My struggle with body image

After I writing about my recent fitness journey, I figured I’d talk about my struggle with body image and share that with others.  Throughout my fitness journey I was trying to figure out why I would constantly start and stop working out.  Unfortunately, my answer is a bit sad.

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Here I am at 5 years old

I was the tiny girl growing up, short and average built.  Come puberty (11ish), which came earlier for me than my friends, my chest area grew quickly and I started putting on weight.  Looking back it wasn’t a lot of weight but my parents along with other relatives and family friends started pointing it out.  I wasn’t the typical skinny Filipino girl, which caused me to be self-conscious about curves.  I was the one with the chest and badonkadonk.  Add to the fact that my relatives and family friends would say “Oh when I came to America at 23, I was 100 pounds.  I had 2 kids already.” “Oh when I was your age I was 85 pounds.”  At the time, I’d tell myself (instead of responding to my aunt’s comment) well she lived in the Philippines where it’s hot and while family wasn’t struggling, they didn’t eat all the food we do here.  But their words still haunted me. I was defined by a number.  FYI – I teetered around the 108 – 115 pounds, throughout my adolescent years.   I was definitely in awkward phase and had that baby fat in my face going for me.  Also, my parents always made me feel beautiful and never made me feel ugly; however, my weight was always mention, making me conscious.

In middle school to look like everyone else, I purposely skipped lunch for a month or two in an effort to lose weight.  It didn’t help.  When my mom found out she yelled at me for not eating.  She has worked in the medical industry and was concerned that I was causing myself more harm internally.  But bless my mom, as much as she is concerned, she is an instigator too.  She, until this day, will point out if my gut is big or I’m gaining weight and tell me to workout.  She says that she’s concerned about my sugar intake as diabetes runs in our family.  Maybe she is concerned.  Maybe it’s vanity.  As I was slowly gaining weight, my parents tried to get me to run (dad was a runner) or do aerobics (mom kept me busy with her 90’s aerobic workouts on VHS.  oh boy!) with them during the summers or after school.

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Freshman year of HS.  Baby fat cheeks.  Awkward phase for sure.  Average built right?

But it wasn’t just my family or family friends saying it.  In 9th grade, I was setting up for a school dance and as I was walking away from my group of friends, I heard a boy whisper to my friends that my ass looked like a basketball.  My friends all snickered.  And I?  Well I continued walking and made my way to the bathroom and cried in a stall.  How could my friends laugh too?  High school is cruel!  My friends never said anything to my face, they may have behind my back, but surprisingly it wasn’t as painful as my family or family friends.  I wasn’t lazy.  I was active playing volleyball and soccer and busy with student council and show choir (glee clubish).  I was so upset and convinced that I was cursed with my dad’s booty and my mom’s chest.  Why couldn’t I be skinny like everyone else?  (side note:  This was obviously before J.Lo or Beyonce.  Could you imagine if this was 2002 – 2005?  Amongst my peers, I may have been #bootygoals.  JK, but I don’t think I would’ve been ridiculed as much as I was back in the late 90s.)

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HS Senior.

Fast forward to senior year, I moved back to the states and J. Lo and Beyonce were embracing their ass-ets (ha! pun-ny!).  I started feeling confident, but my relatives kept trying to pigeon hole me into this skinny mold of what a Filipino girl should look like.  I started working out in the mornings and was making some progress, but that didn’t stop them for teasing me.  Then I started my freshman year of college.  I had a boyfriend at the time who didn’t mind my curves.  BUT my family poked at my weight at times.  Then that summer of my freshman year, due to heartbreak, I lost 20 pounds within a matter of weeks. It was the skinniest I had been in years.  My family then said I was too skinny.  Too curvy?  Too skinny?  WTH do you want from me?  I gained the weight back, only to lose it again the next summer due to heartbreak (yes same guy).  Then my future husband walked into my life and filled my heart with so much laughter and my stomach with Wendy’s.  😛  (We were poor college students!)

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Freshman year of college.  At my skinniest… not healthy at all.

I gained the weight back, graduated, and off I went into the real world.  Everyday, I commuted into DC, worked 9-6, commuted home, made dinner, ate around 8:30ish and went to sleep by 10 – 11ish.  Wash rinse repeat.  I had gained weight because of the late night eating, chained to a desk all day, and eating all the scrumptious food DC had to offer.  After a month of adulting, I went home to visit my family for my sister’s birthday.  During my sister’s birthday, my uncle said “What’s up with your belly? Are you pregnant? Your belly looks like buddha.”  I was shocked, hurt and quickly walked away.  My aunts yelled at him and he tried to apologize but the damage was done.  My mom and my aunts said “oh don’t pain no mind to him.  He’s like that with everyone.”  … So I’m just supposed to be OK with it because that’s how he is?  I went back to DC and started bringing lunches to work and started going out for walks at lunch.

I lost the weight, but I can’t say that it stuck.  I switched jobs and was on the road quite a bit.  Eating on the company dime was great but its a vicious thing because you figure why not eat the most decadent meals.  I ate somewhat healthy but not really.  Sometimes I’d leave the office late, so I’d eat dinner late.  Lots of booze (I was in my early to mid 20s).  Sometimes working out.  If I did workout, I’d do it for a few weeks, but due to the travel and my oddball hours it was difficult to sustain (all excuses now that I think about it).  If I saw my weight fluctuating, I’d workout to lose a few pounds because I didn’t want my family to say something when I visited them.  As soon as I did lose weight, I’d stop.  The ‘let’s get fit, but forget it’ cycle was a trend up until the hubs proposed.  I lost weight for the wedding, but after it, the cycle continued.  I was decent about walking when I was pregnant, but nothing consistent.  I lost weight after Eva was born due to breastfeeding and moderate working out.  After I stopped breastfeeding, I started gaining weight again and I didn’t care.  I’d try to workout but I was a busy working mom.  My excuse was I was too busy to workout.  Until I saw that picture last year and said something needed to change.

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In Miami for my bachelorette party.  Somewhat fit/healthy skinny, but not really.

Truth be told, halfway through my first TIU 8 week challenge I thought I would give up.  I was used to seeing results and stopping.  It felt like enough instant gratification to keep the comments at bay.  So after I completed the challenge, I was impressed with myself but was scared I’d revert back to my old ways due to travel.  But I kept at it and I’m glad I’m here.  As a result, I’ve reflected and figured out why I never maintained the fit lifestyle.

Conclusion?  I wasn’t working out for me.  I wasn’t working out for my physical and mental health.I was working out because of vanity.  Because I wanted to fit in the mold that everyone, and that I, put myself in.  The image that was engrained in me culturally, as well as by media and society.  Filipino/Asian girls all are skinny, so that’s what you should look like.  Especially if you haven’t had a child.  They see models or actors on TV, skinny to average built, and say that’s what you should look like. This so prevalent in my culture.  I’m not the only one.  My cousins, my sister, my friends have all said at one point in time their relatives have done this to them.  And as I sit here it’s so hard to swallow.  Because I can’t help but think it’s a form of body shaming from your family.  I know it’s not just my culture.  It is a HUGE issue for everyone and the media doesn’t help as it is constantly painting the image of what a woman SHOULD look like.

To see all the campaigns about body shaming and body confidence is a breath of fresh air.  It’s inspiring, motivating and empowering and frankly, I’m so grateful that we are making strides in teaching positive body image to girls and boys.  Now that Eva is older, I’m more self conscious of how I portray myself in her eyes.  I do not want her to be concerned with how she looks or her weight.  Someone may tell her otherwise but I’m going to teach her not to give a damn.  She is beautiful inside and out and all that matters is what she thinks of herself.  I will ALWAYS tell her she is beautiful, inside and out, whatever shape or size and I love her for who she is not what she looks like.  I will continue to make an effort to not be self-destructive and show her my insecurities.  I will be confident and lead a good example of a leading a healthy lifestyle with fitness and a good relationship with food.  I will embrace myself past, present and future with whatever or however I look.  All of this for her… for me, as well as my mental and physical health.

 

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my newest journey…

I’m baaaaack.  Let’s all have a moment and laugh at my last post, talking about posting weekly last year.

Ok.  That was a good one, but as they say… Life happens.

The beginning of last year through last summer was a bit bumpy.  I was so busy with work since we were understaffed.  Thereafter, I was busy training new staff on top of my own work.  Thankfully, things started settling down in the fall. Even though work was demanding, I wasn’t dreading it.  I kind of figured out the flexibility needed in work and in life (work-life balance is an overused word.  one day I’ll talk about how my senior manager, the partners, and the managing partner of my firm have changed my mind about this term) but I wasn’t feeling confident about my body image.

Since starting at the firm 2 years ago, which coincidentally was when I stopped breastfeeding Eva, I slowly started gaining weight.  I noticed I was gaining weight but it wasn’t until last summer where I was really conscious about it.  My suit pants that I had interviewed in did not fit.  The last two years, I would go through periods of working out but it was a few weeks here or there and then I would stop for several months.  It was a constant struggle to sustain the exercise momentum.  It didn’t help that I was pretty idle sitting in the office or a client’s office or my car.  In late winter/early spring, there were always treats in the office due to the busy tax season, which I hardly passed up.  I wasn’t eating unhealthily but the lack of moving my body, eating a good amount of simple carbs (I typically eat a good portion of vegetables) versus not eating enough lean protein and complex carbs was causing me to pack on the pounds.

I was so insecure about my body.  We had 2 weddings to go to last year and before each one I would try to cut out carbs for 2 weeks, which of course, didn’t work.  Before each wedding, I went dress shopping and got so frustrated with how the dresses looked on me. I’d find something with my body that I wasn’t happy about and go on this downward spiral for a few days.  The one area that I would really scorn myself about was my tummy.  The mama pooch.  The same one that held my sweet baby for 9 months.  I found myself opting for loose fitting shirts to hide my tummy and would always tug on my shirts or put my arms in front of my stomach to hide it.  I hated shopping because I constantly felt like things didn’t look good on my frame.  I went to my friend’s July wedding and it was fine.  But I knew I had to whip myself back into shape.

Come late summer my sister introduced me to Kayla Itsines.  I tried it but again I tried and I stopped.  Then somehow months later, I don’t remember how I got there, I found Tone It Up.  Soon I found myself purchasing the nutritional plan.  For my cousin’s October wedding, I was trying to decide if I should to the 7 Day Slim Down or a juice cleanse.

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Taken in October. When I saw this picture, I found myself going through an emotion of insecurities. Beginning with my tummy is big and my thighs look bigger.

Instead, I followed the general nutritional plan of Tone It Up and ate lean clean and green.  Focusing on leaner protein and a good amount of veggies.  I lost a few pounds prior to the wedding but nothing substantial.  Somehow between October and Christmas I dropped a few more pounds.  Perhaps it was eating well?  Perhaps it was because I was sick every other week for a month and a half (darn toddlers!)?  BUT even after I dropped those pounds I still felt insecure.  I was still pretty insecure about my tummy.

Then Tone it Up came out with their January 8 week challenge.  I figured, why not?  I didn’t follow the plan to a T, but I started seeing definition in my muscles.  My clothes felt a little looser and I felt a little more energetic.  But the scale didn’t move much and I was OK with that.  I was seeing progress.  I felt stronger.  I had setbacks and there were days I didn’t want to workout but I kept at it.  I worked out for 4-6 days a week.  After the challenge was over, I struggled a bit due to some unplanned traveling, sickness, etc., BUT I still worked out at least 3x a week, even if it was just yoga.  I would be a bit hard on myself because I wouldn’t do xyz workout or I didn’t workout 5x that week.  But then I took a step back and reflected.  I was still moving my body. I was still committed and kept that momentum going.  That in itself was something to be proud of.  I was still sustaining this healthy/fit/exercising lifestyle.  Clothes fitting loosely?  That was something to be proud of.  Am I completely comfortable with my tummy area at this point in time?  NOPE!  But I feel more confident than I did in July or October.  I’m proud of where I am and I hope to improve.  Sure there were setbacks, but I keep reminding myself to enjoy life and that slice of cake or glass of wine.  If there’s a miss-step, the next meal is around the corner and/or tomorrow is a new day!  There is no need to overthink and beat myself about it.  Choose to be positive.

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The images in the same outfit are at taken in October and January.  Then February and then earlier this week.  Not a huge change but I’m making small strides!  It’s the journey not the race.

So I invite you to join me on my newest journey, my fitness journey!  Follow me here, my instagram account, @fitn3ssa.

Stay tuned here also for mommy, travel, and foodie posts.  It’s good to be back!

another year over…

It’s been a week since the new year started, yet I feel like it’s already the end of January (I know I need to slow down.  There’s just a lot going on right now.)

2013 was an interesting year.  A bit tiring but still fulfilling.  In a nut shell:

Eva growing up before my very eyes (crawling, walking, feeding herself, running, babbling, talking).
Eva turning 1.
Eva developing her own personality (diva for sure, just like mommy 😉 my poor husband.).
A couple of traveling trips for the previous job.
A couple of ups and downs with the job search.
Excitement with no longer having to travel with a new job.
Excitement of having a new job.
Moving out of the place we started our family.
Moving into a two bedroom (no more cosleeping.  she previously slept in our room, but in her crib).

Among all that it was a year of less experimenting in the kitchen, with clothes, and blogging.  But with a growing child and a full time job outside the home, things get shifted around.

I do miss testing and creating recipes.  But serving dinner that’s quick yet healthy is the easier option at the moment.  Life of a working mom.  The time that I have to test recipes are the weeknights (after Eva sleeps which is when I may be trying to catch up on work or just trying to unwind from the day) or on the weekends which is family time.  I’m hoping work slows down in the next couple of wees and hopefully by then our new place will finally be organized where I should have time during the weeknights to test stuff out (Hopefully my laziness won’t get the best of me.  Something I really need to work on in 2014.  Stay motivated).  I do sometimes prep dinner the night before depending if it’ll be my “late” day at work (The hubs and I rotate days.  More on this in a future post of my organization tips.), but I don’t really test recipes at that time.  There’s a lot meal prep that happens at night for the next day (breakfasts and lunches), but more on that during a later post.

You’d think that now that I work outside our home, I’d be buying clothes left and right.  And I did in the beginning, but I was pairing my newly well fit clothes with my illfitting pre-pregnancy clothes (my post-pregnancy body has changed so much).  Tailoring will not fix the issues with these pants or skirts.  I really should get rid of them, but I don’t want to buy new clothes right now.  As the result of the move, I purged a number of clothes, yet I’m still completely unsatisfied with closet (which per the husband is still too much).  A serious styling session is needed.  Perhaps another closet edit is needed.

With that said, I do have a ton to share on the mommy, home organization, and beauty front.  Stay tuned!

So what’s in store for 2014?  More day travels around the Bay Area.  More time with the growing baby girl.  Eva goes to daycare (at the end of the month.  bittersweet moment.  more on this in a later post.)  More time at home with the hubs.  More cooking (healthy hopefully.  we’ve been eating so bad this last month due to the move and the holidays) in my smaller yet modern kitchen.  More growing professionally.  More travels (most likely domestic) for pleasure and not for business (YAY!).  More blogging.  More me time.

Overall, no real new years resolution.  Sure, I’d love to be more fit, eat healthier, do xyz, but all in all I just want to be spiritually and physically healthy, be more patient, be more positive, and be happy/content.  And I want that for my family.  It’s pretty simple although the simplest things are the most complicated ones.  But this is pretty simple.  As long as I have my family, my health, and my faith, I’m good.  

Here’s to a new year.  Let’s make it a good one.