loving yourself even when you've gained weight

The weather has been spiking to the 90’s here in Chicago, so I had to break out the summer clothes this month and discovered that all my shorts and pants from last year are a little tight!

Oh, goodness. I think we’ve all had this moment, yeah?

At first I thought it was just a bit of PMS bloating, but nope. The extra squish is here to stay!

“But Anna, you eat super healthy and workout every single day -- how did you gain weight?”

How I gained weight

Here's the truth.

Last summer I was a pretty darn skinny size 4.

I had just pushed myself to finish the 21 Day Fix Extreme, and went the entire month of July without sugar or alcohol. I wanted to push myself to my limits, and I did!

It was the FIRST TIME I had ever done a fitness program because I want to take care of my body from the inside out, instead of trying to be skinny or get "results." And I ended up loving the process and yeah of course a rockin bod is going to be the natural side effect if you're intentionally committing to a full Beachbody program.

But it's not easy to maintain that level of intense focus all year long!

Life happens.

Over the past year I’ve gone off the birth control pill and healed my hormones (hellooooo healthy fats!), turned 30, completed my life coaching certification, blasted stratospheric levels out of my comfort zone, learned how to slow down, and yeah I’ve put on a few pounds!

I don’t own a scale anymore (...and live in leggings 80% of the year…) so I didn’t realize this was happening and I’m not sure I’ve even gained an entire size, but the fact is that I’m not as small as I was last summer.

My first thought: I need to dial in my nutrition, push my workouts harder, and focus on losing a few pounds so I can get my “summer body” back!

My second thought: ...why?

My third thought: I kind of love my body right now. I have a few extra curves and some extra cellulite. But I am strong, confident, I have a pretty amazing relationship with food, I’m loving the “healthy balance” I’ve found, and I’m not willing to give up my ice cream and wine! I want to live life this summer, not stress out about eating perfectly clean and feeling skinny.

My fourth thought: At the same time, I know that I feel the most like myself when I'm eating clean, avoiding sugar and booze, and crushing my workouts and in tune with my body. I don't have to buy into diet culture in order to treat myself a little better and I know I'll be even happier if I lose a few pounds. They aren't just "vanity pounds," this is an "I can handle my emotions without diving into wine or ice cream" issue.


It's not about the weight

I’ve been a health and fitness coach for over 3 years now, and if you’re not careful, the constant pressure can really start to get to your head. Pressure to maintain your peak condition, be a constant walking breathing “after” picture, never slip up or eat a burger and fries or be a human.

That’s not the way I want to live, and I don’t want to perpetuate the story that women need to be thin and perfect in order to be accepted and worthy.

I want to teach women that it's possible to love yourself in your own skin, no matter what size or shape you're at.

HEALTHY doesn't mean being as skinny-fit as possible; it goes so much deeper than that.

A healthy woman doesn’t abuse her body with over-exercising or binging.

A healthy woman doesn’t deprive her body of the nutrients (including fat and carbs) it needs to maintain its normal functions.

A healthy woman doesn't turn to food or alcohol to numb out when she feels overwhelmed or stressed.

When we struggle with food or weight, it’s not really about the food or weight problem to begin with, and trying to solve our issues with dieting is like putting a bandaid on a broken arm.

Once we can learn to accept and love ourselves for where we're at right now, we can make change from a place of wholeness.

Losing weight from a place of self love

However!

Just because you love your body doesn’t mean you have to settle or let yourself go.

Just because you’ve gained weight doesn’t mean you’re stuck there.

It’s possible to love your body AND want to change it in order to be the best version of yourself. Honestly, that’s the best kind of motivation!

So even though I’m totally ok with where I”m at right now, I’m not willing to buy new larger sized clothes and I still know I can push myself harder.

I want to make myself proud and feel the way I felt last July: powerful, confident, and unstoppable!

My summer fitness plan

In two weeks I’ll be flying to NOLA for the first time with 12 of the women on my team for our annual Coach Summit, and I want to feel my best, so I’m going to be a little more focused until then. I also know that a brand new 21 day bootcamp program called Shift Shop is launching and I’m going to be hosting an accountability group at the end of July, so I have a plan and I’m so excited to see what happens when I focus a little more on taking care of my body and pushing my limits.

What to do when you've gained weight

When you feel compelled to lose weight, ask yourself WHY.

Do you actually need to lose weight to be healthy and happy? If so, great! Why is that important to you?

But if you are just being triggered by your inner mean girl, don’t feel like you’re good enough, are looking for control because there’s something deeper going on in your life, then dig a little deeper.

Get support and accountability!

Let’s face it -- the journey to self acceptance, self love, and body confidence is hard. We shouldn't have to walk this path alone.

I want to bring women together in sisterhood to support, uplift, encourage, and inspire each other to keep pushing through the rough patches and also celebrate our big and small victories along the way. That's why I've created my FREE Fit For Life Facebook community!

We have weekly check-ins, daily motivation, recipe e-books, and lots of support when you need to talk about deep stuff like emotional eating, or have a squad who gets how exciting it is to run 2 miles straight for the first time or fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans again.

And contact me if you’d like to learn more about my next accountability group!

xo Anna


how to squash your negative self talk

Last week I heard a voice inside my head that I haven’t heard in months and months.

“You’re fat.”

And the crazy part is that I listened to it.

I believed it.

It’s easy to let our thoughts spiral out of control if we’re not careful.

“I feel fat” turns into “I am fat” >> “I am gross” >> “I am a failure” >> “I am unlovable” >> see what I mean? It doesn't matter whether or not we actually ARE fat. Body shaming is a purely emotional thing.

So instead of living my life and enjoying the gorgeous weather over the weekend, I allowed myself to get trapped in my own head, obsessed about the way my jeans were cutting into my belly, second guessed my decisions to eat the delicious pita bread and froyo on our date night (two of my favorite foods!!), and my overall confidence and self esteem were completely shot. Which of course rolled over into other areas of my life as well, and I started to go down the spiral of self doubt about my business, life choices, and existence in general.

I thought I had healed my body image insecurities.

I’m a 30 year old grown woman! I’ve been a health and wellness coach for 3 years, practicing what I preach about self acceptance, balance, health and happiness at any size.

I guess this flare-up was just a sign that no matter how far we come, how much weight we lose, how much personal development we do, how many life coaching or therapy sessions we have, we’re always going to have days where that inner mean girl in the back of our head tries to take the driver's seat again. Life is an evolution, not a straight line.

Just because we’ve healed old destructive thoughts or behaviors doesn’t mean they’ll never resurface, but we don't have to let them control us anymore.

Luckily I’ve come far enough in my journey to send up a giant RED FLAG whenever I start to get self critical or body shaming thoughts like this so I can stop my inner critic before she runs away.

It's easy to put a surface level band-aid on your feelings and think you just need to workout more, eat healthier (or less), or punish your body into thinness, but those aren't solutions because this is actually not a surface level problem at all.

The secret to ending body shaming and self-criticism is AWARENESS.

Yup, it's so simple, but hard because you have to actually face your feelings and dig deeper. 

Whenever you catch yourself having a body image moment or obsessing about feeling “fat,” check in with yourself: what's really going on?

By bringing awareness to my "fat talk" I started to investigate my thoughts and feelings instead of dwelling in them, and what I discovered was really interesting.

I'm still trying to figure out my relationship with food and how to trust my body.

You know that a few weeks ago I finished the Ultimate Reset. It was amazing, I learned a lot, and although I tried to tell myself I was doing the program for the inner results and to heal my gut and let go of habits that don't serve me, I can't deny that I loved feeling super lean and skinny afterwards.

BUT IT IS NOT A SUSTAINABLE PROGRAM! I can't subsist on veggies and distilled water for my entire life. I was hoping to be able to maintain my results, but it's been really hard trying to find a new balance and go from a super structured and regimented eating plan back to intuitive eating.

It’s hard to remember that I can trust my body and trust that I don’t have to follow a strict diet to feel healthy and happy in my own skin.

I want a lifestyle that includes froyo, pizza, wine, and family dinner nights.

I don't want to constantly be obsessing about my body image.

I WANT to master intuitive eating so I can spend 100% of my life not worrying about food and my body. Right now I feel confident and free in my relationship with my body and food about 80% of the time. I'm going to have to give myself more time and practice!

Body shaming, food "issues," and self critical thoughts are always a symptom of something deeper.

Right now -- lots of stuff is happening for me, and I haven't been giving myself enough space to process it all. I'm asking myself to expand in multiple areas of life, which is pushing me out of my comfort zone and creates space for all my insecurities and fears to bubble to the surface.

I'm growing into a new level of leadership with my coaching team, Inspire Joy. I'm expanding my 1:1 life coaching business, putting myself out there in a bigger way even if some days I'd rather just hide and stay small. I'm making some really huge (to me) personal and career pivots! I'm also thinking about how I just turned 30 and life is really good but I really kinda want to have a baby soon, which is scary. Things are so good, deep down I'm afraid something bad is going to happen because do I actually deserve to be happy?? Also time is flying by so fast, I'm afraid I'm letting life pass before my eyes. And watching my grandma and parents get older is making me realize that life is so short.

See what I mean?

Whenever I start to feel a little stressed or overwhelmed with life, my anxiety goes straight to either my business (I'm not growing fast enough or making enough money etc etc), or my body (I am fat, blah, ugly, etc etc).

What I'm doing this week to squash my negative self talk

  • Journaling daily
  • Prioritizing yoga 2-3 times/week
  • Giving myself more downtime (even if I feel like I'm too "busy" to chill)
  • Drinking lots of water and eliminating late night sugar
  • If I feel anxious or overwhelmed, I am sewing or going for a walk instead of mindlessly snacking
  • Reaching out to a couple of trusted girlfriends to share what's going on and get their support

Next time your inner mean girl starts bashing your body:

Give yourself some space to dig deeper and get to the root of your fears so you can remind yourself that YOU ARE SAFE. You are ok. Nothing bad is happening right now. Everything that's uncertain is going to turn out even better than you could ever imagine.

You can't expect to go from feeling insecure 100% of the time to feeling confident 100% of the time. There are a million shades of gray in between because transformation is a spectrum, a spiral, a squiggly line. It's messy. It takes a lot of grit and courage and self compassion and patience, especially on the days you're convinced your'e moving backwards.

(You're never moving backwards)

xo Anna 

p.s. here are a couple of great articles on how to stop negative body talk and how to spot body shaming!

p.p.s. want a safe and supportive community to share your journey and connect with other women who value health, fitness, and living with joy and intention? Join our Fit For Life Facebook tribe!
 

Talk to yourself like you're your own best friend

I've been reading The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz this month in my Fit For Life community (click here to join us!).

The Agreements are a personal code of conduct that transform our lives to experience more freedom, happiness, and love, and the First Agreement is "be impeccable with your word."

I personally strive to be a woman of integrity who avoids negative gossip or saying anything mean about another person, and I'm sure you're the same.

But there's a deeper component to being impeccable with your word that really hit me: it includes the words we say to OURSELVES.

Have you ever noticed the voices in your head?

Maybe they aren't as positive as you'd like them to be. 

When you talk to yourself, is your inner voice positive, encouraging, and loving? Or does it tear you down and tell you that you're fat//ugly//unlovable//not good enough?

As women, we tend to be our own worst critics.
 

"Being impeccable with your word is not using your word against yourself.

You can measure the impeccability of your word by your level of self-love. How much you love yourself and how you feel about yourself are directly proportionate to the quality and integrity of your word."


BOOM.

One way we can unlock more happiness and self love instantly is to start talking to ourselves with a positive tone of voice.

You are strong.
You are beautiful.
You are enough.
You are doing amazing things.
You are loved.

Let's promise to not only be a positive and supportive friend/wife/daughter/sister ... but a positive and supportive friend to OURSELVES, too!

xo Anna 

(photo by Kara Evans Photographer)