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To Dream the Impossible Dream

Do you have big dreams?

Maybe you’ve been wanting to get another degree. Or write a novel.  Or you’ve considered running a marathon. Or you want to lose 50 pounds.

We all have those dreams but only a few of us actually turn them from dreams to reality. Why is that? I’d venture to guess it’s because when looked at head on those goals seem incredibly daunting, if not impossible. “Me, write a novel?! That’s like 400 pages! I could never do that. Where would I find the time?”

The thing is, that time is going to pass anyway. Why not be working on something in the process?

Any goal takes time and effort but when broken into small pieces like a puzzle, rather than the finished product it’s not so bad. A novel, written 1 page per day, would take about a year to complete. 50 pounds, losing only half to one pound per week would take a year or two to lose. How many years have already gone by since you first started dreaming your dream?

I’d venture to guess that you’ve been thinking about this goal for awhile now. Stop looking at the box the puzzle came in and start putting together the pieces.

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“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” – Marilyn Monroe

I’m sure you’ve had at least one of those days when you’re feeling absolutely awesome about yourself. The kind of day where you strut down the street like John Travolta at the beginning of Saturday Night Fever. Suddenly, someone walks by who embodies your idea of perfection and your self-esteem instantly evaporates out of your body. You are crushed and must stop strutting to go crawl into a hole and nurse your poor battered ego.

The truth is, there will always be someone “better” than you. How you or I choose to handle that reality is what matters. Do I look at some of the cute perky little women at the gym and fell bad about myself despite the fact that in most other people’s eyes I AM the cute perky little woman at the gym? Absolutely. Could I weigh less? Yes. After reaching a certain baseline for health purposes, am I willing to give up the balance I have in my life between leisure activities, eating out, and simply living to do that? No.

Instead I strive to embrace my imperfections, realizing that if I was perfect I’d have nothing to strive for. Then I think about John Travola again but this time as the exuberant Edna Turnblad in Hairspray. He/She is absolutely ridiculous. Which is absolutely perfect.

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Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it. ~Salvador Dali

I was talking to one of my favorite class participants today about body image and self esteem. Her take as she nears 50 is that at some point you have to just say, ‘This is who I am. I may not be perfect but I can still be perfectly happy.’ Unfortunately, she pointed out that we live in a world where we are constantly bombarded by images and reminders of what it means to be attractive and we’re forced to feel less than in a multitude of ways. We’re too old, too big, too thick, too thin, too small up top, too large on the bottom, too pale, too dark, etc, ad nauseum. In this sort of cultural milieu, when is good enough good enough?

What’s infinitely sad is that this woman’s mother is in her 80s and I see her in the locker room weighing herself. It’s usually followed by a sigh and some negative comment about the results. Although I want to say “Shoot me if I get to 80 plus years old and still care about the number on the scale!” I can’t help but wonder why I don’t have the same reaction right now as someone who has made it to her mid-30s and has a great life. What age will I have to be before I can say good enough? Is there a magic threshold I have to look forward to?

I don’t know about you but I’m going to make an effort to be a little more perfectly happy now than potentially perfect later. In the immortal words of Stuart Smalley – I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!

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Tivo and Netflix your way to health?

I’ve recently discovered a number of TV shows that focus on people’s journeys to get healthy and lose weight. I’ve been watching them because not only are they entertaining but they really focus on the mental side of weight gain and loss. As a trainer, this is not something I can learn from a book. Becoming a certified personal trainer was not all that hard for me. I already had a degree in Biology and had created my own success story. However, what happened once I was on the job was discovering that working out isn’t just the physical “I lift stuff up and put it down” but is 85-95% mental.

The shows I’ve been following are:

Ruby: Style Network. I found her on Netflix Watch Instantly. The show is about her and her struggles.

The Biggest Loser: NBC – I watch it On Demand but it looks like you can watch it on the website.

 

Heavy: A&E – Each episode follows 2 people’s journey. You can watch on their website or On Demand

I Used to Be Fat: MTV – This one is about teens trying to lose weight before they head off to college. Again, on their website or On Demand

Too Fat for 15: Style Network. This follows kids at Wellspring Academy which is a school and weight loss program in one. These were On Demand but I don’t see them there now. It appears they may be on Hulu.

What I like about these shows is that none of them, not even The Biggest Loser, maintain that it’s easy to lose weight. In fact, many of them show just how hard and uncomfortable it is. If it were easy, we’d all look like Jillian and Bob (but then we’d find something else about ourselves to complain about.) I use these shows to remind myself that outside the hour a client spends with me there are a whole lot of hours they spend with themselves. And we both have to be prepared for all that that entails.

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And they lived happily ever after?

Pierre Auguste Renoir, The Bathers

Once upon a time, it was okay, and in fact desirable to have a healthy amount of body fat. Somewhere along the way that became a fairy tale and the ideal body became skin and bones.

One thing about working at a gym is that I see women of all shapes and sizes changing their clothes in the locker room. I probably see more women in their skivvies than most doctors do. What I see is an incredible array of body types but not a single one that would fall into the cover model category. You know why? Because that body type doesn’t exist. As my Mom likes to say, “Giselle is an alien. I could fit inside her torso!”

Look at the painting above. I’d venture to guess that Renoir didn’t even think about removing those torso wrinkles or the little ab pooch he saw on his models. No, he painted those “flaws” as beautifully as any other part.  And yet I can’t help thinking that if I were enjoying a day of nude sunbathing at a beautiful park with my friends, I’d fall into a mini-depression if I saw those “rolls” on my person. Nothing like a little “friggin’ back fat” to ruin a good time.

I’d like to work on having a happier ending than that.

[If you’d like to read a little more about how our idea of female beauty has changed over the years and the effects it has had on our self image, check out this site where I found these images. It appears to be someone’s college project but it gives some history and facts about our changing views.]