Thursday, February 21, 2013

How to Measure Your Fitness Results

Scale...Smale. Ugh! Most of us cringe at the thought of stepping on the scale when changing their diet and exercise regimen. We so badly want quick results. If "love is patient and kind" waiting for your body changing results can be "impatient and cruel".

We all know that no matter how much we want it to be true, there is no fast acting magic weight loss or muscle building pill. I will let you in on a little secret...the scale is not an accurate measurement of your results and it certainly does not care if you get mad at it or disagree with it.

Since I am getting ready to do a little training with the program Les Mills Combat, I am going to share what I do whenever I start a new workout program. I take measurements of key areas of my body with a tape measure and I take the dreaded before and after photos. When I first started exercising almost daily, I would look at the scale WAY too much and get very frustrated. The first thing you have to understand is that if you are working out, you are most likely gaining some weight from muscle building. You may be losing fat, but the scale plays tricks on you (the hateful apparatus that it is) and lies to you about your body changes.

If you are changing your diet only, you may appear to lose some fat in the beginning, but it may only be water you are losing. So you get frustrated when your weight stops dropping off as quick as it did before leading to frustration and sometimes people tend to quit themselves.

The camera doesn't usually miss a thing, good or bad. It is a good way to really see results in 30 day increments. Another way to see change is the measurements taken also every 30 days. I know, 30 days seems like a long time. I am not saying don't get on the scale at all. It has it's purpose. Just don't get on it every day. Once a week is fine. Just try and be PATIENT and hold off until that 30 day mark before you give up on yourself.

This weekend, I will be taking those B&A pics I hate and my measurements to guide me through my program. It will also keep me accountable since I have vowed to share my results with you.

I have posted a video to show you how to take proper body measurements. My first round of P90X I did this and was very pleasantly surprised every time it was measuring/picture day. By the time you get to the end of your goal day whether it is 60 or 90 days, your 30 day pics will be worth a million bucs. I actually cut my head out of my very first B&A pics and now wish I didn't because I am very proud of the hard work I did. I still look back on those pics and go "Whoa!" was I really that person?

If you have any questions, ask away! Monday is Fresh Start Day for me and Day 1 of Les Mills Combat. I look forward to giving you my blog updates on this program, I think this will be a fun one : )

AKA- Fit Artist Mom

Sunday, February 17, 2013

What If We Were Real?

"Well, I'm tired of saying everything I feel like I'm supposed to say
 I'm tired of smiling all the time I wanna throw the mask away
Sometimes you just have a bad day Sometimes you just wanna scream
Tell me I'm not the only one Tell me that you feel just like me

We keep tryin to make it look so nice
And we keep hidin' what's goin on inside
But what if I share my brokenness
What if you share how you feel
And what if we weren't afraid of this crazy mess
What if we were real

I'm over hidin my tears I think I'm gonna let em' go
I'm over actin so strong When I ain't even in control
We make it so complicated But why does it have to be
Why can't we open our hearts and let everybody see

What if we were real

We'd think a little less of ourselves
We'd care about someone else
'Cause we'd know just how they feel
Maybe we could let someone love us
Maybe we'd a little more like Jesus
Why can't we learn to real "

 Song lyrics by Mandisa "What If We Were Real"
Warning: This post is a little scary for me to have submitted, so try not and judge. I am not perfect and do not have it all together....I know, This post is from the heart and my goal is to let people know they are not alone. Heck, I hope I am not alone in feeling some of these feelings. I would love to hear from some of you.

This song resonates deeply within me. Sometimes I wonder am I alone in feeling this way...No, I can't be alone. Life is full of hurdles and obstacles that I am sure everyone has those days when we have to grin and bear it for the sake of our secrets and truths coming to the surface. This blog post might make some people grimace or even mad at me, but I want to be REAL and just tell it like it is because I think this is a big issue with women especially. We compete to be the All American mom, wife, friend, etc. Facebook is a good example of this. Studies are showing it can effect your health by placing more stress in your life.

I wish we were all brave enough to say "Hey, I am a good person and would love to help you but honestly, I am going through a tough time right now and really would like a shoulder to cry on today." Unfortunately, that would be an admission of failure to most people we know. The respect people have for you and their perception of who you are, gets taken down a notch. Sad but true, it is human nature to judge people by visual appearances and top of the surface emotions. So we tend to smile and wave because nobody wants to hear and see a cry baby.

I was in a Bible study group at the church I attend and I loved it, In the beginning, I felt like I was finally a part of something special between women. I was having issues with my teenage son and asked my friends to pray for him and gave them updates every week. The study grounded me with God and I learned many things about what a Christian is supposed to be and humbled myself many times over.

Our studies over the weeks brought up the point of when we see someone in need such as a person on the corner holding a sign, instead of just handing them a wad of cash or bringing them McDonald's food, we need to stop and ask "Hey, what do you need? How can I help you get out of the situation you are in, tell me about yourself." We never even ask these people's names yet we pat ourselves on the back for "doing our part" to help them and drive away with a big smile on our face and sometimes go to the next person we see and boast about it.

We started studying the book of James through the eyes of Beth Moore (love her!). My struggles at home continued and I sat with my new friends as they told stories about their awesome teenagers, and they REALLY ARE awesome teenagers with a love for God in their hearts. It became very painful to go to Bible study each week. I felt like a very bad person because I wanted so much for one of their teens to reach out to my son and help him and I started to resent these wonderful ladies for not sending one of their children to throw a life preserver out to my own son. I am still ashamed that I felt this way, but keeping it real, that was my pain. It also stretched into my church attendance and made me question if I was in the right church home.

I kept making up excuses as to why I couldn't make it to the weekly study and eventually, they pretty much dropped me form emails and info. I deserved it, I guess.

Fast forward to now, my son still struggles and I have issues of low self esteem and insecurities that I am dealing with, but am trying to fight feelings of guilt while focusing on fixing my whole self. Part of the problem I have, and I think it must be a gene thing is that my mind turns out ideas and thoughts continuously. That is most likely the artist side of the brain which sometimes clouds the sensible side of the Not a completely bad thing, but I needed to step back this past week and look at why I had been feeling so down and I think it comes down to needing to read the Bible every day. The truth is, I am not surrounded by close friends. I spent years locked up in my own little world because I was afraid I was going to be outed for things I did as a teenager. My last group of close social friends was at the art studio I worked at in Florida and I miss them dearly. That was 18 years ago or so.

Because of my involvement with the PTO, I have come out of my shell and the school is activities has been my saving grace for the past two years. I could go there and do my thing and nobody asked about what was going on with my personal life. I am just the mom that comes in and creates events and activities and goes back home. I have even scaled that back since before Christmas, because I realized that I was probably wanting more from that gig. I wanted friendships. I desperately wanted friendships and thought maybe I could get that with the wonderful group of ladies that are the core of the PTO. I even thought my daughter who is shy, could gain friendships from their kids. It was wrong to expect that. I have even said to myself and posted it on Facebook to "not expect things from people because you will never be disappointed".

What I have learned in the last three months, God is who I need to have a close personal relationship with everyday. I need to read his words, talk to him like a friend. That doesn't mean I will figure it all out overnight. I am patient and my heart is open. Although I don't utter the words "Why" to God, I have said to him "Really"? Same thing, I need to accept and move on. We can not change the past, just try and heal the present.

On the fitness front line, I am getting ready to explore Les Mills Combat. I am hoping to empower myself and toughen up my outer skin. The Bible will toughen up my inner skin. I will keep you posted.

PUSH: Pray Until Something Happens....and then keep praying : ))


Saturday, February 16, 2013

A long Time Ago in A Galaxy Far, Far Away...

It has been a long time ago since I last blogged. So long that it took me a few minutes to find my password info etc to even get on my page to write...hehe  Alas, here I am again to bring you the not so exciting adventures of my journey to find balance and wellness in my life. Quick update: I am now PTO President at a local elementary school school (whoa...didn't see that coming) and very honored and proud to be a part of such a wonderful group of ladies that make the job easier. It takes up many hours of my life. but I really love the fact that I can be in a position to promote a healthy lifestyle to the students and families which was my main motivation for saying "Yes" when I was asked to fill the position in spite of my lack of confidence in the beginning. My dear friend and PTO President predecessor tells me "there are no accidents". I believe that is true 100%. So here I am and it has opened doors or at the very least brought me out of my turtle shell and given me a voice. Now I spend time at various healthy lifestyle meetings and on boards organizing health events etc. which is very cool : ) It has been a blessing. On the artist front: I am ready to shift to my art but unfortunately, the PTO gig does get in the way of that at the moment. I have written a children's book which has been on my bucket list forever. Currently, I am trying to get all of my illustrations done for the book. This girl is trying very hard to balance her life passions and I am not a very good juggler at times. I need to focus on one thing at a time. If you want to see someone stumble at times and get back up and laugh at herself, this is the blog for that. I will also continue my Living Outside of My Skin series along the way as well as giving you my weekly whimsy adventures keeping it real and honest. See you on the battlefront! Jenn

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Living Outside of My Skin (Chapter 4)

My brother and his nieces
cutting up in Florida

Life Support


Well that is exactly how I felt.

I will tell you right off the bat, of course I wanted to be a mommy!!!! That was the part of my crazy life that made any sense. My children were and are my life support.

It was the other part of my life that needed surgery. At this point I am living back at my parent's apartment with the girls. My husband and I were pretty much living two separate lives.

Then out of the blue my parent's announce that they are moving back to West Virginia. The company my dad worked for went under so he took a job as a traveling management consultant. My parents moved back because financially it was necessary. And that was my "temporary" out of my current situation. I broke the news to my boss at the studio that I was going back home. She was sad, but knew I needed to do what I had to do. However I think we both knew it was not permanent.

My parents, sister, and my girls and I all moved in with my grandparents back in good ole WV. However, my dad at this point was traveling alot so he was not around that much. It was very tight quarters, but it was working. As far as my hubby, he stayed in Florida and took on a room mate. We kinda had an unspoken separation at this time.

I was there for about three months and after a few calls from my boss back in Florida (or my second mommy), I decided to head back to Florida to try a little independence. My boss was fabulous. She and the girls at the studio decorated my girls and I a sweet little apartment while we were on the way back so we would feel like we were "home". I have to say that for the first time in my life I felt like the chains were off and I was going to start living my life. The life I was intended to live.

It was great for a while. The kids got to spend some time with their dad and I got a bit of freedom. My beloved crush of a studio helper knew I was back and we began talking on the phone and he would visit from time to time. Strictly platonic. Well, except in my head I still was crushin' a little :)

It was good to have friends to spend time with and my family were all on board back home with my new found independence. My friends from work started hanging out at my apartment and they loved the girls so it was quite nice. It felt normal for once. husband got under my skin. The thing about getting your "freedom" wanting to have all these new experiences and you are SURE you are going to have a great time doing this is that you get lonely. You don't have a soul mate to share it with.

Don't get me wrong...I really, really enjoyed having the kids all to myself. We had so many great moments. The problem was that holidays like Christmas and even birthdays which were all mashed together, make you start asking if you did the right thing. I desperately wanted a cookie cutter family...a mom, a dad, and the 2.5 kids. Emotions can sometimes take you off the path, huh?

About four months into it, I let my husband move in with me. Of course this came with some repercussions. My brother whom I had been close to pretty much disowned me temporarily (for about a month) and it left my boss scratching her head in disappointment and disbelief. But I know it was out of love for my kids and myself.

My boss decided to make me an appointment with her good friend who was a psychologist just to find out what the heck was wrong with me. In her head she thought...has this girl been abused...what is going on? Surely a psychologist can help this girl!

The psychologist after talking to me said..."Jennifer..D (my boss) cannot make decisions for you, you are the only one that can do it on your own schedule".

And BINGO that was it. I was letting my husband back in out of obligation and care because he was the father of my children. We were definitely not soul mates. I also had that religious aspect banging around in my head...was divorce what God wanted me to do??? I was so confused and scared!

It dawned on me that God would not want my girls, myself, or even my husband to be this miserable. So my solution was to move back once again to West Virginia so someone else could take care of my husband...his family. It may sound a little selfish, but that was my plan.

“Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace. The soul that knows it not, knows no release from little things; knows not the livid loneliness of fear.”

Amelia Earhart

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Living Outside My Skin Part 3

Chapter 3

Working at the art studio proved to be the best hands on education I could have ever hoped to receive from any college or university.
Because of my choice to fore go school, this taught me a trade that I had a real passion. I became a Textile and Decorative Artist.
While working there I met some fantastic people and a few very colorful characters too.

As I mentioned before, the studio owner became a second mom to me. She had been through a divorce and was the mother of a teenage daughter from her previous marriage and two young boys from her current marriage. D was the most insightful person I had met and she had a true concern about my current situation. I looked up to her, she was living a sweet life in a beautiful home and the most gorgeous family. And she was an artist! I thought we all had to starve...hehe. I learned so much from her both personally and professionally. D tried and tried to help me see that I was worth so much more as a person.

But in the end, it was a choice I needed to make myself on my own schedule. Kind of like a person's choice to live a better and healthier lifestyle. More about that later.

After I had my second daughter and went back to work we had a new male"studio helper". I was (transfixed? need a word) with him. He was so free spirited, relaxed, and your basic hippie type with beautiful long hair. At the time I thought it was a physical attraction, but I know now that it was more of an attraction due to the fact that he was the total opposite of me and I craved that. I had all these responsibilities like being a mom, wife, and bringing home the bacon. He was just a couple years older than me and just "hung" out with his friends at the beach just chillin' playing the guitar. What I wouldn't do just to be able to hang out at the beach sometime.

There was a lot of general flirting going on and being so young I did not realize that most guys just flirt with But we did share a connection or kindred spirit kind of love. When he did have a girlfriend he would share with me and I would tell him my thoughts. He really disliked my husband because he knew I was so unhappy, but not in a jealous way just in a friend manner.

He invited me to go see Bob Dylan in concert with him and I was elated. Just a friend date, but somewhere in the back of my mind I was hoping for more I had a lot of fun in me that I kept bottled up and he was the one person that could see that in me. As the night went on I became looser and looser until I was dancing in the aisle to Bob Dylan's "singing" ; ) I had a blast and he even said that he knew I had it in me.

We went and "hung" out at a little tiki bar and had the deepest of conversations. Well, it was the deepest I had ever had thus far in my life.
Somewhere in the conversation when I was spilling my heart about just how alone and insecure I felt, he said something like...."maybe you aren't meant to be living the life you are living. Maybe you are not supposed to be a mom?"

It struck me to the core. It was like a big release of sorts. Something I had thought from time to time, but never wanted to question out loud myself.
Since I got pregnant in high school, I was just going through the motions of what I thought I was supposed to do. Never once asking myself if it was what I wanted to do. And that was because still I had no idea who I was yet!

So there I was faced with the truth of having to now ask myself that question. What was I doing? Who am I? Do I want to be a mom?

My beloved hippie friend left the studio to carry on a little search himself. I missed him and felt so alone. But I thank him still to this day for asking me what I was too afraid to ask myself.

It was an epic moment and I was about to make a big decision.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Living Outside of My Skin (Part 2)

Chapter 2
Good Morning Starshine!

Sometimes plans change when new things are presented to you. We were in sunny Florida living with my parents. I was working at a local mall working two jobs trying to save to get our own apartment and awaiting art school to start in the fall.

In this period I had met new friends through work and they were all young and unmarried. I am only 18 years old myself at this point and since my brain was still developing I had a yearning to go be with girlfriends and experience youth. I love dancing so I started going out to the dance clubs in the area with my new friends.
My parents were fine and supportive of me doing this at first. I think they felt I missed some of what being a teenager was like. My husband was off trying to "find himself" at the time and was not too concerned that I was off with the girls. He had no interest in spending much time together as well. It turns out was one of the first signs that something was wrong after the fact.

Unfortunately, it just made my confidence take a turn for the worse. The more I went out, the more I felt like I could never be "normal". As I looked around and saw everyone having such a great time I thought there was me...married, a young mom, and stuck with this body that made a sedentary elderly lady look fit. I can never be "normal" or a whole female. And that stuck with me. I think the main thing was that because my body had to grow up so fast that my mind and my inner self just never caught up.

The more my husband and I kept doing separate activities, the worse I got. I just couldn't seem to get a grip on what I was feeling. I do know now that I felt neglected, confused, jealous of my friends, and just plain inadequate and ugly. Feelings a healthy minded person could fix. But who was I really?

In the middle of all this, I took on a third job and decided that it was more important to get out of my parents apartment then go to school. Yeah I know it was very immature, but I did say that my brain had not finished developing. We did move into our own apartment and I thought that it would bring my husband and I closer together.

I started selling hand painted t shirts at the Hollywood Race Track on weekends when they had a flea market. I had picked up a love for textile painting at the art camp my art teacher had sent me to during high school. Hand painted t shirts were right up my alley. I sold a few and it gave me a new confidence and it felt good.

A few weeks doing this, I met a designer at the flea market from New York. She mentioned that she had a great friend here in the South Florida area that had an art studio that specialized in textile painting. I was like "WOW" I am about to "make it big". Haha.
I met her friend and was hired on the spot on a temporary basis. It was AWESOME!
I walked in and there were huge rolls of fabrics out being hand painted on the floor. Silks, Egyptian cottons, anything you could imagine. It was spectacular.
These fabrics were made into drapes and upholstery in homes and even yachts all over the United States and beyond.

I loved working there and was hired on permanently after a few short weeks. My passion had been discovered. It gave me a new found self esteem and I loved every minute of it. My boss was this amazing woman who to me had done it all. She was such a caring and loving person. A second mom to me. I still have the biggest place in my heart for her.

The longer we were in Florida, it became quite apparent that my marriage was not going to last. And that turned out to be good thing in the long run. But there were many years in between of mental anguish and scarring that would affect me forever and melt over into my future relationships. My confidence as an artist was growing, but my confidence as a woman was diminishing by the moment.

We did have a second child while trying to hold things together and I am so thankful for my second daughter. I was able to bond in a way I did not get to with my first child in the beginning because I was so young and was still in high school. My kids kept me going. No matter what I was going through in the bad times, they were my mainstay and I was always going to protect them.

"You know what happens to scar tissue. It's the strongest part of your skin.”
Michael R. Mantell

To be continued...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Living Outside of My Skin

Chapter One:
Skinny Jenny

I just want to start by saying that I had a really strong supportive family when I was growing up. My mom was a stay at home mom until I was a teenager. My dad was the main disciplinary parent but he was also my biggest fan when it came to my artwork. I also had incredible grandparents who my two siblings and I spent quite a bit of time with and they were the top of the scale as far as role models go.

The thing is although we may have strong and positive role models when growing up, I feel we are born with somewhat of a base personality and environment can only enrich and nourish that to a point and vice verse. For as long as I can remember and that is pretty very far back, I had very low self esteem. My family tried to bring it up and they did a great job by telling me what a talented artist I was and it really was a big confidence builder throughout my teen years especially.

I was "Skinny Jenny" in a negative context at school. I would see these other girls get the boy and it made me feel very ugly. Typical teenager worries and paranoia. But even as a young child I remember being swayed to give my favorite toys and trinkets away just so someone could be my "friend". And again, I think this is common.

Fast forward to junior high again, I had my little group of pals. I always had a sense of humour and trended to surround myself with like minded but awkward friends. In my ninth grade year I met a boy and he thought I was really funny. At least that is what I thought attracted him. But looking back, ultimately I think it was my lack of self confidence and how easily I was swayed and manipulated into doing things that he wanted. I am in no way bashing him. He afterall, was a teenager too with his own set of issues and did not know any better. I started dating him and he was my first real boyfriend.

The funny thing is, I was not really attracted to him. I just wanted to be like everyone else. It was not the healthiest of relationships. I was made to feel and even straight out told that I was ugly or even go as far as letting him pick out my clothes and talking me into wearing thick make up to hide my face. So far this is sounding like a John Hughes Stay with me I will get to my point of the story in time : )

Finally made it to high school and halfway through my first year...Bam...pregnant! If it weren't for the support and love I received from my family, I would not have survived let alone graduated from high school. On a side note, my parents were going through a really rough time simultaneously with the death of my dad's mom which resulted in my relatives fighting over the estate and my parents losing their home. But that is another story for another time. My point is, I had fabulous parents and grandparents that gave everything they could to help me and I only wish that I had showed/told them that I really was thankful for them when they were on this earth (later in my is what actually catapulted me into my journey).

Enter the next strong supporter in my life, my art teacher whom I will just call "Mrs. H". She had been out of school having a baby of her own (ironically) so I had not met her at the beginning of the school year. From the start she was awesome. As you can imagine I was really at a low esteem level at this point. Mrs. H did not see the big bump on my tummy or judge me as a "bad or reckless" teen, she just saw the potential in me. I really needed that!
She inspired me to keep my dream alive of becoming an artist. After I had the baby, she sent me to art camp,I became art club president my senior year, made my talent stronger, and just kept me positive. I believe that she was instrumental in creating my positive outlook I carry today and try to share with anyone that will listen.

What no one could see was that my "skinny Jenny" body had been ravaged by this time with horrible stretch marks. Oh yes, my mom got me a tub of the best stretch mark creme to prevent this but genetics are what they are. Apparently, I had absolutely no elastin or collagen in my skin. At 16 it was devastating. One thing I have not mentioned, I had taken dance classes since I was 4 years old and continued to do so until I was 8 and a half months pregnant. I love "the dance" : D
But to my dismay, nothing protected my skin from stretch mark monster. They were as bad as they come. They were EVERYWHERE!

We were married after the baby was born. And even back then as a teenager, I remember thinking "What am I doing". But I thought it was "the right thing to do". My grandmother was a church secretary for 44 years and the church set of morals definitely played a hand in that decision. Also the fact that I felt uglier than ever. Between the rips and tears in my skin and the huge pouch of loose skin I had hanging, I just knew no one else would ever want me. This was my thought at 16 years young. Very sad.

I still believe to this day that everything happens for a reason. My husband and I graduated from high school. I even received the school's "Art Award" and was very proud. I had a scholarship waiting for me to go to art school in Florida and I was ready to take on the world. My daughter was the most precious little thing in the world and again...thank GOD for my family!

My dad had moved to South Florida a few months before I graduated from high school. My mom and siblings, hubby, daughter, and I soon joined him. I loved Florida. I started working as a retail asst manager in a mall. Actually at one point was asst manager in three different stores at the same time...Ahh, to be 18 years young, vivacious, and a little clueless all at the same time ; ))
We were living with my parents and wanted to be able to get a place of our own and be more independent.

Little did I know that my dream of being an artist was just about to begin.

To be continued...