This Above All: Relativity

This week I had a few realizations. It’s nothing ground breaking and it’s something that we all say. It’s stuff that I say all the time, but I don’t necessarily listen to clearly.

  1. happiness is relative. it means something different for everyone.

Something I’ve been struggling with the past few weeks since Connecticut is owning my happiness. There was a lot of negativity that I didn’t expect after placing and it made me question why I compete and what makes me happy. So, let me reiterate.

I compete because Cristina at over 240 pounds never thought she could do great things.

I compete because I like the challenge – it’s mental and physical all in one.

I compete because I love the glitter and sparkle that comes fleetingly on show day.

I compete because it let’s me become a character I never thought I could play.

I don’t compete for the trophy. It’s a nice addition, but that’s not my purpose. Just showing up and being present is enough for me. But I know it’s not enough for some people.

I started believing that I was never going to do better than 4th place. I started believing that my placing was meaningless. While there were so many positive comments, the ones I remember are the opposite. Someone told me that I still looked fat and my back still had rolls and posing didn’t help. They continued and said that I needed to stop telling people like me that they can accomplish anything because I’m making the sport a joke. I started to absorb that and I started to believe it.

But you know what, I’m getting on stage in 2 days for my 4th show in my 3rd season and I don’t see many people doing what I’m doing. So until someone drags me off stage, I’m going to absorb that 10 seconds of spotlight.

2. goals are relative. they can change weekly and so can the definition of success.

I don’t expect every person I talk to to have a  desire to compete. On the contrary, I am shocked when I meet other competitors because there are so few. When someone tells me they want to get healthy and find their path, that lights me up because that kind of change is tough. I’ve been told I’m inspiring even though I’m a competitor, I don’t know what the fuck that means, but I think EVERYONE can be inspiring in their own way. Take away the actual goal and you have left a person with dedication and drive. Take away age or gender or competition and you have a hard working person who focuses on their shit.

You don’t know someone’s story from glimpses at their day and maybe getting out of bed was a win. Maybe that morning getting their kids ready on time was a win, which allowed them to get their own personal goals moving along. Maybe success was seeing something from a different angle and deciding that they needed help.

Everyone has a different goal for their health because it’s defined differently for every person. Success looks different every week because you don’t always know what is going to be thrown your way.

3. it can be hard for people to understand how someone can be happy when there’s bad stuff happening around them.

I am not happy 100% of the time. I am not happy all day, every day. But I do find happiness most days for portions of the day and I think that is the balance in finding happiness. It’s not about expecting every day to go according to plan or being happy all of the time. I think if perfection is the expectation then you’re going to be very disappointed and see failure around every corner.

I’ve written about happiness before. I actually bought another psychology book the other day about creating your own happiness and how relative it is. The book says we have control over about 40% of lives. 10% is circumstance and 50% is genetics, you can’t control those, but 40% is what you actively are seeking and engaging in. I know so hippy-dippy, whatever. My money.

Bad things happen every day. Terrible things happen every day. I hold onto anger and frustration, but at some point you need to also be able to work through it and find something that makes you smile when all you want to do is scream or cry. Because really, what does screaming or crying do other than provide temporary relief.

Take the same energy and do something good.

Some of the littlest things make me happy like JP doing the dishes while I make breakfast because that means they aren’t piling up. A client texting me that they’re having a great day. A new PR in the gym. Reaching my step goal on days when I feel like I’m just sitting around. Being able to participate in class because I understand the material.

I’m excited because I have my 4th show in 3 seasons this weekend and the season isn’t quite over. I’m going to give up what I’ve been absorbing the past few weeks. Because really April has been great overall and I’m not letting anything stop me.

I hope you find happiness every day, around the corner, in front of your face. I hope you figure what works for you and hold onto it. I hope you use your energy for something worth while. I hope you find a cupcake that fits your goals that day or time to take a nap and relax.

I’m heading to class and then packing up for the weekend. Vermont is calling my name. I’m not scared for the outcome, I’m just excited for the opportunity.

Also, side note: I had this realization last night – the top 5 placing can go to Jr USA’s and Jr Nationals if they want to and the top 3 can go to Nationals. My goal was to do my best this season and give it my all, and get as close as I could to a national bid. Well, I guess I did that already. Now, it’s just about having some fun.

❤ Cristina

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This Above All: Everyone Knows The Rules

JP introduced me to Barstool Sports a few years ago when we first started dating. The content they create ranges – widely ranges. However, one thing that has stuck with us is a segment that El Pres does often called The One Bite.

As you imagine from the title he takes a bite and does a review…well, not quite. The point of the segment is to taste test pizza in Manhattan where their headquartered. He goes to a place and gets a slice, but the rule is one bite and give it a score out of 10. In most segments he repeatedly takes large bites while shouting “one bite, everyone knows the rules.”

For no reason at all, I think these are hilarious and it makes me want to do it with doughnuts, except you don’t waste a good doughnut by only taking one bite.

I’m pretty sure JP and I have adapted this for more things than we really should. Including today.

We were driving in the car, heading to his parents house for the weekend and I told him how I had talked to a friend and the crap that has been happening online.

substory…

I know some of you are wondering why I haven’t posted and some have reached out saying you completely understand. Well, for clarity, this isn’t about trolls. This is about how in depth some of the harassment has become. We all know that trolls are fake accounts posting ridiculous comments across the Internet. It’s not just Instagram, it’s Twitter, Facebook and other platforms. But what you don’t understand or realize is that aside from the 20+ accounts and more comments I delete and block on a daily basis, there have been comments that are using information I haven’t provided to you at all. Information that predates my use of Instagram.

The kind of information that says that 1. the person is doing their research by trying to find other social media platforms that are personal or 2. they know me.

Regardless, it’s kind of pathetic, but pretty damn scary at the same time.

That’s what set me off yesterday, not the Easter comment, which was the dumbest thing ever because I would love to see a family that has a normal meal where there isn’t something special for one person. After I finished a live session of ranting, someone started commenting with an account using a name of a family member of JP’s that we’ve NEVER EVER MENTIONED BEFORE.

HOW FUCKING CRAZY IS THAT?

They said they missed the live session, but then started commenting things I had mentioned in the live session… you good sir, are a dumbass. #BLOCKED

That’s crazy and creepy and honestly, it really does beg the question, who needs therapy more: me or them?

Anyway, back to the car.

My friend said that women should be empowering other women. JP smiled and said, “No, it’s empower her to her face and talk shit about her on the Internet,  everyone knows the rules.”

He has a point.

Is that the rule now? Pretend that you’re excited or happy for someone, but it actually burns you up?

There’s a level of jealousy I think everyone has, myself included. I’ve found myself wishing for fancy vacations or city living, but I also know what my circumstances are and I don’t necessarily know what affords someone else their opportunities.

You get what you earn, you get what you work hard for.

I share my journey because as I’ve said a million times, I want others see what they can achieve if they dream big and put in the work and give themselves time. My account didn’t start that way. It’s still my personal account, but it’s changed as my life has changed. I’m sure it’ll change a little bit in the after-competing life too.

I don’t find myself very inspiring because of my progress. Anyone can lose weight. I do find how people set goals and create plans for themselves to be inspiring and maybe that’s how some of you see me. I’m setting goals I want to be setting,  I’m creating a plan and timeline and going full speed ahead.

In some of the messages I’ve received I’ve been told I’m a leader and role model – things I never thought to categorize myself as, but I do believe a leader pushes a group of people to be better and reach their potential by helping them, not by telling them what to do. I want to always be learning new things and experimenting to find what works for me versus finding what’s trendy. I want others to be fearless in this way too.

I said it earlier this week. I’m excited for April, it’s going to be a good month. Good things are happening, even when bad things are too. What fun would it be if there wasn’t a challenge thrown your way?

This break isn’t about letting the trolls win because they’re losing the moment they try to become keyboard warriors instead of hitting the gym or stepping on stage. They are losing the moment they decided that someone else loving life means that they can’t love theirs. They are losing the moment they start throwing around words to bring people down to the dirt where they are rolling around.

I’m allowed to be frustrated because this much hate shouldn’t be in the world, not at at this level, not towards me or anyone like me trying to better themselves or show others they can do the same.

If you’re going to hate, why don’t you hate the real injustices that occur every day like unequal pay for women or the cost of education. Why does there need to be hate because someone lost weight, is eating what she likes even if it’s weird, is competing on a stage you don’t have balls to step on and is in a relationship where the man she loves equally loves her back even with all her flaws? If that shit isn’t jealousy, I don’t know what is.

Take your hate and put it to good use.

But if you are going to spew hate, at least put your money where your mouth is and show what things you’ve done lately to make the world a better place?

Show me yours, I’ve already shown you mine. Everyone knows the rules.

❤ Cristina

This Above All: Every Day Life v. The Emotional Mind

I’ve talked about my own experience with binge eating disorder before. I talked about it in the fall when it was triggered by PTSD. oh there she goes again. Remember, you can always stop reading or stop following.

Anyway, moving on.

Eating disorders have huge gray area, but I don’t think many people realize that. What we know to be true sometimes isn’t what we say to ourselves.

A former client of mine told me she started going to therapy because as she put it, once her and I cleaned up the fitness and nutrition part of her life, she realized that there was something more. She explained that when reaches a goal she usually stops and reverts back to bad habits. At this point, she’s lost the 20 pounds she set out to and did so by learning about macro nutrient counting. We calculated her numbers and talked about why those numbers were hers. We talked about how and when to adjust them. She’s now calculated macros for a few people her in life.

Looking at food from different angles changed how she thought about food. But, there’s a but, it also opened her eyes to the relationship she had with food before that she realized was creeping in.

There’s anorexia and there’s bulimia – while no eating disorder is clear cut, those two are very common and have more understanding or at least seem to. This woman explained, she never thought of herself as having disordered eating, but she started to realize she did and does and that there’s a deeper place that it comes from.

There is always more to our behaviors than we think on the surface. Remember that.

I had a check in this morning with a current client and I swear, the ways I help her, I can count the number of ways she teaches me. She is much wiser beyond her years and sometimes she will say something and a light bulb in my head goes off. I think that’s how the relationship should be. Symbiotic.

I had asked her to write about five of her favorite foods and why those were her favorite foods. I’ve talked about food in this way before. I’ve said that experience impacts behavior and memory can be connected to foods we enjoy or hate.

She said thinking about this list was tough. It was harder than she thought because she’s counting macros using a high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate emphasis and when she thinks about the foods she enjoys, they’re good for her. They’re healthy. It’s eggs and avocado. It’s fresh artisan cheeses. It’s protein. She knows these make her feel good. They make her feel energized.

She continued to explain that her personal relationship with food is much more complicated and it’s about control. It’s about stress and coping. It has nothing to do with being fat and lazy. She is not alone in these feelings. These feelings are a million times valid.

In 1990, a document was published by the National Eating Disorder Centre in Toronto, Canada discussing as the first line says “anorexia and bulimia are metaphors of women’s psychological distress in the face of contradictory social expectations.” The document continues to talk about perceptions of dieting and control and how women in particular revolve around these concepts. Control and self-esteem can and are closely connected.

Psychology Today published an article in 2015 that talks about control in eating disorders, even 25 years later. Society hasn’t changed as much as we may think.

I rephrased and asked “What is the difference between the foods you enjoy to eat and the foods you use for control and coping?”

“They’re fundamentally different than things I know to keep me fueled that I enjoy.” The foods she explained are carbohydrates like breads or ice cream or other sweets. They are things that are consumed quickly because you have to take effort to chew vegetables and meats.

This made me think. It’s not that the foods we choose when we are trying to find control are necessarily bad, yes, sometimes they are, but it’s the pressure we put on them.

Eating disorders are gray area and look different for everyone. They can also evolve over time.

I’ve been asked about triggers and how can I have such control over foods that are consideration temptations for others. My answer is, my binging isn’t about restriction. It’s not about feeling compelled to consume large quantities of these foods. I know in my head that they will be there tomorrow, I can stop at a serving or two and call it a day. I also know that physically, these things outside of moderation don’t make me feel good. It’s not guilt, but physical bloating or pain or sickness.

It’s tied to my anxiety and my PTSD and at times manifests differently than I’m expecting. But, it all comes back to one thing. My binging is 100% tied to control. I’ve blacked out during binges and was essentially a body going through motions that she didn’t realize. The last binge I was very much present and that was new for me because I had never experienced a binge where it was more than searching for something to turn off the chemicals. Taking bites of a pepper and a cookie, peanut butter and broccoli. Sugars or salts. Maybe a texture. But never both at the same time.

What this client said made me think about my own history and what impacted it before and what impacts my present.

What we know in every day life is different than what we know when we are in an emotional mind. I know now, that for me to keep calm or in control, I need a process or schedule to feel like I’m at zero. That’s why I get up at the same time every morning and go to bed around the same time every night. That’s why I keep a strict calendar. It’s why I make lists and have dessert at roughly the same time every day. It’s why I excel in a deadline driven setting – I have always excelled in that regard.

That’s actually why I like baking so much. JP’s co-workers truly do benefit.

The process of reading, pre-heating, mixing and pouring for me is relaxing. Maybe that’s why I’m enjoying biology so much, the process in lab puts me in control at first and then I get to sit back and see the reactions, see if my hypothesis is proved right or false.

Health is much more than eating right, whatever that means for you. It’s more than measurements and the scale. Health is a feeling. It’s about the confidence behind the psychology of the decision making process. Saying, I not enjoy what I’m eating, but I feel good about choosing it. It’s also realizing when something throws you through a loop and developing a plan that may help you solve the problem.

Something, something, inspiring.  I want people to think about things differently. I want people to see the world from different angles. It’s not just that there’s an eating disorder in your history or in your present, it’s something much deeper than that. It’s not that you don’t have your shit together, it’s just that sometimes things slip away and regaining control is found in losing control.

The conversation I had this morning with my client made me excited because she was able to start seeing things from different angles. It’s not about failing. Yes, it’s frustrating because she knows what makes her feel good and fueled, but that’s not what drives her own desire to regain superficial control.

Take what you learn from yourself and others and move forward, especially in tough times. Move toward forgiving yourself for not being perfect. Forgiving those around you from wishing that you were perfect. Be kind to yourself because if you can’t do that, then why should others?

Remember, you’re not crazy, it’s just that others aren’t talking about their own issues out loud for you to hear.

❤ Cristina