Would that I had served my God that way

Would that I had served my God the way I had watched my waistline – Thomas Wolsey

“Fitness saved me.”

“Personal development saved me.”

“This business saved me.”

But the one thing that kept ticking in the back of my head was, why wasn’t it God? Or was it? Did He give me all these things? I don’t feel him.

Let me back track a bit in case you don’t know my story…

I’d never been on a diet in my entire life until I got it in my head to do a bikini competition a year after my second child.

I had spent the last 10 years loving health and fitness, being in damn good shape and having never counted a single calorie or ever recall hating my body much or worrying about what I should and shouldn’t eat. The diet world and calorie counting was totally foreign to me.

I was just shy of top 1o out of 200 people in my competition and I still felt I had inches to lose, areas to improve on. I look back and think … what on earth did I see!? What did I think was so awful?

But it’s called body dysmorphia, and your flaws are crippling even if they’re made up.

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#70

Fast forward to now, not quite 15 lbs heavier, a year and a few months post competition and I’m finally falling in love with myself again. I hope you can see the softness in my smile, the bits of joy flecked across my face, because it’s there.

self love selfie
September 2018; 1 year post competition

It took until probably 8 months post competition for me to hit true burnout. I was trying so hard to maintain my fitness, to maintain my body, it was slipping away from me and I was too tired to hold on.

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June 2018

And so then I was left with this post partum body that was supposed to be gone forever. My happiness was tied up in the fit body I created and then it was gone. And I was left with this … with this message that said fitness and personal development had saved me, but that salvation was temporary and based solely on my high performance, and as soon as I couldn’t perform any longer, well I was ruined.

I was more depressed than ever, and before all you thin body shamers start freaking out because I’m still small and how can a thin person talk about their pain in weight gain etc etc just hold your plus size horses for a second and let me talk.

Ahem.

I was more depressed than ever. My body was slow. Weak. I felt it in every movement. I wasn’t working out anymore, I was eating food I didn’t even LIKE like sugary junk food (the body does weird things to recover from famine) and I felt like a failure. I felt embarrassed to see anyone who knew me, because I was now that mom who let herself go. I see this photo now and am shocked at how differently I saw myself then.

Disgusting. Fat. Ugly. Whale.

I can’t begin to describe to you how I saw myself entirely different then, then I do now. Now? Just a woman wearing a bikini that’s too small for her. But perfectly beautiful regardless.

I was tortured by my mind, by societies rules, by my weight and my pants that taunted me for not fitting anymore.

I’m better now you know.

I haven’t lost the weight, I don’t lift weights or do HIIT workouts anymore.

I yoga.

That is all.

Well and I walk my dog. Hardly a rigorous fitness regime by today’s standards.

How dare I be happy?

And yet, here I stand. A little beaten, a little bruised, but happy.

And I’m haunted by this quote … would that I had served my God the way I had watched my waistline …

Imagine a world where we focus inward, and upward.

Imagine women with the freed up mental space where they aren’t worrying about their bodies, and instead are moving forward in their dreams as fully aware and present beings.

Hell imagine MEN that way too because Lord knows the assault on men’s body image is here too.

So let’s commit together; no more chasing the perfect body. Acknowledge your cellulite as apart of you. Acknowledge that new dip at the bottom of your stomach where your pants dip into. Acknowledge you can’t get even one thigh into your old pants. Acknowledge your weary dark circles under your eyes, and with all of that choose to believe you are worthy of loving yourself.

Let’s not just say it, let’s spend time sitting with our current circumstance. Our goal is to be confident in our body and who we are, so spend time actually feeling into what that feels like. Work up those feelings in your body. Get excited. Picture yourself walking down the street and drum up the feeling of confidence. How do you walk? Head high? Smile on your face?

And then start doing that.

You can live that right now, in the body you are in, and then spend that extra time on your relationship with God, with your family, with yourself. Learn, grow, chase dreams. Your weight should never hold you back.

I am 15lbs heavier, and I have never felt lighter.

 

 

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Abs, Instagram and Happiness

Being fit does NOT mean having a six pack and cut obliques. Being fit CAN mean that, but to me it means being strong of body, soul and spirit.

For the last 18 months, I have been fit of body, but my soul and spirit were weak.

I am a mother of almost 2 (second is due June 29th!). My son, born July 2014, suffered from constipation for 8 months, which caused him to have reflux as well, and we trudged along for 17 long months of him waking every 30 min-2 hours, nursing all night long, needing help to sleep through naps, never having a moment to ourselves. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, truly.

I quickly sank into post-partum depression, but denied it for a very long time. I even went to my Dr. once, and talked my way out of anti-depressants, and never went back for help. It’s hard to open up about it when you’re in it, and having convinced myself I didn’t really need help, it was even harder after that.

Then winter of 2015 hit, and I hit my ultimate low. This is where my journey begins.

I was angry all the time. I hit my dog harder, and more often than I can bring myself to admit, and I’m grateful dogs are as loving, and forgiving as they are loyal.

I began yelling at my 17 month old son to sleep, to stop touching me, to stop nursing, and I’d have to put him down and go, leaving us both to cry in anguish, so I didn’t do anything really harmful to either of us.

I began contemplating ways out; adopting him out to one of our families, for certainly they could do a much better job than I ever could as his mother. Thankfully other things were too horrid for my mind to contemplate, so as soon as those darkest of thoughts entered, they shuddered away. I believe this was Holy Spirit, guarding my heart even when I had completely lost sight and touch of who God was.

My mind, was a fog. And the battle was waged under the haze.

I finally broke. I needed sleep, and I needed it because I was dying. Inside, but maybe outside as well … I felt like I could not live one single more day without a full nights sleep. It was the slowest torture I’ve ever felt, and even as I write, tears well up in my eyes to think of the pain I surrounded my family with, because I didn’t get help. I asked for help; I opened up.

I went and slept at my parents house for 5 nights, leaving my husband, who had lost just as much sleep as I had, to fend for himself and take on night duties full time. To this day, I know God surrounded him with the fiercest of love and strength, to pull him through those nights, as he had anguish and sorrow in his heart as well. It was a long, weary battle. But I slept. And I slept again. And again…

I finally started regaining clarity and with that, a sense of direction, and something I’d been praying about for a few weeks became the clearest of answers to me, I contacted my friend and asked her how to become a beachbody coach. I knew I needed to get working out again, that this was my happy place. I’ve loved fitness for a very, very long time, but as a new mother, almost forgot how, unless I was running outside during the summer. I knew winter had shut me in (Canada, hello freezing), and I knew that I needed to make myself a priority again. So I started to research.

I researched the shakes, because it was something totally new and foreign to me, but I knew that I absolutely needed something to get me healthier on the inside than I had been capable of getting myself for the past 6 years, and especially in the last 18 months. Once I fell in love with the shakes, I researched the business, and what I kept finding was: people first, profits later. People first. People first. People first. It was like their banner. Be YOU. Help OTHERS. Be healthy. Be fit. People first. I couldn’t love or agree with something more.

I joined, first for myself. And really, I can’t even verbalize a ‘why’ that I joined. I can’t explain it. I’ve always wanted to get into fitness for a living, but never knew how, and why I figured this was the time, well I can’t say. But it changed my life. What I see now, is that I knew I needed accountability, I needed something to be passionate about, and I needed something that was just mine.

I got my program, CIZE; Endorphins began to rush, my fog began to lift, I began to figure out how to help my son sleep, we started sleeping more, eating better following the nutrition guide; I drank my shakes and had energy like I hadn’t had for a long time. I began to heal, and my amazing husband who has loved fitness as long as I have joined with me, and we started taking our lives back. Back from depression, back from lethargy, back from apathy. We wanted to win.

I cried a lot over the next few weeks, and 5 weeks later, I still cry at the end of every single workout. I cry because it’s a burst of joy that I can’t explain. It’s a sense of accomplishment, a sense of my old self, a sense of a bright future, and just plain fun in my life again.
When you workout, and eat right, your body will be what it will be. If you end up having some physical goals, so be it, but they will come from a healthy, happy mind. A mind that has exercised daily the habits of self love, dedication, and feeding their body like the temple it is.

If when that is done, you are still bigger than me (which is 5’3 and around 110-120lbs, I don’t weigh myself, ever), then guess what, you’re still freaking fit and an absolute rockstar in my eyes. You don’t need to be me, or anyone else on this planet, to succeed at fitness. You just do you, and that joy is yours to own. You don’t need a six pack to post a body proud photo on Instagram. You don’t need 600 likes to tell you that you meet this societies standards. You also don’t need to stop working out because working out means you don’t prioritize your family first. I don’t believe in fit shaming, I don’t believe in fat shaming, I don’t believe in skinny shaming … I don’t believe in mom shaming.

I don’t believe in shaming.

My highest engagement posts on Instagram aren’t ones of flexing, they aren’t of my “tiny preggo body”, they are of my raw, real posts about the challenges of motherhood and PPD. It  became so clear to me that fitness of mind is more important, and it’s a much harder muscle to work, but it comes from determination, and just hitting play every single day.

We are all worthy of looking in the mirror and seeing a masterpiece, created with purpose. That doesn’t give us a reason to eat like crap and sit on our butts all day, because that’s not how our bodies were designed to function.

But it does give you a reason to love your curves, love your chub, love your skin and bones, love your thighs, your arms, wings, tire, muffin, thunder thighs, big hips, cankles, skronny, lanky self. Whatever you use to describe you, turn it into a compliment. And then get up, and get to work, and treat yourself like the freaking princess God made you.

You ARE worthy. You are ARE beautiful. And you have my support.

Welcome to Braids and Brass, my name is Michelle, and I am a fitness and health coach, a mom pulled from the wreckage of depression, who still struggles day to day, but continues forward none the less.

I hope I can help you find community, accountability, self love and encouragement on your fit journey, and I welcome all that you bring to mine.