Saturday, April 26, 2014

A few extra pounds on "love" on my bones...

Awhile ago I was out with my friend Emme*. I confided in her that since I've been in a relationship I have gained some weight and that I was starting to feel insecure about it.

An omission that I have a hard time saying publicly because I try to be an advocate for health and beauty at every size; and I do love myself and my body. I am grateful to be able-bodied and healthy... But, I am also human, living in a day and age where a person's value is calculated in part by how they look. Further, talking about my weight in a public form means I hold the door open for internet trolls to call me fat, or it gives the impression that I am giving others permission to pipe in on how my body looks.

This blog post is not a permission slip.

"You might have put on some weight but I have never seen you happier," she told me. "When you smile now you have this genuine happy glow. That's even more beautiful."

She has a point, I am happier than I've been in a long time and it shows. Not only in my smile, or my social media feeds, but it shows in my every day life. I am happy and I'm in love.

(OK, that public confession of love made me throw up in my mouth a little. Sorry about that!)

Months before Emme and I had this discussion, I'd confided in her that I was scared being in a new relationship was going to throw off the rigorous gym routine I had established and enjoyed for myself. I told her that while I was enjoying getting to know the guy, this entire courtship process was cutting into my gym time, and as a result I was going to gain weight.

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I didn't want to gain weight.

Prior to this coupled-off life, I was a single girl with no boundaries, considerations or responsibilities other than work, which meant that I could be at the gym five to six times a week without having to think about anyone else's time. For that specific lifestyle the gym was my home away from home, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

And then this guy, who seemingly came out of nowhere, suddenly entered into my life and my routine was interrupted with the indulgences that come with any new courtship; dinners at lovely restaurants, drinks and appies at some lounge somewhere, lunch at a charming hole in the wall...

It was all so lovely and rich. And even more than the food and drink, I consumed this new relationship and connection with the guy, because it was something that made me genuinely happy. It was over the top, and comparable to being in "vacation-mode." There is no balance in one's life when they are in the honeymoon stage.

"Enjoy this part," Emme told me. "Don't let your fears of change, of love, or of ruining your routine ruin something that could be potentially wonderful."

Further to that, she told me, that I should be enjoying this indulgent stage because all too soon, as in any relationship, routines will form and I will long for the days when things were so chaotically and calorically romantic.

She was right, and I am grateful that I chose to take her advice.

Now, some months into this thing, I am establishing new routines and balances in my life. While I admittedly neglected the gym for awhile in favour of romance and dates, I am back at it with a new routine and a new gym partner. Merging the two has given a whole new meaning to date night.

That said, I still enjoy an indulgent night out every once in awhile.

The one thing I've learned about my body is that it is always changing, and who knows what it's going to look like in five days or five years. I'm excited for establishing this new routine with a partner, and I'm glad I didn't let my fear and old routines ruin that. I'm also glad that love won over vanity...

Emme's* name has been changed to respect her privacy and our friendship.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Celebrate with me?

It's my birthday next week. I'm going to be 35.

Thinking about being that number kind of astounds me. I mean, I don't consider 35 to be "old," yet I can vividly remember a time where this stage of life seemed so far away and foreign. I don't feel like I am as far away from my 20s as I actually am. It's strange, but I feel grateful that I'm at a point of my life where I am happy and where opportunities and experiences still present themselves on a fairly regular basis.

So this year for my birthday I've told my entire family that I don't want them to buy me any presents. I don't want a fancy party, or a dinner, or any kind of costly gesture. I've already told them that I will make my own birthday cake because A) I like baking and B) It will be cheaper and more convenient than a store bought cake.

I'm not trying to be difficult, or come across as some kind of altruistic, unselfish soul (Trust me, I am sometimes difficult, but rarely if ever altruistic and unselfish.) I just want to have a nice day, and I want the people I like/love to have a nice day too. While I like presents, there is nothing I need right now.

So it got me to thinking, while I don't want presents, there actually is something I would like from pretty much anyone who would like to take part in what I'm about to propose...

This year, for my birthday (Monday, April 28th) I would like anyone and everyone who I know, or even who I don't know, to do something nice for themselves and post it on social media, either tagging me or using the hashtag #April28Celebrate

There are two reasons that I want this...

1) I always feel really happy and special on my birthday, and I would like everyone else to feel like that too. So, why not make that happen?! -- Buy yourself an ice cream cone that day, or draw rainbows on the sidewalk with chalk, if it's a nice day outside go for a walk, or take your kid for a Slurpee... Just do something lovely that makes you feel happy.

2) It makes me happy when people post about nice things that make their day a little brighter. (Told you I'm selfish...) But yes, quite literally, I want to see people's tweets, statuses, Instagrams, pictures, etc, of nice things people are doing for themselves or others on April 28th because it will make me happy... It doesn't have to be over the top, in celebration of me, or even anything out of the ordinary. No, I just want my social media timelines to be full of lovely pictures and posts of people who are willing to share a nice part of their day that day because it will make me happy, and I want to be happy on my birthday.

Does that make sense?

I'll be honest, I feel kind of stupid for asking you all to do this; partly because I think many of you will either think I'm weird, or think that I have some kind of weird, ulterior motive (which, I promise I don't) and partly because I am going to feel silly for putting this idea out there, and then having nobody do it...

Oh well, I'm putting the idea out there if anyone is interested and willing to take part.

You can tag me on Twitter with your #April28Celebrate at @ShelleyACook. Or, you can find me on Facebook and tag me there too...

Thanks everyone.

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