A Woman’s Attractiveness Reflects on Her Husband’s Appeal, Talent and Ability

steph in fall

I had one of the most interesting comments last week by Object of Contempt, wondering how keeping passionate love, romance, and a woman’s attractiveness alive and well in a marriage are intertwined with each other, and if they are at all supported in Scripture.  He admitted that most women don’t seem to have a problem with wanting to be attractive, but for the women who are extremely against it, are there any biblical passages that show it’s important to God?

His main question was how a woman would address another woman who is really determined to refuse to be attractive to her husband?  Would she need a certain approach to make it more palatable?

These are all really great questions, and this is a sensitive issue for many women, especially in our current day culture.

Let’s tackle the notion of attractiveness first:

Like I said in Men Need an Attractive Wife,

Most men really do value having a wife that is attractive.

It’s not shallow that they want to show you off, it’s not shallow that even just looking at you and knowing that you’re their’s makes them feel proud of you.

It’s just the way God designed the male nature.

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It is, in large part, a reflection on the man, what his wife looks like.

This is where the topic gets a little more serious.  When a woman takes care of her appearance and tries to look her best for her husband, she is helping her marriage to flourish by giving her husband respect.  Keeping herself attractive for him shows him how much she respects, honors, and admires him.  In other words, she wouldn’t dare let herself go because not only does she respect herself too much, but she knows her appearance reflects on who he is as a man and as her husband.

When a woman refuses to be and remain attractive to her husband in the way that he likes, when she gains weight after marriage or never loses her pregnancy weight, it is almost as if she is sending him the message that he deserves a woman who looks unattractive.  That he can’t or couldn’t do better.  When she refuses to be attractive to him, she is saying that she doesn’t care about his visual needs, that she disrespects the man that he is.

 

One of my favorite books, Becoming the Woman of His Dreams by Sharon Jaynes, describes this phenomenon quite well,

Paul reminds us, “Do you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)…

Have you ever noticed how a man who enjoys hunting likes to display his catch?  A great blue marlin is mounted over a mantel, a five-point deer head emerges from a wall, a stuffed greenhead mallard proudly tops a desk. All this is to say, “Hey, guys, look at what I caught. Eat your heart out.”

There’s nothing your husband would like more than to flaunt his attractive wife out in public.  He may not mount you on the wall (let’s hope not), but when he walks into a room with you at his side, he wants to say, “Hey, look what I caught.  She’s all mine.  Eat your heart out!”  I daresay, when you walked down the aisle on your wedding day, that’s exactly what he was thinking!

“When a man has an attractive wife, it says he has the appeal and talent that deserve someone of her caliber.

When a man’s wife let’s herself become unattractive, the message comes across loud and clear that he couldn’t get someone better and probably deserves her.  He has little to offer, the world decides, and he attracts little in return.”

The Bible reminds us that “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).  The truth remains… man looks at the outward appearance.

Of course, I don’t think most women who let themselves become unattractive want to reflect badly on their husbands, or even understand that not trying to be attractive makes their husbands feel as if they don’t care about them.  Many times I believe women just think that men act and feel like women – that outer looks don’t matter to them as much as it truly often does.

But men (most men) are wired to like looking at a beautiful woman – and it makes them ecstatic if their wife is attractive to them!  They want their wives to make an effort to be attractive for all these reasons, and yes, Object of Contempt is right that it directly encourages passionate love and romance to flourish in a man’s heart toward his wife.

Object of Contempt rightly points out that a woman making an effort in her attractiveness is doing her part to maintain passionate love and even romance in their marriage:

I think, however, that it is part of the vows to do what you can to maintain passionate love. Being attractive is part of that. I also think it is possible to make yourself be in love with someone (having done it myself). There are limits, of course. Romance and passion are often dismissed in christian teaching about marriage, just like attractiveness and beauty are. I suspect this is partially the cause for the attractiveness issue.

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The second part of Object of Contempts question: How would a woman would address another woman who is really determined to refuse to be attractive to her husband?  Would she need a certain approach to make it more palatable?

Will be discussed in the next post!

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You Can’t Be Together All the Time – Respecting Your Husband’s Space

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Something I deeply treasure in our marriage is the time we spend together.  Whatever season we’re in, whether there is ample amount of time, or barely enough time to reconnect, I truly do value that sense of togetherness.

When we were dating and in college, some of our mutual friends joked that we were attached at the hip, they said they never saw us by ourselves – we went everywhere together, did everything as a couple, and tried to see each other as much as humanly possible.

When we were first married, I heard the term co-dependent and worried that we’d fallen into that relational category because of how much we loved to spend time together.

Co-Dependent -a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (as an addiction to alcohol or heroin); broadly:  dependence on the needs of or control by another

 

Obviously, we weren’t co-dependent at all.  In reality, we were both growing into our own persons, becoming inter-dependent, and inspiring each other to reach our own individual goals.  My husband went back to school with a renewed attitude after marriage, and was driven with an inspired purpose.  His grades reflected the change – he was suddenly making all A’s and loving his progress in knocking out classes.

We energized each other, and encouraged each other to succeed.

But even in all this togetherness, there was still a lot of times where we would not be so attached at the hip.

There were many nights where we would relax and be in the same vicinity, but doing completely different things.  Myself reading a book or the beauty magazine, Allure, while my husband read his own book or played his game console.  Both focused on other things, but still under an umbrella of love and treasuring each other.

There were still many times where we would read together – to each other even, but it was in these times of separateness that the comfort and relaxation of just knowing that we were there for each other, being quiet and immersed in our own interests, a sense of confidence in our relationship emerged.

I once knew a woman my age that had just gotten married, complain that she was sitting on the couch watching her husband play his game console, and had the incredible urge to throw it across the room.

She was angry that he wasn’t spending time with her in that moment, and maybe in some ways she was lacking intimacy in their marriage.  But this controlling neediness from women to always be the focus of their man, is something that drives relationships into the ground.

Couples need time where they are by themselves, and men in particular, seem to need to be alone or with other men, even when they’re crazy about the woman they love.

There are times when my husband will get off work at night, and instead of come straight home to me, he stays to talk and laugh with his friends there, or goes to visit friends and past co-workers for awhile.  He misses them, and visiting with them, even though it takes away a little of our couple time, gives him so much fulfillment.

Sometimes he’s talking about his work, even asking their ideas and opinions on things he faces, or they’re telling horrible jokes that would make me blush or faint, but this time is his and his alone.  It is not meant for me to intrude upon, or to make him feel guilty for.  He needs that time with others, other men and even a few women who add an overall deeper meaning to his life experience that I alone can’t provide.  When he does come back to me, he’s usually glowing with the happiness of getting to be with these crazy people, and can’t wait to tell me what’s going on in their own lives, or the dirty jokes they shared LOL.

Do I miss him when he stays out later to be with these other people he loves?  Of course, but he needs them… they add to his life.

Men need their own time to get away, to recharge, to become energized.  I remember growing up my mom told me about Abraham Lincoln’s wife.  She was apparently, an extremely jealous woman, who hated allowing Lincoln to spend time with anyone else, especially another woman, and it was hard on him because he was naturally friendly and very people-orientated.  My mom used her as an example of the ugliness of jealousy in a woman, and how she can use it to control and manipulate her husband’s time and his life.  She told me that Lincoln was sad about his wife’s character flaw, and paid the price for it by having less enriched relationships with other people in his life in an effort to keep her happy.  A woman like that makes her man have to keep her happy, or she’ll try to make him miserable, or throw his game console against the wall to get his attention.  She’s allowing her emotions rule their relationship (and rule her husband) and coming from a place of jealousy that’s inspired by insecurity.

Women need their time alone as well, there have been so many times throughout our marriage when I’ve been grateful for the time spent away with other women friends when we gathered together for talking at the park with our kids, or Bible study, or even going out together.  There is something that I get from them that my husband cannot (and probably should not) try to provide for me, simply because they’re women – we connect at a different level and share experiences that men don’t understand.

You just can’t be together all the time.

Men seem to respect that women have their hobbies or girly activities, it’s women like Lincoln’s wife that don’t seem to get that men also need their space – their time to relax and spend time with friends.

It’s good to respect our husband’s space, to let him have the hobbies he loves – reading, writing, hunting, baseball, game-playing, visiting friends, or whatever it may be.

Respect his space, be interdependent.

How to Love Food Yet Keep an Hour Glass Shape

I learned a long time ago, how to manage my weight while at the same time, being able to almost eat whatever I wanted, not feeling deprived or prevented from eating any certain food group.

My mother, when I was about 12, got me into my school’s track & field, solely for the purpose of learning how to effectively control my weight & shape via healthy exercise.  In our American culture, where fast food is everywhere and so tempting, and processed food makes up the bulk of our grocery markets, I’m so glad she had the whereabouts to teach me something that is now seen as drastic in order to stay in shape for life: exercise and eating generally healthy.

She told me that when practice was especially hard, to picture someone’s body I adored (Catherine Zeta-Jones became it for me 🙂 ), and know that shape was my prize.  Nevermind that she and I have completely different body types, it was such a great motivator – picturing the body I wanted, but then love of the sport took over, and I found myself genuinely enjoying running and racing hurdles.  That was basically the goal, for me to learn to appreciate and enjoy the feel of exercise and taking care of my body, as well as to understand the award and results for doing so.

Something I’ve seen rampant in our country is that exercise becomes some kind of idol, or center of our life.  For women in particular, don’t take exercise or weight lifting so seriously that you cross over to a masculine extreme.

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Female Masculinity…

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This is another beauty of the French woman… she still keeps her shape womanly and soft with a bit of lean muscle – she doesn’t lose her breast tissue in the pursuit of gaining strength that appears like a male torso.

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The French typically have a laid back view on beauty, exercise and eating, they aren’t trying too hard with it – a view we Americans would do very well to integrate into our mindset.  As far as beauty goes, it is a very relaxed approach almost sometimes a little unkempt, but always sexy in a very French way.  Most French girls don’t even own a brush!  When I was young, and even now, I didn’t and don’t actually brush my hair, and I have one hair brush that I never ever use packed away in the storage under our sink.  I comb it when its detangled and wet, but never brush it out.

American women approach exercise out of fear and with great stress, leading most to give up because they’re already overweight and don’t see results fast enough to keep their motivation.  We typically are found going after workouts with too great an ambition – after a New Year’s declaration or seeing ourselves in reality in our social media pictures.  Instead of a steady, peaceful pursuit of health, it becomes a stressful chore to add to our to-do list – workout 3x per week… or else!  You can’t lose weight when stressed and under such pressure, but you can easily lose your motivation and perspective on life and its pleasures.

Americans tend to be at both ends of the extreme – either never exercising or exercising being their life center where they literally run around all day in work out clothes (guilty to some degree, at least with the workout attire).  The French only really wear their workout clothes when going to the gym or when actually working out.

Another thing I’ve realized is that Americans work out from the anxiety and pressure to be thin. The French exercise from the desire and pleasure to be thin… one is forced, the other is a natural, peaceful habit.

There are very few overweight women in France, I’m sure you’ve heard that cliche.  Its true for the most part.  When they start to feel their clothes getting tight, they up their daily exercise by simply taking the stairs, walking extra in their daily routine, and determinedly, eating less or avoiding dessert for awhile.

A word about dessert.

When the French eat something decadent, they try to avoid cheap imitations or processed and packaged sweets.  It just isn’t worth it to them, they value dessert more than that.  All those empty calories for something that doesn’t even taste that great compared to the real, homemade/handmade, exquisite little pastry or sweet, it just isn’t worth it.  As a result, because the dessert is heavier or more rich in taste, they naturally eat a lot less or they begin to feel sick (as it should be when one overeats).  Only one dessert a day is considered enough, and it is enough because it meets a very real need for the craving of deliciousness and pleasure, while at the same time, being satisfying enough that you don’t even think about eating more of it.  The French don’t deprive themselves by sticking to strange and restrictive diets that produce temporary results at best.  They don’t really do diets at all, but approach food as a pleasure to be enjoyed.

‘Je deprime donc je chocolate.’

“When I’m down, I chocolate.”

Refuse to buy packaged sweets if you can, we only do so extremely rarely, like if they are on an amazing deal and I get them for free.  Last week, I actually did obtain a box of Hostess Cupcakes, the first I’ve bought probably ever, but it was only because they were part of a “meal deal” where my buying ham & cheese gave me the cupcakes for free.  I already needed the deli meat and cheese, but the added free fattening desserts were a treat.  My son was delighted, but he understands we only do that for rare occasions… packaged sweets like that are usually never in my pantry.  Go figure in America they tempt you with buying the things you actually need (protein meats and cheese) and give you their packaged crap for free to try to get you addicted.  If you never usually buy them, they’re never a real temptation.

I’ve never read the book, French Women Don’t Get Fat, by Mireille Guiliano, but I’ve heard great things about it, and the few things I have read fit right in line with everything I’m telling you in this post.  A quote from Mireille perfectly describes the difference in the American stressful mindset of food, versus the relaxed French perspective,

“French women think about good things to eat;

American women typically worry about bad things to eat.”

The French eat carbs… but don’t overeat or stress.  I couldn’t find any studies in particular, however, I would guess that the cortisol levels in American women vs French women is much higher, as is the newly medical term, The Hurried Woman Syndrome.  American women push themselves, constantly trying to be more competitive, to be perfectionists, to be the Super Mom… aggressive, successful, and in general, more masculine in nature.  Compared to the laid back approach of the parenting style and life of the French woman, the American woman is far more stressed and more than likely at risk to use pharmaceutical drugs in order to achieve peace of mind about her life.  This has even been noted as a reason why French women age better than American women, almost seeming to never appear old.  Yes, they take care of their skin immaculately and admirably, but it stems from a no-nonsense view of stress, as well as valuing their sleep each night (getting 8.5 hours compared to the American 6.5) so that cortisol levels don’t build up over extended periods of time.

They also have a natural awareness of calorie intake – if they eat something full of carbs they eat something light later, if they eat a dessert that was a lot of calories or particularly heavy, they modify their diet the next day to balance it out.

A few things to remember in starting the Fall off right:

  • Potion size difference… always remember that ours in America, is out of proportion.  Never finish all a restaurant gives you to eat, eat 1/4 to 1/2 and save the rest.
  • Eat an incredible breakfast.
  • Eating slower… actually enjoy the eating experience as a pleasure – taste and love the food you eat
  • Only eat really good food – avoid the empty carbs and sugars and processed crap of packaged foods as much as you can.
  • Cook for yourself!  Learn to LOVE to cook and bake your own treats… it will give you an appreciation of the process and art of food.
  • Eat a little dark chocolate everyday, never deprive yourself of chocolate.  As a woman, this is a sin.
  • Don’t be afraid to drink a little wine – I usually do in the Fall and Winter, and then for some reason (maybe the extreme heat here in Texas) I abstain pretty well in the Spring and Summer.
  •  Joie de Vivre!  Embrace the exuberant enjoyment of life!
  • Have healthy snacks always available, especially fruit, plain greek yogurt (add your own sugar) and cheese.
  • Stay away from diet foods, sugar free foods, sodas (at all costs).  We drink sodas rarely, adding ice into a soda is a great trick to water it down, making it actually healthier in albeit, a small way.

“Here is what I have seen to be good: it is appropriate to eat, drink, and experience good in all the labor one does under the sun during the few days of his life God has given him, because that is his reward.  God has also given riches and wealth to every man, and He has allowed him to enjoy them, take his reward, and rejoice in his labor.  This is a gift of God, for he does not often consider the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with the joy of his heart.

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20

Summer Foods for Your Health & Body

So I’ve been a health-food nut for awhile now….  I grew up eating pretty healthy, my mother was the one who cooked, and even though she worked a full-time job she still made sure we ate low-fat, non-greasy, mostly homemade foods.  But because she was working so much, about half the food we consumed was packaged and processed foods – foods that are low in nutritional value and protein, but high in salt & fat (making them addictive and easy to over-eat), additives, and preservatives.  Now that I’m a wife and mother, I’ve managed to largely cut out most of the processed foods we eat daily.  Sure we still have some crackers in our pantry, I still sometimes cook with flour, and we let our son eat white bread, but the majority of the food we eat is as close to homemade or natural as we can get or make.  We eat this way because our health is a priority to my husband and I.  We are an active family, constantly going, and I want to be active even in our old age together, and that starts with what you take into your body.

We are also that family that eats healthy regularly at home, but doesn’t think twice about eating a donut every week, or eating out at our favorite fast food places sometimes.  When eating healthy is simply your lifestyle, you aren’t worried about ordering a pizza, or eating a high fat, high calorie burger with fries sometimes.  So we are those people who look really fit, but who you’ll see eating out and enjoying ourselves regularly, we don’t believe in sticking to a super strict diet.  This means that around the holidays, we do tend to indulge in those incredible comfort foods more often than not, and then modify our exercise and diet lifestyle come January.  Our love is to enjoy the seasons, and we’ve embraced that the holiday season in particular, is one filled with foods that we normally don’t eat year round.  We embrace the tastes, the pleasures of eating those gustatory delights, but we equally embrace eating clean again come the New Year on.

Europeans (especially the French) tend to live that way.  They aren’t as obsessed with cutting out all carbs or certain food groups, wine, or doing insane diets for short periods of time, because the way they eat daily is beneficial to their bodies – they aren’t gaining weight because they typically just don’t over-eat.  They also stick to natural, mostly unprocessed foods… even their chocolate is healthier because it typically has no high fructose corn syrup, modified starches or milk products, and more cocoa %).  When French women in particular, do happen to notice they might be gaining weight, they simply step up their daily exertion – like taking the stairs instead of the elevator when they feel a shirt or dress becoming tight.  They self-moderate their weight because they are in tune with it and their bodies, they eat slower as well, which helps them feel when they are full.

Summer is the season when our food lifestyle starts to be really harrowed down to the necessities for survival, however, we still eat so that we don’t feel deprived.

Here are some of the snacks or sides we use during the year that help us eat clean:

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1) Fresh cut fruits …. The best way to ensure that your fruit won’t go to waste in the basket is to, as soon as you get it home from the market, find some time to slice and dice it into portions that are easy to pull out for a snack or for the lunch sides.  It saves so much more time and will keep you from reaching for packaged snacks like goldfish that are just empty calories.  Make sure you have a variety of fruits and veggies stocked up and sliced each week so that your family doesn’t get bored.  We do bananas (obviously no need to slice except for smoothies if you use them that way), apples, kiwis, peaches, oranges, watermelon (we cube it – also easy for smoothie throw-ins), and anything that piques our interest while out at the store.

2) Ready to bake Veggies fries or chips …. Same principle as the fruits, cut them into slices or fries or “chips” as soon as you can so that they are ready to go.  This works well with sweet potatoes which are one of the super foods for your body, zucchini, butternut squash, or kale (kale chips).  When they are cut like this and are ready to go, it makes getting dinner on the table so much easier – and rather than reaching for some prepackaged or processed dinner side, you’re getting something natural and raw.

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Coat fries in olive oil lightly.  Bake until crisp.  Use Kosher salt (lower Sodium content) while still hot

Coat fries in olive oil lightly. Bake until crisp. Use Kosher salt (lower Sodium content) while still hot

3) High protein snacks, lunches, or side dishes ….  Two words, Greek Yogurt.  I usually grow our own yogurt during the Summer when it’s hot (I do it a med-evil way… I suggest you buy a yogurt maker!!), and separate out the whey so that it becomes the “Greek yogurt” sold in the stores. It is INSANELY cheaper to make your own yogurt (I make about a half gallon for $3 every week) rather than buy the individual cups they sell at the store.  I once had a woman trying to sell me the store brand of their yogurt, and I told her I had started making my own.  She was excited, asked me how to do it, and told me that when she used to live in Italy, a family next door used to do that, and it tasted incredible.  More proof in my mind that Europeans understand how to eat better than Americans.

Another plus about homemade yogurt, you don’t have to worry about the preservatives added, high fructose corn syrup, dyes, or fillers.  If you do have to buy it, make sure you buy it plain, as close to natural as possible, and try to avoid a brand that has High fructose corn syrup.

Greek yogurt is delicious and one of the super foods because of the high protein and fat busting properties it has… eat 1 to 2 cups a day replacing one of your normal snacks to see a noticeable difference in your body fat % (it will mysteriously go down) 🙂 .

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The way my son eats his nutritious, protein packed Greek Yogurt… with a little chocolate sauce, and dark chocolate (anti-oxidant) chips! Dress it up however you like… I usually make a vanilla kind or black cherry yogurt (sooooo delicious). You don’t even know you’re eating healthy, it’s like eating ice cream. Limit it to one cup though, and that’s your dessert.

How I eat my chocolate Greek yogurt?  With apples to dip 😉

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Another great high protein snack/lunch/side dish is tuna or chicken salad… I simply avoid using the fattening sauces when making them and typically opt for 1 tbs of mustard, or for chicken salad… 1 tbs of yogurt to substitute for mayonnaise.  The tuna or chicken salads are great for lunch by themselves, or in wheat pita pockets, or as snacks served on crackers.  Huge boost of energy if used as a snack!

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Super Delish!

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4) Handy veggie snacks …. Cut carrots or baby carrots, celery sticks, etc… the key again, is to keep these things cut and sliced, ready to go in your fridge so that you are more motivated to actually eat enough of them during the week before your next trip to the market.  We also do use dips, you can create your own easy yogurt dips or just use 3 tbs ranch… a little ranch is great if it will help you or your kids to get down some veggies they’d otherwise never want to eat!

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Our family’s secret weapon???  The Super food smoothie. Say good-bye to fat as it melts off of you!

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You get SO MUCH energy from these simple, cheap drinks you make in your own home!  This was berries blended, carrots, and peanut butter.

5) Frozen fruits and spinach, kale, and carrots for drinking in smoothies ….  This is probably the most unsuspecting thing our family regularly does in the Spring and Summer months.  We drink loads of fruits and veggies in smoothie drinks (water or yogurt based), it is kind of like juicing except we really do blend the fruits and veggies.  It is hard to describe what it feels like to drink these icy cool concoctions… when I’ve been doing it regularly (daily), it’s like my veins themselves feel cool and refreshed.  The fat in your body melts away, your energy is magically increased… it really is our family’s best kept “secret” of the one thing you should be eating (or drinking) in the Summer.

Blueberries, Sweet Pineapple chunks, water, and protein powder, 1 tbs sugar

Frozen Blueberries, Spinach, Sweet Pineapple chunks, water, and protein powder, 1 tbs sugar

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Green Drink…. not as tasty haha… but still so good for your body!  

Another thing, these are not the high-fat, sugary smoothies you’ll find at Smoothie King or other smoothie shops.  These are no-fat (unless you use an Avocado base or yogurt base – good fat), they have no cream and very little (1 tbs tops) sugar added.  They are pure fruit, water, and vegetables.  You can make them into a meal replacement for lunch or dinner (or breakfast – I like hot breakfasts so I usually don’t) by adding the recommended scoop of a high quality protein powder.  We use Muscle Milk Protein Powder, but there are many good brands out there.

You can do so many different kinds of healthy smoothies… “chocolate, spinach, berry blend (my favorite),”  or a “berry blend, carrots, and peanut butter (really delicious)”  you just have to get creative and try different ways to drink your veggies and fruits.  Strawberry, banana, kiwi, + protein powder…  Chocolate, peanut butter, spinach/kale blend.  The possibilities are endless.

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Our homemade pizza - making the dough from scratch.

Our homemade pizza – making the dough from scratch.  It’s nice to eat bad food in a healthy way (homemade)

What we ate tonight... Chicken cooked with onions and garlic, mixed with veggies

What we ate tonight… Chicken cooked with onions and garlic, mixed with veggies

And then just make sure to create healthy dinners of low fat (lean) meats, use noticably less starches like rice and corn meal,… use more protein-packed sides like chickpeas, beans, legumes, and grains like quinoa.  And eat 1/3 to 2/3 of your dinner in vegetables for a healthy, rejuvenated Summer.

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For Tracy Anderson’s chili burrito recipe (above)

I love this tiny woman, and this chili recipe was amazing.  I altered it to add my own black bean recipe because in my mind, they taste amazing together in a wrap or burrito.  We use those large spinach tortillas since they are our favorite, but you can also get tomato or even jalapeno tortillas to go with this and any kind of wrap you’d want!

CHILI INGREDIENTS

  • 1-1/2 lbs grass-fed ground beef

  • 3 cups chopped fresh tomatoes

  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced… (CLICK HERE)

Single Man Gets Berated For Daring to Have Standards for Women’s Behavior

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I witnessed today on my FB newsfeed, a single man get berated by a female “friend” for daring to have standards for how he expects to be treated by a woman (his potential future wife) in the singles’ dating market.  For the sake of the post, I call him Matt and the shaming, criticizing woman will be called Megan.

Matt had used Match.com’s online connection to chat with a 40 year-old single mom, who was very upfront about not wanting anymore children, and very demanding on finding out if he wanted children or not.  He answered candidly & honestly, that he was just seeing where things would go and wasn’t ready to take things that fast yet.  He thought nothing of his reply, however, she abruptly ended their conversation in a rude, harsh manner that left him wondering why she thought she was so entitled to treat another person so callously.

He couldn’t understand why the 40 yr old was so harsh, and why she would shut him down immediately.  Single moms in their 40’s don’t have a lot of options, they’ve wasted their youth and the majority of their beauty either sleeping with many men, hopping from relationship to relationship, or in a marriage that ended in divorce.  He wondered in his comments, why she (and women he’s encountered while dating online in general) aren’t more open-minded, more willing to bend, why they have a long list of must haves (even at that advanced an age in the dating market), and will next a guy at the slightest hint of missing her mark.

I replied to him what I’ve learned about older women.  They really are less willing to bend, more close-minded when it comes to looking at men.   They “know what they want,” are extremely (and often arrogantly) opinionated, and they feel as though they deserve to have their way.  He mentioned that she acted like it was “her way or the highway,” and it is, exactly that for a lot of women in this age-range.  Their entitlement is felt through the way they treat men like my single guy friend, if he isn’t of use to them, they’ll callously cast him aside into a pile of trash – they don’t bother to be courteous or kind to a man that will not suit their draft horse desires.  If he isn’t exactly what they want, they won’t stay long to see if he has any “redeeming qualities” because in their mind, they deserve the perfect man.  It might not have been completely this case with this particular woman, but this is something I’ve read is very common in the online dating market.

Women at her stage of life, are either in tune with their real-life options, and therefore go about trying to catch someone who “fits” what they want, or they are out of tune, and falsely believe they will have an easier time finding a man than what the reality is that they face.  She is on the hunt, and is on the losing side of time when it comes to finding a desirable man as every year she ages, more and more men will be turned on by younger women.

A woman in this position would do well to maximize her marriage value – embrace her femininity, kindness, caring qualities.  Take the time to work on her outward appearance to make sure she is the most beautiful she can possibly be at her age.  The 40 yr old single mom did not exhibit kindness, or even courteous behavior towards Matt, and he remarked on how unnecessary it was.  He said that showing kindness when turning someone down is rare, but still very desirable and attractive – how would she know that he didn’t happen to know a man who would fit her desires?

I was drawn in to his post on FB when I saw Megan, a friend of his, start to shame him for “judging” the 40 yr old single mom who treated him harshly.  Megan said she was trying to “Call him out,” for his behavior in judging her, and to think upon what would Jesus do?  Would Jesus have posted about his experience with her?  She accused him of detailing his whole life on facebook, which he doesn’t, of “gossiping”… never-mind he never once let any personal details or the name of this woman come to light in his post.  She instructed him that he should “love” all women, and not judge them at all… because you know, he’s a Christian and a Christian wouldn’t/shouldn’t judge others or use their godly discernment in deciding on a future marriage partner.  I was appalled to see a woman had instructed my single friend to turn a blind eye to how women treat him, to give them a pass because they have a vagina, so I jumped in and set her straight.  She became so flustered and righteously angry with me when she couldn’t argue with any of my valid points that she deleted all her shaming/bullying comments, and left him alone.

Her reaction was typical of women when they see a single man complain at all about his struggles in the dating realm – they either passively sympathize with him, or outright shame him for not bucking up and taking the mistreatment, but virtually no woman is brave enough to give him any real advice or send him to where he can get it.

Matt was merely relating a life experience he had in the dating market with an anonymous woman, an uncomfortable experience because he felt mistreated, and felt that he could trust his fellow female friends to give him their take on why women behave this way.

But he’s a man… he should just take what he gets right?

 

I mean, how dare he have standards?

 

Frenemies

I was thinking this week on the topic of friendships, what constitutes a good friendship, and what the balance really is between telling a friend how it is (for their good) and putting them down.  Where is the line between healthy competition between genuine friends and then competition where one seeks to sabatoge the other’s success?

What is a frenemy?  It is a difficult definition for sure… and I’ve honestly never wanted to keep such an oxymoron in my life.  Some may say, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” but I’ve found that philosophy to be a set up for back-stabbing and major disappointment.  A person who desires, or who constantly plays the role, of being your “enemy,” really has no valid place in your life right now, and certainly not in your future.  I’ve always held the position that “frenemies” should also see the door as soon as possible in one’s life.

What is a friend?

Someone who supports you in life, who is there for you.  Someone who is joyful when they see you celebrating a real success in your life.  I recently had a close friend try to shame me for posting on social media (and here on my personal blog) about my journey in weight loss after the baby, trying to teach other women how it can be done, to encourage them to not gain over the recommended weight from the doctors, and to provide my personal workout routine and advice for how I was able to lose the weight… twice!  Instead of being happy for me like most of my other friends, this girl felt upset when she saw my post… instead of sharing in my joy, she felt negative feelings inside that were her own.  “It doesn’t help” to see someone lose it fast,” she said, and insinuated that I’m shaming the women who can’t lose the baby weight for whatever reason.  We talked about it for about an hour, and eventually I learned her insecurity over my success was coming from her mother telling her growing up that she and her sister were the reasons she had excess weight – that having children ruined her body forever.  She was viewing my success through a lens of fear & scarcity mentality, a false premise that people can’t control what happens to their bodies regarding pregnancy weight gain/loss.  The truth is that we can control the majority of what happens to our bodies, pregnancy or otherwise.  We control what we eat, if we are eating the correct foods that our bodies react well to, how much we gain, and even our hormones can be controlled when they are out of whack.  We control how much weight we gain in pregnancy, and we control if we decide to exercise during it or not.  We control how fast we lose the weight afterwards, and in no small part, that is directly related to how we treated our bodies during the pregnancy as well.

There does need to be caution that we aren’t causing people to stumble, but losing baby weight after a pregnancy is something most people are proud of, and rightfully so!  It is hard work, and takes dedication through either having a very healthy-minded pregnancy, making sure your body is staying strong, or doing the hard work of getting back in shape afterwards.  I already know what I’m going to do for my next pregnancy in regards to controlling my weight and strength and health in general.  With each pregnancy it gets easier because I have more knowledge of what works for my body, and how my body responds.  I’m able to draw up a plan in my mind of how I’m going to better deal with the difficulties next time, because each time I learn something new.

A big part of my success in things like losing the baby weight, or parenting kindly or gently, is making sure I surround myself with friends who are supportive of my goals, and with me in my journey of life.  I learn from other mommy friends what worked for them, or we share how hard pregnancy is – how hard it is to just get yourself off the couch, let alone try to go for a walk or a run!  One mommy friend I have was running regularly up until the very day that she went into labor – and hearing her share that success, filled me with awe and joy for her!  Her success motivated and inspired my own success.  That is a good friendship.

When it comes down to it, we all have to make critical decisions of who we really want to hold close in our lives.  Do you want that person to be close, who cannot share joy when you lose your baby weight fast?  Or who makes rude comments about your furniture mismatching in your house, and then turns around and pretends that she is Miss Etiquette and tries to teach you how to behave when you’re her guest?  Do you really want someone that two-faced close to your heart, where they can conveniently stab it?

My answer is always no.

Friends are not your enemies, and they never should be.

Post Pregnancy Body & Working Out

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This woman is awesome.  Tracy Anderson is the tiny little workout-nazi that can turn your body into how God probably intended it to be when He gave us our design (the perfect muscle:fat ratio we all probably would’ve had if chocolate and McDonald’s never existed – AmiRight?!?!).  Anyway, now that I’ve been 8 weeks out postpartum, I’m starting to want to up my lackadaisical approach I’ve had to being serious about getting back into shape.  I don’t view it as some kind of vanity issue, although maybe it is to some degree, I actually view it as a “I’ve waited nearly 9 months to wear all my nice skinny jeans and dressy pants and tops again… I don’t have the $$$ to buy a whole new wardrobe so I’d better get my butt back into shape if I want more than 15 options of clothing items to wear.”  

That’s how I view getting my post pregnancy body back.  I want to fit in my clothes again.  It is like a major pet peeve not being able to.  I’ve always pretty much stayed the same weight/frame since high school, so I have clothes that date back to then that I still like to wear (I take care of my clothes OK?!).  LOL 😉  But really, I like my set of clothes, and it hurts to not have the regular options that I’m used to having all these years because of being limited by your body.

The first time I started doing Tracy’s Metamorphosis, within the first week I saw drastic results to my body.  My muscles started coming out in places I didn’t ever have definition, some of my shorts (that weren’t able to fit due to having my first son) were suddenly fitting – and they were actually getting loose!!!  The results were coming so fast that it made the workouts easier to some degree (and I hated Tracy less lol), because I understood that she was really right – her workout method was working.

Growing up, I was a dancer… from the time I was 4 until I was 18 I danced.  And from age 15-18, I danced in a competitive showgroup that was extremely intense with practices that were 3 hours long once a week, and included performing around our city at different events or in parades (dancing in a parade is the hardest kind of dancing I’ve ever done – talk about an amazing workout).

So I’ve virtually always been “in shape,” however, the way she works out (particularly her mat exercises) it is more intense than I’ve ever experienced (and I was also a Hurdler & in Cross Country – I understand bodily torture that comes from running miles and miles).  Her kind of workout is different.  It is much more painful (the mat exercises), however, you get results that are better than I ever had from running, or the lyrical/jazz/performing/tap kind of dance I used to do.

My husband is an Insanity lover 🙂 love that man.  I tried Insanity, it is hard in very different way.  Since I did grow up dancing, I actually prefer Tracy’s workouts because it IS dancing all the way through the cardio.  I’ve done it off and on periodically for 4 years now, so her workouts are like coming home for me – they’re actually comfortable at a psychological level.  Like being with an old friend.

Pregnancy is hard on your body – but after my first, even though I still had 20 something pounds to lose after the first two weeks postpartum, I had this immense feeling of pride in what my body was able to do – to go through a pregnancy, birth a child, and come back so strong and able.  It’s empowering to have a child… it fills you with a new self-esteem about your body that you’ve never had (at least, that’s my personal experience from pregnancy).

This time, I lost all the weight, however since I really wasn’t working out faithfully during the entire pregnancy, my body has become what I’d call “squishy.”  I’ve gained fat in places and lost lots of muscle tone.  So even though I’ve technically lost the baby weight, my body still does not fit into all my clothes, and when it does fit, it isn’t toned and feels different than it was.  I understand many women are totally fine with staying that way – this isn’t me trying to shame anyone for being comfortable with their post preggers body, however, for me, I’m just not comfortable leaving it that way.  I like my body to be stronger and firmer – it just feels better to live inside such a body… literally!  After I got my muscle tone back (after my first son), I was so much stronger, we’re extremely active in our family, and everything we did was easier.  My upper body finally had the strength I’ve never had… thanks to Tracy.  And my posture was corrected with having the muscles developed in the right places (like when I danced for hours a week).

She honestly turned me into a dancer/athlete’s body – and it felt so different in the best way.

Now for pictures:

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The woman in the photo collage above ran a blog that I followed before buying Tracy’s Metamorphosis.  This woman entered her photo into a bikini contest (the photo in the pink bikini)… and won.  Her journey, since I followed it via her blog, was so inspiring. She had setbacks and issues with trying to get people to understand why she was dedicated to continuing it (the program she was doing was I think the 90 day program), but it was wonderful to see her victory in the end as she worked to overcome any obstacles.

This is Tracy herself (below), and the work and transformation she had to undergo in her developing her specific type of workout in order to truly sculpt a dancer’s body from virtually any body type (as far as I understand).

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Here are some photos of women’s before and after with Tracy (*from Google)

 

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So if you’re reading this and wondering if you should go for it and get Tracy’s Metamorphosis (or virtually any of her products), I am all for it!  The workouts take immense discipline and dedication because they hurt a lot at first (especially if you’re not used to being active all the time or don’t have a history of working out).  That doesn’t mean you can’t do it – I believe you can!  Tracy believes you can.  She is the ultimate optimist ❤ and it really is a gift that she’s made these DVD’s so that regular women like us (instead of her normal celebrity clients) can have access to her personal training.

My before pic (below) was taken at 4 weeks postpartum, and I do believe (even though I wasn’t actively doing her workouts during the pregnancy) that my body owed a lot of its strength and resiliency to her training before pregnancy.  I might be squishy, but I’m excited to truly get down to it and do her workouts until Summer is here (it’s good to give your body a break).

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So if you’re wondering if you can trust your body to Tracy?  My answer is undoubtedly… YES!!!!!

 

*Photos of the women who have posted online about their own experiences with TA’s Method are not my own photos obviously.  I own no rights to their photos and are only posting what is found freely on Google images.

Does Our Society Expect Women to Apologize For Being Fit & Healthy?

Tracy-Anderson

Our media has been accepting more and more the idea that if a woman is fit, then she must have an unhealthy obsession with looks, weight, or exercise.  This is even applied to women who merely express their desire to become fit – to lose a few extra pounds for their wedding (see yahoo article), or after a baby (you don’t need to lose that weight, silly, you’ll look more like a REAL mom if you keep the extra weight on).  Body acceptance and confidence are crucial – no matter what size you wear, however, wanting to be fit, and lose flab or extra weight certainly does not qualify you as unhealthy.

The wedding weight article points out the ridiculous, and rightfully sometimes dangerous habits of women prepping for their wedding (dieting to extremes), but then goes further to question the psyche of women who long to look fit,

“And even more disturbing, she noted, “was hearing my married girlfriends reminisce longingly about their ‘wedding weight.’” Albert wanted to look amazing on her big day, she said, but not to the detriment of her psyche…” and “Bacon believes women who are driven to be extra-thin on their wedding days have other issues at play.”

Maybe the wording “extra-thin,” is trying to exclude women who just want to be thin and fit, however, what about how she criticizes her girlfriends for merely reminiscing about their wedding day weights?  Is something really wrong with them, with their psyche, for wanting to look great?  How is it disturbing to think back to when you were fit and thin, and long for that body?

This is where body acceptance and wanting to be fit and healthy seem to clash for our society.  A woman that has gained weight and wants to go back to her old size is criticized or seen as “disturbing” for thinking anything is wrong at all.

 

I remember reading a study where a group of women in bikinis on a beach were playing in an add – many people (more than likely only feminist women) called out these women as being objectified sexually.  Because they were fit… having fun, living life & playing on a beach… and in bikinis.  Fitness + Happiness + Bikinis… hmmm how the hell does that objectify women?  Is it because the bikinis show more than normal swimsuits?  That would be my instinctive first guess, but guess what?  That can’t be it….

Introduce the “Fatkini,” not my choice of wording, but the actual name given to a bikini that is for bigger sized women.  All the love and positive comments for the pictures of women in these suits is in stark contrast to the criticism a woman gets when she’s fit and in a normal bikini.  One is seen as sexual objectification, the other is a woman’s empowerment.  This is just the way our society (or more accurately, the feminism prevalent in our society) is giving women more excuses for not feeling like they should be exercising, eating healthily, and taking care of their bodies.  Or that if they are, something must be psychologically wrong – or their character is lacking – or they care more about their bodies than their children.

Do you remember the “Hot Facebook Mom,” Maria Kang, who posted her photo wearing a sports bra and shorts with her 3 children around her legs, saying “What’s Your Excuse?”  The criticism she got (and even STILL gets) was out of proportion.  And it was for the most part, only women who criticized her (surprise surprise).

Kang has been accused of being a “fat-shaming bully,” being a bad mother and wife based ONLY on how she looks, and received insurmountable hatred and criticism for daring to post a photo looking great, showing that she’s a mom, and asking others what their excuse is.  Instead of feeling like a woman can look great even after having kids – a real empowerment for women, people seemed to feel they had a free pass to judge her on all aspects of her life.

Kathy Lee Gifford stated her thoughts on Kang, “Now maybe she didn’t do it in the proper way, but I think it snaps in somebody’s mind, ‘She’s right, I haven’t been working out, because I’d rather sit on the couch and watch reruns of ‘Will & Grace… I understand that, who doesn’t want to do that. But we make excuses for ourselves. And I think because we live in an entitled world we want what she has, but we don’t want to do the work to get it.”

Kang posted a reply (the first of many she felt she needed to post to explain her motive),

“#1 There’s an accountability issue. There’s a lot of people with a lot of excuses – not only did McDonald’s make people fat, apparently I did also!

“#2 There’s an entitlement issue – people believing that I can achieve something without doing anything (genetics). People don’t want to hear that it takes discipline, consistency and hard work to achieve a goal anymore.

“#3 There’s a body shaming issue (my body). Apparently we have forgotten how different kinds of health looks like (since being overweight has become normalized).”

“I think this word (bullying) is so overused that we forgot that a bully attacks others? I posted my picture on MY fitness-oriented page.”

My own opinion on Kang is that maybe it was indiscreet, however it is her job to motivate women towards fitness – she is a personal trainer and fitness blogger!  Her openness at how any woman can work to look good stepped on a lot of women’s toes – but there is still a lot of truth in her image, this woman doesn’t make excuses for how her body looks.

I remember months after the controversy, they decided to do a reality TV version of women who had a problem with her photo, actually come in and switch lives with her.  One woman was overweight, and kept her life incredibly busy – her excuse was that she simply didn’t have time to make the effort to work out.  Kang followed through, lived in this woman’s life, and showed her ways to incorporate fitness into her daily routine.  The other woman tried to live Kang’s life, and ended up not having enough energy, pouting on the sidelines, and finally acknowledging that she really just didn’t want to make the effort to be fit.  She also acknowledged that what Kang was doing – helping and motivating other women to work out – was really a great thing.

She lost her judgment of her when she finally realized that being fit and healthy really was a benefit, and respected how much work and energy taking care of your body actually takes.

The woman pictured at the top of this post is Tracy Anderson, a fitness instructor that has been around for over 10 years, helping celebrities attain some of the fittest, most beautiful bodies imaginable.  She recently made dvds of her special workouts available for the public, I was one of the consumers who bought her Metamorphosis, a series of dvds that help women based on what body type (where their bodies store fat) they have.  Even though I’ve been a dancer and runner all my life, her workout was just different – it combined the best of cardio dance, barre ballet (Germany-based) methods, and strength training to whittle down my body into the best shape it has ever been.  It felt incredible – and I loved being able to fit comfortably in my old clothes (which ironically was my main objective for losing the baby weight… I missed fitting into my old clothes).

I watched a show awhile ago, where the host criticized Tracy to her face – accusing her of making women feel bad about their bodies, of setting an unattainable – and even unhealthy body image for women to compare themselves to.  It was insane, and I could see the confusion and embarrassment on her face as she struggled to defend WHY she was a fitness instructor, why she feels like her whole motive is to make women feel better about their bodies, and why she loves working in that field.  It’s like the hostess expected Tracy to apologize for her work, for her body, for making women look great.  Instead of celebrating the empowerment of looking great, the hostess almost tried to shame her for looking great.

The hostess then went with Tracy to one of her workouts, and the TV’s followed her all the way through.  The TV hostess couldn’t make it through the workout, and stated it was crazy and just too hard.

 

These things are just interesting to me as I’m passively watching the media, exercising now and then, and eating & cooking healthy for my family.  I can’t help but wonder why all the shaming and criticism of women who look great in a bikini, or who are fitness instructors trying to motivate and encourage other women for a living?

Have we become a society of jealousy and criticism?  “If I don’t have that, then you can’t have it, or even want it, either!”  Just some thoughts about feminism, women’s empowerment, and how I believe women shouldn’t have to apologize for looking and feeling amazing.