On Happiness and Size 2 Jeans

Since I’ve started in the health and fitness world, there’s always one thing I’ve never wanted to do, and that’s to perpetuate the idea that everyone needs to look a certain way.

And here’s the problem with that … I look a certain way.

I’ve been called skinny, I’ve been told to eat a cheeseburger. I’ve been told “oh it’s not fair you’re so thin, I hate you.” In a ha ha kind of way (it’s not ha ha just FYI). So I know that when I post my before and afters it’s not wow inducing for many. In fact it’s typically met with “pfff. Well you were already small. I hate girls like you who are just naturally thin.” 

So with that, I’ve worried that I would make people feel like they need to be thin in order to be fit, or accepted. As if I think everyone needs to look like me and if you don’t I’ll PM you and insinuate that you look like you could lose weight here buy a shake from me. 

I don’t want to be apart of that, and I have no part in that. 

I don’t want to play a part in eating disorders unless it’s breaking free of them. I don’t want to play a part in taking pills to be skinnier. I don’t want a part in helping people chase an ideal that simply does not exist. I don’t want to perpetuate the crapy societal standards that have been placed on women, to be tiny supermodels. I don’t want to play a part in shady practices where it’s assumed that since you aren’t a size 2 you must be unhappy and you definitely need my help. 

Because  we have all been created different, and beautiful, and fitness is a feeling not a look. 

So what part do I play?

This has been really hard for me to figure out, because girls who are thin are given no room to feel imperfect; I’m not allowed to have an off day. I can’t feel uncomfortable in my own skin because I’m skinny and dammit if you’re skinny you have it all so just stop whining already! Sigh. I can’t say I feel chubby. Or gooey. Because obviously that means everyone else who doesn’t look like me is huge. It’s insulting and written off if I’m having a bad body image day. 

I’m about being real online, and sometimes I have bad days, hating on myself for how I look compared to how I’m used to looking, but I haven’t posted about it much because I’m not big enough. I don’t have as big of a mom tummy. I don’t have stretch marks. I haven’t earned it I’ve heard. 

So because of this, I am afraid to share my own insecurities about my body for fear of making other women feel worse about themselves. Because of my size, I fear the backlash of posting certain content to my page. That’s not ok. And it stops today.

(Oh and FYI I hate being called skinny. Healthy. Strong. Beautiful. These are appropriate things to say just in case you were wondering.)

We need to stop commenting on women’s size as a compliment because it consistently perpetuates that being skinny is the goal and the only thing worth complimenting.

It’s not. 

So again, what’s my part? What’s my point?

My point is I will never tell you to be skinny. To lose weight. You will tell me what your goals are, you will bring up fitness to me, and I will help you realize that you won’t find your happiness in a size 2.

How do I know this? Because I’ve been a size 2. I’ve also happily toted around my size 00 pants thank you very much (which means nothing because vanity sizing is a real thing; look it up). And in all those years I’ve never been as confident as I am now in my size 4-6 pants with my momma belly flopping over my jeans as I trudge my way into new territory of my fit mom bod.

… you won’t find your happiness in a size 2. 

Your floppy belly?! I’ve seen your abs girl! 


Yes, you’ve seen my abs. Flexing. Standing.


But they aren’t my joy and I’m just like everyone else. I celebrate these victories yes, but my greatest achievement is in finding a way to love myself regardless of the appearance of my body. To find fitness in strength. 

We have been taught to talk down to ourselves because society says the only beauty there is, is being thin. 

I’ll take it a step further, because I’ve also been told not to look too manly when I start putting on muscle because apparently as women we’re only perfect if we hit just the right amount of toned vs muscle so as not to look manly, and extra fat vs too skinny so we don’t “look anorexic”. 

When will we be enough ladies?! 

We won’t. 

The world will always have its screwed up standards and my part, YOUR part, is to be ourselves. It’s to embrace our beauty in whatever way being healthy looks like on each of us. 

I can see that I can be real about my struggles, and that there are others out there like me.

I hope that women can come together through this one common theme, thatwe all feel as though we just aren’t enough. 

And we all feel like a foreigner in our own skin sometimes, and all those feelings are valid whether you’re a size 2 or a size 10.

If we can come around one another, and instead of rolling our eyes at small or big or any women who struggle with their bodies, we choose to speak against the pursuit of perfection, then we can start to see real change.

Yes fitness and eating right are important for long term health, but we will never find fulfillment in our pant size. I believe fitness is important for our happiness (hello endorphins) but thin or thick our root cause of unhappiness comes from not being rooted in who we are and knowing that who we are is loved and treasured in any shape and form. 
We will never find joy and identity in the foods we eat and the measurements of our waists.

My role as a fitness and health coach is to encourage people to take care of themselves, to see results so they feel empowered to continue their journey towards healing, but it’s also to break apart the lies we have placed upon ourselves, which create unrealistic goals causing us heartache and perceived failure day in and day out. 

I want you to know that today you are enough.

Right now you are beautiful.

Right now you are all you need to be. 

And if you aren’t feeling that, if you don’t know it, go for a run. 

Find that girl.

Fight for that girl. 

Whatever it takes. 

 

On “The Better” baby

It’s no secret our first go around with babies was traumatic and painful. The first year dragged on. It most certainly did not go by as fast as other moms said it did, and I was aching for it to speed up. 

Time with my second is flying by. He’s almost 3 months. Which means in 3 months he’ll be eating solids. What!? I now get the phrase “where did my baby go?” 

And I get asked all the time out of genuine love, concern and curiosity, “do you find he’s a better baby?” To which my answer is always the same; he’s easier and I’m not depressed.”

It was really easy to define A by his lack of sleep. We were consumed with it. We had a hard time seeing anything else. People would ask us about him and all we could muster up was “he’s good, he doesn’t sleep…” as if it defined who he was and is. It doesn’t. 

No one is the sum of their struggles. 

But you have to understand something. There was more at play. I was depressed. I didn’t struggle with it, I had it. I had anxiety. I didn’t have bouts of anxiety, I simply was anxious. You add that on to this overly alert kid with poop issues and reflux, tack on a high need to be held at all times and you get our year and a half of hell. 

I believe depression and anxiety are like a tornado, sweeping up those that life with them into it’s storm.  Those swept in never become the storm, but are simply tangled up in it with no possibility of figuring a way out because they’ve never been a tornado before and they likely never will be. 

What that means to me is, my depression and anxiety swept my baby up into my storm. He was caught in my emotions with no way to be free of it. Our kids kids feel what we feel, which makes sense because typically we all carry a cloud of emotions with us. You can tell when someone is angry or happy or sad even if they aren’t slamming cupboards, jumping for joy or crying. Many of us wear our emotions and sweep each other into them, good or bad. 

And what that meant for my sweet boy was he felt my pain, all of it. 

I think that’s why he’s so empathetic. Why he’ll stop mid play and come put his hand on my cheek to say “I love you” while looking straight into my heart and then walking back to his game. 

But it’s also why he was so hard. Because he had all these issues and a mom who couldn’t cope. Any kind of fussing in him would cause an immense amount of anxiety the older he got, and the worse I got. I literally had no skills for dealing with any of his emotions, and I’m grateful that God gave us breastfeeding because it gave us both calm. It wasn’t always the right answer, but it was all I had. He would sleep latched on for hours, needing to be patted on the back at the same time. I didn’t have the mental capacity to learn him and I look back and think “get up and burp him!” 

N is not a better baby. Both my kids are amazing. But I am now a better mom. And not in doing sense; in the being sense. I simply exist better than I did before. 

I fought depression again when N was born. It knocked on my door every day for 8 weeks. I have PTSD and I still can’t attempt to settle N when he’s crying in the car due to painful flashbacks of our dreaded trips with Asher. I have to either pull over or drive with the music turned up. I could feel every time that I was immediately yanked back into anxiety in the car. Panic stricken over his tears that it physically hurt. I yelled at my husband in tears to pull over and unbuckled myself, running to his side to make sure he hadn’t choked to death on his tears. 

But I’m getting better. In fact I’m doing amazing. Because I’m fighting. 

I’m laying in bed as I write this and my baby is sleeping in his crib for the first time. He woke up and I didn’t nurse him back to sleep. I put him down when I went to sleep. None of these things were possible with A. Partly because of him, and partly because of me. 

Was A a ‘bad baby’? Not a chance. There are no good and bad babies. Some are harder for sure, but they deserve to be defined by so much more than their sleep. 

A was contemplative. Constantly staring into everyones soul. Absorbing everything. My little talker and feeler. 

N is my little goofball. Just as aware, but chatty and smiley. 

And I am not tormented anymore. 

The Mask I Wore

Post partum depression sneaks up on you, and robs you of your joy. Your memories.

Today I am grateful for technology and the memories things like Facebook and Timehop are bringing to me.

I look at old posts and I can hear the pain in them, but no one else could. I was trying to be positive. Trying to make sure everyone knew I loved being a mother and trying to do what everyone told me to do, which is to embrace every moment because one day I would miss it.

But the one thing no one told me it was ok to do; hate being a mother.

I was wearing a mask.

If you’ve experienced post partum depression, you know what I mean.

Now with my second baby, it seemsΒ so easy to get through the hard times because the joy outshines it all. Yes, I’ve had my bouts of PTSD but through dedication to loving myself, I find I am overcoming. That and he sleeps. That helps.

I truly love being a mother to these two boys. Daily my heart overflows and I cry often right now out of gratitude and out of sorrow.

I can say now that I love babies. Niall is amazing. He laughs, smiles, all his good outshines the hard parts of parenting. Asher even at two where he’s pushing boundaries and hitting and being defiant, his I love you’d wipe the slate clean. Knee deep in the moment I’m frustrated and ready to be done having babies, but overall I have found my groove. I love my motherhood.

In the hard moments I’m able to look at my kids and know that this is simply a moment. I can reason that these tough parts aren’t forever, and I can dig deep and find patience, gentleness and kindness.

However, it was not so just two short years ago.

I don’t remember the joy. Lately I’ve been reminiscing through old photos and timehop because in them I can find the glimpses of happiness we had together. But the depression made every moment overshadowed, leaving me to feel like being a mother was something I didn’t want to be.

I wanted my son, but I didn’t want to be a mother. I didn’t understand that what I didn’t want was depression, but since it came immediately upon having my son, the two were married and I couldn’t reconcile it in my heart.

So I buried it. I wore a mask.

And then I found my answer.

Eat clean and train dirty.
I founded Braids and Brass Fitness; where beauty and grit collide.

I started helping other women see their beauty and find their grit.

We started taking off our masks.

It’s easy to show the physical side of eating well and working out, but I can only tell you how my life has changed.

Yes, I have my abs coming back, I feel good in my clothes and I am stronger than ever.

But what you can’t see is that every time I press play, I’m tired and beat, and then I find it. The zone. And whatever stress I feel, whatever fog is looming … it goes away.

30 minutes to a stronger, happier and healthier me.

It seems like nothing and yet it’s everything, and this picture sums it up perfectly.

2 years ago and 3 months in to my new role as mother. Struggling but putting on a happy face. Wearing my mask.

And then today; joyful. Strong. Fighting.

Braids and Brass is about beauty in strength, not just body.

It’s about grit and how it can be beautiful.

This is Braids and Brass Fitness;

Where Beauty and Grit Collide.