Shorts, My Old Nemesis: We Meet Again (with My Read-Aloud!)

There’s a video at the end of me reading this post out loud! I thought it would be a fun new challenge for me. (It was!)


I love summer.

I hate shorts.

There is not a single style of shorts that I feel comfortable in. (Which is maybe not surprising, considering there is all of ONE style of pants I feel comfortable in, plus one style of workout legging.)

But shorts.

Shorts are ACTIVELY unpleasant.

And then you have tank tops. And t-shirts. And bathing suits.

And I’m all for body positivity, body neutrality, body acceptance, and generally tearing down the whole diet culture institution.

But my own body image issues are not as progressive or empowered when it comes to MY body.

Long story short, I’m really happy that the weather is turning warmer, but I’m also dealing with a major flare-up of body anxiety.

That inner voice, somewhat subdued during the winter, is trying to tempt me back to the restrictive and obsessive tactics of summers past.

And I’m not going to succumb.

Because I know acceptance and confidence will not be found down that well-worn path.

But the alternative path is unfamiliar, and I’m not really sure how to make progress in that direction.

And that is why I am directing all my anxiety and frustration at shorts.

All shorts.

(I was tempted to end with, “DOWN WITH SHORTS!” but then I realized that pulling down shorts would leave me in my undies, and I’m not much more fond of how I look in those. So the shorts remain up and on, but only because of what they conceal.)

P.S. Capris, you’re just almost as bad.

I did a reading of the post!

I did a reading of the post!
why do i only feel pretty when I feel thin

Why Do I Only Feel Pretty When I Feel Thin? (Update on New Year’s Resolutions)

Just before the New Year, I wrote a post called 10 Body Acceptance and Anti-Diet New Year’s Resolutions for 2020.

10 Body Acceptance and Anti-Diet New Year's Resolutions for 2020

True story: I accidentally published that post well before it was ready. I was still learning the ins and outs of scheduling posts on WordPress, and I *meant* to schedule it for Jan 1, 2020, but what I actually did was publish it dated Jan 1, 2019, which meant it instantly went live but looked like it was old. Ugh.

So anyway I just went with it even though it wasn’t polished.

Anxiety and perfectionism progress?

Given all that, and since I’m in a body image head space these days, I thought I’d do a little update on how my (accidentally impulsive) “resolutions” are going.

First a quick recap.

These were the resolutions

  1. I will not track or restrict calories.
  2. I will not eliminate food groups.
  3. I will not fast or follow rigid feed/fast schedules.
  4. I will not track or hack macros. (I can think about roughly how much protein I’d like to get in a day, because powerlifting, but I will not obsess over it, because in the long run that always backfires.)
  5. I will not have “cheat days” or “cheat meals” because I don’t want to feel like it’s “now or never” with certain foods.
  6. I will not weigh myself. (One area this might become challenging in is if I decide to try a powerlifting meet. There are weight classes in meets. I don’t know how I would navigate that one yet.)
  7. I will not measure myself. I don’t do this often, and when I do it’s usually in my low moments. And does measuring improve those low moments? NO. Never. So why?
  8. I will not take “before” shots or “progress” photos, or think of my body as a “before” body or “work in progress” body. I will just think of my body as “alive.” And “human.” (Radical, I know.)
  9. I will stop waiting to feel like my body is good enough. Whose permission am I waiting for, anyway?
  10. I will stop believing the bad things I think about my body.

So how’s that working out for ya?

Well…

I’m completely fine.
(This is not me. I think she is beautiful. If this WERE me, I would find ways to find myself NOT beautiful. Why? Because fuck me, that’s why.)
Photo by Moose Photos from Pexels

I’ve been following the resolutions.

So… good.

Except I don’t feel good.

You see, I’m all or nothing when it comes to a lot of things. (My husband will certainly attest to this at length if prompted.) So now, instead of being all-in on tracking and counting and planning and measuring, I’m just… all-in on not doing any of it.

  • I’m not prioritizing protein intake (for powerlifting) at all.
  • I’m only powerlifting once a week, because my trainer’s availability has changed and I’m struggling to lift without him. (More on my powerlifting story here!) This is becoming problematic because now I’m losing strength and my lower back is hurting A LOT after each session. Partly my struggles are due to gym anxiety, and partly they’re due to a fear of getting “sucked back in” to a fitness frenzy.
  • I’m not really paying attention to what I’m eating at all. I’m trying to listen to my body but, look, my tongue is part of my body, right, and sometimes always my tongue wants fruit gummies and cake.

And that would all be fine if I felt fine, but I don’t. I miss feeling strong and feeling good in my clothes.

But this is the cycle I get trapped in:

  1. Go hard on exercise and nutrition regimen for a while. (Fitness frenzy.)
  2. Get results and feel good about my body. (FITNESS IS LIIIIIIFE/GAINZZZZZ BEEEEEITCH!!!!)
  3. Burn out and realize that I was being extremely obsessive. (How the hell have I eaten so many protein bars this month? Protein bars taste like flavoured sidewalk.)
  4. Completely swing the other way and drop all former habits. (COUUUUCH. PYJAAAAMAAAS. CAAAAAAAKE.)
  5. Feel liberated. Embrace intuitive eating and body acceptance as the new key to happiness. (I WILL NOT BE CONTROLLED BY SOCIETY’S EXPECTATIONS OF BEAUTY!!!!! THIS IS WHO I WAS MEANT TO BE!!!! I KNOW MY TRUTH!!!! MY TRUTH IS CAAAAAAKE!!!!)
  6. After a while, feel blah and not so good and not so strong. (Oh god. I’m so aware of my tummy rolls right now.)
  7. Repeat 1-6. Ad infinitum. (Tears.)

It’s like this:

Why does this keep happening?

The problem with my body acceptance and anti-diet resolutions is that I make them when I am feeling “good” about my body—because I’m still in stage 1 and 2, and I don’t yet accept that I’m going overboard.

It’s easy to make all those resolutions when I’m riding a neurotic fitness and restrictive eating high.

It’s a whole lot harder when I’m in stage 6 (like now), and feeling like my resolutions were bullshit and I am a body positivity fraud.

Okay, self, let’s get these negative thoughts under control

What would kind, compassionate Sadie say to the Sadie who is calling herself a fraud?

Photo by ATC Comm Photo from Pexels

She would say:

  • Progress over perfection = even the intuitive eating gurus you follow have hard days/periods
  • Try to avoid all-or-nothing thinking = it’s not a case of EITHER you feel amazing about your resolutions and your body OR you’re a bullshitting fraudster
  • Give yourself a break, lady = you are way too hard on yourself and damn you can be self-mean
  • Look at what you HAVE accomplished = you’re not tracking calories, you’re not measuring yourself, you know the signs of returning to restrictive/obsessive patterns and you’re watching for them and trying to figure this out
  • You’re doing the best you can

More on negative thoughts here, and on how to work through them here and here. xoxo

In other words

I’m still human. Still an overthinker. Still trying to figure out this whole “how to take good care of my body without being a crazy lady about it” thing.

But doing an okay job at keeping things in perspective for a change. I think? Yeah. Yeah.

Great success!

It’s just…

Will I ever get past only feeling attractive when I feel thin?

Will I ever get past only feeling confident when I feel pretty?

Will I ever untangle my self-worth from my appearance?

Questions that can’t be answered today but that shouldn’t be stuffed down and forgotten.

Thanks for reading, you. 🙂

P.S. I’m so flippin’ happy I finally got to use that cat in a feature image. (It’s from Canva Pro’s image library.)

weekly update 4: my husband fat-shames sharks and my daughter knows too much

Weekly Update 4: My Husband Fat-Shames Sharks & My Daughter Knows Too Much

Hello and happy Friday!

Here’s what happened in the blushiverse this week:

Blog blog blog

  • You guys gave me a lot of great feedback on that second post, where I asked for your thoughts on the kind of content you’d like, and I shared a bit about the vision I have for this blog. Thank you!!! I think the general consensus is to keep on keepin’ on, and develop my voice as I go.
  • So I’m going to keep doing my thing, and also let myself get a little more experimental with some of the topics and aesthetics. It’s a good time to do it, this early in the game!

Believe It or Not!

  • We took the kids to Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto for James’ 5th birthday. There’s enough anxiety content there for its own post, but it was also a great time!
“Curious about [that strained smile]? This exhibit is filled with roughly 360,000 litres of [self-consciousness]!”
  • Oh also Jesse fat-shamed a shark at the aquarium and I am still unpacking my feelings about this.

Anxiety is…

  • After a deeply emotional therapy session this week, I’m finally able to articulate the “function” of anxiety in my body and mind. The analogy is bracing. It’s kind of like when the doctor is applying pressure in certain places to find out what hurts. As you feel them getting close to where it hurts, your body tenses up, bracing against the pain.
  • On an emotional level, I think anxiety is my way of bracing against… something. Fear, pain, disappointment, the unpredictability of life?

Body anxiety: a new challenge

  • I’ve realized that while I find it fairly easy to be open about social anxiety, it is MUCH scarier to be open and vulnerable about body image. Which I find kind of weird. I’m still processing.
  • I think it’s because I’ve done therapy focused on anxiety, so I have tools to think about it in a healthy way. With body image and eating, there has been very little formal recovery.
  • Most of the progress I’ve made has been thanks to social media accounts that focus on body positivity, body neutrality, and intuitive eating, as well as books and podcasts on those topics.
  • That said, it still falls within the boundaries of what I feel safe sharing, and because I am trying to explore and soften the areas where I tend to “brace,” I decided to REALLY step outside my comfort zone yesterday: I posted a picture of the area of my body I am MOST insecure about:
  • Yeah. Mommy tummy. It’s pretty tame and I don’t show the whole Area of Angst, but you know, baby steps.
  • I’m not saying this area is objectively ugly. I don’t trust the combination of my eyes and brain to comment on my own body, really.
  • I know I didn’t have to post that. But I wanted to. I want to face my fears, and social media is a pretty great testing ground for both social anxiety and body image stuff.

Candidness versus TMI

  • I’ve been musing about the difference between being candid and going TMI.
  • It’s probably something that a lot of bloggers/creators/sharers think about at some point, with each individual drawing the line wherever they feel safe.
  • Presumably with some occasions where they share something that they realize after the fact crosses their own line. But ain’t that the way it is with boundaries? (I can’t get away with saying ain’t. Maybe “eh,” but not ain’t.)
  • I think my TMI threshold is pretty high (and I know at least one reader feels un-TMI-able — hey Ashley!). So I’ll be as open as I can be.
  • But, like, we’ll probably never get to the point where we pee with the door open in front of each other, guys. (Except you, Jesse. You put a ring on it so you get to hear me tinkle.) (But we draw the line at peeing.) (Okay, and pimple-popping.) (Peeing and pimple-popping. But THAT’S IT.) (Shark shamer.)

Look he really did, okay? I have proof:

Moving on

And finally, a quick story:

The kids have an after-bathtime ritual where they shout, “Everybody! Hide in your shell!” and then crouch into a little ball on the floor with their towels on top of them (as shells).

(They started doing this after seeing the movie Epic.)

Yesterday, they asked me to do it with them. But I was dressed, so I said, “But I don’t have a shell!”

And Olivia pointed at my body and said, “THIS is your shell!”

And it was just a little too real for me at that moment.

Have an amazing (or at least reasonably un-shit — let’s not get too perky with our goals) weekend!

Weekly Update: Grizzly Bears & Dirty Girls

I got the idea for a weekly update-type post from Ashley, who does a Weekend Wrap-Up post every week. I enjoy reading her updates, so I thought I’d try it out and see what you think. 🙂

Here’s what’s been going in my inner and outer worlds this week:

Bloggy stuff

  • Three posts went up this week: 1) Peaceful Jaws of Avoidable Death (Countering Cognitive Distortions), 2) 15 Things I Want You to Know About Anxiety Recovery, and 3) 3 Steps to Work Through Anxious Thoughts + My Real-Life Example
  • It looks like I’ve been tagged by Mental Health from the Other Side for the Sunshine Blogger Award thread. Thank you so much! I’ll work on my post this week! And congrats on your own nomination 🙂 🙂 I love your blog.
  • My bloggy friends at Our DiD Journey were kind enough to reblog my latest post on working through anxious thoughts, and they said some very nice and flattering things about it, which gave me the warm and fuzzies.
  • In an unexpected twist to the previous point, the reblog promptly wreaked havoc on their site by plastering the caption Lizard (gecko?) saying “calm your tits” across every page. Which is not ideal. But they fixed their code and all is well in the world now.
  • And for even more twisting, the whole situation was also a little (funny? ironic?), because the caption in question came from a GIF I used in my own post, and it was the one part of my post that I was hesitant to use in case it offended anyone. I’ve since updated the caption in that post to reflect some anxiety I was having about it — because I want to show real-life anxiety in action, too. (See screenshot below)
  • Adding that update to the post may be what you’d call a “safety behaviour” — something you do to ease your own anxiety. But I let myself get away with it, because the bigger safety behaviour would have been deleting or replacing the GIF altogether. And this felt like an opportunity to talk about safety behaviours and also give myself a bit of exposure to discomfort.

Family stuff

  • Last night, inexplicably, my son (almost 5) took to calling me a “dirty girl,” and all I could think was, “HOW DOES HE KNOW?”
  • Meanwhile, my daughter (3) mistakenly believes that the word for “breasts” is actually “nipples,” and this has resulted in her frequently saying to me, “You have really big nipples, Mommy!” which unintentionally taps into one of my body conscious areas and triggers brief flashes of “Oh my god, I do have gigantic nipples. What am I going to do with my life?” before I get those thoughts under control.
  • Back to my son. He developed a habit of asking us, “Don’t you even KNOW yourself?” which is way deeper than he means for it to be, and all I can think is, “No. No, son. I don’t. I really don’t. Does anyone?”
  • I had a moment of quiet confidence yesterday when I stood up for my son at the post office! This is a big milestone for me, because my intense fear of conflict has made it hard for me to be the grizzly bear mom I’ve always felt I should be. It’s actually been a big source of shame and loathing toward myself as a mom. But yesterday, I spoke up for him. I wasn’t a grizzly bear, maybe more of a black bear, but still. The bear was there.

Week(s) ahead

I have so many ideas for upcoming post topics/series:

  • A friend of mine suggested writing about how to approach a friend who is struggling with anxiety but doesn’t know it, or doesn’t realize the extent of it.
  • And, related to that, how I eventually knew it was time to get help.
  • I also want to write about how anxiety impacts or has impacted my freelancing, parenting, pregnancy, fitness, marriage, and more.
  • And, maybe, someday when I’m feeling bolder and a little more sure of my audience, anxiety in the bedroom. Anxiety reaches its tendrils into all areas of a person’s life, after all. If it’s valuable to you, I’ll go there.

Have a wonderful weekend, you beautiful, bad-ass blushers!

You (Yes, You) Are Beautiful

Have you heard of the Best Friend Technique for challenging and re-framing toxic thoughts? It’s a way of shutting down your inner bully by asking you to imagine what you would say if you were talking to your best friend instead of yourself.

Many of us are so much more loving and compassionate to our friends—even to strangers—than we are to ourselves.

I try to remember the best friend technique when I’m thinking about my body in an anxious or negative way.

What would I say to you, the person taking time out of your day to read this post? If I heard you tearing yourself down because of how you look, what would I want you to hear?

I would tell you that you are beautiful, and that the word beautiful is a lot bigger than the narrow definition we often give it. That your imperfect body is okay. Good enough.

I would tell you that, no, it’s not necessarily “bad” to want to lose a few pounds or many, or to make dietary changes or other healthy lifestyle tweaks. But your measurements do not determine your worth as a person.

And whatever “weird” thing your body does that you think makes you unattractive somehow? I’m SURE your body isn’t the only one that does that thing.

We’re all a lot less weird and alone than we think. The parts you dislike are not actually all that dislikeable from the outside. Stretch marks and cellulite. Acne and scars. Frizzy hair. Flat hair. Big nose. Small nose. Short toes. “Thin.” “Curvy.” Short. Tall. Old. Young.

These words… they are just words. They are not synonyms for who you are.

Other people do not see you the way you see yourself.

You are so much more than the individual parts you dislike. And if the sum of those parts translates in your mind to a number on the scale, then you are worth MORE than that number, not less.

If we’re waiting for the “perfect” body to accept ourselves… we’ll be waiting forever.

What would you say to your best friend, if they were cutting themselves down about their appearance? Can you say those things to yourself?

Don’t worry. I’m still working on getting there, too.

10 Body Acceptance and Anti-Diet New Year's Resolutions for 2020

10 Body Acceptance and Anti-Diet New Year’s Resolutions for 2020

2019 was the year I became aware of terms like body positivity, body neutrality, body acceptance, and intuitive eating. I became an avid follower of accounts on Instagram and YouTube that push back against diet culture and crazy beauty standards.

And it’s time for me to move from follower to doer. I don’t know if the resolutions below will help me finally love my body and make peace with food, but what I *do* know is that the weight-loss/”toning up” resolutions I’ve made in the past have NOT made me happier in my own skin.

Over the past year, I’ve slowly given up on believing the “high” I used to get from the restriction phase. And I finally understood that whenever I restricted, the pendulum would always, eventually swing back the other way, to the free-for-all/bingeing part of the cycle.

Now that I’ve finally broken free from the restrict-binge cycle (YAY!), I’m ready to take on some new goals. So here are my 10 body acceptance and anti-diet New Year’s resolutions for 2020. I hope you find some inspiration for your own body acceptance journey!

In 2020…

  1. I will not track or restrict calories.
  2. I will not eliminate food groups.
  3. I will not fast or follow rigid feed/fast schedules.
  4. I will not track or hack macros. (I can think about roughly how much protein I’d like to get in a day, because powerlifting, but I will not obsess over it, because in the long run that always backfires.)
  5. I will not have “cheat days” or “cheat meals” because I don’t want to feel like it’s “now or never” with certain foods.
  6. I will not weigh myself. (One area this might become challenging in is if I decide to try a powerlifting meet. There are weight classes in meets. I don’t know how I would navigate that one yet.)
  7. I will not measure myself. I don’t do this often, and when I do it’s usually in my low moments. And does measuring improve those low moments? NO. Never. So why?
  8. I will not take “before” shots or “progress” photos, or think of my body as a “before” body or “work in progress” body. I will just think of my body as “alive.” And “human.” (Radical, I know.)
  9. I will stop waiting to feel like my body is good enough. Whose permission am I waiting for, anyway?
  10. I will stop believing the bad things I think about my body.

Above all, I will not be cruel to myself if I struggle or stumble with these resolutions. Perfection is not the goal. Aiming for 100% adherence and then berating myself when I have a hard day or week goes completely against the point of these resolutions, which is to feel BETTER about myself, not worse.

If I can get to body neutral, I will count that as a big success. If I can get to body acceptance, even better. Every step forward is one step closer to body love.

Do you have any anti-diet or body acceptance New Year’s resolutions for 2020

I’d love to hear them!

Subscribe to follow along! 🙂

Powerlifting Helps Me Focus on Lifting Weight, NOT Losing Weight

Around February 2019, I realized I was completely and utterly BURNT OUT on trying to motivate myself to keep going to the gym with the goal of getting smaller.

Burning calories.

Making less of me.

My weight-loss breaking point

I had finally reached my breaking point, and I was ready to quit the gym (and exercise in general) because I felt like continuing what I was doing was just making me feel worse about myself.

I was so done with calorie counting, and FitBit tracking, and weekly weigh-ins. The harder I worked to “control” my calories in and calories out, to hack my macros, to measure my inches and photograph my “before” shots… the more I became a prisoner to disordered eating habits and distorted thinking. And I had nothing left.

So I told my trainer, “I’m tired of trying to lose weight. Can we just lift REALLY heavy stuff instead?” And that’s when I discovered powerlifting. Bench pressing, deadlifting, and squatting.

All of a sudden, I was working out to get STRONG, not get SMALL.

Powerlifting to the rescue!

Powerlifting is about strength, not looks. I can focus on trying to LIFT more weight instead of LOSE more weight.

Powerlifting has been the most liberating type of exercise I’ve ever done. I don’t do it as often as I’d like these days, but that has less to do with gym reluctance and more to do with being a human who is prone to December busy-ness, kids with winter colds, and the primal urge to hibernate. (Okay, so a little gym reluctance.)

How I deal with gym anxiety

One of the biggest reasons I’ve been able to powerlift consistently for the past 9-10 months is that I am lucky enough to have an amazing trainer (the one I mentioned above) who understands anxiety and depression, and whose coaching style is goofy and playful instead of “SUCK IT UP PRINCESS” (which would make me cry and quit).

On weeks where my gym anxiety is flaring up really bad, my training session is often the only time I make it into the gym that week. And my trainer gets what’s going on, and finds ways to give me a kick in the butt without making me feel like a lazy piece of garbage for struggling.

I have two other great sources of support:

  • My husband, Jesse, who joins me for my non-trainer lifting sessions whenever he can. Having my “safe person” with me makes the gym anxiety practically vanish.
  • Our gym’s fitness manager (@jesszakk) who strikes a good balance between tough love encouragement and being her clients’ biggest cheerleader.

I don’t always need help getting into the gym. I can be feeling confident on my own for weeks. But for those times when the anxiety is really holding me back, these three people help me get back on track.

So that would be my advice to anyone struggling with gym anxiety — as much as you can, find friends, partners, or gym people who can make working out a little less lonely and intimidating.

More affordable alternatives

I know it’s not in everyone’s means to have a trainer. We find a way to make it work because of how much it helps my mental, emotional, and physical health. But I know not everyone can do that.

I’ve seen a very cool powerlifting program online called Stronger By The Day that’s only US$8/month. If we ever stop being able to afford personal training, then that program is where I would look first. It helps that the program creator is Megsquats, on whom I might have a sliiiight girl crush.

I haven’t tried the program other than the free sample, so I’m mostly just sharing where I would look first based on how much I enjoy Meg’s YouTube channel and Instagram accounts.

Where my body image is at now

I’m not completely “cured” of my body image issues. I still have moments where I dwell on my “c-section shelf” and how it seems to always be visible (to me) no matter how I dress.

But changing my focus to building muscle has helped me stop weighing myself obsessively and tracking my calories to the point of neurotic, perfectionistic burnout.

I want my baby girl to have a strong, healthy-minded role model mama.

That said, I do find it really hard to find balance in one area, and that’s this: How do I make sure I’m getting as much protein as I “need” to build muscle, but do it without triggering obsessive calorie counting and restriction?

I haven’t figured that out yet, but a bad-ass weightlifting friend of mine (see her amazing lifting pin-up girl tattoos below) did share her approach, which we summarized as basically “intuitive eating plus a daily protein shake.” And I think that does make a lot of sense for people who have a history of disordered eating, or being on the restrict-binge pendulum (both of which are true for me).

Okay but seriously, aren’t Sydney’s tattoos GORGEOUS?

Conclusion: Barbells for everyone!

Long story short, I’m a super big fan of powerlifting. Clearly. It feels SO GOOD to feel strong. And it powers me up for everything else I do in life, like carry my cupcake-covered 3-year-old to the sink before she turns my friend’s house green.

Have you ever tried powerlifting?

Has another sport helped your body image or self-esteem?

Let me know in the comments!

If you enjoyed this post, I hope you will consider subscribing and sharing!