One of My Biggest Struggles

There is something that I struggle with that has impacted my life in lots of terrible ways and is something that I feel a lot of people deal with to some degree. I want to share with you my experience with trying to respect my body. Body image issues can be extremely devastating and have so many grueling impacts on life. In writing this, I want to be open and real with you about how it’s affected my life, and the ways I have dealt with it.

Appreciating my body was hard. Everyone can always look at themselves and see something that is “wrong” or “ugly”. I used to look at myself in the mirror in the mornings and my eyes were drawn to all the imperfections of my body. I focused on the negative things and this influenced the way I thought about my body for the rest of the day. Over time this led to so much insecurity. Constantly worrying that one day others might look at me and see what I saw in the mirror. Stress would fill me when I thought about having to take my shirt off or change in front of others. Body image issues led to comparing myself to everyone, and when I would do this, I would find everything I didn’t have in other people; The way their clothes fit them, their height, their slenderness, always ignoring any of their imperfections. This drained me of any confidence. I became timid because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. Participating in things was a real challenge. I couldn’t live my life comfortably. The biggest thing I felt, and the most devastating affect of negative body image, is shame. Part of the definition of shame is “a painful feeling of humiliation”. At one point I believed that the way I felt about myself was no longer just my own opinion, but a confirmed understanding of everyone; a fact. So that’s how I lived for a while. Going through school shy and scared. I lacked confidence and like the definition says, it was painful. I was on the outside of life looking in at others enjoying it. Something inside me knew this wasn’t how it was supposed to be, that I shouldn’t feel like such an outcast. To be honest, I wasn’t at my worst when I was at school or outside the house. Things were the worst when I was home by myself, just me and the mirror. All those negative feelings escalated to new degrees and I started eating a lot. I guess at the time I didn’t realize why I was eating, or maybe I did, and I just didn’t care. I can’t remember. But I do know that it made me feel better and my mindset was that if they see me as this nasty, imperfect blob already, then why not eat and enjoy. I found sanction in food, in books and video games, and in solitude where I could escape and didn’t feel judged. It was around the end of middle school and beginning of high school that I started making more of an effort to make a change. I’m not sure what inspired me to start working out, but that’s where I started. I had one dumbbell at home, and I would use that to do mostly curls. Along with those were the occasional sit ups. I had some friends that I felt comfortable enough with and we would play outside a lot as well. I was active and working out, but my diet stayed the same, and I remember feeling discouraged because I wasn’t changing. Some of my friends and those around me never really worked out and here I was feeling like I was busting my ass and really trying to get into better shape but results just weren’t showing. So I decided that I just wasn’t trying hard enough. My workouts got a little more advanced, I ran more, but still the consistency and proportion of my diet was ridiculous, and I still wasn’t seeing a difference. I remember one time running on the tread mill for what felt like forever, and then getting Taco Bell on the way home. I was stuck in a torturous cycle. Nonetheless, it was right around the middle of high school where I really felt like I started seeing some differences. I had gained some muscle and got a little taller. I was still working out 6 times a week, which is exhausting and no way to live your life, and didn’t really have a clue about nutrition, but things were starting to look up.

From then until now (my sophomore year of college) I can assuredly say that the three biggest things that helped me to get control of my body image problems are; my strong support group of family and friends, fitness, and my faith.  Everyone around me gave me kind words and loved me for me, no matter what! My mom was always willing to get me good foods and paid for a gym membership and workout equipment. I learned so much more about working out in a healthy way and how to eat in a way that is enjoyable and nutritious. I learned how to give my body rest. And my faith, man my faith taught me that no matter what I am loved by the God of the universe. He sees me as perfect, complete, and lacking nothing. I have stopped searching so hard for other’s opinions of me, stopped listening so much to my own opinions of myself, and have been constantly reminding myself of the opinion of the only one who matters. My faith has led me to become surround by so many people who love and support me. These things have helped me to feel happy in my own skin… for the most part. Honestly, I still struggle at times. When I look in the mirror, I still sometimes see things that need improvement, but I also understand who I am in the eyes of friends, family and God.

I believe that social media, film, and advertising are just a few of the things that set the standards for what is considered “beautiful”. Unrealistic expectations are constantly being portrayed in multiple ways and platforms which are accessible to everyone, including children, so that from a young age it is very easy to get the wrong mindset on your body. The truth is, there is no mold that can contain you, no model that could mimic you, and that is something that you should cherish. Your body is perfect in its imperfectness. You should be proud and respect that your body is yours, and yours alone. One thing I have learned is that part of dealing with something like body image, is enjoying the journey and understanding and accepting the ups and downs. Some things aren’t in your control when it comes to your body. Life happens and if you focus on the things out of your hands it will drive you crazy. Also, working out can be tricky if you struggle with your image. It can easily turn into an obsession and quickly become unhealthy. As long as you don’t let it get to that point and don’t let it control your life, then I think that exercising is one of the best things you can do. Not only are you working on your body, but you are helping yourself to become healthier and it is a great way to relieve stress.

Not everyone has access to friends or even family that are there for them. You may not have that support group that encourages you and reminds you that you are loved despite your body. You may not have the ability or resources to pursue fitness. It may just not be realistic for you to find time and finances to eat a certain way or work out. Maybe you’re even dealing with a hindrance in some way that limits your body in physical ways, or mental issues that leave you too fatigued to exercise. But everyone, everyone, has access to a God that loves them just the way they are. I really hope that you don’t live in shame and insecurity, battling this on your own. Don’t give up on yourself. The fight against body image negativity is one that may never end, but you don’t have to do it alone. I am more than willing to be someone that you can talk to. It can get easier, and it will. It is a journey and it’s super important that you realize that because if you keep trying to reach some end point of perfection you are going to be constantly disappointed. I really encourage you to reach out to me if you need, and if you are at the end of your ropes, I can’t give you any better advice than to try reaching out to God, the one who made you out of love and sees you as beautiful.

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Consistency through the Climb

 

Hello everyone! I haven’t written anything on here in a long time, and I miss it. I miss you! Writing on my blog has always been in the back of my mind. I want to do it, I just kept finding every reason not to. But I don’t want to do that anymore. So this blog post marks the beginning of consistency in my writing. I want to commit time to my community on here and I want to start holding myself more accountable. From now on I am going to be posting on my blog once a week on every Friday. I am not holding myself to a specific time on Friday, but it will be before the day is over. This is doable and this will help me post frequently and consistently, but it also allows me enough time to write quality posts. I would love your feedback if you want me to post on a different day or have any questions. One thing you may be saying is, “Yah but Chad, what are you actually doing to be more consistent?” and that is a great question! Here are 3 things that I am implementing and trying out to help me become consistent.

 

  1. Planning. I am setting side a very small amount of time each day dedicated just to working on blog posts, 30 min each day. However, I am not just saying that I will do that. I have written it into my calendar, and it is usually really early or late so that it will hopefully be a time that I won’t have to move around. By putting it into your calendar rather than just saying you are going to do it, the plan becomes more solidified and you will more likely get it done.
  2. Micro Goals. Of course, I think that you should dream big and have a mountain top goal that you are working arduously to achieve. But if you want to keep your sanity and faith along the way then you better set yourself some micro goals. If you already took my advice from part one then you my friend, have already set yourself up to be successful with a micro goal. What will ultimately determine what these goals are is based on what you want your end goal to be. What is your mountain top? For me, blogging is something that I do because I enjoy it and my goal through it is to learn more about myself and work on my writing skills plus share that with you. But my Everest sized goal would be to reach as many people as possible, whatever that looks like, and have my writing be something that brings joy, positivity and guidance into their lives. I want to reach people and let them know that they aren’t alone in whatever they are going through. I want to build community. A micro goal for this could be reach five people. Just reach a few people first. Then ten, hundreds and keep climbing. Achieving these micro goals helps you build confidence and momentum and reminds you why you started this journey in the first place.
  3. Extraction and Passion. Consistency demands from you time. You have to make room for whatever you are pursuing. For me, I plan on cutting back on the amount of time I spend watching YouTube or Netflix. In my case I don’t have to make too much room to achieve my micro goal of 30 minutes a day of working on my blog. Rounding up some time to commit to what you’re pursuing doesn’t have to be hard. A few minutes here and there and you can gather a lot of time quickly. So, if you haven’t been consistent in whatever it is that you want to be, that means something has got to go for you to have time to commit to it. For some, this could be the biggest obstacle standing in your path to consistency, and that’s because it correlates with the most important thing that leads to consistency: Passion. You have to ask yourself, is this something that I really want? If the answer is no, then please do not waste your time trying to pursue it. Find what you are passionate about first because I truly believe that the secret to being the most consistent you can be, is by having passion to drive it. Passion will lead to consistency. It’s easy to devote time to something that you love and want to invest in.

 

I hope these 3 tips will help you reach the level of consistency that you desire. Being consistent is your own journey and what that looks like is different for each person. The last piece of advice I want to give you before I go is to support all those around you. We are all trying to work on ourselves and pursue our passions. Whatever it is that you are trying to be more consistent in, I hope that you also strive to be consistently kind and encouraging to one another. Let those around you know that you see and acknowledge their own work in reaching their mountain top.

Thoughts on the Heart

 

The heart is a curious thing. I don’t mean heart in the sense of the organ that pumps blood through our body. No, I’m talking about the heart that is connected with our emotions and intertwined with our soul. I’m talking about that fragile thing inside us that lets us feel love, empathy, and sadness. The thing that drives our passions in the pursuit of our dreams. It may not be a real, tangible object, but the power it has in us is very real. How we think about our heart and how we present it to others reveals a lot about the story of who we are.

 

Broken Hearted

I think it’s safe to say a broken heart is one of the most devastating things someone can experience in their lifetime. There is no cry like that of the broken hearted. Unlike physical wounds there is no treatment for a broken heart. We can try and use our friends and family like a cast to help us heal, use worldly pleasures as a sling, or consume alcohol and drugs like doctor prescribed medications. But the truth is, a broken heart never fully heals. Things get better and the ache you felt at first may not be as painful as it once was, but it is still there. It is a part of you and your story now. There are many things that can lead to a broken heart, but at the core of the sorrow is loss. Loss of a loved one, a friend, an ability, an opportunity, the point is something is gone, and it left with a piece of your heart. That’s why it is impossible to fully recover, because you invested a piece of yourself into whatever you lost. I urge the broken hearted to not let that missing piece be a reminder of what’s gone, but a reminder of what you had. You invested a piece of yourself into whatever you lost for a reason, most likely because you believed in it, had love towards it, or it brought a value to your life. So, next time you feel the ache in your heart where that scar is, let it remind you of all the good memories you had. Embrace that stirring in your heart and never let it take good things and turn them into negative things.

Brave Hearted

This is someone who has been broken hearted in life, someone who has hit rock bottom but hasn’t let that stop them from sharing their heart with others again. A brave hearted person can give their love when it seems like there is none left to give. A brave hearted person loves those that are hard to love at times. They are courageous with their love in the face of adversity, and are a strong example of continuing to love despite being hurt before.

Open Hearted

The most vulnerable of them all is the open hearted. They express their love without concealment. Their actions and words align with the feelings in their heart. Having an open heart means your love pours out into your everyday life and is very noticeable to others. There is honesty and clarity in the words and actions of people with an open heart. It is comforting being around them because they share their feelings in a truthful and real way, which creates a comforting environment and makes others feel like they can be open in return.

Kind Hearted/Big Hearted

Being kind hearted or having a big heart means that your heart takes on the burdens of others. You care as much about others hearts as you do your own. Having a kind and big heart is like having an open heart, both have a foundation of love for yourself first, so that you can give love to others. However, a kind-hearted person’s intentions aren’t always as noticeable. Someone with a big heart might take on the pain of someone else, but that doesn’t always translate into big, apparent actions. A kind-hearted person is there for others and is full of compassion.

Cold Hearted    

The cold-hearted person is a sad story. I believe that this is someone who has been broken hearted one to many times. They have had to many bad experiences when they’ve shared their love, so they wall it off so that don’t get hurt anymore. It is scary to keep putting yourself out their when you’ve only been damaged from doing so. It becomes safe and secure to keep your heart and love guarded.

Full Hearted

Looking at this in terms of action, like doing something full heartedly, means doing that task with full commitment and emotional investment. But being full hearted means, you are at peace. You have a deep and healthy love with your circumstances and current situations in life. Being full hearted gives you confidence and produces joy.

 

No matter what condition you heart is in, I urge you not to give up on sharing your love. Be there for the broken hearted and remind them they’ll be okay. I ask you to try and understand the cold hearted. They have been hurt and if we can be considerate and help by bringing a healthy love into their life instead of shutting them out, I believe that they can start to tear down their walls. I hope after reading this you can appreciate the brave and open hearted. I hope you strive to be full hearted and kind hearted. Love can be a frightening thing. I believe that truly loving is one of the scariest things you can do in life, and one of the most rewarding. Understanding your heart and what you are feeling is so important for your journey in life. If you only walk away with one thing from this article, I hope it’s this: Love is powerful and if we all use it to help build each other up, then we can accomplish so many amazing things as a society. So, don’t be selfish with your love and be aware of your own hearts condition, as well as others.

10 Things to Keep in Mind for Life

10 Things to Keep in Mind for Life

 

First off, I would like to say the number one piece of advice I can give you as a Christian, is to follow Jesus. It is the best choice I have made in life by far and it will change your life. However, I want this post to apply to everyone, regardless of beliefs. So, here are 10 things that will help you get the most out of life.

  1. Take time for yourself. Pray, reflect, meditate, journal, blog, do something that is just for you to process and be with yourself. Life is busy and filled with people, and I think it is easy to forget how to communicate with just ourselves and understand what we are feeling. Take time to feed your soul and ask yourself the hard questions in life. Keeping in touch with yourself and your beliefs will help keep you focused on the important things in life. More importantly, taking time to be alone with your thoughts will remind you of the path you are on and why you are on it. It helps you see the purpose of living.
  2. Work hard. Whatever you are working towards, I guarantee you that if you put in the work and time you will get the benefits. It may not happen the way you want, how fast you want it to, or how you pictured it, but it will happen. You will get there. It may be difficult and require a lot of sacrifice, but the best things do. You know what you are giving towards something. Whatever it is, earn it.
  3. Know your value. Acknowledge who you are, and the unique presence that you bring with you. Appreciate the type of person you are and what you contribute to others lives. You are special, and it is important that you know and value yourself. If you can’t do this for yourself, it makes it hard to do it for others.
  4. Surround yourself with good community. Stay close to those that push you to better yourself and help remind you of who you are. Keep friends in your life that truly want what’s best for you. Those that are willing to pick you up when you are down and humble you when you’re too proud. Your environment and community should be something that helps bring out the best version of yourself.
  5. Love others and love them fully. Truly loving others is one of the scariest and best things you can do in life. It’s scary because it makes you vulnerable and can lead to you being hurt. But I promise you that it is always worth it to give with all your heart to others because the good moments that come from that, will always outweigh the bad ones. I believe that when you look back on your life you will never regret knowing that you loved with an open heart.
  6. Have forgiveness. Holding on to a grudge or a hurt, regardless of who was wrong or right, is so detrimental to your health and well-being. It will only weigh you down and restrict your confidence in others. Forgiveness is the foundation of trust. Being understanding and forbearing with others frees your mind and relieves you from the burden of stress that holding a grudge can cause. If you let your animosity for someone or an event fester, it will turn into bitterness, spite, and resentment. Something that is sometimes harder than forgiving someone else, is forgiving yourself. If you can’t let go of things that have happened to you and forgive yourself and those that from your past, then you will never truly be able to move forward.
  7. Be generous. This one seems straight-forward. Of course, I think there are plenty of benefits to sharing financially when you can to help those that need it. However, I urge you to consider being generous with your time and attention. I know for me one of the best things someone can give me is just some of their undivided attention. When you put away your phone and disconnect from the world and give your time to someone it is so meaningful and considerate. So, be present and engaged with people and deliberate with your time because it shows you really care.
  8. Listen and Share. There is no avoiding hardship and struggle in life. No matter who you are there have been times in your life that are difficult for you to talk about. These times of adversity play a big role and shaping who we are but often scar us with silence. We need to address our silences and help others with theirs. One of the best things we can do for others is listen to their story. Be somebody that they can talk to and help them overcome the silence in their life caused by tragedy. As for yourself, find your voice to speak about the misfortunes that you have dealt with. The worst thing you can do is try to handle your hurt on your own. Don’t let the silence consume you. Share your pain and listen to others and you can overcome, and help others overcome, even the worst trials.
  9. Be scared in all the right ways. If you’re scared of losing someone, failing, or not knowing what the future holds, then you are doing everything right! That means that you are fully committing yourself, your heart, and your energy. You have something to lose. I think that is the best place to be in because regardless of what happens, you are going to grow. You are challenging yourself and taking a risk. If you fail, then you learn from that and grow. If you succeed, then you learn from that and grow as well. So, get out of your comfort zone and get in uncomfortable situations, because that’s how you better yourself.
  10.  Be thankful. It is so easy to focus on all the things we don’t have or the situations we want to be in, that we forget to be appreciative of the here and now. All the things I have shared here are good things to keep in mind. I would like to end on the point of being thankful because if you can be thankful when it seems things are at their worst, you are going to develop a joy that is unbreakable. Whoever you are with, be thankful they are there with you. Wherever you are, be thankful to be in that place. Even if circumstances aren’t the best at the moment, you can still be appreciative because you know things can get better.

I hope you have learned something or at least been reminding of something you want to work on in your life. These things are easier said than done and I know it is unreasonable to do all these things, all the time. But try your best to apply these in your life and I am sure you will notice a difference.