Fitness Freak: From Baby Whale to Beautiful Biceps

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Looking at my reflection in the floor-length mirror at Victoria’s Secret, I was wowed by my own body. I was trying on a pink and black sports bra, which made my boobs look amazing and gave me a surfer girl look. For a minute, I felt like one of the Victoria’s Secret Angels, only curvier and a little shorter. That wasn’t always the case.

Shopping used to bring up body issues. I often thought that those three-way mirrors (a staple at H&M) were put in fitting rooms not to give a better look at a garment, but rather to destroy my self-esteem.

I have never been fat, but since I developed hips and breasts, I’ve never been skinny either. I am a rather tall (for a girl), slim, athletic and curvy woman in my mid-twenties, but the athletic part wasn’t so visible before. And that is precisely what makes me feel so confident now.

In my late teens and early twenties, I cared about being active and made a point of moving every day, but I mostly just biked, walked… and partied. Dancing while going out would be counted as exercise. I definitely had a beer belly, so much that one of my ex-boyfriends used to tease me and call me baby whale, which was simultaneously insulting and endearing.

Being active was something that I had to teach myself because I don’t come from a sporty family.
Even if my parents enrolled me in swimming lessons and dance classes for years, having to discipline to be (and to stay) active was something that I had to learn over time.

Knowing that something is bad for you is one thing, but stopping doing it (or starting a healthier habit) is where the real change happens. As much as I hate to admit it, I briefly smoked socially, mainly when I lived in London, England because it was the norm (and the only way to get a break at work).

Stopping smoking socially was an easy decision to make because I would barely smoke anyway, it made me feel sick, but also because I knew that I didn’t need that shit in my life. It was causing me more harm than good, which is something that I was fully aware of before I started. Over the years, I stopped many bad habits and got into healthy new ones.

It helps that in recent years, there has been an increased enthusiasm about healthy living. Some of the things that I started eating (like kale) were the result of friends’ influence but also of the trends going around. The same can be said for the fitness crazes or other healthy habits.

I started eating organic food, doing yoga, going to the gym regularly and eating a wide array of foods that include hemp seeds, kombucha and sprouts.

I stopped smoking tobacco, taking hard drugs (which barely happened anyway) and getting drunk every weekend.

I refrained from eating meat, dairy and gluten.

I took a piece of advice mentioned in many magazines: I bought quality athletic outfits, which made me perform better. It is way more motivating to train with a cute gym outfit. Nowadays, on any given day, there is at least one sports outfit drying on top of my staircase.

At the same time, I know that I should not freak out too much. I work very hard, both with my head and with my body, and I need to find balance.

The hard work pays off and I do realize when my health craze gets too obsessive. I still enjoy a pizza slice sometimes and the odd day happens when I really can’t make it to the gym or to yoga.

Still, I’m pretty good at taking care of what I do with my body and what I put into it. This ethic of care has helped me to stay balanced, happy, confident and healthy.

My close friends and family tend to tell me quite often to calm down. I’m constantly in movement because my ambition knows no bounds, and so I end up constantly doing something.

That’s where exercise comes in. Yes, it might tire me out but it also calms me down. It helps me to put things back into perspective and to unwind. It’s an occasion to calm my never-ending train of thought and to let go of the 24-7 business that is my life.

Besides the mental benefits, exercise helps me to feel better physically. It’s kind of silly: when I didn’t exercise as much, I realized that I wasn’t as fit as I could be, but at the same time, it was comfortable and I didn’t know where to start.

But as my fitness fascination got more serious, I realized that once you start, you can’t stop.

I don’t want to go back to having a beer belly anymore, and I take the steps necessary in order not to. Nobody can call me baby whale anymore.

That’s where the balance and the discipline come in. Without fail, I need to set up high standards onto myself in order to stay disciplined. At the same time, I know that I need to give myself some slack when I’m overworked.

Focusing on health and fitness makes me feel good happens every day, like last Saturday while admiring my reflection in the mirror.

In that moment, I was grateful to be healthy, fit and beautiful because I knew that I didn’t always feel that way.

Being fit makes me more vain but also enables me to be more confident in other areas of my life.

My clothes suit me better when I’m fitter. I feel hotter when I’m having sex. I feel ready for any physical challenge that comes my way, whether it is helping a friend move out or carrying groceries.

Ultimately, I’m learning not to envy other women’s bodies, but to be perfectly happy with my own. And while I’m at it, I smile at my reflection in the mirror.

Lili Monette is a journalist, artist and writer, and the Associate Editor of Blonde. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre & Development from Concordia University and is currently finishing the Master of Arts in Journalism program at the University of Western Ontario.

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How My Vanity Helps Fight My Depression

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I like to look good, but I admit I don’t always dress the part. On occasion my hair is a disaster and in need of a good washing, and sometimes my outfits are a little on the questionable side. What can I say, my depression gets the better of me sometimes, and it makes getting dressed and doing my hair feel like climbing mountains. I know this because I climbed a mountain once in the heat of the Vancouver sun. I thought I wouldn’t, but I made it to the top.

Depression itself is a lot like climbing a mountain. You just keep going and going looking for the light, the break in the trees, the place where it all levels out. The summer I climbed Grouse Mountain I started paying attention to the details, and perhaps it is for this reason I still remember the signs warning climbers of mountain lions in the area, of the possibility of imminent danger. This is also what depression feels like: that at any moment something could just come out of nowhere and take you out without warning. It is both exhilarating and exhausting to live on this edge, this divide between beauty and the beast.

When I got to the top of Grouse Mountain I looked like shit. I know this because I took a before and after photo and my straight platinum blonde hair had turned into strings that dangled from my head like pieces of rope. Despite the accomplishment, I was ashamed of my appearance and of the sweat that told the story of my struggle up the mountain and how even when I came out on top, literally, I didn’t look at the top of my game. This bothered me. I never showed the photo to anyone. If Instagram had existed then, no filter would have salvaged my confidence.

A big part of my life since the depression started seeping in has been keeping up the illusion that my depression does not exist. I have my vanity to thank in part for that. Appearances have become quite important to me, and looking good has become my best defence in this battle. I have found solace and strength in the deception—and I have found a special kind of hope that comes from looking after yourself. Keeping up appearances has prevented me from plummeting to new lows because it proves to me that I still love myself enough to care.

Eye shadows and red lipsticks have become my weapons in this war. Strokes of smoky purples and dark eyeliners have become my armour, and a crisp chiffon shirt or a tight black dress (worn with pumps or a good pair of boots), my uniform. Maintaining my roots and upgrading my wardrobe have given me the confidence to fight this battle. These are the tools in which I use to combat my depression. They may not be the most noble, but they work.

Women do these little things everyday, but it is these little things precisely that make the difference when you’re depressed. When you put the time into your appearance you feel better, and feeling better is the ultimate weapon in this struggle. Feeling better gives you the strength to put your brave face on and persevere. When you’re feeling better you look better and this makes you more approachable. It allows you to maintain relationships with your coworkers, to hold down jobs, and find success in your endeavours.

If I let myself go, which is rather tempting at times but never an option, I know I would become much sicker. I would fall back into the depths of depression and I would feel ten times worse. There are other tools in this fight—medication and therapy, mostly—but I have found neither to be quite as immediately effective as taking the time to inject self-love back into your daily routine.

Self-love comes in many forms. For me it also comes in working on my body in healthy ways. I go to the gym, ride my bike to and from places, and practice yoga. Being active encourages me to eat healthier, both of which are proven to help lessen depression. Not only does this make me feel better mentally and physically, but it encourages me to work on myself, which ultimately assists in other areas of my life as well. It makes me more accountable and dedicated, and forces me to set goals and work towards them. Feeling a sense of accomplishment is yet another tool in this battle. These small things, even though they stem from a place of vanity, have helped me push forward even when it’s felt unbearable.

Depression is a brutal and debilitating illness that makes doing any of the above feel impossible at times. I am not always able to put on the mask. But it has taught me how important it is to take an active role in your recovery, and to take advantage of any methods that work for you. Depression can make you feel stuck and the best thing to do when that happens is move. I love the excitement that comes with the physical act of getting ready to go somewhere. It indicates that I am moving—and movement, as they say, is life. When I’m feeling really low and I need to shake it, I just get up, put some music on, curl some waves into my hair, and slap a little lipstick on. Depression may not be pretty, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be.

Thunder Thighs

 

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Good day to you all. My name is Calla. I have thunder thighs.

When I was quite a young child, I recall reading a book wherein a young woman was on a diet (said young woman was a dancer) and she only drank massive glasses of what is described as “green gunk” for breakfast. Her father offered her bacon, and she said, “Oh, great, then everyone can start calling me Thunder Thighs.”

I remember my reaction being, “Well, yeah. That’d be amazing. I wish my nickname was Thunder Thighs. That’s the coolest thing to call your thighs ever.” Almost immediately after, I read a Terry Pratchett book wherein the unstoppable Nanny Ogg (a woman who has been married three times and had innumerable children) hangs upside down from a broomstick in a storm by her “thigh muscles of steel”. I remember thinking, “I bet Nanny Ogg has thunder thighs.”

Of course, at a certain point, no matter what utopian homeschooled society you grow up in, at some point somebody is going to explain to you that no, actually, “thunder thighs” is actually supposed to be an insult. A few years later, I learned of the concept of the “thigh gap”, where, uh… yeah, that’s exactly what it sounds like. There’s a gap between your thighs and it’s good and you want one so you can finally be adequate as a human being. Or so I’ve heard.

To me this concept was entirely foreign. Not that I’d never heard of fat-shaming or the notion of society demanding women conform to a certain style of beauty – I had always just assumed that thighs were exempt. They’re thighs. They don’t have to try to to be awe-inspiring, they always are. Foolish of me, I know.

When I hear the phrase “thunder thighs”, I think of the thighs of the Valkyrie. I bet the Valkyrie all have thunder thighs. I bet Wonder Woman has thighs of thunder. I bet if Mother Earth was an anthropomorphized goddess again instead of the planet, I bet she would have the greatest and most thunderous of thighs. And let us not be female specific – Thor definitely has thunder thighs. Zeus is a weenie, and does not. Hephaestus does though, even though his legs don’t really work. (Let’s be real, if Zeus had thunder thighs, Zeus would have sewn Fetus-Dionysus into his thunder thigh instead of his dumb calf.)

When I speak of “thunder thighs”, I do not necessarily speak of large thighs, or muscular thighs. Thunder thighs are simply thighs that do not apologize. They are the thighs of those who realize and revel in the glory that is the thigh.

My own personal thunder thighs jiggle when I walk. They never tan. (I lay out in the sun for four hours once, and they remained a stubborn porcelain white). I have five beauty marks on my right thigh, and three on my left. There are little indented scars on both, from the chicken pox that I contracted very late in life. They are patterned with faint purple veins. Sometimes they chafe when I get too sweaty, but this is merely because they are exhausted from the tremendous responsibility of daily being thunder thighs.

They carry me home on long, long, long walks. They’ve been a seat for romantic partners and friends alike. They’ve always been a perfect little segue from my pelvis to my knees. They’ve closed many a door when my arms were full. They have embraced lovers when mere arms were not enough. They are soft and squishy and warm, like bread just out of the oven. I love my thunder thighs. I love your thunder thighs. May all your thighs be thunderous.

 

Calla Wright is a playwright working in Edmonton and Montreal. She has thunder thighs and also some other body parts.

Image: Guinevre Van Seenus by Txema Yeste for Numéro China, 2013

On Boudoir and Self Love

View More: http://melyssagphotography.pass.us/tashboudoir

As I slip into my brand new white lace panties and adjust my matching push up bra, I feel empowered and naughty all at the same time. Who is this scantily clad girl looking at me in the mirror? I wonder. I can’t believe I am actually posing for boudoir photos.

Normally I would never allow anyone to see me in my underwear, let alone snap photos of me in it. Call me a prude, but I always feel self-conscious when changing in front of people, even my fiancée! It’s hard to get comfy in your own skin when you are self-conscious about your body.

Boudoir photos are beautiful and I always wanted to have them done. They are sexy, fun and classic. Whenever I see these types of photos I feel liberated, inspired and proud to be part of such a beautiful sex of human. I decide to get these photos taken for two reasons:

  1. I am getting married in two months and wanted to have a sexy, fun gag gift to give to my groom.
  2. I am vain and want to have some hot photos of myself to look at when I am old and wrinkled.

As I untie my silk robe, the photographer instructs me to sit on the bed while looking at the camera and tugging the inner straps of my bra. I am sitting in my all white bridal lingerie along with my veil, tiara and some four-inch sparkly silver heels. I feel sexy, happy and feminine as I laugh and pose seductively for the camera. As the shoot goes on, I start to feel more confident and slowly start to let go of my inhibitions. These photos will only be seen by me and my fiancée so I let myself just have fun with the pictures. I know I am not a Megan Fox or Marilyn Monroe, but I am beautiful in my own way and want to showcase myself in a way that I normally don’t.

After a few shots of me on the bed, I make my way to the floor where the photographer instructs me to drape my legs over the edge of the bed. This definitely feels like a porn star pose and I instantly start to giggle. It’s hard to keep a seductive face when looking at the camera. I always feel awkward and vulnerable when a camera is directed at me, like the lens can see through all my insecurities.

As I pose in my lingerie with my hair tussled and makeup all done, I am proud to be a female at this exact moment. Although my body is far from perfect, I am happy with my small frame, curvy hips and bubbly butt. I deserve to feel just as sexy as any super model or actress does.

I deserve to feel just as sexy as any super model or actress does.

After the photos in my bridal lingerie, I change into my second outfit which is comprised of plain black panties and matching bra, along with one of my fiancée’s dress shirts. When looking for boudoir inspiration on Pinterest and Google, I notice many shots of women in men’s clothing. I thought this was hot and definitely something I had wanted to include in my session. Throughout the next slew of photos, all I can smell is my fiancée’s cologne on the shirt and it makes me feel special, knowing that I am the only girl who will ever get to wear any of his clothes.

The last photos we take is of me standing and facing the wall with my head tilted down and smiling while hanging onto the side of my panties. I feel satisfied with all the shots we have taken, and I can’t believe an hour has flown by already. I am sad that it’s over, but excited to see how they all turned out. Even more excited to have them printed and made into a book for my fiancée on the wedding day!

Even if you aren’t getting married, Boudoir shots are something I recommend all women to do. This experience for me was a real self-esteem boost and made me feel like a star. People may say it’s vain, but I say it’s admirable.  A woman who loves her body and herself is sexy. All women are beautiful and should be proud of their sex. And sometimes the only person that needs to be reminded of that is YOU!

Natasha Pavlovic is a writer and beauty blogger. Check out her other writing on her blog

I Got 99 Regrets, But My Hair Ain’t One

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“My one regret in life is that I am not someone else.”
~ Woody Allen

Regret is a word I hate. It’s too formal. It leads to too many bad things. “We regret to inform you…”

That word always leaves me pissed off.  Yet, I experience this emotion every single day.

I regret virtually every decision I ever make: from my daily appearance, to choosing my activities, or reactions to events. No single detail escapes my doubts. I wish I was joking, but truthfully, there is always a little uncertainty in all of my choices. Every path I use, I always think it’s the wrong one; doesn’t matter how far down it I’ve gone.

I always think of the path I didn’t take, the boys I didn’t date, the food I didn’t make. Regret is my Jiminy Cricket, the voice telling me I’m wrong. Sometimes it’s instantaneous, like leaving the convenience store full of crap food when I just went in for milk. Other times it just pops out of nowhere, like maybe if I hadn’t been so fucking clingy with that guy from a few years ago… or maybe I shouldn’t have bought that expensive purse I wanted so badly.

I can’t tell you when this started; it just seems to always be a part of my life. It’s not that I’m too critical of myself or that I am unhappy with myself, it’s just something I can’t help thinking. Like right now, at this very moment, I’m having strong regrets writing this article. I’m telling myself “Man, people are going to think you are out of your damn mind. Just SHUT UP! You’re coming off as a self-absorbed whiney brat!”

There is a silver lining, a light between the dark clouds. How I cope is recognizing that I’m going to have this feeling and ignoring it. I mean completely IGNORING it. By forcing myself move on from the decision, and continue on, it’s really shown me that I am doing alright. It’s opened me up to so many new experiences and takes away some of my fears; because I’m going to regret the decision anyway, so I just go for it!

Sure, I may look back at pictures of myself and wonder what the hell I was thinking wearing that or wishing I hadn’t drank that new alcoholic concoction that sounded great at the time, or maybe I shouldn’t have wasted my weekend watching Netflix. Then I remember all the decisions I wasn’t sure about that have paid off a million times.

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One time it was the four days I spent plotting out how to frame and hang some of my favorite pictures. Every measurement was done five times, I cleaned the frames twice and put several holes in the wall, but now I have an awesome picture wall that inspires me every time I see it.

Still, the biggest decision that has never disappointed me is my purple hair. I’d always wanted purple streaks in my hair, and even once tried to achieve this feat with a boxed kit (which was a decision I really regretted, along with my pseudo bowl cut). I grew up, worked in offices and forgot about it, and then I saw my hairstylist with awesome purple hair. I debated back and forth for a few months, would this affect my job or dating life? Even knowing that it can be fixed or its semi-temporary didn’t help. I was really worried I was screwing up my life; putting a label on myself I wasn’t sure I was ready to live up to.

Then finally, I just sucked it up, shut up that nagging voice and I just went for it on my 25th birthday. I haven’t looked back since. I get so many compliments; my boss thinks it’s cool and just recently was called “Purple Hair” all night. This decision has become an integral part of my identity and even with those doubts, I know that I made the right choice.

Erin Fahy is a corporate drone by day and a Blonde Mag contributor by night. You can follow her on Twitter @rockurworld16