Body Positivity and Weight Loss: Can you have and want both?

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending BlogHer for the very first time. It’s always fun to connect in person with other members of the blogosphere and learn from their successes (and flops). I was hanging at a protein powder booth at the expo hall, and introduced myself to the brand rep. “Hi, I’m Alyssa,” I said, beginning my usual elevator pitch, “I blog about losing weight without losing my sense of humor, though lately this weight loss blog is more of a weight gain blog because I recently had a baby.” The rep and I chitchatted for a few minutes, and then I turned to leave, when I saw a girl approach me. I knew she was on the younger side as she had that youthful skin that no lotion or potion can give you back. “Hi, I heard you say you’re a weight loss blogger and I have a question for you.” She went on to explain how she struggles finding the balance between being body positive but also wanting to and trying to lose weight. She wanted to know, how did I find balance between the two and what was my perspective on it all? First of all, I asked this girl her age and she’s 17! Seventeen! Wow! Color me impressed for such an awesome, thoughtful query at such a young age.

BODY POSITIVITY

The answer to this question is both simple and complicated at the same time. The question, if we reduce it to one direct statement is “Can you still be body positive if you are trying to lose weight?” To that, my answer is yes, yes, and more yes. I’ve actually had a few bloggers snark on me for not “being body positive” because I want to lose weight, but if you go through my blog, I think you’ll find my body positivity is pretty on-point. The key to this equation for me is that I can love myself just as I am, and I should, because once that weight comes off, there’s a lot of me that will still be the same. But more importantly, it’s about loving my body ENOUGH to know that it deserves the very best. For me, the very best is a lighter body — not just for how it will look in size 12 jeans, but to walk miles without my heel spur aching, to get my blood pressure taken without anxiously spiking it, to not fret about fitting in airplane seats or going ziplining.

 

Now, these two things can exist and both be true, and that said, I’m a big advocate of body positivity and am grateful it’s become a “thing” now that I am a mother. Images like this make me so very happy, to be living in a world where different shapes and sizes are becoming more accepted, just like skin color, sexual orientation, and gender.

However, I have to scrutinize a little bit about the body positivity community if those who are wanting to lose weight are being challenged. If we’re advocating for acceptance of all bodies, wouldn’t it be hypocritical to be against those who are wanting to make a change to their body? I think that you can love yourself just as you are but still want to make improvements; for example, how my husband adores the heck out of me but really wishes I didn’t need 10,000 reminders to empty the dishwasher. I think perhaps the emphasis of body positivity can shift slightly to be just more positivity in general; with your pants size, your religious beliefs, your diet, your hobbies, whatever makes you YOU. However, I suppose a key difference here is if you’re coming at your body and size with negativity, no confidence, and self-hatred while wanting to lose weight, THAT doesn’t really work as body positivity, ya know?

I guess the point of this is, and what I told that girl, is that you can lose 100 pounds, 5 pounds, or 1 pound — and you might look “perfect”, or whatever the meaning of that word of what we’re desiring really is, and if you haven’t done the hard work on the INSIDE of learning to love the person you are, then you’re not much better off than when you started. We all know happiness comes from within, and it sounds cliche, but it’s true. If you hate yourself at 300 pounds there’s a chance you’ll hate yourself at 100, too. So, I say, rock on with your body positive self, but if you’re wanting to lose weight to feel better or heck, even look better, rock on with your self-loving self. Because there’s nothing more positive than believing in the person you are and were meant to be — regardless of what the number says on the scale.

Don’t Sweat It: Why Sweating a Lot at the Gym Really Doesn’t Matter

SWEAT. It’s one of those weird bodily functions that you don’t really think about a lot, and then all of a sudden, you’re sweating, and you’re like “Huh. That’s weird. There’s this wet sheen of wetness on my skin and I’m red and AHHH WHY AM I ALL WET AND SWEATY?” I imagine this discussion in your head is a lot less likely if you’re a dude, because, well, dudes are allowed to sweat and it’s manly and masculine and maybe even sexy. But if a woman sweats, WELL! Who does she think she is, defying traditional beauty conventions and letting fluids seep out of her epidermis after a grueling workout?

I’ve always been a heavy sweater. No, not the wool kind you get at Christmas and pretend to like; a person who sweats a lot. It’s not particularly a trait you boast about, like being able to tie a cherry stem with your tongue or never getting cavities. Being a sweater means that you awkwardly avoided certain materials in high school or that you wore a sweatshirt through gym class because god forbid somebody see you exercising and showing exertion. I battled a lot with sweat in my younger years, and now that I’m beginning to be intensely active about four to five times a week, the self-consciousness has reared its head again. However, I had a convenient doctor’s appointment last week, and I mentioned my concern with my sweating. “Well, what’s the problem with sweating?” the doctor asked. “I don’t know, it’s embarrassing,” I said. “Come back to me when you’re not sweating. THEN it’s a problem,” he said. He proceeded to explain in fancy medical terms how sweating is the body’s way of cooling down and how it helps you remember to rehydrate and balance electrolytes and all these other things, and basically told me to chill out.

So in my efforts to embrace the sweat, I’ve learned a few tricks to help me feel more comfortable with my slick self. Sure, sure, even if sweating isn’t gross, it FEELS gross, because suddenly you’re walking around in wet clothes. Here’s a few of my tried and trues to help me cope with my well-moisturized skin. (Some of these links are affiliate links, which means I could buy a yacht off the proceeds of your clicks or maybe pay off my student loans. Who am I kidding? I’ll never pay off my student loans. Dream big, folks.)

    1. A workout towel. I had been using a clean dish towel as a sweat rag at the gym, and let’s be honest, my snowman themed dish towel wasn’t able to mop up the Niagara falls of my workout quite like I’d hoped. I went to TJ Maxx (my go-to for most things in life except groceries), and found a “Yoga Towel” that has a dry-wik fabric, anti-stink properties, and comes in pretty neon colors. Here’s one similar to it on Amazon.

2. A headband. If you’re a forehead sweater, a headband will keep those salty skin tears out of your eyes, and better yet, manage your flyaways. Again, I found mine at TJ Maxx, but you can grab all kinds on Amazon like these (and in so many cute colors!).


 

3. Most importantly, rock a sense of humor. Get the shirt that says “I don’t sweat, I sparkle“. Laugh about your sweaty self and enjoy the fact that your hydration is so on point that its escaping out of your skin just so you can hydrate some more. Also, be courteous. Nobody wants to go touch a sweaty machine. Wipe that shiz down. You’re not in highschool anymore. (Unless you are, in which case, go on and keep being gross, because you have to embrace hygiene once you graduate.)

IMG_5656

Get cool with your sweaty self, because as the Fitness gods say…

So in other words: Don’t sweat it.

A Measured Effort: Weighing out my Weight Loss

Hello!

I love coming here to update when I have good news, and today I have good news. I lost 3.6 pounds last week! HOLLA!

I was thinking about the differences I made on the way home, and I felt like I wanted to write about it because it seems like two pretty simple changes, in the grand scheme of things…

  • I MEASURED nearly everything I ate, with a food scale and/or measuring cups and spoons.
  • I also WORKED OUT with my awesome trainer three times, in addition to two workouts on my own.

These two things were actually pretty easy to accomplish. In one way, yes, measuring out what you’re going to eat is a pain in the ass. But it was eye opening, because what I thought was one tablespoon of Peanut Butter was really two tablespoons. I’m also a chronic overpourer of cereal and several times poured a hefty one and a half cup serving that I would note as one cup. WRONG! Do it again.

And exercise? Before I signed up for personal training I kept thinking, “There’s no way I can exercise three to five times a week at the gym. I just can’t. I work full-time, I’m a wife, I’m a mom,” etc. But the truth is? Just like I make taking care of my daughter a priority, I can make taking care of myself a priority. So I use three lunch breaks a week to sweat it out, and I feel great afterwards – full of energy and ready to tackle my afternoon.

So this week, it seemed simple. I’m sure tomorrow it won’t be simple because some stuff really never is, and I hate it when people say “Weight loss is simple: just eat less and move more.” Though I guess that’s really what I just said I did. HA! Ok, I’m going to bed. Good night! 🙂

Infographic from FitFluential.com

Infographic from FitFluential.com

 

 

Weight Loss Wednesday: Personal Training and Weight Watchers

Hello there!

How are things in the land of double chins? I’ve been on Weight Watchers for about two months, and in true Alyssa on Weight Watchers fashion, I keep losing and gaining the same five pounds.


My thoughts on Weight Watchers as a program continue to be up and down (like the scale), as I love the group mentality, the food tracking, and the accessibility of the plan; however, I struggle sometimes wondering if the plan *really* works for everyone. I recently found out that the points Weight Watchers put me at were “too high” based on my height, weight, gender, and age, so my leader recommended I go lower on my app, even though there is no way for me to manually change my points. She also told me not to eat my weekly “treat” points. So, fine, I’ll do these things, but it makes me think there’s a flaw if the formula they use to calculate your points is not actually relevant or effective for everyone. However, knowing me, as soon as I lose weight consistently I’ll be like “BEST DIET EVER!”, so take that with what you will.

One thing I’m excited about with Weight Watchers is I now have an accountability buddy! A friend whom I met at birth class back when I was prego just joined Weight Watchers. We’re already texting each other our meals and will be attending meetings once a week together. Having a friend to stay accountable with is so fun, and it’s great to be on the same page with someone of equal sleep deprivation, exhaustion, and post-baby-body woes.

All the tireds.

Speaking of post-baby body woes… This old gray mare aint like she used to be! I finally rejoined my gym about a month ago, and while I was starting to work out on my own, I was running into some challenges. I got bored easily of cardio and felt uninspired and achey.IMG_0228

During my pregnancy my hip popped out of place twice, and I had to see a chiropractor about it. I also redeveloped plantar fascia, and found out today I have a heel spur. I knew that to prevent injury and improve my overall strength, I needed the help of an expert. I decided to try personal training! I went in to the initial appointment expecting I’d commit to once a week. Well, with some of my trainer’s smooth persuasive skills, I realized I needed to make a more concrete investment in my health, and I’m now being tortured trained three times per week. I really like my trainer because she  puts up with my crap (AND CALLS ME ON IT!), and above all, she kicks my ass. I leave our sessions soaked in sweat, tired, but with a happy endorphin glow. I’m really excited to see what this does for my overall fitness, and I hope it’s the key to unlocking that slimmer, more energized me.

We also do Crossfit type stuff, and there’s lots of props like boxes, ropes, balls, and weights, which keeps me interested as I have the attention span of a caffeinated squirrel. I make some pretty great expressions during my sessions, and I feel like Spiderman adequately summed it up:

IMG_0229

So there you have it. As usual, weight loss continues to be elusive sparkly-haired unicorn for me, but I’ll catch that beast, one day. In the meantime, I’ll be tracking my points and getting into beast-mode!

Have you ever worked with a personal trainer? What was it like?

***Have a baby or know someone who does? Enter to win a prize package from Wellements at LaLaLyssa.com!

***Big love to Diet to Go for the shout-out, and also, PT Pioneer’s Top 50 Weight Loss Blogger’s List for including the Double Chin Diary! <3

Putting the GO in Pedego: Electric Power!

Stuff the FTC makes me say: Pedego provided me a complementary bicycle in exchange for my coverage on the Double Chin Diary and social media. All opinions are my own.

The first time I rode my Pedego and twisted the throttle, I had an unconventional and immediate association with Twlight. Wait, what? I know! How do sparkly vampires with yellow eyes relate to awesome beach cruiser e-bikes? I’ll show you how.

So in this cheeseball scene, right at 0:07 after Edward says “yeah, you need to hunt”, you see Bella flying through the forest. Well, rather you see the bird’s eye view of her looking down. She’s flying like normal and then VROOM! She speeds up. That’s exactly what using the Pedego throttle feature is like. Normal speed, normal speed, pedal, pedal, pedal, and then THROTTLE! VROOM! Vampire lightning speed. I shared this thought with Linda and John on my inaugural ride with them after receiving Cora, and I’m pretty sure they were both thinking “What a weirdo!” but hey… it’s how my brain works 😉

If you’re looking for non-vampirical comparisons, Pedego has a good video on their site that explains the features a little more in-depth.

There are two ways to power yourself: The throttle, which I mention above, and Pedal-Assist, which is like giving a little extra oomph to your pedaling. Pedal Assist is controlled by an LCD screen on the handle bars (that you can also plug a USB into, holla!), and there are five levels of pedal-power. I like using Pedal Assist when I’m tired on a ride home and want a little extra power. If you crank up to five, holy cow, it’s like flying! I’m usually too much of a chicken to go to level 5 on suburban streets, because I’m not the most graceful person on Earth, but I love using level one or two to crank up my power.

Pedego_Vampire_Sparklinh

So there you have it. A couple electric rides on your bike, and you’ll soon see that Pedego adds a little sparkle to your pedaling. The yellow eyes and fangs come later 😉

Why Pedego is a good fit for me: bikes for all sizes and shapes

Stuff the FTC makes me say: This post is part of a series of posts about Pedego I’ll be sharing in the coming weeks as part of my agreement of being a Pedego Brand Ambassador. Pedego did provide me a complimentary bike in exchange for my review and discussion.

A few weeks ago I was helping a friend pick out a cruiser bike. We were shopping online, and this friend is plus-sized, like me. “Oh, wait,” she said, as she looked at the bike’s details. “This one has a 200 pound limit.” That bike was a no-go, because despite dieting best intentions and what that number on the scale COULD be, you want a bike that will safely carry your body weight now. One of the things that first attracted me to Pedego Bikes was that their bikes come in all kinds of ranges and sizes, perfect for many different body types. In fact, one of their customers, Rhonda, used to weigh 457 pounds, and her Pedego was a main reason (in addition to healthy eating) that she lost over 250 pounds.

RhondaToday

Picture from Pedego.com

“The first time I rode a Pedego, it was freedom to me. It was back to being a kid again. It was the best feeling I’d felt in a long time. The smile I had on my face when I got back — I swear I had it for days,” said Rhonda.

Because her mobility was so limited, the Pedego was a perfect stepping stone to becoming active again. It empowered her to get some exercise, fresh air, and social interaction — and it was fun. “Riding my Pedego was something that I wanted to continue to do. It wasn’t something I dreaded. It wasn’t a chore. It was just enjoyment for me.”

I definitely understand what Rhonda is saying, because if you gave me a choice between riding a bike around the neighborhood and going to kickboxing, well, the bike wins any day – and I LIKE kickboxing. But it feels less like one more thing you have to do, and more like you’re a kid again – just cruising around the neighborhood. It’s kind of like tricking your body that you’re exercising 😉 Matt and I went up to Pedego 101 a few weeks ago today to test out the bikes, and the best part about the Pedego was that heading up hills was a lot simpler with the throttle option. I’m noticing that pregnancy has me out of breath a lot faster than before I was pregnant, and I guess now I’m breathing for two. It was so awesome to give the throttle a twist and get a little zip, allowing my body to rest when it needed it. Did that make the ride easy? No, but it made it easier — which is perfect. I still got a great workout that day!

The other size-friendly or age-friendly thing I love about Pedego is they offer some very advanced options for bike frames, in terms of mobility. My bike model has what’s called a “Step Through” which means instead of swinging my leg over the seat like I’m about to hop up on a camel, I just step through the frame of the bike and gently sit myself down. There’s no heave-ho or grunting as you try and hoist yourself up on the seat. For people who want an even easier option, they have the Boomerang, which has an even lower frame (9″). This is perfect if you have knee or joint issues, or just want a bike that’s less of an ordeal to hop on. I’m so jazzed that my bike has the step-through, because as this bump grows into a beach ball, it’s going to be a lot more convenient to have a prego-belly friendly bike.

Boomerang from Pedego.com, with easy step-through access.

Boomerang from Pedego.com, with easy step-through access.

While I’ll be in New York for a few more days and am away from my Pedego Cora, I’m still thinking of my lovely bike… including wishing I had it as we wrapped up a very looooong day of walking in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. I had to snap a pic of myself with this cool bike mural in Brooklyn because it reminded me of Pedego.

DixonsBikeShop

Not quite an easy step-through on that model… but awesome, nonetheless. I hope you have a wonderful day!