Embracing an Imperfect Body

I have gained about 25 pounds in the last five years.  And it has been eating away at me.  I try to tell myself that five years is a long time and I never compared my body to what it looked like five years ago before.  But for the most part I feel like the same person I was five years ago even though I am not.  Not much has really changed like it did as a teenager and young adult.  When in fact I have changed a lot and have officially entered my 30's.  But on the outside things look the same. 

I finally weighed myself after taking a four month break from it.  While I needed it for accountability (my stretchy pants were becoming my tight stretchy pants) it has quickly become an unkind friend again reminding me of what feels like failures.

While I tighten up my eating habits and find a better focus in my workouts I sense my body is better.  But that number on that scale continued to stay the same.

It reminds me why I stopped weighing myself in the first place.  Sometimes that number is not an accurate account of my efforts and good choices.

So as I go through yet another self esteem lesson, I am making the best of another hard but good season of my body.  I am embracing what I know works and being open about it.

I started posting my outfits again on Instagram and it has been encouraging to hear some of the feedback.  I am not so much talking about the clothes but about my heart.  I find that shopping for new clothes only discouraged me and where I am at right now.  When in fact I have a whole closet of clothes.  What started with frustration about my body reminded me to be more content with what I have.

We chatted about stretchy pants and it was inspiring to hear other women shout their praises for pants that make them feel good as well as help them be more productive.  Because we are all tired of feeling restricted and discouraged with our clothes.

A friend of mine recently shared that she has been struggling with getting pregnant with her second child.  Her doctor is telling her that she is too active.  So she has been asked to cut back on running and gain five pounds.  We both were reminded and encouraged that sometimes what we think we want (a fit body) actually keeps us from the things we really want (in her case, a second child).

So as I pondered all of this I wondered if finding contentment in a less than perfect body made me a better person.  I wondered if it would make me more relatable.  I wondered if I could be a better encouragement to other women in embracing my imperfections.

Sure losing a few pounds would make me feel better.  But will it make my impact any better?  I don't know.  There is definitely something to be said about being healthy and content with your body so you can live your life without your body being a restriction.  But I am healthy.  And I know a lot of my other friends are also healthy.  But still dissatisfied with their bodies.

I want to not run to salty snacks because I cannot handle stress in my life.  And so I need to work on not being an emotional eater.  But while I am working on this, I do not need to continue to tear myself down in the process.  So instead I am going to embrace my belly, the stretch marks I first got in the seventh grade, and whatever else is bothering me for the day.

I am going to dress for my body, embrace high waisted stretchy pants, and show the world what a confident imperfect woman looks like.  Because the world needs her just the way she is.

Under the Bar Gallery Wall

Sometimes I look around my house and literally all I see are gallery walls.  Can you ever have too many gallery walls?  According to my house the answer is no.  I think the main thing that keeps the gallery walls each unique is the placement as well as what fills the frames.  This under the bar gallery wall is especially one of a kind as it is presented in an irregular place.

Before this gallery wall we had a few bar stools that rarely got sat on.  The bar is a bit too high for the stool levels we had and so instead they just collected stuff.  Plus the feet marks that got left behind were definitely undesirable.  So I moved the bar stools and lived with this space blank for awhile.  It felt clean and spacious to have the walkway open and eventually I got the idea to fill the space with a gallery wall instead.

The spacing is a little awkward as the brackets holding up the bar restricted the size of frames that would fit so I had to move things around to get it right.  

In reality, since it is close to the floor, frames sometimes get bumped if we collect things on the ground or my baby nephew chooses to be a little mischievous.  But I try to keep an eye on it which has kept it from being an issue worth taking down.

The art is a collection of flowers, places we have traveled to, and photos.  I tried to do a mix of colored frames to pull the different colors together.

Here is also where my Instagram inspired collage print hangs.

Because the frames are lower than eye level, it draws attention to an otherwise unnoticed place.  I like that it brings the eyes to notice the hardwood floor as well as towards the gallery wall in our living room down the stairs.

Creating this gallery wall in an unusual place reminded me that every blank wall is fair game.  Plus it encouraged me to think outside of the box in using my home in ways that fit our family and not necessarily what a builder had envisioned for it.

Instagram Inspired Collage Print

The last time I can remember creating any type of collage I was in high school.  And I am sure it was a combination of pictures of my bffs and our celebrity crush at the moment.  I'll admit that collages are fairly dated home decor these days.  It is more about the shiny matted frames that fill up a good gallery wall. 

But thanks to Instagram they have sort of brought back the idea of the collage in a cool hip square photo white border sort of way.  I notice that the Instagram accounts that I love the most are often a collection of well curated images.  So this project was inspired by that.  I wanted to put together a bunch of my recent favorite photos that didn't make the cut to their own individual frame.  But I balanced it all out and gave it a pink theme with photos of flowers from our home.  

Not only does the pink and white balance out the images, I like that I bring in a bit of the everyday alongside mostly vacation type photos.

Creating a collage like this is incredibly simple.  You can make it in any photo editing software that allows for you to create a collage.  I usually choose to make mine in Picassa because it is very quick and easy to use.

In Picassa:
1. Select one image
2. Click "create" on top menu bar
3. Choose "picture collage"
4. From there you can add more photos from "clips" toolbar
5. Choose "grid" to get the square Instagram layout
6. Adjust border with "grid spacing"
7. Adjust collage size under "page format" - I made mine 8x10
8. Once collage is finished click on "create collage" and then save the picture to your computer

Here is what the collage looks like when it is done:

I really like the uniqueness of the collage that brings color and variety to my walls.  Something like this could also look great with all the images in black and white.  The become their own form of art when photos are thoughtfully put together.

They also make a great gift of a collection of photos without putting them into a photo book.  For Christmas I made my friend Deb a collage of pictures of us and my nephews on some of our hikes and adventures we have gone on over the years.

I hope this inspires to use your photos (and even your real Instagram photos) in a fun and creative way that can be enjoyed in your home!

Easy Baked Bean Chili

This recipe came from one of those days where I had an extra can of baked beans sitting in my cupboard for too long that I was desperate to just use up.  What a wonderful coincidence that it landed me on one of my now most favorite chili recipes!  And it could not be any easier than dumping a few things in the slow cooker. 

I can be kind of particular about my chilis and soups.  While I love a big bowl of this warm comfort food, when I make it at home, it has to be spectacular if I am going to get through the giant batch I made for the next week.  This chili does not disappoint.  It doesn't get old after days of eating it for lunch.  It is pure baked bean chili heaven.

While I am fairly confident in my cooking, I'll admit that there are not a ton of dump and cook soup recipes that I love.  I always need a little more flavor.  Something is missing.  And suddenly the ease of dumping and cooking now has me perplexed sitting in the kitchen when I am supposed to be sitting with my feet up because dinner is already cooking at lunch time.

So if you could use more time putting your feet up and less time in the kitchen, this is for you friends.  It is perfectly sweet and savory.  I promise you will thank me later.

Easy Baked Bean Chili

1 can baked beans (1 large can or 2 regular size cans are fine)
1 can kidney beans
1 can white beans
4 chicken tenderloins cooked
3 cloves of minced garlic
1/2 onion chopped
2 cups water
salt and pepper

Dump and cook!  You can cook this on the stove or in a slow cooker.  I usually run it on low in the slow cooker all day.

While I love bread or tortilla chips with chili, I highly recommend crackers for this one.  You can do what you want.  But those crackers were good.

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