Self-Portraits, Documenting a Better Life and All That Good Stuff

I’m listening to the latest LOAD podcast hosted by Lain Ehmann, who interviews Cathy Zielske about her new BPC class regarding healthier living. Cathy shares a bit about her journey in weight loss and how it’s ultimately about a change in mentality. Whether she loses or gains the pounds over time, those numbers aren’t exactly the point. She’s changed her lifestyle for the better and that’s what counts.

It got me to thinking about my own struggles. I’ve never had the issue of being seriously overweight, having always been considered petite. Actually, I was born 9 pounds (yup, hefty). I think of myself as short… not really petite. I could be categorized into the normal category if you look at the proportions of it all. Perhaps others don’t notice, but I’ve seen the pounds and inches pile on over the years. I seriously can’t believe it myself at times. I’m not a youngin’ anymore and I really can’t stuff myself during the holidays without consequence. Seeing my nieces grow up these past 20 years, I suppose it provides as a stark contrast to my own aging. Yikes and weird.

Anyway, my hopes revolve around healthy living and feeling good, not so much being a certain size. Given that I don’t have an exercise routine… you can bet your money that I seriously lack athletic ability. It would be great to tone up and look HOT, but really I just don’t want to huff and puff up while running up the stairs. Chasing my dog around is tiring, too. That’s pretty bad, right?

So I already have a journal for healthy living, started in 2010. Yeah, it hasn’t been working out too well for me. I put a photo of myself from 2005 in it, because I liked that version of “me.” Although I don’t necessarily have the same “goal” now, it does remind me of the energy and youth I felt before. I’m hoping to revive this old journal. Maybe it just looks way too boring to be motivating.

I’m going to try and put something I learned from Karen Grunberg into action here. That is, combining multiple interests into one activity. So it’s like doing more with less time – sort of! I love scrapbooking and creating. I want to record my life. I would love to change my habits and lifestyle to be a healthier one. I would also like to rip apart my closet and try to avoid wearing sweats and PJs around the house all the time. Not only do I need to eat more healthy, I think that I need to take better care of myself generally. It’s easy to slide that slippery path of “not caring” or letting certain luxuries slip. Give and take as the responsibilities pile on, yes. But there’s a limit. We must take care… in all senses.

All this to proclaim that I’m starting a new project of taking self-portrait photos, something I’ve wanted to document for a while now. Of course, if you don’t love the way you look, self-portrait projects can be pretty tough to get off the ground. More than that, I don’t love the way I dress either. Sometimes I’m so frumpy – a word my friends and I use. A definitely downside of freelancing… is being a lazy slob when no one can see you from the other side of the computer screen. I’ve always tended to wear large baggy clothing growing up. I’m not sure if it’s because nothing fit me properly or I got a lot of hand me downs. A good fit makes such a difference – something the Italians have taught me!

I would like to change my bad habits and document my outfit every single day. Not to mention use the opportunity to figure out what outfits I like, so I can clean out my closet. Taking photos will let me play with photography and all the documentation will be scrapbooking regularly! I think it would be a good journaling practice to just write down how I feel coupled with the photo as well. The more I think about it, the more intimidating it gets…I feel the fear. But I’m going to take Steve Job’s advice for success and just stick with it… because that’s how stuff gets done.

Now to get all motivational speaker on you, tell yourself this… “I love myself enough to take care of myself.”

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  • chel

    This is fantastic. I’m definitely one of those people who hate self-portraits because I’m not crazy about the way I look. Ironically, I’m satisfied with my body (first time in 30-something years, so it’s a big deal for me…) but there’s a reason for that- the daily five-mile swims. That’s my big sacrifice, my big daily investment into myself. And that’s all I can give, to be honest. The rest feels like *too* much. Getting dressed up, doing more than sticking to the slightly-funky (but absolutely relaxed) style I’ve developed over the last twelve years is just too overwhelming! Isn’t that terrible? The truth is, though, it just works.

    Maybe soon I’ll want to invest more time in my style. I always cringe when I read style magazines because it’s clear that I follow NO trends, but then again I live in Southwest Florida where it’s humid and above 85 degrees most of the year, so unless it’s a sundress or a cool, flowly skirt and a t-shirt, it’s totally uncomfortable and just doesn’t work.

    You always inspire me, though, so maybe this will be a kick in the pants for me, too! I can’t wait to see how this evolves. To be honest, though, I think you are gorgeous and I don’t look at you and think “she could stand to lose a few” and I am UBER critical of people’s weight- when I was a kid my doctors and parents constantly reminded me that the less I weighed, the better it would be for my spine, so I kind of grew up with the unhealthy philosophy that underweight=healthier.

    • linda

      Yes, I’m totally forcing myself to take these photos and trying not obsess and retake snapshots – because that is a time suck! I think part of it, is not seeing ourselves enough in photos. If it was a more regular thing, I’m sure we wouldn’t be flinching at the sight of our faces – not that we should be flinching! That’s just the reaction I get at times, because it’s as if I don’t know what I look like and it’s a surprise.

      I do think that we all have to choose what we spend our time on. Just like how some people like to spend money on designer clothes, while others spend their money on vacations. It just depends, whatever is your “thing.”

      I would actually like to have a style of comfort, maybe it’ll be leggings and big sweater dresses?! I dunno, I have no problem having a uniform type of dress code – if I knew what it was for me. My issue now – is that it’s just a big mess of stuff. Part of it is also probably living in California and never having to change from summer to winter clothers – literally! Now it’s just weird to do so…ugh!

      I think this is less about losing xyz pounds and more about feeling comfortable in my own skin. Because ultimately that is that important thing…if we are happy the way we are, all is good – no need to change!

      Thanks for your support and lovely comments – aweee… I do think that we all have a bit of a skewed perception of healthy, just depending how we were raised. I’ve been reading the Nutrition Diva book and learning a whole lot on actual health facts!