This Monday I thought I’d share a little of my #MondayMotivation with you. I’ve written before about how instagram specifically can play a big role in fitness and fitness motivation. It’s a less interrupted feed than facebook, plus we “follow” more than we friend. Above all, it’s so visual and can help us see our own goals when we see everyone else crushing theirs.
Here’s a few of my fave accounts from my feed
Anna Victoria is the main personal trainer type that I follow. I prefer accounts that I guess at least seeeeeeem less like the ultimate interaction with them is for you to buy what they sell. Obvi it would be ideal for Anna if you’d like her content so much you buy her products BUT the reason I’ve followed her for so long (and even bought some of her products) is that she is the QUEEN of #realtalk about body positivity. Her fit body is her business – her body is the ultimate ad for why you should pay to know her workouts – but she still shows us the rolls, the changes, the things that bug her. She practices the kind of body positivity she preaches and I love it!
If there’s an overall vibe for an insta account…thefitwaywithashley is perpetually cheerful. She always smiles and her captions are full of real talk and honesty about how this fitness journey goes. She shares about having “good body image days” and also douting if she should post a certain photo because of that pressure we all feel to only share the things we feel amazing in and nothing where we think our imperfections show. Plus all her workout photos are a great reminder to get your butt to the gym, on to the matt, wherever it needs to be for you to get your sweat on!
There are SO many reasons to love this account and about 1 million other people agree. This account follows Lexi’s journey and 312 pound weight loss, achieved with diet and exercise, over two years. She also gets real about the less photogenic side like loose skin and skin removal surgery. She provides so much motivation by sharing her story and makes you feel like if she could wake up and start this journey 300 pounds ago, you can too!
I love that Robin’s account showcases a little bit of everything. She’s stylish, she’s funny, she’s real and she’s fit. We’ve messaged back and forth in the past and she’s the sweetest, most encouraging soul. I love that there’s so much support out there in the instagram fitness community and Robin is a real life example of how awesome that can be!
Okay at this point is it a surprise that I’m sharing another AMAZING account full of #realtalk? It shouldn’t be.
I love the story of a big girl getting it together and sharing her fitness success. Especially when the bio is clear that these results are from diet and exercise. From where I’m at (ahem, way bigger than I want to be) these are the stories I admire because these are the stories I’m trying to write for myself with each healthy meal and every work out. Plus there’s a lot more to it than “I didn’t have abs and now I do” or “this dress didn’t fit and now it does”. Changing our bodies can have a lot of side effects and losinggravity is here with the honesty about it all.
I love this account because as of literally today hers is a body that shows progress (She posts great before and afters) but she still looks real. Gorgeous. Fit. Strong. and REAL. I get so discouraged when alllll the”fit girls” I see look the same and as amazing as they look, as happy as I am for their success, as much as they should keep chasing their goals… it makes me feel hopeless because I am SO far from being THERE with them.
This account though is so much realness and honesty it’s amazing. Plus she is some pretty legit fashion and tattoo #goals so it’s not just the same content over and over!
No list of my fave instagram accounts could ever be complete without this one. In the midst of my insta-scrolling and fitness motivation bodyposipanda is the voice of self love and body positivity! She’s here to remind us all that we don’t have to change a thing about our bodies and we can celelbrate and love our bodies even when we know they don’t fit in a certain box (or size!) Seriously, she’ll make you smile every damn day!
People sometimes ask us about how commitment fits with being polyamorous. The question can be framed in several ways. We get asked why we got married in the first place, or if we really value our marriages and how we could value our marriages but still want to date other people. We also get asked how we could commit to our partners when we’re already committed to someone else.
All of the answers go back to one truth that is central in our choices and our relationships: How these things fit together really depends on how you think about them and the role you want these things to play in your life as a whole.
Of course, if you think of romantic commitment and monogamy as being the same thing, then it doesn’t fit with polyamory. There are lots of people out there who choose to have open relationships or engage in non-monogamy of some form but still see their long-term lifestyle revolving around one, monogamous partner. There’s nothing wrong with commitment meaning monogamy for you but that doesn’t mean that the definition or boundary carries over for other people
For us, making a commitment of any kind is simply a personal decision where you decide to incorporate something into your long-term vision of your life. We all do this with jobs, choosing where to live, lifestyle choices like going to the gym or doing yoga, having kids, etc. We are designing our forever. We are deciding what our goals are for 1 year, 5 years and 10 years from now. We are using our current situation and experience to understand what we want from the future. I think we all have a few “never agains” and a few “forevers”.
Therefore, in our lives, it’s okay to decide that a partner who isn’t our spouse is still part of our forever. We’re looking at our lives right now, our experience of the past year or so, and our experience prior to dating each other and we’re realizing when we imagine our future, we see each other in it.
Sometimes I get the sense that people worry for us and feel we’re taking this big risk. They fear we’ll get our hearts broken and as people who love us, they don’t want to see us experience any kind of pain, least of all heartbreak. I love and respect that the people in our lives care for us this way and would do anything to protect us from pain. Still, I don’t think we’re taking risks that are truly above and beyond the unavoidable risks of love.
Honestly, from day one I have known that it would hurt if I lost Ben. I have loved that man through a lot of ups and downs. We’ve done a lot of growing up together. If my marriage ended, it would be an unimaginable loss for me. The thing is, marriages do end. When I married him we put ourselves at risk of becoming bitter divorcees. Falling in love and furthermore, basing your life around that love by moving in together and facing the world together, is a leap of faith.
It’s the same leap of faith whether you do it once, twice or more. And it’s still the same leap if you make it with one person at a time or three.
I believe love is worth it. Ultimately, I am okay with taking the risk because I believe in love.
Alright, so I’m cheesy. That’s not new!
Maybe that helps clear up some of the misconceptions about the ability to be committed to more than one person. We generally all have more than one person we see in our lives forever. Best friends who talk about our lives, our dreams, and goals with. Best friends who we hope will have kids the same age as ours so they can grow up together, too. In my life, it just happens to be that I’m dating more than one of my forever people.
But there’s another misconception at play, too. Many people who are aware of polyamory or at least various threads of non-monogamy have the idea that while polyamorous relationships might have many goals, commitment isn’t one of them. As polyamory becomes more widely discussed in the media and more widely known, a list of potential relationship goals such as romantic and emotional fulfillment, support of different interests, and meeting different relationship needs is also known. Maybe you have one partner who is more reserved and supports your undying love of watching movies and talking about philosophy while another partner loves to party and supports your need to experience new things and travel. However, most people don’t imagine polyamorous relationships as committed.
In fact, many of them are!
For us, being polyamorous is a belief about our infinite ability to love and choosing a committed lifestyle is a relationship preference. We could believe in infinite love but not want this “settled down” lifestyle. We could also want this settled down lifestyle without wanting polyamory or even want an “unsettled” lifestyle but with only one partner at a time – none of them gaining our commitment.
You see? Loving one or loving many and loving short-term or long-term are two different preferences. It just so happens, for us, we prefer to have multiple partners who are committed to a long-term life.
As I was planning out my week I started thinking more about how I wanted to incorporate workouts and good food. I did really well throughout October in terms of working out often and making little changes to my eating habits. The start of November though has seen a lot of that fall away and old habits proving their strength. As strong as those old habits are, I’m fairly certain my determination to improve is stronger.
This is actually the first week I’ve truly planned out what my fitness and food looks like based on reflection for what I want. Usually, I am working more closely with a program like the Anna Victoria Body Love app but I sort of got bored with the repetition of that program. I enjoyed it, in a lot of ways, but for a number of reasons I had trouble making it stick.
I’m realizing that maybe what I’m lacking right now is creativity and taking the time to listen to what my body and mind actually want. I know I want to be healthier but I’m thinking of how that looks for everyone else. I see all the “fitness gurus” and “health experts” that post gorgeous photos of their salad and encourage you to commit to their workout program. While that works for some people, it hasn’t been working for me.
It’s really easy to feel like a failure when what works for everyone else isn’t working for you. If it works for all those people then maybe I’m the problem, right?
Every other aspect of my life seems to be taking off and fitting together. So what’s missing with fitness?
In every other aspect of my life, I’m engaging those cliches like “follow your heart” and “be yourself”. Creativity is the common thread guiding my work and improvement.
So this week, as I plan out my creative projects like writing, social media and content creation I’m including fitness. I ask myself questions about my work and projects such as what I have time for, what I’m interested in, what I’m craving and feeling. This is a big part of how I develop my writing especially, and how I determine what I want to broadcast on social media. It’s acknowledging what is happening in my life, what is happening in the world and the direction I’m interested in developing in.
Now, I want to apply that to my fitness strategy. I’ve developed a plan to incorporate focusing on different parts of my body with focused workouts each day, similar to how I did with Anna Victoria but open to more creativity in the actual movements and routines.
I’ve also planned to include yoga in my day because it allows me to reconnect mind and body and celebrate a movement that feels good.
What popular strategies have you tried and hated in self-improvement and fitness?
One of the biggest mindset shifts that has helped me successfully make a living by essentially freelancing services that I’m interested in providing is thinking of myself as managing a personal brand.
In this mindset, any service I provide – anything I do in exchange for money – is part of the brand. My teaching, my writing, this blog, and my social media services are all products offered by this brand. It’s personal to me and exists in direct relation to who I am as a person but it’s a unique section of my life.
There are a few reasons why I think this mindset is important for others with a similar work style or similar work situation. Let’s look at those reasons now.
Okay, that’s a bit confusing but let me explain. I work from home. In my family, we make jokes about how I never leave the house and might easily be mistaken for a captive of my family rather than a member of it because they all go out into the world but I spend endless hours in one room of the house. The jokes are like a thinly veiled coping mechanism for what we all know is an odd reality. I don’t leave the house often. Sometimes I get so stir crazy I have to leave for the sake of leaving without any actual mission other than getting fresh air.
So how do I know I’m done with work? Honestly, the entering and exiting of physical spaces is something that we often take for granted in our lives. We enter our workspaces and know we are at work, we exit them and can start thinking about our personal lives again. I’ve done a decent job of making my office my physical workspace and letting what happens in the office stay there when I leave it BUT it’s always right there, calling to me when something could use my attention. Why wait until tomorrow morning when I could just go grab my laptop and attend to it right now? Thinking of your work as existing under the umbrella of a personal brand helps to add one more layer of separation between your personal life and your professional one even when the two cohabitate in one physical space.
Not only have I left my office but I’ve mentally left the headspace of the brand and so whatever needs to happen will have to wait for me to get back in the office and back in that headspace.
It’s really hard to turn down work when you’re a freelancer working from home. You figure there’s always a way to shuffle your calendar around and make time for one more project because security is so elusive. Work is work and money is money, right?
Sure. But if you’re so busy taking every opportunity that comes along you may end up with a set of projects that don’t fit or make sense together. This seems pretty benign on the surface but can actually become quite problematic for your overall productivity. If your projects don’t make sense together then they can start to battle each other for your time and switching projects will become a big interruption to your workflow.
For me, working on Oh My Mermaid and working on Playful Greetings social media work really well together because a lot of the organization can happen from one single platform so time spent on one can easily coexist with time spent on the other.
Thinking of new projects as coming in under your personal brand gives you a buffer between them and you that will allow you to reject them without feeling guilty
You can say to yourself and the potential project, “I’m sorry, that project/job/contract doesn’t work with my current portfolio so I wouldn’t be able to fit it into my schedule or do a good job of it without hurting my other projects.”
When the reason you’re saying no is that it doesn’t work for “the brand” rather than because you just don’t feel like saying yes there’s a lot less guilt and obligation.
Just like it’s easier to say no because it isn’t personal, it’s also easier to ask for an opportunity because just like when you turn something down, rejection isn’t personal. When you feel like it’s just you, as a person and a freelancer, saying to a company that you’d like the opportunity to work with them then when they say no they’ve rejected you. And that sucks. Nobody wants to feel like that.
But when you apply feeling that you’d like to add that opportunity to your personal brand portfolio and you get the rejection it’s easier to just move on, work on your existing projects and look for the next opportunity that might be an even better match for you and your brand.
One of the biggest struggles I notice as an independent freelancer is that there is a lot less positive feedback than I might have access to in a regular old brick and mortar job. As a student for most of my life and in the various regular jobs I’ve had I’ve always appreciated the positive and negative feedback that lets me know what’s going well and what isn’t.
Working in isolation, as I talked about earlier, feedback can sometimes be seriously lacking. It made me feel like I was lost in space having no idea if I was going the right direction or what was going on.
Thinking of my work as a personal brand somehow makes it a bit more tangible. I start finding ways I can measure performance. Income, of course, but also through social stats, leads, and projects. I feel proud of what I’ve accomplished with Oh My Mermaid and the other projects I’ve taken on. That’s something that reduces the sensation of being lost in space.
So overall there’s a lot of good reasons to start thinking of yourself as managing a personal brand to create an extra mental layer between your work and you as a person. It’s better for your mental health and self-worth to feel that it’s still a job, at the end of the day and you do get to be off duty even if that just means going to a different room in your house.
We set a lot of relationship boundaries based on policing our own and our partners’ attraction to others. Regardless of our relationship structure – polyamorous, monogamous, swingers – both in terms of limiting and encouraging it, we have rules about attraction outside the relationship.
It’s a difficult topic and I think the boundaries we ask our partners to agree to and how those conversations go tell us a lot about ourselves and what attraction means to us.
The reason I say it’s difficult is that I believe attraction is a natural feeling that we can’t really promise we will or won’t feel for someone other than our partner. For me, the more important discussion is how attraction should be handled when you’re in a relationship. I don’t believe we can ask our partners to deny ever feeling attracted to another person but we can set up rules, guidelines, and boundaries for what to do with those feelings.
From the beginning of my relationship with Ben onward the rule, I suppose, was to just ignore any attraction we felt for others. Come to think of it, it really wasn’t a big discussion. In trying to think of what the rules and boundaries were in order to guide how I write this I realize they were implied more than spoken. Perhaps the key was that we never denied the possibility of attraction to another person. We accepted attraction itself as a normal part of the human experience and, if it ever came to it, emphasized our trust in each others loyalty and commitment.
The rule was that we were exclusive. Period. Whatever feelings you might feel were normal and we weren’t policing each other. Instead, we were placing importance on actions and trusting each other to maintain those boundaries.
The attraction was normalized at a very casual level like commenting on the attractiveness of tv or movie characters. It wasn’t a secret endeavor when I went to watch “Magic Mike” in theatres, and of course, it couldn’t be a secret what the selling point of the movie was. Even less so when I went off to watch “Magic Mike: XXL”. Ben never got upset or offended that I’d be interested in these movies.
Likewise, as we came to the time when friends were getting married and bachelor parties are happening I always supported the idea that one party or another may see him and friends going to a strip club or at least a Hooters where the selling point of the trip is no more a secret than the point of a movie called “Magic Mike”.
Was it unreasonable to expect, when we were so open about attraction in an abstract way, that it could also apply closer to home with the people we see on a regular basis?
Actually at about this point in writing this piece curiosity got the better of me and I messaged Ben (because we’re the kind of people that text when we’re in the same house) to ask if he had random crushes or felt attracted to anyone when we were supposed to be entirely consumed with loving each other in the tradition of monogamy. He admits that there were people he found attractive and, being a man, he wouldn’t call it a crush but none the less.
I realize that feeling anything crush like when you’re in a relationship with someone is this big taboo. We’re supposed to deny that we can be so in love with one person and also kind of hoping some other person thinks we’re cute. But it’s our nature and there’s nothing really wrong with it.
The trick is knowing what you can or should do with those feelings. For us the answer was to do nothing. Random attractions or crushes always faded but our love never has. Clearly, our love for and commitment too each other wasn’t damaged by knowing there were other attractive people out there.
It wasn’t until the spark between Maggie and I became more than a passing crush that Ben and I had to discuss what taking action might look like instead of quietly ignoring and moving on from a feeling of attraction.
Even in that moment, in those conversations, one truth guided us: Feeling attracted to someone else didn’t really mean anything about the feelings we had for each other. Admitting that I had feelings for Maggie and an interest in pursuing those feelings never turned in to a statement about my relationship with Ben.
This is the common confusion I think people have for what multiple relationships mean. People often imagine that developing feelings for and pursuing a relationship with someone outside of your existing relationship means that you’re choosing something instead of that relationship. There’s a lot of implications that come with it – if my partner wants another relationship have I left them unsatisfied? What are they seeking that I don’t provide? Have I failed them in some way?
These are normal questions but they also reveal a fatal flaw in our thinking about relationships. They reveal that we expect ourselves to be everything to our partners (and probably expect them to be everything to us in return). Even with amazing compatibility, this expectation might be a bit much.
Most couples find whatever it is they don’t get in their relationship, whatever it is their partner doesn’t provide, in hobbies and friendships. Hobbies allow them to connect with others that have similar interests. Their friends can provide different support than their partner. These things alleviate the pressure for our spouses to be all things at all times for us.
Not only that but they alleviate the pressure without anyone having a conversation about it. You just kind of go off to your hobby or with your friends and don’t identify that what makes them different than your spouse is something you need and that without them there providing it you’d have to seek it. We kind of act like everything in our lives could be stripped away and if we just had our spouse on a desert island we’d never want anything more.
However, in polyamory we accept the idea that there can be romance just as there can be other satisfying elements to the connections we build beyond our relationship and one romance doesn’t inherently harm or detract from another any more than multiple hobbies or close friends do.
Polyamory has allowed me to explore an interest in cars that Ben doesn’t share, allowed me to build a different network of friends and attend different types of events with Maggie. It’s given me a lot more dimension and depth to my life without any of my partners being forced to feel inadequate or think of themselves as a failure because they, too, are able to become more whole and explore different sides of what they need outside of the relationship they have with me.
Now I said earlier most people find needs their spouse doesn’t meet by engaging with hobbies, work, friends, and whatnot. There’s nothing wrong with this at all! We don’t need polyamory but we do need to acknowledge that attraction to someone else or desires outside our monogamous relationships are normal.
This past weekend Ben and I went on a little weekend getaway to Blue Mountain resort in Ontario. Since I share so much of our lives here I thought I’d share our vacation, too!
We did things a little differently. Actually, going on vacation at all is a little different for us. We’re kind of the masters of a day trip. We don’t mind long drives or getting home late so we usually just go to events or go sightseeing and then make the trek home. Deciding to go somewhere and stay not just for 1 but for 2 nights felt like we were spoiling ourselves.
We wanted to make the most of our time there and make it a weekend of indulging things we don’t normally give ourselves time for.
First of all we made room in the budget and also go the style of vacation we would enjoy most by using Airbnb. This was our first airbnb experience and we are now happily singing its praises. Instead of staying in a shoebox with a bed we were able to rent a 1 bedroom condo 2 minutes from the village. Having a kitchen to cook our fave breakfast food in plus a super cozy space to netflix in the evening made a huge difference in our “lifestyle for a weekend”.
In the spirit of doing things we don’t normally make time for I took myself to the spa while Ben rounded up some groceries and supplies. I enjoyed a hot stone massage and a facial at Kalola spa in Blue Mountain village. It was so relaxing but definitely a splurge that I’ll save for rare occasions and not make a regular habit of. As much as I enjoyed it in the moment it was a pretty fleeting pleasure which made the investment seem disproportionate. I don’t regret the decision to treat myself at all but it was definitely a vacation lifestyle treat and not a regular lifestyle need.
On Saturday we found an adventure tour company offering ATV tours. Ben grew up with a 3-wheeler and had a few friends who had 4-wheelers so he was happy to go adventuring on one. I’d never ridden one in my life and so I was super excited to try it out. It was an idea to satisfy our craving for adventure and something off the beaten path. I can’t say enough good things about the company and how nice the trails were. There was a little something for everyone with rugged hill climbs, muddy, winding trails through the trees and wide open well-groomed pathways where we could speed up a little bit.
I honestly had no idea what to expect from either the experience of riding an ATV or the environment we’d be in so everything was new for me. I didn’t anticipate the effort it took to maneuver the ATV. I mean, I guess I just never really thought much about how much they weigh or that grippy tires let you do a lot of cool climbs and ride over everything but also take work to control. You’d think everything after crashing a car for fun would be a breeze but I still took my time getting used to it.
Perseverance paid off, though! By the end of the hour long tour I was really enjoying myself and as soon as we were in the car we were both talking about visiting again. The company operates all year round so if you like to adventure through heat, mud, raino r snow they’ve got a tour for you and a few different options for what you want to drive.
The tour guides were super nice and chatted with us after, as well. People and personal connections can make such a huge difference and these folks are a great example of how good people leave a lasting impression for their business – thank you so much for an amazing experience, ya’ll!
In the afternoon Ben and I headed back in to the village (after a hard earned soak in the resort hot tub!) to try out the “Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster” we’d read so much about.
Check out this article to see why we had to check it out:
here we though we’d be gliding gently down the mountain admiring the fall leaves… nope! We got to glide gently up… and up… and up. On the way down you could pull your breaks if you were really scared but it was strongly discouraged by staff as you slow down everyone behind you and muck up the timing of the track. It only seemed polite to push forward at full speed wondering how anyone could be afraid… then your cart rattles around the 1st bend far faster than you expect.
This moment separates the strong from the weak.
We loved every adrenaline-fuelled second so much we rode a 2nd time before going to get dinner.
We wandered around the village, shopped a little and then returned to relaxing at the condo.
On Sunday we went for a scenic drive and hiked around the mountaintop taking pictures of the partially snowy landscape.
We were really picky about what we comitted to with this weekend. We wanted time to relax and focus on each other as a couple while still enjoying the unique experiences the area had to offer. I think we accomplished this with a few great experiences like the ATV tour and the coaster while taking the rest of our time to relax and do whatever we wanted without stressing out.
What’s your weekend getaway style? Are you a fully scheduled weekend warrior or a worry-free weekender with an open calendar?
Holy moly I can’t believe I’ve followed through on these little updates for almost a month. October has been all kinds of good to me! There have been tons of celebrations and time with friends and we’ve even had mostly good weather. This weekend I get to top it off with a weekend getaway to Blue Mountain with the husband.
All that being said, weeks 3 and 4 have been weaker for my dedication to fitness and eating well. It didn’t disappear altogether but it did get a little sidelined by my dedication to working 40-50 hour weeks with weird working hours and wanting to pour more creative energy into this blog.
Something I really struggle with on these weaker weeks when one thing or another moves to the top of the priority list and fitness suffers for it is feeling like it’s the end and I’ve failed. If my dedication or the hours I’ve physically and mentally put in to being healthy this week are less than what it was last week then I must have failed.
Anna Victoria’s programs work in 4-week cycles so I’ve also started to think in this pattern that gives time to assess and refocus every 4 weeks. Since I’m at this first milestone I want to take a moment to break old habits, celebrate victories and look forward.
I’ve still been following Anna Victoria’s fitness strategy with the Body Love App but truthfully it’s been a bit glitchy and in order to avoid letting those glitches become total barriers to my workouts I’ve started branching out a little more on my own with workout moves I like but still following her circuit structure and dividing my 6 workout days the over the same schedule so even though it’s a loose interpretation of her workouts the inspo is still there!
Honestly, I think I kind of flip back and forth between, on the one hand, liking the “don’t think just do” of a workout plan like Anna Victoria’s or any other app/plan where you just open it up and follow along and then, on the other hand, also liking the control and ability to do something different all the time of creating my own plan.
I’m not sure I’d say I’ve seen hardcore results just yet but it’s only been 4 weeks and as I’ve already admitted 2 of those weeks were seriously imperfect. I haven’t gained any more weight though and that’s a big bonus and an encouraging sign that I am successfully putting a stop to the bad and throwing it in reverse.
I think it helps that I know at the end of the week I have these little notes to post. This and instagram do make me want to do better!
Those are some of the bigger thoughts and here’s a point form version of the small victories and changes:
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