So I’ve posted a couple times already about how I’m not a foodie, and on multiple occasions I’ve let you in on the not-so-secret secret that I still have body image/food issues. Then a few weeks ago, I posted myconfessions as a personal trainer. And I’m going to post a few more here today. But unlike the confessions of my Catholic school days, I’m not going to ask for forgiveness or justify myself. And I am most certainly not going to do penance for them.
These are a few of the things I’ve realized I need to own up to — things about myself that I need to lay out there because they are who I am and what I do, and, well, sorry I’m not sorry about them. So what inspired this sudden show of bravado, you ask? What made me decide to own up to all things Heather without feeling the need to explain myself? Well my good real-life friend (we go wayyyy back, which is what I’m going to say when she becomes a ridic famous author) and blog buddy, Rachel, started the ‘Own It’ challenge, encouraging other bloggers to come out and state what they’re about, no apologies necessary. Hmm, I thought, this is the perfect opportunity to talk about the things that I am constantly apologizing for that I really shouldn’t be.
In the past few years, I’ve noticed that my happiness factor has gone up exponentially since I stopped asking for permission so much. And I actually remember having a conversation about this with Rachel on one of our many Starbucks dates back home in Michigan. Last year, I told people that I was quitting my salaried desk job to become a trainer. This year, Rachel told people she was up and moving to Texas. We didn’t ask if these actions were OK, and we didn’t give a laundry list of reasons for why we were doing them. And because people in general are so used to everyone (especially young women) asking if what they’re doing is right, this confused them. You mean you don’t care what I think? Nope, or at least not enough to change my mind. I’m forging on either way. Anyway, inspired by that conversation and by her post on it, here are some more confessions that don’t bother my conscience one bit. My opening declaration:
Since I’m a trainer, let’s start with something fitness related. I hate running in the summer. HATE. I do not like it at all. Running in 90 degrees with 80% humidity just so I can tell people I’m a real runner? No thanks. I’ve been one, and maybe someday I’ll be one again, but not right now. I like to breathe and not feel like I’m wading through the soup that is a Midwest summer. If I run at all during the months of June, July, and August, it is at the gym or at night, and I do it because I know how many calories it burns, or sometimes because I need a change. But you know what I would rather do for hours at a time in the summer? Bike or swim or dance or anything besides run.
Here’s another one: I am not a morning person. Props to all of you that are, but I get pissed off when people make it seem like you are a lazy, slothful person if your internal alarm clock doesn’t have you springing out of bed at 6am. Stop acting so damn self-righteous about it. I get just as much accomplished as you do, but I just do it later in the day. Give me a project to work on at 8pm and I’m way more inspired than I would be at 8am. I like my workouts later in the day too. I’m programmed this way, and I’m owning it.
For as much as I talk about loving the skin you’re in, I’m with Rachel on the fact that I would still like to lose weight, even if I do think I’m beautiful right now. And as much as I talk about how unhealthy I was when I was at my skinniest (not having a period is usually a bad sign, folks), I sometimes still look at pictures and remember how much control I had and how good it felt to slide that XS or S on without a snag. I will own that I feel that way, and I will also own that I still have some work to do, mentally and physically.
I also own that when fat talk starts with my girlfriends, I shut down. I do not respond, or I get quite curt, all of my response being two words or less — if that. I mostly do it because nothing about that conversation is healthy for any party involved. We don’t need to perpetuate the cycle of caring more about our jeans size than our actual mental wellbeing. But another part of it is that for the first time in my life, I’m not one of the skinny friends. And that sounds catty, I know, but I know I didn’t fish for compliments even when I was the skinny friend. It also hurts my feelings when my size-4 friends comment on how they need to ‘get rid of this flab’ because they are just ‘soooo disgusting.’ Gee thanks. By the way, thanks for being a bitch and not thinking about anyone else’s feelings before you opened your mouth.
I also jump up on my feminist and body image champion soap boxes pretty quickly, much to the chagrin of any males in my life. Sorry I’m not sorry.
I did a total 180 as far as careers go and quit my secure corporate job to become a trainer (with an unstable hourly wage) and a freelancer, and I put myself in a lot of debt doing so. I also freaked my parents out and made them wonder why they paid for a bachelors degree in English and Women’s Studies (take a guess at how many times I heard, ‘So what are you going to do with that degree?’) from a good school for their eldest daughter. I switched jobs again about a year into my gym job because it was so sales focused, and I refused to force people to buy training when they could hardly make their rent. Sometimes I worried that I had made the wrong decision going into training. But now I don’t regret it because I found a better fit that reminded me why I love what I do, and I love the freedom I have working at two smaller studios who really want the best for the clients. I stumbled along the way, and I still don’t know what I’ll ultimately end up doing, but at 25, I don’t need to yet.
Even though I’m a trainer, I do not live at the gym. And I won’t tell my clients that they have to either. I won’t tell them they aren’t allowed to drink, because I do it, too (give me whiskey or beer, and I’m ready to go!). I refuse to be a complete hypocrite with my clients, and I’m usually honest with them about how much I’m working out at any given time. Also, lately, some of my workouts have taken a backseat to seeing friends or a boy. But I’m good with this, because for a long time, it was the other way around. I still work out, but I don’t let it take it over my life. I like this, and I own this.
So now it’s your turn — what are you owning, what have you owned, and what are you going to start owning that maybe you were afraid to before?
So I recently read an article on Self.com about a study published in Psychological Science showing that people tend to be happier when they have less down time. Those that are busier and have a rather full plate seem to be in a better mood than those who are constantly searching for something to do. Interesting, right?
I thought this was a pretty fascinating little find and wanted to discuss it with you, dear readers, but I was putting it off — until this morning. I was putzing around online, clicking through some of my favorite sites while trying to convince myself to get out of bed and be a productive member of society. When I visited Glamour.com and read the same thing on the Vitamin G blog and then again on BlissTree, I realized this might be more than just a little blip on the psychological health front. So I decided to do a little further research on the topic and here’s what I found:
Being busy –even the ‘OMG, how will survive until Friday?’ kind of busy — tends to work in our favor and causes a boost in those feel-good vibes.
Those who find themselves bored more often also find themselves bummed more frequently. The study suggests that not having much to do leaves plenty of time for ruminating on our lives — especially on what’s wrong with them!
Having a million things to do (and getting them done!) can give us a sense of accomplishment, which, at least for me, is a key component to happiness.
A packed schedule not only makes us feel accomplished, but it’s stimulating to our brains and increases our endorphins! And as we all know by now, endorphins make us happy!
According to the actual Pyschological Science article, even doing pointless activity will make us happier than doing no activity at all.
None of the articles specifically addressed how this makes us healthier, but my hunch is that, in general, when we’re happy, we’re healthy! We tend to have lower stress levels and we tend to take better care of ourselves when we’ve got smiles on our faces. Now, I’m definitely no psychologist, but I can tell you from my own experience that I’m way happier and healthier when I’m crazy, ‘I don’t have a second to sit down’ busy. I love seeing a long to-do list, and I like crossing each thing off even more. When I was a senior in college and constantly sprinting from class to an activity to a sorority function to the gym, I was deliriously happy! I was simply in love with life, and I was probably the fittest I’ve ever been. Even though my schedule was practically bursting at the seams, I made time to get everything done, including taking trips to the gym and making (mostly) healthy meals. And I even had a social life (we all know friends are good for overall wellness).
When I left college and moved to Chicago, I suddenly found myself with more free time, even with a 9 to 5. And at that job (oh, and the next one), I was incredibly bored because my work was mindless. I never felt a sense of accomplishment, I had way too much time to think about everything I wanted to change in my life, and I was so drained at the end of the day, that I just didn’t want to do anything — even the things I knew were good for me, like going for a run or visiting with friends. So when I switched to personal training, I was crazy busy all day, and I experienced this huge surge in those happy hormones! People I knew even noticed and kept commenting about how much happier I seemed and how I appeared to be more like ‘the old Heather.’ Now, I’ve switched to two slightly lower stress jobs with fewer hours (and no sales quota to hit, but that’s another story), but I’ve filled my schedule with other things I’ve been wanting to pursue, like my writing, exploring the city, and (gasp) having a social life. So, I’m keeping busy, but I’m not as stressed (best of both worlds!). I’m definitely happier AND healthier!
So I guess, in short (but really, when is it ever short with me?), I agree with these findings! If I’m bored, I start to brood, and I get cranky. But if I’m whizzing around getting stuff done, I feel great! What about you? Do you thrive on flitting around like a hummingbird like I do? Or does your perfect day include a little time to be completely sloth-like? Spill!