These Are a Few of My Favorite Things…About My Body

So sassy. Love it! P.S. Shortly after this picture was taken, I lost this black scarf forever. I think I might have accidentally thrown it away. True story.

So sassy. Love it!
P.S. Shortly after this picture was taken, I lost this black scarf forever. I think I might have accidentally thrown it away. True story.

Hello lovelies! I hope all of you had a lovely Labor Day! Hopefully most of you either a. enjoyed the day off from work or b. excitedly/dreadfully anticipated the start of a new school year (for those of you who don’t know, in Central Virginia, most public schools start the day after Labor Day). To everyone, I wish you all the best of luck in your own personal starts of something new, whatever they may be!

And now, for some business before pleasure: Please continue to be kind/patient as I ease myself into posting on a regular basis, and eventually revamp the blog itself. As I have noted before, I am new to this whole process, and this will definitely take some getting used to. However, as I mentioned in my previous posts, I am looking forward to challenge and sheer discipline this will take. Work does a body good, you know. 🙂

So let’s begin. Shall we? 😉

I want to jump by listing the things I actually love about my body, which in of itself is a HUGE mark of progress, since a few years ago I would probably say I loved NOTHING about my body. I think any weight loss journey should begin by listing and praising the things you like/love, because even as things change, there are things that you will always come back to. I also think it reminds myself/will continue to remind me to be kind to myself, even when things get hard.

Enough jabbering, more listing! Here be the list!

1. My Eyes, Lips, and Nose (a.k.a., my Face)

IMG_0767

True story, I have had to ask my eye doctor (Hi Dr. T!) a couple of times what my eye color is. (His answer/the truth? Hazel. YAY! Love that!) Anyway, my eyes are very expressive, and are (along with the rest of my features) from my mother and my grandfather. Whilst I do have to wear glasses to help me, like, not be like Mr. Magoo, they are the windows to my soul, and often show my true emotion. It’s quite sad: I have NO poker face whatsoever. They also sparkle when I am happy, sassy, confident, or feeling mischievous, or even sometimes all four at once. (This can happen a lot.) At the risk of sounding like a Gavin DeGraw ballad (you know what I’m talking about), if you want to what I am thinking or feeling, just look into my eyes. My eyes are framed by my crazy long eyelashes (seriously. We’re talking Liza Minnelli-length here), which I adore and I hope never changes.

(Quick side note: Did you know that Belle (as in Disney Princess from Beauty and the Beast has hazel eyes? I love her even more now! I knew she was my favorite for a reason!)

My nose is, as mentioned, has been passed down to me by my mother and her father. It is the classic “Bowers” nose, and according to my friend Courtney, it’s “cute as hell”. There is a small scar in the middle of my nose (squint and you can see it in the picture above) that I got by scratching it when I had chicken pox…twice…when I as little. (I think I was four?) My dad named him Fred, and he (Fred) has been with me ever since.

My lips are just, my in humble opinion, cool. I love their bow shape at the top! Truthfully, I never feel more feminine than when I get to swipe lipstick or lipgloss on my bow-shape lips. It’s my favorite part of my makeup routine!

Basically, in the words of Madonna and in my humble opinion, I give good face (like Rita Hayworth).

2.  My Smile

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This kind ties in with #1, but I think it deserve its own mention in this list. I love my smile! It brightens up my whole face, and showcases my joy AND strength. It glows when I get to be around people I love, which again I also love! Also, I better freakin’ love my smile, since I had to go through two years of braces, retainers, head-gear, etc…let’s just say that my parents invested a HUGE chunk of change into my mouth. (Don’t dirty this up.) My smile, along with the rest of my face, shows my true emotions and thoughts, which is why I mentioned above (and it bears repeating) that I could NEVER play poker. Ever.  #nopokerface

3. My Legs

Okay, so I don’t have a picture of my legs. My bad. I love them regardless, because even though they are short, chunky, and cellulite, they get me where I need to go, and haven’t failed me yet. 😉 They also were my strong ally when I was an active swimmer; my kick, rather than my stroke, propelled me through the water and got me through workouts and races. I love them. I had power in them once, and I will have power in them again. 

4. My Butt

Sorry lovelies, I do not have a butt selfie. Instead, let’s all enjoy my current anthem. 🙂 #allaboutthebass (I have been telling the men of Richmond this for years, but it I suppose the message hasn’t gotten through. Maybe that’s why I am still single?!)

I love my butt. It’s curvy and round, and fill outs my jeans quite well, thank you very much. I actually don’t want my butt to change whilst I am on this journey. It can stand to be firmer, but if it becomes significantly smaller, I may weep.

(Quick side note about the video above: I know what “da bass” is, but what the heck is the treble? This is question that plagues me, like, all of the time.)

5. My Brain

I love Thomas Jefferson, and his house. #nerdygirlcrush

I love Thomas Jefferson, and his house. #nerdygirlcrush

WHAT?! How did I manage to sneak in a picture of Monticello in this body post, and what does that have to do with the task at hand?! I know what you are thinking: “WHY DIDN’T YOU SHOW US A PICTURE OF YOUR BRAIN?! OR YOU IN A CAP AND GOWN?! GEEZ!

Bwahahaha classic.

Bwahahaha classic.

Stay with me, lovelies. First of all, I don’t have a picture of my brain (if I did, that would be weird.) I think this picture best represents my brain: I love to travel to different places and learn as much as I can about that particular place, especially historical sites (a HUGE passion of mine). After years of waffling, I am currently in school studying liberal arts, with the goal of going on and earning my degrees in history and museum science, so that I can help pass on my passion for history to the public, and teach people a new way of viewing their current communities/societies around them. I think this picture of Monticello, one of my favorite places ever, represents my love of learning, my growing intellect, and curiosity, i.e. things happening in my brain. Plus, my brain holds my wit, which is an AWESOME thing, because otherwise this blog would be super dull. 

Yes, this actually happened.

Yes, this actually happened.

6. My Height

Yeah, so I am only 5’2″, and I genuinely love being short. Why? In spite of the difficulty of buying clothes that fit length wise (which doesn’t bother me…lovelies, there are tailors for a reason), I don’t mind being closer to the ground, per se.:) My height matches my personality: spunky, trying to be brave and try new things, and yet also willing to prove myself. I think it adds to my charm as well.

7. My Heart

Perfect.

Perfect.

I love my heart. Not only does it genuinely does what it is physically and anatomically supposed to do (you know, beat and pump blood through the rest of my body, keeping me alive and all that jazz), but it holds my dreams and hopes for my life, as well allows me to keep persevering to allow these dreams to come true. It truly does, in every way, shape, and form, keeps me going. It is where my deep reserves of strength reside, as well as my passions. 

I have never talked about this before: When I was a baby, I had a heart murmur at birth that I ended up growing out of; I am only now appreciating how freakin’ tough my heart is. If my heart (along the rest of me) were able to overcome this kinda major health scare, then I can handle anything AND that I should be more kind to my heart. It is indeed a vital and tough organ, but it also it requires the utmost care, since it holds and does everything so valuable to me. It literally keeps me alive physically, and it safeguards the things that I hold most dear.

All in all, this is what I love about my body. I know the list is rather small, but I hope that by traveling on this journey, I will discover more things I love about my body (perhaps different areas that have been hiding throughout the years), and share them with you all here. I know this post may come across as self-serving and braggy, but I don’t care. Self-love is a vital part in this story that I am sharing with you, and I think we should all stop and acknowledge what we love about ourselves often.

What do you love about your body? I would love to know! Tell me in the comments!

And now, a special treat for you, since I know subconsciously y’all wanted this:

Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend lovelies!

Please note: no haters allowed on this blog, ever. If you choose to post something negative on this post or any other post, your comment will be deleted, and you will be blocked.

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LET’S DO THIS.

Hello lovelies! I am so sorry for not posting in a while…my bad. Things have happened since our last post (pneumonia, chipping away at my college degree #almostdone, an amazing trip to West Virginia that I will blog about in the future)…okay so I’ve been busy, and not faithful to this blogging process. I promise I didn’t leave you all high and dry, my sweetsies! I’m not giving up. Besides, these past few months away from the blog (again, I am so sorry), I have felt restless. I have felt like I am on the brink of a journey, and I wanted (still want) to get out there and on the path already. I haven’t been happy with how I look, and these feelings of bleh coupled with the fact that I just want to get out and DO IT ALREADY haven’t exactly made a peaceful existence.

So, LET’S DO THIS.

After all of my “epilogue” posts on my blog, I am ready to get started with Chapter 1. Here is the “before” of who I am and what I really look like…..all 295 pounds of me. WHAAAAAAAAT?! Did I really just reveal my weight on the interwebz? Crap. Oh well, it’s out there now.

Yup. You read that right.

I weigh 295 pounds.

Wow.

So...this is me. Not the most flattering pic of me out there, but it will do. Also, my roommate would like to apologize for her "lack of skills" taking this pic with my iPhone.

So…this is me. Not the most flattering pic of me out there, but it will do. Also, my roommate would like to apologize for her “lack of skills” taking this pic with my iPhone.

And of course, since this an incredibly revealing, vulnerable post, why not throw in another “before” picture of me awkwardly running:

Fitness?

Fitness?

Let’s move on to my plan of attack, shall we?

1. We can have lots of fun GYM

(Double bonus points for understanding the above reference) I am a member of a gym in my hometown, and I have let my membership lapse. First of all, that is a waste of money, BLERG. Second, I specifically joined this gym because a. They have a pool and B. They offer aquatic personal training, WHICH IS AMAZING. I used to swim year round (summer league, club team, and on my high school team, which I was a 4-year Varsity letterman…letterlady?), and swimming was also a HUGE passion of mine. I think a great way to encourage myself and be kind to myself about getting back into shape is to do something I love(d). Plus, swimming is great for the joints, and it’s fun. If it works for Ellen DeGeneres (and by her, I mean Dory from Finding Nemo), then it works for me!

2. Join Weight Watchers

(Because Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Hudson. Duh.) In all seriousness, however, I have research different diet programs, and this is the one I trust. I feel like I will have the most success with this program over other programs, since they teach you portion control, lifestyle changes, etc. Also, this is the most cost-effective option I have in my life right now (Lovelies, I can’t afford a legit nutritionist. Those noble creatures cost money (like $$$ type of money, which I don’t have), and I would rather invest my money in an aquatic personal trainer (see above), and save in this option.)

3. Blog, Blog, Blog

As I have stated before, I plan on blogging about the whole process: the highs, the lows, the celebrations, the despairs, and everything in between. I plan on being super active with my blog, post on the reg with all sorts of goodies and updates. This is what I have planned out so far:

  • Weigh-In Wednesdays: I think this speaks for itself, but to be clear, posts in which I document my weight loss, complete with pictures!
  • Tasty Thursdays: Posts in which I attempt to cook healthy recipes, and live to tell the tale
  • Park Saturdays: Posts in which I (and a friend that I have bribed with maple bacon doughnuts  recruited) walk some walking trails in some parks around my hometown and home state (I live in the Greater Richmond area of Virginia. I am told that this is God’s country, bwahahahaha). By the way, loved ones/people that know me in real life: Let me know if you want to walk with me!
  • Music Mondays: Posts in which I feature a song on my own personal playlist that I jamming out to, particularly tunes that are inspirational to me and ones that I sweating to as I work out.
  • Inspirational posts sprinkled out in between, such as:
  • Pictures/articles/videos/people who I find inspiring
  • Interviewing women I know about beauty, health, etc.
  • Frank discussions about how I am feeling about as I go about this journey
  • Geeking-out posts of things that I am obsessing over
  • Goals of mine: What are they? How will I achieve them? Did I succeed, or do I need to adjust?
  • General posts in which we talk about that magical time in our lives in which our bodies change I’m just kidding, sweetsies. 😉
  • And many more!

I also would like to beef up the blog to make it more open, more user-friendly, and more me. 😉 I want to learn how properly learn how to post and keep my blog updated, and looking cute. (In other words, I want my blog to constantly have her hair did.) I also would like to try to attempt posting some vlogs(?!), in which I just about a topic, say Hi, and possibly answer any questions you may have (in which I beg and plead for your comments on any of the above topics).

Stay tuned for a new roll out of The Lovely Courage in the late fall, as I plan on investing some money in how the blog looks and feels. I have an amazing friend who helped me create this one, and she has agreed to help me build the beautiful-er new one! YAY!

4. Yo, I gots to buy some stuff, and save some cheddar. (Cheddar=cash.)

With any journey, one needs to financial invest in it, because, like, things cost money. Just ask Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote Eat Pray Love. Do you think that was free?! (The answer is no.) Here are the things I financially need to commit to:

  • Re-upping my gym membership
  • Joining Weight Watchers
  • Buying a scale
  • Buying a “dry-land” gym outfit or two
  • Buying a waterproof MP3 player/iPod shuffle with waterproof case (so I can groove whilst I get my swim on)
  • Making more meals at home/bring my lunch to work everyday vs. going out
  • Save my pennies for an “After” photo shoot AND a DURING photo session project that I am keeping secret for now. 🙂 (I promise, I will blog about this soon!)

I will add more things to the general plan of attack as I go (and I promise I will keep you all updated). This journey will officially start on September 1st! Why September? Because this gives me enough time to get things settled before then, so that I can jump in with both feet and hit the ground running/hit the water swimming! (I know that this reason may seem vague, but I am asking all of you to trust me.)

Keep me in your thoughts and in your prayers! I am SO EXCITED/SO SCARED to be starting this adventure, and I am honestly thrilled to be sharing it with all of you. I am ready to do this, now and forever. I am ready to swim for my future, and for brighter days every day. I’m not going to give in. 🙂

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So, about the title…(Part Deux)

Shameless selfie! When did selfies become a thing?

Shameless selfie! When did selfies become a thing?

Hello lovelies! Thank you so much for the response surrounding my past post. It was very hard to write; so hard that I had to stop myself a couple of times to let the tears flow and breathe just to keep the words flowing from my whole being onto the page. (Sorry, that sounded sooooooooooo emo.) I also had to stop myself from going super dark and revealing everything, because it’s not time yet to reveal all of the dark corners. Trust me, lovelies, we’ll get there. 🙂

And now, let’s talk about puppies let’s talk about more about the title (specifically, the motivations in naming the blog itself). Part Deux awaits!

Knowing what I had gone through thus far in my 30 years of living on this earth coupled with the fact (or, at the very least, my truth) the only way to change something in my life that has caused me so much pain is to be brave and ask for help when needed. I decided that if I truly wanted to slay forever my weight (from obese to healthy), my attitude, and 30 freakin’ years of virtually no self-love, self-esteem, and all around toxic words I (and others) have told me regarding my body and how I look, I need to FINALLY be honest to all about where I am, and where I want to be. I need fight this fight publicly, and I need to do so with a community around that will fight this with me, and can encourage me and keep my accountable. Frankly, I needed to get out of my own way, and let others (that I love and trust wholeheartedly) fight this good fight with me. To honor this community that I’ve assembled, and to keep everyone updated on my progress (as well as revealing things about myself that I have kept from everyone), I decided to do something equally courageous and drastic: write a blog. As in, it’s on the interwebz for all to see. Yikes.

Within this spirit and with the goal of starting this blog, I knew what the first step needed to be. A little while ago on my Facebook page, I asked people to help me come up with a name for my blog, in order to help me actually get the thing started, and to perhaps help me focus what exactly I wanted to write about. I knew I wanted to write about 2014 being my Year of Courage (I turned 30 at the end of 2013, and I wanted my 30th year to be a year where I try new things and to be bold, hence the declaration), but other than that, I was drawing a blank.

Here is what my loved ones came up with:
1. Ashley’s Silver Lining
2. Journey to New
3. Beginnings
4. Who New?
5. The Love-Me Blog
6. Be-You-Tiful
7. My Year of Courage
8. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Myself* (*Full Disclosure: I was thisclose to naming my blog this.)
9. Loving Myself by Grace
10. Blossoming in the Spirit
11. A Thousand Mile (and Grace Filled) Journey…
12. The Year of Ashley
13. Inside Out – Bringing Inner Beauty to the Surface
14. The Amazing Adventures of …
15. One person didn’t have a title, but suggested something with a phoenix. LURVE THAT.
16. The Lovely Blog
17. Baptism

Let the record show that I know some awesome people, whose love in suggestions for a personal blog still astounds and humbles me to this day.

However, I was drawn to the word lovely. It’s a word that my generation doesn’t use much anymore, and I loved the classic, feminine, vintage, and inherently Southern vibe this word gives me to me. I didn’t want the blog (and by extension, myself) to be pretty, beautiful, astonishing, ravishing, hot; I wanted it to be lovely.

So I decided to look up the word lovely on the internetz (aka Dictionary.com), and this is what it came up with:
1. Charming or exquisitely beautiful
2. Having a beauty that appeals to the heart or mind as well as to the eye, as a person or a face.
3. Delightful; highly pleasing
4. Of a great moral or spiritual beauty

Sold.

This is the kind of beauty I want to achieve in my life (vs. the other words mentioned above). I want my beauty to be reflected from my insides (my mind, heart, and soul) to my outsides (my face and my body). I truly believe that when one focuses on treating and developing his or her inner health (i.e. character, intelligence, confidence, etc.), this will be reflected in your outer health. Meaning, if you let your light shine on the inside, it will shine through to the outside of you as well. (As I mentioned before, light attracts light.)

Pursuing this kind of beauty takes courage, whether one decides to take this privately or publicly. Asking for help for anything in life also takes courage, no matter what the task may be. As I pondered all of the titles suggestions, and pondering what my heart already knew about my Year of Courage and the things I wanted to achieve, the title came forth: The Lovely Courage.

Lovelies, this blog title has since become my mantra, my life’s purpose. I have fallen in love with the passion and intention behind these words, and I love how these words combine together to imbue the tone of this blog, and the both the journey and fight I have ahead of me. Not only am I fighting for my beauty; I am fighting for courage to lay it all out there for all to see.

Welcome to the Lovely Courage. Enjoy. 🙂

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So, about the title…(Part Uno)

Oh you know, just waking up...to fight for my life. (Please ignore the fact that I am waking up at 1:19. I am not a vampire.)

Oh you know, just waking up…to fight for my life. (Please ignore the fact that I am waking up at 1:19. I am not a vampire.)

Warning: this post may or may not have been written with tears in my eyes.

Hello lovelies! Before I truly get started on this journey (which involves me being honest with you about my weight…yes, I am planning on saying how much I weight on the internet), I wanted to explain the title in further detail. I deliberately left that explanation out of my first post, because if I didn’t, the first post would 1882323405953053 words long and you would STILL be reading it. Chaos would ensue. 😉

However, something happened when I tried writing about the title. I kept wanting to make it 1882323405953053 (this is totes a real number) words long. Which is fine. Truthfully. Except for this: I kept skipping past the vulnerable part of really truly explaining why I came to this title in the blog and what I believe about myself and the whole blogging process. I was just explaining titles I loved and words I loved having together. Kind of like downright SPRINTING (I really hate running, sweetsies) past Go and demanding that I collect $200 from all of you. NOT FAIR.

So here it goes…I will be brave, and faithful to this process and all of you, and explain the processes behind this blog and beginning to explain my title (and new life mantra).

(Pep talk to self: Be brave Ash.)

For as long as I can remember, I have never thought I was beautiful. Ever. Yes, I have had fleeting moments of feeling powerful, strong, loved, and pretty, but never beautiful. Truly beautiful, from my soul (inside) to my face and body (the outside).  I so badly wanted to be skinny, with the perfect hair, skin, teeth…I really could go on and on, but I will stop here. Every time I thought that maybe I could be beautiful, or at least worthy of all of the good things in life (we’ll get to that in a second), the following things happened that slammed the proverbial beautiful door shut:

  • Being told (in 7th Grade) that I would never have a boyfriend because I was fat, ugly, had pimples, and was preppy. (WHO THE EFF CARES HOW I DRESSED?!)
  • Being given a weight loss book when I was in high school. For Christmas. I didn’t ask for it. (In my relative’s defense who shall remain anonymous, this person didn’t give me this book to be mean, but out of concern for my health. Regardless of intent, this gift still brings tears to my eyes and breaks my heart to this day.)
  • Being called fat IN FRONT OF MY WHOLE SHOW CHOIR (again, in high school) by our choreographer. Yay.

(Aside: Writing this is breaking my heart.)

I quickly bought into the lie that if people were saying this about me, then it must be true: I was gross, unworthy of love, and peace: all because I weighed differently than most people I knew. So I had a new job: protecting people from my heart, and myself: you will see me laugh, smile, and make you laugh and smile in the process, but you will never see me cry. Because (I so badly believed this) I wasn’t worth your time anyway, and since no one was going to defend me or come to my rescue, I had to do the job.

Lovelies, this is no way to live.

I don’t write the above for your pity, shame, praise, or what have you. I also didn’t write this to make you sad. (Don’t be sad sweetsies!) I write this because I am tired of living in my own shadow, in my own castle with a freakin’ moat to keep all out for their own safety. I want to live my life with an open heart, with all the love, kindness, and peace bestowed to myself by….myself. Being beautiful does start within, and it one is brave enough, it will push its way outside. Light attracts light, you know.

Hence, the purpose and title of this blog: The Lovely Courage. (True story: I kind of want to tattoo this somewhere on my body. Don’t tell my mom.) The very idea that in order to find your own beauty and live it in every single day, you have to travel through some mountain tops and valleys in order to get there. You have to accept the joys and the sorrows, and you have to be honest along the way. Yes, it is one thing to have your lip gloss be poppin’ and your hair did, but it quite another to face 30 years’ worth of demons in the name of loveliness and begin the fight to slay them…forever. If I am going to truly embark on journey, I want to make sure no stone is left unturned.

I’m ready. Are you?

Hello Lovely!

Well, hello gorgeous!

Well, hello gorgeous!

Well hello there Internet! My name is Ashley, and it is lovely to meet you. This blog has been a long time coming: dreaming about creating it, fantasizing about how awesome it would be to have my very own, and ultimately procrastinating in actually creating the whole thing. I am new to this whole process, and am slightly terrified this project: writing something on the reg and the content/message of what this blog is about.

But, as always, I am getting ahead of myself.

So, I have a confession: I’m fat. (THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO SCREAM OUT “NO YOU ARE NOT!” AND PUNCH ME IN THE ARM.) It’s true. I weigh…a lot, and I want to weigh less. Not a gross number of less, but less none the same. I have been fat for most of my adult life, due to me not wanting to work out and eat everything I want. (If I could, I would solely survive on cupcakes, sweet lemon tea, and Coca-Cola alone.) (Also Greek yogurt. At least that’s healthy.)

But even though I love to eat not-so-great things, like, 100% of time, I could never seem to find or stick to anything that would change my body, and my self-loathing of the skin that I live in. Atkins? No thank you. (Just try to take bread away from me, and see what happens.) Membership to boot-camp gym? Nope! (Guys, I fart when I do sit ups, and cry very easily. Imagine what happens when I have to do 100 of them with someone yelling at me thisclose away from face. Disaster, that’s what.) Denying myself sweets all-together? Didn’t work. (I will seriously claw your eyes out if you deny me a cupcake.)

Meanwhile, I had a great idea: instead of struggling with my self-worth, self-esteem, self-image, and all the other self words that apply in my head and heart, why not share it out loud in front of people that I don’t know? Bwahahahahaha just kidding. What I mean is, Why not hold myself accountable to friends and family (who will eventually find out about this blog and will read it…I hope?), as well perfect strangers, to show it all this journey of weight-loss/health. The joys, and the struggles, the fear and the sheer elation of being free, the successes, and the failures…all of these, and more.

I think this type of journey is so much more than physical; it’s also a mental head-game, an emotional roller coaster, and spiritual trek. It’s meant to be hard; it makes it all the more sweet when achieved. I am starting out, completely vulnerable, with no idea on how to maintain a blog (Technology is hard, y’all) or what exactly my goals are, and with slightest idea of what this blog will look like or what I will look like in the midst of all of this. I am scared, but I am also super excited.

Join me, won’t you? I promise, this is going to be fun (and, on some levels, suck a little bit)! Either way, we’re in this together. I hope you’re ready!

I swear, I am doing the combo of duck lips and Dr. Evil ironically and sarcastically. Also, ignore the mess and pile of laundry in the background.

I swear, I am doing the combo of duck lips and Dr. Evil ironically and sarcastically. Also, ignore the mess and pile of laundry in the background.