Beating Midlife Frump


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I don’t think there are many women (or girls) on the planet who haven’t been insecure about their looks at some point in their life.

Even when we get older and wiser, those insecurities don’t leave. They might lessen, they might shift, they might even intensify. While we may know how to cope with them better, they’re still there.
For me, insecurities come in waves. Sometimes I feel awesome and beautiful, and nothing gets me down. And then sometimes I don’t want to leave the house afraid I’ll scare the children, and I’ve nothing of value to offer.

Things took a nosedive in mid-2017 when I left my dean’s position at the local university to work from home 100%. I had looked forward to this day for years. No office politics, no long commute, no need to shower or put on clothes.

You think I’m joking.

I thought I was too.

When I said that I loved working from home, it was because I got to stay in my pajamas all day at. First I was joking. Until more days in a row than I’d like to admit my daughter would get home from school and ask if I’d ever showered or gotten dressed.

Then for fear of being shamed by my young daughter, I would make sure to shower and dress before the bus dropped her off at 3:30 pm.

I thought that was good, but it wasn’t helping my self-esteem.

It didn’t take long before not only did I wear nothing but black yoga pants (I have more than 10 pairs) with an oversize shirt and sweater but I stopped working out, eating healthy, and never wanted to go out.

I got embarrassed to go out in public because I felt like a frumpy old lady. None of my nice clothes fit anymore, and so I had to wear my black yoga pants. I sure as hell wasn’t buying new fat clothes.

No one wants to do that.

The few times I needed something I went to Goodwill or my local second-hand store. What I bought was marginally better, but of course, it wasn’t a great fit. I felt horrible about myself.

But yet was too unmotivated to take action.

Until…

I went to Portugal.

It was a trip of a lifetime. A small group of women led by travel blogger Helene Sula of Helene in Between. I signed up because the trip contained some blogging workshops she was giving and I thought why not learn in Portugal. Plus, get the tax write off for professional development.

Not every one was a blogger, but out of the 15 women and 1 man (Helene’s fabulous husband Michael) only 3 of us were over 32 and all the women under 32 were smoking hot (yes so was Micheal but he’s not my point of this post).

These ladies were also Insta fabulous. I felt a twinge of physical insecurity when we got together that first night. But it wasn’t until we went to Sintra 2 days later to tour beautiful castles when I was slapped in the face with more insecurity about my looks than I’d had since in the 8th grade when I had glasses, braces, and boobs. And no idea who I was.

These gorgeous gals were straight out of a fashion shoot. In their beautiful outfits taking these hot pictures and I wanted to cry. At that moment if I could have, I would have gone home.

I felt horrible about myself. Embarrassed and pissed I couldn’t take cute photos. I was angry at myself for allowing an almost 30lb weight gain (I can’t blame it all on my recent thyroid issues) and looking like a frumpy middle-ager.

I will also tell you that all of them were nothing but amazing. They never once made us over 32’ers feel anything less than part of their crowd. They included us, were supportive, and I enjoyed every second being around them.

It was me. It was my fault. I hated myself. Here I was in a gorgeous country, and I was miserable because of something within my control.

You’d think when I came home I’d be totally motivated to do something about it.

Nope. I continued to eat my feelings for a couple more weeks until I finally had a heart to heart with myself. I had to stop waiting for the right time.

There would always be stress, pumpkin food season, movie popcorn. I couldn’t wait for the circumstances to be right or they never would be. There would always be something.

I needed to just do it. Thanks, Nike.

Have you found yourself in a similar spot where you knew you needed to make a change in regards to healthy eating and exercise?

Not even from a superficial place, I know my whining in this post is all superficial, but to be healthy. Which is much more important that looking good on the ‘gram.

You can have both. Hotness on the outside and healthiness on the inside. Hey, somedays you need that external hot mama to keep you motivated to eat healthily and exercise.

So how can you find the motivation and stick to it’ness?

Start with small changes. Don’t go from a period of inactivity to trying to run 5 miles or cut out all the things you love to eat and replace it with lettuce all 3 meals. It’s all about the incremental gains I talked about in the In Pursuit of Fabulous Midlife post.

For example, walking 3 times a week for 20 minutes when you haven’t been doing anything is a huge move in the right direction. Once you’ve built that routine, you can get up it to 30 minutes and so on. Create a plan that is realistic and works for you.

Reward yourself. Making any type of change in life is hard. Even if you want it. When you’re used to doing something a certain way it’s hard to break that cycle. So you need to incentivize yourself to do so.

Just not with food.

Maybe allow yourself a short Netflix binge, mani/pedi, a bubble bath, and a good book. Something that will make you feel good that won’t derail your goals.

Find an accountability partner. This is key. You need someone to talk you off the ledge when you want to stuff that plate of nachos down your throat.

Am I the only one who has such issues with nachos?

Find that person you know will drive to your house and drag you out of bed if you try to miss a workout. The person you can complain to non-stop about how it all sucks. That person who will tell you how fabulous you look in your new jeans.

Share your goals and allow them to help hold you accountable. It’s still on you, but some friendly badgering works.

Invest in clothing that makes you feel and look good. No one wants to buy bigger clothes. But if you spend the 6 months it takes to get to a smaller size in clothes that don’t make you feel good it’s more likely you’ll get frustrated and give up.

Size doesn’t matter it’s how you feel.

You don’t have to spend a lot. Try eBay. I bought my favorite pairs of Banana Republic and Ann Taylor Loft jeans there in my current size and the too small ones on a shelf in my closet. While I don’t like that I’m wearing the bigger size I feel more confident than in my stretchy yoga pants.

On a side note if you have a small waist and big hips both these brands in the boyfriend style fit really well.

Work on loving yourself no matter what. This is the absolute most important tip I can give. You are fabulous no matter your size, how you look, how fashionable you are. Love the person you are as you are. It’s not always easy, and it takes work. Keep in mind there is only one of you for a reason.

Your level of fabulousness can’t be matched. You broke the mold baby!

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— laina

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