Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bikini Babe Strikes Again! Progress Photos - AKA Some Victories Don't Come with Medals

Left: November 2013. Center: June 2014. Right: Today, October 2014
With the Olympic Weight Lifting competition breaking down my neck, and the month I've spent training folks at the YMCAs now, I couldn't be more grateful that I got into this field. While each of my clients are incredibly unique, we all have a few things in common. One of those things is body image issues. Yes, we can find reasons for over eating. They range from "I just like sweets," to "I take comfort from food," etc.  Sunshine and I have had some insightful conversations about how early trauma influences adult behavior - especially as it relates to fitness.

Wounds that start with, "The people who were supposed to love me more than anything in this world, didn't - so I don't know how to love myself," to "I was bullied/beaten everyday for as long as I can remember, and all I know how to do is to continue that legacy, kicking myself because I am convinced that I am not worthy of love, pride, dignity, or a sense of achievement." often end in obesity which feeds into the deep shame and self loathing. It's somewhere along the path to "No matter how hard I work, it will never be enough to fill that void or heal that wound." (Trust me, from the day I was born, someone gave up on me. True, there were good reasons for that, and it worked out for the best in the end, but that kind of thing leaves a scars you just don't shake off; believe me.)

And no matter how idealic our childhoods are, we all have some wounds. And if we weren't wounded in our childhood, we were no doubt damaged in our adult lives.

No one gets through life unscarred.

For me, that's literal. I have a genetic deformity that causes my scars to grow beyond the size of the wound. That means I have no hope of forgetting even small wounds. Years later, they are bigger than then they started. I avoid surgery like the plague because of the inner scar tissue that builds up. The scar tissue presses on (and eventually deadens) nerve endings. It bothered me for years. Even now, I make a face when I cut myself. I know that, no matter how clean it heals, it'll still be there, years from now.

It wasn't until someone mentioned that my skin is like a map of where my life has taken me that I saw those marks in a whole new light.  Some of the marks are of fun memories - soccer games, weights lifted, etc. Others are battle scars marking where I've been and reminding me not to go back (stretch marks that spread from nearly my knees to 1/2 way up my ribs). The funny way my belly button is sown up will forever remind me how I nearly became part of the 5 years mortality rate for Ovarian Cancer. The invisible scars we all carry, and overcome, aren't so different, are they?

Far Left: November 2013, Left: June 2014. Right two photos: Today, October 2014
Sure, scars don't always fade away. Some grow. But in the end, isn't it how we all decide to view them and deal with them that is the victory?

But the greatest victories don't come with a medal attached, or a magical number on the scale. Sure, those victories deserve celebration - but sometimes the greatest victory is the daily process of making decisions to be the victory over those scars (visible and invisible).

So how do I combat this bubble of anticipation as the Oly competition stares me down? I stare right back. I may not be the biggest, strongest, fastest, or most skilled athlete there. But I am always a girl with something to prove - but not to the judges. To myself. Isn't that what setting goals is all about? I've put the work in. I'll continue to put the work in regardless of the outcome of the competition.  I feel the same way about progress photos. I'll just keep doing what I'm doing and see how it comes out on the scale and in the wash. Those things don't define me - though it's encouraging to see how far I've come. The belly is flattening out. The lifts are going up...but I digress. No matter the outcome of the competition, I'll get better, stronger, and faster. I have goals. And, sure, there will be set backs and new scars earned along the way. Those are to be expected.

What these progress photos show me isn't just victory over the scale or the body fat, but over the mindset that I'm "stuck" and not worth fighting for. And that's a victory that doesn't come with a medal that can rust, get lost, or be stolen. It doesn't come with applause and it can never be taken away.


  1. You have certainly painted these truths in the most humbling manner possible! I am always blessed by your insights, dear friend. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Dude you look fantastic! Oh man I have been out of the blog circle for too long!

    1. ;) There is no point in lifting weights lighter than your purse. ;)