As I dug into the topic of masks in my own life, I can honestly say I’ve had at least 5 masks I’ve worn:
The mask of having my whole life put together Oh how I remember the Facebook posts that made me look much more “put together” than I was. I wasn’t completely happy with my station in life so a “slightly” slanted persona was just what I thought I needed.
The mask of being bigger than I was in businessYes there’s the old adage “fake it till you make it” and what about simply focusing on creating value for people rather than being showy? That would’ve really served me.
The mask of a bigger bank account than what was real I’ve tied my value up into money for years.In other words, the more money I had, the more worthy I felt.That’s absurd when I look back on it but it was one of my most “painted” masks.
The mask that I’m not ever terrified I have no clue why I felt the need to hide my fear.We all have fear.Fear is normal.I’ve learned that vulnerability is power.Vulnerabilityinspires and more often that not, enrolls people in your cause and message. My truth about fear is that yes I have it, but no I don’t succumb to it by missing out on life.
The mask of being honest when I was still hiding things It took a dear friend that I admired to take me to lunch and have “the talk”. The talk that said “I know you can go deeper than you have been.I’ve seen your posts and I know there’s so much more.You go just deep enough so others think you’re being honest, which you are, but there’s a whole new layer beneath that for you to share.” Shortly after that I created “The Lies I Tell Myself Project”.
When we don’t live a life of truth and transparency, a whole new slew of problems emerge.Challenges such as losing trust with others, health problems like fatigue and depression and inadvertently distancing yourself from those you love.
This week, identify at least one mask that you still wear and take steps to take it off, letting your truthful self shine!Write your fears and victories down in a journal or online diary.Be sure to date it!You’ll want to look back at your progress.
Why is our backside one of our most touchy topics as women today? We could cover a plethora of reasons from Photoshopped models we’ve been looking at since age 12, dolls with figures no woman could compare to, men swarming around the “skinny girls” with bikini bodies or even porn.
Today I’d like to focus on what we can do about this self worth epidemic. At 10 years old, I became keenly aware as I looked at a photo of myself standing next to my friend, that I had quite a round little tummy. I decided at that moment that my body was ugly and that launched my search to look like other people. People that I thought were beautiful.
The lie I told myself was “How I look isn’t good enough”.
By my twenties I was Googling the measurements of models and working out till I matched them precisely. It’s important to know that not all bodies should be a size 2. I’m now 41, not a size 2 and actually quite happy about it! I’m extremely passionate about sharing ways I’ve learned to love my butt… and my body as awhole.
1. Goals vs. Process If the goal is to love your butt, then what’s your process forgetting there? A process is something you’ll do on a regular basis to get you where you want to be. When I began my “Couch to 5K App” on July 1, 2014, I didn’t have much for goals other than “Keep up with my kids playing basketball” and “Build stamina so I can hike with my friends without holding anyone back.” But I was very clear on my process: Follow the app precisely, which meant three workouts per week. The rest simply fell into place, but only because I took the process so seriously. Both are important, but all too often we set our New Year’s resolution or write down “I want to lose 20 pounds by June 31st” without a strategy. The strategy is your process. Make it reasonable and let others know about it so they can offer support while you practice accountability. Write down some ideas for your process for loving your butt (and the rest of your body) and stick it on your fridge, your phone calendar or bathroom mirror- or all three! This article will provide some simple and useful ideas.
2. Eat the dang cheesecake! I’ve gone from being a highly strict, studying to be a nutritionist, physical trainer-type to my current self, which is an entrepreneurial mom with other things to do besides exercise half the day and weigh her food. Now I exercise because I love myself, not because I’m trying to be someone else. Shame is the name of the failure game. I’ve fallen off the wagon a few times over the years but the good news is that I recently realized the cause. I was shaming myself for missing a day or two or even a week of working out. Shaming myself for indulging in a few bites of cheesecake while out on a date. Shaming myself for enjoying holiday meals and homemade treats.
A bite here and there is really okay. It won’t tip the scale and it won’t make your jeans fit tighter. A mind trick I use is practicing awareness around food. “Let’s see, I could take the nachos my friend just offered but my truth is, I don’t like them that much. I’d rather wait ‘till a better treat comes along to use extra calories on, like chocolate cheesecake; now that would be something!” I’ll also choose a salad over all the carbs in a sandwich. I don’t like the bread that much, so why pack the calories? Eat on purpose. Get comfortable saying “no thank you” to food and drink offers. Actually taste your food. Think of it like an experience rather than a sprint. Feel the texture of the food on your tongue, smell it before taking your bite, chew it before swallowing. This does two things: One, you’ll find yourself actually enjoying the experience more, and Two, this gives your brain and stomach time to communicate so you’re given the signals of being satisfied. I never eat till I’m full. That discomfort just seems like torture to me. The bottom line here is that shame doesn’t lead to success, but acceptance and mindfulness can move mountains. Be easier on yourself. Be moderate. Experience more.
3. Buy clothes that flatter your derrière. It seems so obvious yet so many people won’t spend a few extra bucks on pants that fit properly or leggings and yoga pants that are high quality. The high quality yoga pants hold all your stuff up so much better than the cheap alternatives and come with a much more complimentary cut. Try Athleta for bathing suits that flatter and workout clothes that lift the stuff we want lifted (and flatten the rest). Adidas is an economical choice for fitness wear. Check out Betabrand.com for, get this,“Dress Yoga Pants.” Stylish and classy at work but with a comfortable and slimming fit. I’m in love!
4. Move it, jiggle it, get some blood flowing to it. Not only do we know there are benefits to our mood from the endorphins flowing through our bodies after exercise, but you’ll get tighter and leaner the more you move, jiggle and flow with it. Even a walk can be a mood changer but for results like leaning up, it’s important to break a sweat at least three times a week. A mistake I made recently was assuming that nearly killing myself on the treadmill would bring even greater results. When I stopped to think “what is my heart rate right now?” and “what’s the fat burning zone for my age?” I realized that I was working too hard. What a blissful moment. Who ever tells you to slow down your pace and take a load off these days?! Here’s a simple heart rate calculator from the American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/Target-Heart-Rates_UCM_434341_Article.jsp
5. Believe him when he say’s he loves your butt! Or that you’re sexy or beautiful or perfect as you are or whatever that wonderful partner in your life has to say about your body. (If he’s not saying wonderful things then please take a good look at the relationship and see if it’s really serving you and your goals of self confidence.) As a life design coach, I’ve gotten to know a lot of men and how they relate to the women they love.
I haven’t heard one man say he didn’t love his partner’s behind. One said “I don’t care how big or small it is, she does. I just want affection, but when she’s bigger I don’t get it. And it hurts.” I had another man say “Wait, you can teach my wife to love her body and not want to hide it from me anymore?” Then he pulled out his checkbook. He was making a point as to how many men wish their partner’s loved their bodies as much as they did. Men are pretty honest about their opinions. And yes, sometimes we just want to smack them when they tell us we don’t look so great in a dress that we love. But the great thing is that we know they’re honest! So when he says, “Oh babe, you look gorgeous!” we can rest assured that it’s probably true.
6. Eat crappy, feel crappy. I recall back in high school having a really fun habit of going to the See’s candy store and picking up five delicious truffles. I had a crazy thought one day. I wonder if I stopped eating these if it would make a difference in my body. Could such a small change make a change? I couldn’t believe how many pounds I lost doing nothing but ceasing from going to my bi-weekly stop. My exercise habits didn’t change nor did any of my other eating. This week, pick out one item that you feel might be sabotaging your inner and outer self from feeling great. Soda? A trip to Starbucks? Alcohol? Night time carb snacking? Simply cut it in half if just reading this is already giving you angst. Again, moderation. Track how you feel, i.e. more energetic, a change in confidence, feeling more in control of life, fitting into your pants better. Go for at least four weeks using this process. Then practice with other foods or drinks that you’re allowing to sabotage you. I’m not talking about the occasional scoop of ice cream, handful of fries or stealing a bit of your friend’s cheesecake. I’m speaking of habitual foods that we over eat and actually don’t serve a healthy purpose in our lives like my See’s candy trips. Let’s challenge those habits. Feeling in control boosts confidence.
7. Compliment others. When we see good in others we feel better within. One of the easiest ways to boost confidence in ourselves is to stop pitying ourselves and instead place loving focus on others. I like to do what I call “check-in’s” with myself because they help me to gauge where I’m at emotionally when it comes to self love. When I see a woman with a gorgeous body do I: A) Want to run the other way because I don’t want to be seen next to her? B) Look for her faults? C) Smile at her? D) Actually say something? I remember the days when I’d do “B” and look for her faults. It was the only way I could think to make myself feel better. And in all honesty, I still have the occasional “down day” and I’ll catch that uninspiring split second thought before I come to my senses. My current “go-to” reaction is to say something kind. “I love those pants, your hair is gorgeous, I’m so impressed with how fit you are, I’m working at it!” When we acknowledge other’s beauty, we embrace our own.
8. “Define Excuse.” An excuse regarding self motivation in the “Vic dictionary” is defined as anything that you use to hold yourself back from your best self, your goals or dreams. Common excuses I hear as I’m coaching women are: “I don’t have time to exercise,” “I don’t have the money for nicer clothes,” “I don’t have friends that support me,” and “I have a partner who doesn’t speaking kindly about my body.” One of my mentors, Greg Blackbourn, said to me in a time of deep financial stress, as I whined about my circumstances as a single mom of five, “Well, when the pain is great enough, you’ll change your financial situation.” Boy was that rough to hear at the time. His message sank in deeply over the years. Now I use that advice for myself in everything I do. I want to start painting again but I don’t have time. “Well I guess I don’t miss it that much.” I want to travel but don’t have the funds. “I’d be getting much more creative if I really wanted that trip.” So it goes for exercise and confidence excuses. If you have time to watch a movie or TV, you have time for some squats, a little jump rope or a slow jog with the dog. I mean, the dog needs to go out anyway right? No supportive friends? There are hundreds of exercise support groups. Have a partner that’s not kind to you? Time to reassess who you’re allowing into your inner circle and if they really serve you or merely fill a void for you. These are tough questions, but they are also loving questions. Each question leads to a deeper question, the core of which is “Am I worth it?” Once you realize you are, you’ll cease from talking and start acting.
9. Never look at another woman’s treadmill. If there’s a way to take yourself off the path of self-confidence, it’s to compare yourself to someone else. On the other hand, competing against myself has proven to be a recipe for success. I chart my progress with the goal of doing a little better each week. And if you aren’t improving as quickly as you like, revert to tip #2. No shaming. I’ve found that at the gym, glancing over at someone else’s treadmill or how many reps they are doing only takes me away from being present with what I’m there to do. This article has been in the making for the better part of 30 years. I passionately believe in the baby step theory. Practice a new tip each week or go for a month focusing on just one. Rewiring decades of questioning your worth, beauty and value is going to take time. What I’ve noticed is when I enroll my friends and loved ones in my cause, the whole journey is so much easier and better yet, so much more fun! Life ought to be fun. Laugh at yourself when you down a cheeseburger because you forgot you were splitting your junk food portions by half. Mistakes happen and if you can look at them as funny, they will lose their affect on you.
I recently read an article that shared a mantra tosay to yourself when dealing with jealousy in a relationship. “I am a brilliant, worthy and deserving partner.” As I’ve been writing this article, I am reminded of my own mantra for taking care of my body:
“I do this for myself, not anyone else.”
“I do this because I want to live long for my kids.”
“I love myself enough to move my body today.”
Those words get me out of bed, eating right and moving my body all week, shame free. Take a moment to come up with your own because there will be tough days and you will need to be your best advocate.
Start by writing down ideas like why it’s so important for you to have confidence, why you care about your body’s health and how you feel when you accept yourself, even if those days are rare. There’s a yin and yang conundrum here. It speaks to believing that you are perfect as is. An acceptance of self. It also speaks to being on a path of improvement. That’s not to say there’s a problem now, but the human condition loves to improve, learn and grow. Nourish that fire. Love your station in life, for it won’t be there for long. My father just passed away this month and he was such an advocate for me. I recall being a pretty grumpy teen, especially in the morning. With my hair a mess, I’d walk down the stairs into the kitchen where he’d be reading the paper and bust out into song “There she is, Miss America…” in his operatic voice. That man thought I was beautiful no matter what. I think about it now and it makes me chuckle, it makes me get chocked up, but moreover, it reminds me that