35... and ran a half marathon.  Nuts, right?

Finisher medal for Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon. I wore it for 2 days!

Let me start with the weather on Friday night.  It was foggy as all get out!  From where we were staying, you couldn't even see Lake Superior across the highway.

Lake Superior is past those trees!!

Big deal about the fog?  I've never really had to try and fall asleep with the sound of fog horns bellowing!! Ugh!!!  So as I tried to sleep in a less than comfortable hotel bed, nerves running (haha!) rampant, I also had to listen to fog horns.

My alarm was set for 4:15 am, but I was already up before that.  I was aiming to get on the shuttle bus by 5:00am.  Start time for the half marathon was 6:45am with the marathon starting at 7:45am.  After a bumpy ride I got off the bus and waited for my friend Myra to start the race together.  As I made my sweat drop, I ran into my friend Molly and we stood and talked for a few mins.  Myra and I stopped at the port-a-potties with everyone else, and lined up towards the back.  I threw in my earbuds and tried to shake off my nerves and get pumped to run.

The race started, and according to my chip time it took me almost 6 mins before I crossed the start.  Myra and I kept together for about the first 2 miles.  My left hip ached already.  At each mile marker there were these huge yellow balloons for the marathon and then .10 mile after was a huge blue balloon marking ours for the half marathon.

At the first mile, my split time was pretty fast and my first mile is usually the worst one for me!  I don't remember much about the first couple miles except for fog and there was a woman dressed in black who asked if she could run with us.  Somewhere after mile 2 (or maybe 3) Myra ran up ahead of me, and I also eventually got ahead of the woman who tried to run with us.  I knew Myra would be able to run faster than me and I was glad that she didn't stay with me if she didn't need to.

My 5K split time was ok... it was 42 mins something.  But finally my left hip stopped aching and I felt like I could pick up the pace a bit more.  By this point I started to notice the people around me and who I was able to keep pace with.  There were quite a few people and a lot more behind me.  I don't know about other runners, but I hate the idea of finishing last, even though I have in races before.

Up until Mile 9, much of the race was uneventful.  The people cheering at the sidelines were amazing and they really helped keep up my spirits.  When I reached Mile 9, this part of the course went past the hotel we were staying at.  Suddenly I heard my name and when I finally spotted them, it was my husband and boys calling and cheering for me!  I didn't expect them there!!  It felt so good to see them and have their support.

Shortly after that my friend Angie met up with me and she ran along side me as I finished the race.  After the 10 Mile mark was brutal.  I beat my 10 mile time from last October, but I was really starting to drag.  Running through downtown Duluth I heard my friend Molly yell my name and that helped too!  And then as I headed into the last mile, I caught the wind coming off of Lake Superior which was also no fun.  The last few twists and turns toward the finish was confusing because I knew I was so close!

And then I got emotional.  I saw a sign that said: "I don't know you, but I'm so proud of you."  I still get choked up thinking about it.  It hit me as I was coming in closer that I was about to finish my first half marathon.  Something that I wasn't ever sure that I would ever do and something that people thought I was crazy for wanting to do.  Something that people STILL don't understand having the desire to accomplish.  So as I got lapped by the winner of the marathon, I also crossed the finish line.  And no one can take that feeling from me.

My friend Myra found me and gave me a hug and I'm so glad that I saw her!  We got a finisher picture and eventually found our loved ones.  My husband and boys missed me crossing, but were standing at the finish.  I think it was probably because of all the excitement in seeing who won the marathon.

And yes, I wore my medal for two whole days.  I still want to wear it! LOL!

Since the half, we went on vacation and I've done the Run For Your Lives 5K obstacle course and The Color Run.  Just this past weekend in fact.  I entered the lottery for the Twin Cities 10 Miler again.  I've also been doing a lot of thinking about running for the rest of this year.  But that's for another post. ;)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Fitness book review ~ You Can Have It All: Fitness Edition by Nadia Murdock

***I was given the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review.***

Nadia Murdock found out that I have written book reviews and asked if I'd be interested in reviewing her fitness book You Can Have It All: Fitness Edition. Firstly, I have never reviewed a fitness book before, but I've read several including those written by certain TV fitness trainers.  Thanks for reading my first fitness book review.

So what's this book all about? Here's what Nadia has to say about it.

I recently published my eBook "You Can Have It All: Fitness Edition" !!!! This edition features advice from experts such as Bob Harper of “The Biggest Loser” and Alyeca Ungaro of “Real Pilates”. With motivational quotes, how-to steps, and advice on identifying ways to overcome obstacles, you are well on your way to a better you. Chapters include:

Workouts for All Fitness Levels
Working Out at Home
Don’t Like the Gym? Get Over it!
Not Your Regular Workout
Work Out Your Mind and Body (Yoga and Pilates)

I have always been passionate about fitness and after experiencing my own dramatic fluctuations in weight loss and gain I wanted to share the ways fitness has become an important part of my life. Later this year the Nutrition and Fashion/Beauty editions of You Can Have It All will be released!

What did I think?

For starters, Nadia herself has had to lose weight and can speak from her own experience. I think this book is great for someone who is just starting out on their health and fitness journey and for those who are in a rut.  There were some tips even for someone who is further along on their journey.  I learned about new exercise programs like the Roller Derby Workout and DVD's out there and where to get information on them.

She also included some simple basic exercises like overhead press with leg lift, and squats with rotation.  I think some more visuals would have been beneficial though so anyone unfamiliar could get a better idea of what the exercise looked like.  There were also references to things such as interval training workouts and what websites have good ones to check out.  I did like how she included both working out at home and working out at the gym.  I'm mostly a gym rat unless I'm running, but I know others aren't as comfortable in the gym.

The last chapter was interviews with trainers.  For me it was interesting to read if they told me anything different from my own personal trainer.  I found that the info was the same.

What did I think overall?

I think it's a good book as far as fitness books go.  It didn't blow me out of the water, and it definitely didn't make me think that no one should waste their money on it.  It was somewhere in the middle.  I do think it is a book that I'm more likely to reference in the future compared to some of the other fitness books I own.  It should be noted that this book is specifically about fitness.  There were not chapters on healthy eating.  So if anyone is looking for that, they would need to supplement this information.  I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is starting out.