Beauty is…rocking it!

Shelby is all about sharing her story, supporting other women with PCOS, and eating all the M&Ms

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Who you are: Shelby aka PCOS Support Girl

What you do: Certified Fitness Nutrition and Weight Loss Specialist (NASM), Online health and fitness coach, Founder of PCOS Positivity, Full Time mom

Where you do it: From my home in Atlanta GA!

 MeetShelby

On your blog you describe yourself as a PCOS sufferer and ED warrior. Can you talk about what those two things are and how they affect your life?

I have always been the ‘big’ girl in my life. Out of 4 girls, I was the only one who significantly suffered with weight and health issues. I was always the biggest girl in my group of friends who couldn’t borrow any of their clothes because my boobs were too big or my belly too round. I was the chubby girl on dance team who dreaded the days we had to wear the crop top uniform to games. I vividly remember pretending to have the stomach flu those days.

Struggling with my weight, low self esteem and pressure from every direction to be a certain size or weight lead to my long rocky road with disordered eating (for more of my ED story).

I didn’t know it then, but part of my body weight issues were amplified by having PCOS, orShelbyPCOS Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. PCOS affects approximately every 1 in 10 women of reproductive age.   Symptoms and complications of PCOS include: ovarian cysts, amenorrhea, hirsutism, acne, insulin resistance, weight gain, anxiety, depression, fatigue, hypertension, Type II Diabetes, and infertility.

But here’s the thing. I didn’t know one other single person going through what I was going through with my disordered eating and PCOS. I turned to social media, looking to connect with maybe one person who knew what I was going through. I was amazed by how many women I met going through the same things. So I decided to connect and help as many people as I could and built the PCOS Positivity community, a network of women across the world who come to together to share support and promote self love and acceptance.

The biggest thing these battles have done for me has set me on my path to self love and acceptance. I want to help others understand they are not alone. I want people to know loving yourself is not easy. Whoever says it is, is a liar. It’s a deliberate decision. And you have to work at it everyday.  And hating yourself is exhausting. It really is. I got so tired of disliking myself.

I had to think WHY do I dislike this about me? Why is it so wrong to be okay with who I am, flaws and all?  The truth is, I am not your poster girl for perfect anything by any of society’s standards. But why is what society thinks of me any of my business? I had to decide that what others think of me is none of my business. And to be honest, in the end it just didn’t matter. What mattered was if I liked myself. The minute you stop searching for gratification and fulfillment from outside sources is the moment you can be who you really are.

I am not saying I don’t stop and think about what I post before I do it. I have questioned if I am sharing too much, or being too vulnerable. Too open and exposed. Too much. I always ask myself before posting anything:

If my daughter was posting this, would I be proud?

As long as I am being true to myself, and being an example of the kind of woman I want to raise, I’m confident in sharing myself.

But you will always be too much for someone. Not everyone will get what you do. Doesn’t mean you should quit doing it.

There is freedom in knowing who you are, and not being afraid of it. The minute you stop caring what people think about you is the minute you can focus on more important things.

Loving Yourself

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I had no idea what I wanted to be when I was growing up. It changed daily. I wanted to be anything from a dance teacher to a math teacher. Indecisive, much?  It wasn’t until I turned 30 that I found my true passion in helping and supporting other women. It is so true when they say, “You know you’ve found your calling when you wake up wanting to go to work.” I enjoy every second of the work I am doing.

You talk about your journey to health on your blog. What does that look like for you– what is your “ideal” state? What are your goals and how are you working toward them?

It’s simple. I want to be happy and healthy. I want to know that even though I have this ShelbyHealthycondition and have had these struggles, It’s not who I am. I am a mother and a friend and a woman of strength. I just happen to have a shitty endocrine disorder and an eating disorder.

As far as what I want to contribute to these communities, I want to be an example to anyone living with these battles of a REAL woman with REAL struggles that is living a happy healthy life despite her diagnosis. I want to continue to share my stories in hopes of helping others.  I want to be a positive example of how being positive and loving yourself despite your struggles can be just as healing and productive as the physical aspects of treatment.

And most importantly, I want to be the person I needed at 14. I want to let younger girls know that they aren’t alone. They aren’t any less worthy or pretty or lovable because of their diagnosis.

I have PCOS. So what? PCOS sucks, but I don’t have to. I’ve battled the demons of disordered eating. That doesn’t define me. I want to see women overcoming, living life fully, surviving. I want to see how women can take a negative and turn it into a positive. But most of all, I want to be around women who support other women. Because positivity breeds positivity. Being real and sharing our stories encourages others to do so. And everyone’s stories have something someone can relate to. Can feel less alone in. Find strength from.

What is the best song to sing in the shower?

What song ISN’T the best song to sing in the shower is the better question. My go to is always Britney. Or Journey. Now Don’t Stop Belevin’ is going to be stuck in my head.

What is the best piece of advice you have heard? What was the worst?Not a bad life

It’s a bad day, not a bad life. It’s a reminder for me that you just need to take everything one day at a time. Forgive yourself for your past, accept yourself in the present, and work on the future.

Worst advice I’ve ever heard is Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. First off, Kate Moss, you’ve clearly never had Hawaiian rolls. But more importantly, it just promotes disordered eating. Everyone thinks being ‘skinny’ or a certain size or weight brings this magical euphoric happiness. I have been everything from a size 0 to a size 18, and I can tell you I was just as unhappy at both sizes.

How do you spend your down time? Favorite books, shows, movies?

When I do find myself with down time, I enjoy a bubble bath, a good book, music and a big glass of Shiraz. I love reading self help books. I spend most of my days being a support system and uplifting others. I find it’s a nice break to try to help my mind so I can better help others. Currently I’m reading, “ You are a Badass” by Jen Sincero.

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Image from FanPop.com

If you could have coffee with any woman, past or present, who would it be and what one question would you ask?

Betty White. I think there is such a beauty in her nature. Behind the funny words and humorous quips is a woman with powerful, empowering words. My favorite quote of hers is, “I don’t know how people can get so anti-something. Mind your own business, take care of your affairs, and don’t worry about people so much.” I think I would just pick her brain. There is something so intriguing to me about a woman who is completely herself, unapologetically.

M&Ms: peanut or regular (or crispy, or peanut butter, or…)

All of the above. Have you tried the coconut ones? They are amazing!

What did you have for breakfast this morning? What is your guilty pleasure?

I just finished up a egg white omelet, a ton of bacon (because, well, PROTEIN) and tomato slices. I don’t get why everyone dislikes tomatoes so much. They’re delicious

Guilty pleasure, eh? Which one? I would have to say reality TV and long strolls down every aisle at Target. Alone. With a 6 shot iced skinny latte.

Is there anything we haven’t touched on that you want to chat about?

You have to just forgive yourself. So you’re 60 lbs heavier than you were on your wedding day? So you ate a whole pizza and drank a whole bottle of wine last night because they killed McDreamy on Greys? It happens. Everyone struggles. Everyone falls down. It’s not the falling down and failing and binge eating cheeseballs that makes it a failure. You’re human. Welcome to the club. There’s like, 7 billion of us. The failure comes in not getting back up. Wake up the next day, get your ass to the gym or get to the grocery store or quit rescheduling that doctors appointment you’re afraid to go to. Just keep going. And if you get stuck, find help to get you unstuck. We are not meant to be perfect. We are meant to be flawed. Quit beating yourself up and start focusing on your shit. Take it one day at a time.

What is your definition of beauty?

Beauty is knowing who you are, being proud of it, and rocking it. I’ve never felt more beautiful than now. There’s such happiness in being yourself unapologetically.

Knowing who you are

Need more Shelby in your life? Check her out on her blog, or on any of these social media platforms:

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All of the beautiful images in this post were right from Shelby’s site and her Facebook page (well, except for that shot of Betty White). The edits were done by little ole me.

Beauty is…climbing mountains.

I was never athletic growing up. I did beauty pagents and McDonald’s commercials. Not soccer and softball.

You know that beautiful quote, “She believed she could. So she did”? I have loved that quote for many a moon.

But today I did not believe I could. But I did.

She didn't believe she could.

 

We are lucky to live near several parks and recreation areas. We have bike trails out the wazoo. One such trail leads to one such park– a state park that is riddled with hills. It is where cyclists go to die. Leading into the park, there is a mountain. Ok, we are in central Missouri, so it is really more of a hill. Anyhoo, I decided today would be a good day for a nice 20 mile ride. It has been a while since I have gone that kind of distance, and I would really like to participate in a “metric century” (67 mile bike ride) in the summer. So I though today was the day to do some training. I hoped on the trail and planned to head in the direction of the big scary state park. I knew I was not quite ready for the hills therein, but I thought I could handle the road TO the park. As I happily coasted down the never-ending hill that led to the park entrance, it dawned on me. I would have to turn around at some point. I would have to go UP this beast. Not going to lie. At that point, I cussed a little.

Flash back to TWO summers ago. In another state park near us. My husband is patiently teaching me HOW TO RIDE A BIKE. Yes, ladies and gentlemen. My 30 year old booty was on a bicycle seat for the first time. I got to the point where I could go straight. But turning was out of the question. And those little pillars at the beginning of trails that indicate cars are not allowed– they were terrifying. I was sure I would crash into each one. And I did hit a few. I would walk my bike DOWN hills lest I get to going too fast and loose control. I would walk my bike UP hills because my legs just could not do that. I was a mess. Not even a hot mess. Just a mess. But I kept peddling.

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Today that hill seemed to have no end. Going up it, I remember thinking at least three times, “Yeah, I can’t do this. Pull into that driveway.” But then that driveway was behind me. So I thought, “OK, at THAT sign I am going to have to stop.” But then the sign was behind me. Why wasn’t I stopping?! I literally NEVER told myself to keep going. I never said “You can do it self! Slow and steady! You got it!” There was literally NO positive self-talk. And then, I was at a flat bit. And the mother of all hills was behind me. What just happened?!

When I got home I texted my husband: “I climbed the hill outside Babler!” He expressed File_000his pride. And I realized that these physical feats mean a lot to me. I was never athletic growing up. I did beauty pageants and McDonald’s commercials. Not soccer and softball. The lessons I learned doing those things were many: Eye contact is a lost art, casting does not have time for your silly questions (for real though, don’t ask Danny Goldman what your motivation is), it feels damn good to command a stage (even if you don’t know you are doing it at the time), practice practice practice, be articulate (those interviews, man!), go to every audition no matter how “small” the part is, win gracefully, loose gracefully, and always ALWAYS thank the judges.

What I didn’t learn then is what I get to learn now– the awesome things my body CAN DO! Did you know I can run?! I got that handy “Couch to 5k” app last summer– and I ran 3 miles straight MULTIPLE TIMES! I even got the “Couch to 10K” app in my exuberance. I got up to about 5 miles STRAIGHT. But that shiz takes a long time. Now I’m back to nice little 2 milers. And I can RIDE A BIKE! Those things are crazy– just two little wheels holding you up! Like high heels, but scarier! Because stilettos can’t go 20 miles an hour. Human bums were not meant to sit on those little seats for long periods of time. But we do! Because we can!

I have spent a while saying things like, “I’m not a runner, but…” or “I’m not a cyclist, but…” I think that is toro poo-poo. Do you run? Yes? You’re a runner. Do you pedal a bike for any distance at all? You are a cyclist. I bought my bike from a second-hand bike/coffee shop. I do not have those cool, but so easy to make fun of, padded shorts. Sometimes I forget which finger to use to change my gears correctly. But I am a cyclist. Just ask that hill outside of Babler.

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Motivation Monday: Listen to your body

Get out of social media and mainstream news and start experimenting with what works for your body and your lifestyle. Here’s a simple plan to help you Define Your Fit…

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Let’s start with a little background: You are currently helping women (and men) find strength and balance in their lives. Tell me a bit about what led you to where are now. What challenges have you faced along the way?

I’ve been in the health and fitness industry for close to a dozen years. I knew it was my passion when I was in a cadaver lab in college and saw the inside of a healthy body that died of natural causes and an unhealthy body that died prematurely from a heart attack side by side. I got to feel the difference in the organs of someone who exercised and ate healthy versus someone who drank and smoked all their life. The difference was incredible and jaw dropping. That image has inspired me to educate women (and men) on the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle.

I consider it a privilege to work with people to help them understand how the body moves and how to move it pain free. It’s a privilege to be invited along on someone’s health and fitness journey. I feel the most alive when I get to see those changes happen right before my eyes.

For so long I would train the man or woman who just wanted to look good (which I’m sure is most of us). I helped them to lose weight and fit into their little black dress but, I started to realize that something was missing. For me, that missing link was digging deeper and helping them to gain strength from the inside out. In my life, that inner strength comes from God. So, after many years in this industry I have finally found that my niche is Christian woman and teaching them what the Bible says about their bodies and where their strength comes from before they learn it in the gym.

The biggest challenge for me was identifying my ideal demographic or niche. Originally I just wanted to help everybody (kids, elderly, athletes, cardiac patients, moms etc). I got as many certifications as I could and marketed myself as a trainer to anyone who needed one. That was actually a disservice to my clients because I couldn’t be everything to everyone. There are very few trainers who can be amazing at training the entire population. You eventually find that you are better at relating to a specific group of people and you can serve them the best.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was little I wanted to be an astronaut. Then I went on my first plane ride and realized I was terrified of flying (not to mention I am also horrible at math). The only other thing I wanted to be was a mom and today I’m blessed to have adopted 4 beautiful children!

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You mention on your site that you are a “recovering perfectionist.” Tell me a bit about that– what habits were you in and how were they affecting you? How did you move from perfectionism to acceptance?

I’ve always been very driven by success. Unfortunately my personal definition of success was “to never do anything wrong.” That often left me either feeling like a failure all the time or it left me doing nothing at all for the fear of failing.

That type of thought process produced anxiety and depression in my life that I couldn’t get rid of on my own. Once I started building a relationship with Jesus and understanding what the Bible says about who we are in His image, I truly realized that I don’t need to be perfect because I never will be. I don’t need to try harder to be accepted, I need to accept God’s love before I try anything at all.

What is the best song to sing in the shower?

LOL. I have to honestly say that I don’t think I ever sing in the shower. I will have to give it a try. Maybe your readers can leave me suggestions and I will follow up with how it goes 🙂

What is the best piece of advice you have heard? What was the worst?Self talk

The best piece of advice I have ever heard is described like this: When you change your self talk from ‘I have to’ into ‘I get to or I choose to’ you can change your whole life.

The worst piece of advice I have ever heard is “Everything will be ok because God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” That’s bologna. We are given things on a daily basis that are bigger than we can handle. Chronic stress is the result of things bigger than we can handle. The truth is that God doesn’t give us things bigger than HE can handle. When we trust in Him and what His word says, it helps us to understand what the “handling” process looks like.

How do you spend your down time? Favorite books, shows, movies?

I probably spend way too much time on Facebook. I love to read too many books at one time and I always have to have a highlighter with me when I’m reading. My favorite types of books are non-fiction. I love reading anything Christian based, self-improvement, leadership or business type books. My husband and I end our nights by snuggling on the couch with a few Netflix shows. If it’s his night to pick it’s a boring documentary. If it’s my night to pick it’s a romantic comedy or cooking show.

If you could have coffee with any woman, past or present, who would it be and what one question would you ask?

My great grandma Ida. I only knew her when I was a young girl and it was well before I came to know the Lord. My grandma (her daughter) always tells me how proud she would be of the Christian woman I have become. She told me that my great-grandma read through the Bible several times in her life. I would love to have coffee with her and ask her to tell me about her faith journey.

Kristen

What is your definition of beauty?

I think we’ve all heard the quote that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I believe that beauty is in the eye of the Creator. In my life, the Creator is God and He specifically tells us that everything He made is beautiful. I believe that with all my heart. You’re beautiful and I’m beautiful and no one can tell us any different nor can anyone take that away from us. And, don’t you ever forget that someone else’s beauty doesn’t make you any less beautiful. We get too caught up in comparing ourselves with each other and forget that there is enough room in this world for everyone to be beautiful.

someone else's beauty

Your list of certifications and continued education pursuits is impressive to say the least. What motivates you to keep learning more?

Like I mentioned earlier, part of it had to do with my unattainable strive for perfection and success. Part of me thought that the more knowledge I had, the more successful I could be. I struggled with feeling like I wasn’t ever “enough.” So, I poured my energy into education. I don’t regret anything I’ve learned, but I do regret the reasons why I pursued education so relentlessly.

Since my masters is in education I obviously have a love for learning. I don’t think we should ever stop learning and I hope to always be a student in some sort of capacity. What I have come to appreciate now is that being a student and learning something new doesn’t need to come with extra initials after your name. 🙂

What did you have for breakfast this morning? What is your guilty pleasure?

It’s 10:30am right now and I haven’t had breakfast yet. I’ve had 2 cups of organic coffee with stevia and I’m finally starting to feel hungry. If I wake up and I’m not hungry, I won’t eat. Some days I love a big breakfast and other times I enjoy what’s called Intermittent Fasting. I listen to my body more than following any type of plan.

My guilty pleasure is anything with dark chocolate.

listen

It is National Fitness Month. What do you want people to know about health and fitness. How can someone get motivated to make healthy changes?

Everyone is a health and fitness expert these days. You can’t log onto the internet or walk through a grocery store magazine aisle without being told what to eat and how to workout. The information overload is insane and leads people to just not doing anything because they don’t know where to start.

What I want everyone to know is that YOU are in complete control of creating your own definition of health and fitness. Health and fitness for me is a meat & veggie heavy, lower carb lifestyle with some high intensity kettlebell or barbell training 3-4 days per week. I feel really good at 18% body fat and feel sluggish when I get up over 23%. This is what makes me feel my best. I know I need to change things up when I’ve had too many processed carbs (or glasses of wine), when my joints ache and when I feel groggy in the morning. I don’t do well with dairy, coconut or almonds. This type of plan won’t work for the runner or the mom who just gave birth or the 75 year old with arthritis or the vegetarian who loves yoga.

Get out of social media and mainstream news and start experimenting with what works for your body and your lifestyle. Here’s a simple plan to help you Define Your Fit:

Define your fit

  1. Define your whatwhat is it that you want to change with your health? Is it your weight, your dress size, your strength, your endurance or maybe your doctor has said if you don’t change anything you will have a heart attack in the near future.

  2. Define your whywhy do you want it? Your why will keep you going when the going gets tough. Dig deep and don’t be afraid to get emotional with this one.

  3. Define your how how are you going to make this happen? Will it require a nutrition overhaul? Will it require 3 days of exercise per week or more than that? Do you need to purchase a gym membership or equipment for your home? Maybe you can just start with bodyweight exercises.


Get more from Kristen:

KristenEkiss.com

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All of the images I used in this post are right from Kristen’s website. Aren’t they gorgeous?!

 (the edit in that last picture is mine)

Beauty is…about that bass, but not for those reasons.

Here at OperationalizeBeauty, we too are all about that bass. But not for those reasons…

Ms. Trainor’s body image-affirming lyrics have won her widespread acclaim. And for good reason. I mean, who doesn’t want someone to bring booty back? And that’s right every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top! And I most definitely echo her cries regarding photoshop. This is a jam I have turned up more than once, and sang along loud and proud with my girls in the backseat. Maybe it was singing along that really got me thinking about the lyrics…

Here at OperationalizeBeauty, we too are all about that bass. But not for those reasons…

After establishing that she ain’t no size two, she reassures us that she can still shake it shake it like she’s supposed to do. She also let’s us know that she has that boom boom that all the boys chase. And that her momma told her not to worry about her size because boys like a little more booty to hold at night. So, as a momma, what I’m hearing is that the worth of this girl’s body lies in the fact that it is desirable to the fellas. And that she can shake it.

I love love love just about every other bit of the song, I really do. But I can’t help but cringe a bit at those few lines. Because ladies, your body is so much more that what some boy likes to squeeze at night. I can’t help but feel like those few lines just reinforce the sexualization and objectification of the female form that we have all been trying so hard to fight against for so long. She seems to be saying that it’s ok that she isn’t a size two because boys like that. She should be saying that it’s ok that she isn’t a size two because it’s ok that she isn’t a size two.

Continue reading “Beauty is…about that bass, but not for those reasons.”