Hello lovely Pin Up Persuasion readers! I’m Samantha, and I run a fairly new blog called The Healthy Betty. It’s a fitness and lifestyle blog with a retro twist. I’m a historian (yes, that is a real career!) with an obsession with flamingos, kitsch, and all things rockabilly. I also run my own health and wellness business. I want to thank Jessica for allowing me the opportunity to be a guest writer on her wonderful blog! Living in a small town in upstate NY, there aren’t many gals like me around here. The internet has been a blessing when it comes to finding others with similar hobbies and styles as mine, and Jessica always inspires me with her beautiful sense of style and radiant personality that just shines through in her posts. Of course, you’re all here reading her blog, so you already know that!
Today I want to talk (write?) a little bit about something very important to me, in hopes that others may relate and be inspired: my journey to self-love and my road to a healthier lifestyle.
I’m part of a team of wonderful, like-minded ladies (and a few men!) called the Fit Pinups. Being a Fit Pinup isn’t about a specific look or style; it’s about a mindset. It’s about loving yourself no matter what. Maybe you want to build muscle, maybe you want to lose weight, or gain some, or just eat better and exercise. But you gotta know that you need to love the body you have right now, because it’s the only one you’ve got. And this has taken me a long, long time to learn.
I was very athletic growing up. I played sports – soccer, mostly – year round. I also played lacrosse, ultimate Frisbee, and ran around outside with friends, well into my teenage years. Despite my athleticism, I was never happy with my body. In fact, I hated it. I had a terrible relationship with food. I saw it as evil. But I also felt I had no self-control. I thought about food all the time: about how I didn’t want to eat, about how I wanted to eat an entire pizza. I would binge, and then I would feel terrible about myself, because I felt I was doing something wrong and should punish myself for it. I don’t think I need to tell you that these are very unhealthy thoughts.
In college, it escalated. I wasn’t working out or active at all – I didn’t continue to play sports – and I spent most of my time sleeping, doing homework, or drinking at parties with friends. I gained weight quickly, which only fueled my loathing of myself. I hated that I couldn’t look like my friends, who I thought were the epitome of beautiful. I assigned myself the role of “ugly friend.” No one made me feel that way but my own damn self.
Fast forward to grad school. I was miserable. I moved to a new state where I didn’t know anybody except my fiancé. I made friends, of course, but I was terribly unhappy. I never wanted to go out with them because I was so ashamed of how I looked. I made excuses not to go. Not only that, but we were struggling financially as I couldn’t work full time due to school and our relationship was suffering from all of these issues. When things went wrong or I was upset, I would go to a fast-food joint and get something to make me feel better, or I would go to the grocery store and buy an equally disappointing option to make at home. I used food to try and make my problems go away. Again, not good at all!
I want to take this moment to say there is absolutely nothing wrong with how I looked. There was nothing wrong with the fact that I gained weight. There is nothing wrong with anyone’s size or shape; every body is beautiful! But at that moment in my life, I had not learned to love myself, and I equated my body with my self-worth, which is so not right. That was what was wrong.
One day, finally, I decided I was tired of feeling like crap all the time. I began a new job at a sportswear retail outlet and my co-workers were active people who were also super supportive and encouraging. Two of them in particular would go running with me and would even run slower than their normal pace so I could keep up with them without stopping. I began to go to the gym in our apartment complex, and I started to change the way I ate. And I began to lose weight. I started to get some of my confidence back. I ran my first 5K. I’m sure some of this newfound happiness was from exercising in general – there’s that line from Legally Blonde: “Exercise gives you endorphin. Endorphin make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t!”
But I still didn’t love myself.
I still felt that food was the enemy. I would eat something “off plan” and felt I needed to punish myself for it. I would say, “Oh well,” and give up on my goals. I would start and quit and start and quit over and over and over again. For five years. I didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t have the support I needed. I went to a nutritionist, but I found it unhelpful. I was lost.
Last September I made a choice. I joined the Fit Pinups and started a workout program called the 21 Day Fix. It’s based on the idea that it takes 21 days to form a habit. The workouts were done at home, and it also came with a meal plan and portion control containers. Not only that, but I also had my very own personal support coach and a group of like-minded individuals who were going along on this journey with me. Those first three weeks were amazing. Not only did I start to notice myself becoming stronger, but I also learned about eating healthy, whole foods, and how I should be fueling my body. I loved the program so much that I became a coach myself only two months later, because I wanted to share this amazing thing with others.
I wanted other women to feel empowered and badass and beautiful, too, because as women, we’re often told that we should look a certain way, act a certain way. We have to be the nurturer but also have a successful career while looking like we’ve walked off a designer runway. It’s all too much, and it’s no wonder why so many of us out there struggle. That’s why it was so important for me to surround myself with these other people who fill me with love and light, who cheer me on and celebrate successes. When women build each other up, AMAZING things happen.
Of course, I still eat pizza, chocolate, cheese, and drink wine and beer. That’s my favorite thing about this plan: it’s a lifestyle choice. It’s built to leave you room to live. I go out with friends and I don’t feel guilty for having a beer and wings. I have learned to love my body for what it CAN do, not what it CAN’T do. It can carry me through my day, chase my 2 ½ year old niece, run outside with my dog, and hug my loved ones. I might not have a six pack (yet!), but my body is mine, and I love it.
I still struggle some days. I still have those nagging thoughts once in a while, but I’ve learned to recognize them for what they are and change my mind-set. That’s been another huge thing for me: changing the way I think. That’s HARD to do. Any therapist will tell you that. And it’s definitely harder to do alone.
But I’m happy to report that today, I’m happier. It’s amazing how many other areas of my life have changed since I decided to take control. I still get scared about big changes or decisions, but I try to embrace them. I do things that frighten me because I know wonderful things can happen when I do.
I want to tell you all that you’re beautiful, no matter what. You want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. You want to wear short skirts, high heels, jeans, sweatpants, baggy hoodies, be covered from head to toe, bare your midriff, etc.? WEAR IT. And rock it with confidence! You are the only you there is, and the world would not be the same without you. Love yourself like your best friend loves you. Love yourself for all of the amazing things you ARE and stop worrying about what you AREN’T. I promise you will be so much happier!
If you’re interested in learning more about what I do as a personal health and wellness coach, or want information about changing your diet, starting a new workout program, want to send me pics of your adorable pets, or just need someone to talk to about any little thing, I’m your gal. Please feel free to reach out to me on my blog, Facebook (facebook.com/bombshellbetty6), Instagram (@thehealthybetty), or email (shallsaladino@gmail). Be kind to yourself. Do something nice for you today, and every day. You SO deserve it.