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Facing Fears + College Reunions

Happy August! I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend and is ready to kick off August on a great note! I know I sure am…but man, where did summer go?! I can’t believe how fast it’s flying by. Why does summer seem to disappear so quickly when winter always drags on? I’m not a fan.

Anyway, I thought I’d share some fabulous things that I did over the weekend. First up, my Friday morning at SoulCycle.

Before I whipped off my shirt. © SoulCycle

I went to the Sports Bra Challenge in Union Square for the 9:30 a.m ride. To give you the short summary, I’ve always been terrified of working out in just a sports bra. I always think I’ll be judged and am just not confident enough in my own skin to get my sweat on sans tank top. With the help of instructor Jenny Gaither, Biggest Loser season 11 winner Olivia Ward and her sister, runner-up Hannah Curlee, I put my fears aside and rode it out with a whole room full of women who were only wearing sports bras!

Sweaty beasts! © SoulCycle

It was fantastic. Invigorating, inspiring, energetic, motivational. I could go on and on describing this class. The energy pulsating throughout the room was insane. The music was perfect. Jenny was incredible. Everything about this class was great. I haven’t pushed myself this hard in a class before (seriously, I left sooo much sweat on the bike) and I felt so accomplished and beautiful at the end.

Hannah, Jenny and Olivia rocked it out with me. © SoulCycle

If you want to check out my full recap, you can read my blog post about it for FITNESS.

After my class I hopped on a bus with Dustin and made my way to Oswego for the annual Harborfest festival! A bunch of my college friends were up visiting for the weekend and Bare Naked Ladies were playing a free concert, so I was able to have a ton of mini-reunions, listen to great throwback music, and stay with my old roomie Meghan! Thanks for housing us, Meghster!

Love this girl.

Meg and I go way back. We lived right next door to each other freshman year and became fast friends. After that, we were roommates for three years! We lived together in the dorms for sophomore and junior years, then moved off campus with a third roomie (Kayleigh!) senior year. We’ve made a ton of memories, this girl and I!

They're friends, too.

It really was great to be away from technology for the weekend and just enjoy being around friends for the weekend. I got back to my country roots for a bit and soaked in all of the nature. Being back by lake Ontario was awesome too.

Can you spot the lighthouse?

Perfect summer day.

The weather was perfect summer weather! I spent the majority of my time outside and soaked in my fair share of rays (with SPF). I even enjoyed the three fabulous B’s.

Pure bliss.

Harborfest is also extremely well-known for their fireworks display. Seriously, they rival the Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks Show in NYC. I was at both this year and honestly, Harborfest won this time around. Sorry New York, I love you, but I have to be honest!

I ran some errands on Sunday, visited some more friends, then boarded another bus back to the city. After an extremely frustrating trip back, I happily collapsed into my bed. Overall though, it was a glorious weekend. Many great memories were made and I’m so glad I went.

What fun things did you do this weekend? Can you believe it’s August already? I’ll have a goals post up tomorrow!

Bikini Bravery

While I was preparing for my half-marathon, I realized that my final spring break was smack dab in the middle of training. I knew that I wasn’t going to skip out on spring break because after all, this was my last year to have a fantastic, week-long vacation with some phenomenal friends. But I also knew that I couldn’t just abandon my plan and overindulge in every delicious food that came across my radar while in Key West.

Before my trip, I was anxious that I would fall off the wagon and “accidentally” forget about the running I needed to accomplish throughout the week. But once I was there, I grew more and more excited to experience Key West completely on foot. I savored the delectable dishes my friends and I tested, but allowed my body the opportunity to feel great afterward with a workout.

Want to know what else made it such a great vacation? Self confidence. Or when this time of year rolls around, what I like to call bikini bravery.

One of the bravest things a girl can do.

One of the bravest things a girl can do.

Training for this half-marathon gave me the confidence to walk around in my bikini for 75 percent of the trip and not be worried about how I looked to others. But it wasn’t because I was skinny. It was because my body felt strong, which made me feel great. I didn’t care that I could strut my stuff across the beach. I felt sexiest when I was running along the shoreline with sweat pouring down my face because my body was powering me through at least four miles in 85-degree weather. Hanging out in a bikini top with my midsection confidently exposed was just a bonus.

Soakin' up some vitamin D.

I know I don’t have what many would call a perfect body, and I certainly don’t have the type of body prominently displayed through many of the pop culture’s media outlets, but I have the perfect body for me. I have strong legs, toned arms and a flat but not-so-defined tummy. I’m not stick-thin nor overweight. I’m basically smack dab in the middle of a healthy BMI range for someone my height and weight. And all of that is perfectly fine with me because I worked hard to get where I’m at today and I’m proud of my accomplishments.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I’m happy to be who I am, and you should be too. Be proud of the effort that you put in. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering — any amount of effort is better than none. I don’t have six-pack abs (nor do I think I ever will), but I can run a half-marathon, hold a plank for a minute and a half and do 20 jump squats in a row.

So I’ve decided that I’m going to live my bikini bravery to the fullest this summer. No hiding who I am and what I’ve accomplished. Won’t you join me?

While you’re at it, tell me what some of your fitness goals are for this summer! It can be anything: testing out or incorporating more yoga, running a 5k, slipping on an old pair of shorts, or improving a weak spot, maybe? I want to know! I’ll even go first: I really want to complete the Warrior Dash race in August with my college friends!

Your Feel-Good Workout Playlist

Although National Eating Disorder Awareness Week is coming to a close, that doesn’t mean its purpose should end. Throughout the week, I’ve hit up the library to find some more good reads about the inner workings of an eating disorder, just so I can understand it a bit more. A few that I’m really looking forward to reading:

Please keep in mind that I have not actually read these books yet, so I can’t recommend them. But you can always start reading along with me!

I’ve also found myself migrating toward morale-boosting, feel-good music. Tunes that uplift me during my workout and make me feel beautiful from the inside out. After all, I don’t work out to be skinny or because I feel guilty about a slice of pizza I ate. I exercise because it makes me feel amazing and I revel in the post-workout endorphins that surge through my body. So what songs are making me feel so fantastic during my sweat sessions? Check it out!

In no specific order:

1.) Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars

2.) Crazy by Simple Plan

3.) Imperfection by Saving Jane

4.) It’s My Life by Bon Jovi

5.) Born This Way by Lady Gaga

6.) Video by India Arie

7.) Perfect 10 by Beautiful South

8.) I Am Not My Hair by India Arie, featuring Akon

9.) Ugly by Sugababes

This song has been stuck in my head all week and I’m absolutely in love with it. I’ve always loved Pink and her music — she’s so strong and embraces being different. She’s a great role model for young girls to look up to. Enjoy one of her latest:

Most of these songs are a little too slow for me to run to, so I often pop on the playlist when I’m on the elliptical or doing strength training. I hope you find a few to fall in love with, and remember you’re amazing just the way you are 🙂

What are some of your favorite feel-good songs?

Operation Beautiful Hits Oswego State

I had heard about Operation Beautiful before and thought it was a really moving, inspiring and motivational international body image movement. But I never did anything about it myself. I would follow the website and read the stories of random girls placing Post-It notes in the bathroom or hanging signs throughout the campus, reminding women that they are beautiful and they shouldn’t berate themselves. But I never once saw a Post-It note in a bathroom at Oswego State; I never put one there to inspire another girl.

I decided today that was going to change.

In the final hours of Sunday night, I learned that this week is Fat Talk Free Week, “a national public-wide awareness effort” that targets negative body image and stops it in its tracks. For only one week, the founders want girls to completely abolish all forms of fat talk, look at themselves in the mirror and focus on their strengths instead of their flaws.

I work at the campus fitness centers as a student manager, so I like to believe that I’m in an influential position of power. Today I put my power to good use and finally put Oswego State on the map with Operation Beautiful.

I made Post-It notes in both gyms and lined the mirrors with reasons why the girls  at my school are beautiful. Some that pertain to me in particular: “I love competing with the boys,” “I don’t need to run…I go because it makes me feel great,” and “Smile…you never know who’s falling in love with it.”

No matter what, the message behind this movement is important. Girls need to stop focusing on their bodily flaws and remember all the great things about themselves. Nobody has the perfect body and nobody ever will. In fact, the “perfect” body doesn’t exist. So stop chasing it. Embrace your differences because they’re what make you unique. You are beautiful because there is no one else like you.

What is fat talk, exactly? It’s anything that berates a woman and her body image. Saying things like, “I need to lose 10 pounds,” “Look at my love handles,” or “I despise my back fat” is considered fat talk. Even giving someone a backhanded compliment like “You look great! Did you lose weight?” constitutes fat talk because you’re only feeding this girl a compliment because of her physical appearance. You’re buying into the mainstream ideal that women need to be stick thin and are only beautiful when they’re skinny. This can lead to a girl focusing solely on her body image to keep your approval, when she should be focusing on all of the other things that make her fantastic. Being beautiful is about confidence and health, not being thinner than a rail.

So remember, no fat talk! And not just this week, either. Do it every day. Tell yourself every morning how great you are, or put a Post-It note somewhere to remind another girl.

Have you seen an Operation Beautiful note on your campus, or in a bathroom somewhere? What did it say?