My friend has lost almost 100 pounds; she has gone from a non-exerciser to doing 5 and 10Ks almost every weekend. She is kind and caring, strong and determined; she also avoids wearing tank tops because of her excess skin and (her words) “bat wings”.
Another friend is a powerhouse of energy and positivity, both at the gym and in life. She radiates strength, and attracts friends without even trying – people love being around her. A wonderful mother and wife, the kind of person we all need in our corner. At the same time, she is self-conscious and embarrassed about her tummy.

Why do we find it so easy to look at the negative instead of focusing on positives? Our brains seem to be hardwired to go pessimist even in the face of overwhelming positivity. Naturally, there are exceptions to this but most people do seem to have the ability to find the bad in any good.

If we are indeed hardwired this way – and the science seems to agree with this – then how do we counteract that and find the bright side? Based on that same article, it appears that we need to overwhelm ourselves (and others) with kindness. Positive comments and reinforcement need to outnumber negatives FIVE TO ONE, per the research. Be honest, now – do you give yourself FIVE TIMES the positive reinforcement? I’m sure I do not. For many of us, it can be hard to even beat a one-to-one ratio; have you ever posted about a success and in the same paragraph deflected it by saying “I just got lucky” or some such statement? That’s our nature coming through and putting ourselves down again.

Last time I started by talking about my excess skin after weight loss. I’ve thought in passing about surgery to remove it, but have no plans to do so. After all, that is all part of me. I came by that skin honestly, and I wouldn’t be the person I am now if I hadn’t been there. Would I prefer to have the rocking six-pack? Sure, that would be cool. Would that change the way I interact with other people, and the way they see me?

Celebrate Your Wins!!

We all need to run our own race, it’s true. We tell each other all the time, “Don’t worry about what the other person is doing, focus on yourself!” – and that is good advice. It goes both ways, though – if you have worked hard to be fast, strong, fit, you should not feel the need to apologize for or downgrade it. You can be proud of your achievements without rubbing them in someone’s face, of course. Stand tall, stand proud, and offer help and advice if others come asking how you were able to succeed.

Being comfortable in your own skin like that is a great goal; how do you get there? It starts with honestly assessing yourself and how far you’ve come. After all, the best way to truly celebrate your wins is to remember your struggles. If you don’t know where you were, and where you are now, how can you plan for the next steps? Give yourself credit – don’t ignore the 10 pounds you still want to lose, but don’t forget the 50 you have lost, either. It’s not about the fact I struggle to do 40 pushups in a row – a year and a half ago I couldn’t do one legit pushup (not an exaggeration!). That is where the focus should be – how far you’ve come!

Mr. Bright Side

I am sarcastic by nature, and don’t think I’m particularly good at small talk. I have learned a lot about myself on this journey, and one big thing is that, for all my sarcasm (defense mechanism much??) I care about other people’s success. Helping them reach their goals makes me happy; to that end I am more of a cheerleader than I’ve ever been. I still miss opportunities because I’m not fully comfortable approaching others about their fitness goals, but I’m working on it.

As I talk about honesty and being comfortable in my own skin, I have decided that I need to put myself way out there. For the record, I have almost never taken my shirt off in public. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a picture taken without my top. (That would explain the pale whiteness and farmer’s tan.). But here it is, some before and after shots – along with me and my extra skin. This is me, it’s what makes me who I am.

My challenge to you is to put yourself out there. No, you don’t have to take your shirt off. You do have to celebrate your success and be proud of who you are and how far you’ve come. Now go out there and shatter some more goals!