I’m Not My Leanest

by tinareale on January 3, 2013

Lately, I have had something on my heart to share. I don’t know exactly where it stems from – some comments I have received, statements I have overheard from others, underlying thoughts from questions in emails from readers, or perhaps thinking on my word of the year. I may not know what to pinpoint as the source, but I can certainly pinpoint the overall message that keeps settling amid my thoughts for at least the past month. WARNING: Please read with caution as this post could be triggering to some.

I’m not my leanest. And that is 100% OKAY. Heck, more than okay. It’s a GOOD thing for me.

I know what it takes to drop my body fat levels down to more extreme 15% levels of leanness. I know how to lose weight so I could walk around with visible abdominal definition daily. I know the strength training methods that could leave me with a lot more definition than I currently have in my upper body and my personal “problem area” – the booty. I’ve done it all before…and quite a few times even.

I could still look like this…


But instead I happily choose to look more like this…

Yep. 100% not my leanest or most defined. And even though I know the things that work for my body to get me to that point – like a lot more focus on heavy weight lifting and less running (and carbs) – I have zero desire to reach that again.

Okay, maybe not zero desire. Sometimes, yes, I think “man to look like that again”. But it’s a fleeting thought because I know my NUMBER ONE GOAL for my body is to be healthy and happy. Healthy. AND happy.

I like not having to overanalyze food and to focus simply on choosing wholesome, natural foods as often as possible with zero guilt over having some brown rice at dinner.

I like having the freedom to choose some treats within moderation at social things (like over the holidays) because I don’t have to stick to a meal plan.

I like having more energy.

I like running (even if I’m currently taking a break). Sure, I still enjoy weight training, but to complement my routines and other goals. It makes me happier and helps me to appreciate my body for what it can do more. For me, weights were always a means to an end to look a certain way. I just don’t have the desire to do 4-5 heavier strength workouts each week with an emphasis on interval training to cut down like that. I still think it’s a great way to train, but not currently for me…so I don’t force it in order to look a certain way.

I like keeping life more about my relationships with God, family, and friends and my passions with sharing a love of fitness with others. Something I never did when aiming for an arbitrary “look lean” goal.

Things certainly still aren’t perfect. My body has taken me for quite the injury ride the past 9-10 months, for example. I still sometimes think “I could make these changes and lean out a bit more”. I still find myself trying to figure out my relationship with food during tough emotional situations.

Then, I remember that my goal isn’t to be my leanest. It’s to be my happiest. My healthiest inside and out by living with balance and self-love. Knowing my body carried two babies, that it can do more than I ever thought possible, and that is a temple…and one that I still think looks pretty dang good. I can carry that with even more confidence than I ever could at my leanest. I’m not my leanest. And that is a GOOD thing for me.

Your Turn: What about your body makes you happy?


1 [email protected] Palate January 3, 2013 at 7:02 am

Great post Tina! I’m still recovering, it’s long term process and I would say that I’m almost there. I still have days like you say when I think maybe I should train a little harder, get back to being more defined, but I love my food too much now. I like the balance I have in my life, and have no desire to cut out carbs for the sake of a more defined body. I want to fuel my body, to feel energised, healthy and well. In the past “healthy and well” were oddly negative connotations for me…they meant voluptuous and uncomfortableness, the kind I’d experienced when I was suffering from bulimia and binge eating disorder and people said I looked healthy, not knowing what was going on behind the surface. I now feel healthy, look healthy and most importantly am happy. A really great post as always, you are one of my true inspirations!

2 Brittany (Healthy Slice of Life) January 3, 2013 at 7:03 am

Fantastic post, Tina. It takes a lot of time to get to a place of understanding what healthy and happy is! I used to think a lot about what could I look like if I really buckled down, but then I remember how much I enjoy drinking a beer with David, having Mexican on a Friday night and enjoying workouts rather than feeling forced to complete them.
Plus, it doesn’t hurt than you look phenomenal the way you are right NOW. :)

3 katie January 3, 2013 at 7:10 am

Lean is SO last year ;)

Haha! You look fabulous Tina! You are beautiful and sometimes being too lean is not good for you, as I know that has happened to me!

What I love about my body, my baby bump that continues to grow <3

4 Ruby @ Focus, Woman! January 3, 2013 at 7:14 am

Loved the post! When I have thopse thoughts, I usually use my daughter to remind me of how far I have come and what I want her to see as “strong” in a woman and her body. I have eating disorders on both sides of my family, going back 3 generations, as well as having had one myself. I am doing everything I can to always be making positive changes, and not step back into those ways.

Also, whenever I do have the odd day or week where I decide to give in and “shred” a little I am reminded of how crappy it makes me feel, how much work it is, and how little I really want it.

5 Lauren January 3, 2013 at 7:17 am

Tina! I think you look beautiful! Honestly, the second picture is even more gorgeous than the first! :) Love you and love your beautiful honesty!

6 Danielle @ Clean Food Creative Fitness January 3, 2013 at 7:57 am

I love this post! You are beautiful just the way you are and I love your courage, honesty, and love of your body. You are fabulous and such an inspiration!

7 Linz @ Itz Linz January 3, 2013 at 7:59 am

Being healthy & happy is waaaaaay more important (and fun!). I’m definitely not my leanest, but to reach my future goals, I know itz way more important. xoxo

8 Kaitlin @4loveofcarrots January 3, 2013 at 8:11 am

This is a great post! I can totally relate, as someone who overcame (still has the battle with myself) an eating disorder I think the key to recovery is to be able to look in the mirror and be happy with what you are looking at. It is not easy to get to that point and you should be extremely proud of yourself for getting there!

9 Lindsay's List January 3, 2013 at 8:20 am

like you read my mind!!!!

10 ani January 3, 2013 at 8:21 am

I’m a quiet, devoted reader and I completely agree with your post. Completely. Well said and so true. Finding a middle balance is key and another step towards overall fulfillment in life. !!!

11 tinareale January 3, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Thanks for coming out to say hello, Ani! I really appreciated hearing from you. Hope you have a wonderful day. :)

12 Heather (Where's the Beach) January 3, 2013 at 8:28 am

I love this post for many reasons. I think it’s so easy to see images of the incredibly lean women, rock hard abs, perfectly sculpted bis/tris/backs and start to see that is normal in a way. It’s really not. I love lifting weights but realized I was never going to be that sculpted girl that graced the covers of Oxygen. I think being happy in your own skin is more important than always trying to obtain someone else’s ideal image. I might be rambling now LOL. I’ll stop. Long story short, you look amazing and (as always) are an inspiration.

13 Anne January 3, 2013 at 8:37 am

I’m not going to lie, lately it’s been tricky to find something I like about my body! But I do like my legs. They are strong, they help me run (when I’m in the groove!) and I feel my best in sweet dresses :)

14 Anne January 3, 2013 at 8:38 am

I’m not going to lie, it’s been tricky finding something to love lately. But my legs make me pretty happy, when I’m running or wearing a sweet little dress :)

15 [email protected] January 3, 2013 at 8:43 am

You need to do what’s right for you, Tina. I think you’re making the right choice!

16 tinareale January 3, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Of course! I’m very happy with where I am now over a few years ago when I was miserable and overtaken by it all.

17 Jess January 3, 2013 at 8:45 am

This is by far one of my favorite posts from you EVER — and maybe because we finally got to meet this fall, but I can totally hear you talking me through this post, as if we were sitting across the table from eachother (SO wish we were!!), talking through all of this. You’ve hit that sweet spot — that ‘at peace’ moment where you are no longer striving for perfection, you’re striving for excellence. Happiness, joy, peace and balance. All rolled into a beautiful package called “Tina.” My favorite line from this post? This one: “Healthy. AND happy.” AMEN x1000. I heart your perspective friend, and SO value your friendship, you teach me SO MUCH every single time I pop over to catch up on you. xoxo

18 Sarah January 3, 2013 at 8:54 am

You look so amazing and you are such an inspiration to me as a mom of two wee kids…since your Oxygen journal days. I am fighting a demon right now in terms of not feeling “skinny” enough despite knowing I look great. This is what I needed to hear and be reminded of.

19 tinareale January 3, 2013 at 1:14 pm

YOU are awesome, Sarah, and I hope you tell those demons and thoughts to back off because you deserve that happiness in yourself. :)

20 Heather (Heather's Dish) January 3, 2013 at 8:55 am

I wish I could think of words to tell you how beautiful you are sweet Tina – in whatever shape! You are one of the sweetest and most caring ladies in the world!

21 Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy January 3, 2013 at 9:02 am

I think that you look great!

22 michelle January 3, 2013 at 9:04 am

When you wrote that your goal is to be your happiest, that really resonated with me. I needed to hear that! I am battling a nagging running injury and have adopted spinning as a substitute as well as weight training. For the longest time I thought running was IT for me – the exercise that made me the leanest… but I’m starting to think that it never really made me as happy as I wanted it to make me. If that makes any sense.

23 tinareale January 3, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Trust me. It makes PERFECT sense. ;)

24 Haley @ The Saucy Apple January 3, 2013 at 9:20 am

Tina, you look amazing as you are! And I’m a big believer in the power of the “glow factor.” A lot of times when people are at their skinniest, it seems like they’re missing that spark… whether it’s energy, a smile, getting enough sleep, etc. I think when you hit your sweet spot… the magic spot of glowingly healthy, that’s when you’ve really won. And I think you’ve really won. I see you glowing all the time through your blog sharing.

25 Beth @ Lessons Life Teaches Me January 3, 2013 at 9:24 am

Great post! I had that mental conversation with myself this morning, and you nailed it. We could sacrifice all the things we enjoy just to have the perfect body, or we could find a balance between them. I like eating cheese, tacos, and hamburgers way to much to give it up for the leanest body. I think you look great, and you are being a great role model to your daughter to be happy with the body God gave you! Thank you for this post.

26 Anna January 3, 2013 at 9:30 am

You look great! You look healthy and fit!

What I love about my body is that people now will tell me how healthy and athletic I look. I struggled with anorexia for awhile and weighed under a 100 pounds. My hair fell out and I completely lost my cycle. Now though through family support, changed eating habits and following a balanced routine to help me from over-exercising I have curves and am much more happier.

27 Kelly January 3, 2013 at 9:31 am

You look great! In my opinion you look better in the second picture than the first. This is such a interesting post for me because I am so angry at my body right now that it is diblitating. I want a baby so badly, Tina. Keith and I have been trying since May 2011 and 2 miscarriages later and now major fertiilty problems I just don’t understand why m body is failing me. I am trying so hard to be happy and positive but truly I am struggling. I am on he brink of totally losing it. I know I should be grateful and I probably sound like a spoiled brat to those people who can’t walk or are missing body parts. I probably sound so selfish. I know my body is a good for the freedoms it allows me each day but on the inside it’s hard to look in the mirror and not see a broken woman.

28 tinareale January 3, 2013 at 1:17 pm

I feel good with where I’m at now over then most certainly.

And, Kelly, you shouldn’t feel guilty for how you’re feeling at all. You may not be missing limbs, but your body is still causing you pain and its not selfish. I’ve been still praying regularly for you and gosh I wish there was something I can do.

29 sunshinekisses January 3, 2013 at 9:47 am

Beautiful post!

30 Lissy January 3, 2013 at 9:56 am

People really make comments about your body? You look great! Actually you look just like me and I haven’t had any kids yet.
I sometimes think, I could lose ten pounds, but then I’m like, yeah, but would I look better? Would I be happier? Nope. And my clothes wouldn’t fit and more importantly, my bras wouldn’t fit :P

31 tinareale January 3, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Haha! Love the last bit about the clothes and bras.

32 Carly January 3, 2013 at 10:01 am

Tina – I personally think you look MUCH better now than you did in that “lean” post. You look feminine and healthy. I can’t say that I love my body at all right now. I have had to re-prioritize my life and quit exercising for personal reasons. But, for now, those changes are what I needed to make my life better and more fulfilled. It is more important to ENJOY my life than keep a strict diet and exercise program. I will exercise again after I get over a few hurdles because I enjoy it, but in the meantime I’m having fun being myself :)

33 Alex @ therunwithin January 3, 2013 at 10:02 am

I wish more young women could read this. I think the social pressure now to be lean, to be what really our bodies are not meant to be is thrown at us way too often. It is refreshing and oh so needed to have those little reminders that life is about living, not manipulating, not conforming, just living in ourselves.

34 Lindsay J. January 3, 2013 at 10:04 am

Great post Tina! this is what I love about your blog the most, your honesty! I can totally relate to this, before I had kids I used to spend almost 2 hours a day at the gym and I got my leanest. 5 years and 2 kids later and my body is definitely not as lean and will likely never be again but what I got in return is my babies and they are the biggest blessing in my life. I hate the pressure we feel as women to look a certain way and what I want more than anything is to be a role model for my daughter by being happy and healthy with my body which is what you are doing for your daughter by not giving into extreme dieting/exercising.

35 Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries January 3, 2013 at 10:10 am

I personally think you look much better and healthier in the second photo anyways. Good for you to recognize what’s best for you and your body and not fall into the traps of the pressures from ourselves and society. I’d much rather be 10 pounds heavier with some extra fat on me and be happy then to have minimal body fat and never enjoy life. Been there done that! No fun!

36 Annie January 3, 2013 at 10:17 am

As usual what an inspiring post. To be honest, as long as you’re happy with your body who cares if you are a little less lean? If being leaner means facing food issues then it’s not worth it!

37 Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table January 3, 2013 at 10:27 am

I think you look amazing! I also want to punch anyone who is at their leanest after the holidays. Hahaha!

38 Kristen @ Be Fit with Kristen January 3, 2013 at 10:37 am

I have the same struggle with myself all of the time. I have these pesky 5 lbs that I teeter between at least once, sometimes twice a year. Some may think that 5 lbs isn’t much but for me it’s the difference between looking like your first image vs. your second image (and you look great in both btw). I feel pressure from certain areas of my life to maintain my leanest but honestly sometimes I’d like to eat more than carrot sticks and rice cakes. I’d like to have a beer or a glass of wine without feeling guilty. In short, I’d like to have a life. Currently I am not at my leanest and honestly I’m not sure how I feel about that. Thanks for the posting this. It helps. :)

39 jobo January 3, 2013 at 10:40 am

I love this post so so much Tina!! Reason #5732 why you are the most honest, REAL, writes-what-everyone-else-may-be-thinking-but-is-afraid-to-own it person I have ever met. And you look phenomenal now, MORE than at your leanest. You look healthy and happy, that combination makes you GLOW. Sure, ultra-lean can look good, but I always think those that are THAT lean look sad – because they probably are, because they haven’t eaten enough, are tormented by numbers and what they can and cannot have etc – and it’s not a way to live life. Anytime I find myself saying I wish I looked like Jennifer Aniston or had Carrie Underwood’s legs, I think – but they aren’t LIVING, they work out a zillion hours a day, eat next to nothing (likely!) and that is the price they pay to look that way. I don’t want to end up in my 80s and wonder why I never got to enjoy peanut butter, or wine, or chocolate, JUST to look a certain way for a fleeting period of time in my life when my body would actually look that lean. Rambling now, but life is far too short not to live balance, moderation AND happiness all for the sake of a fleeting ‘look.’ XOXO!

40 Maryea @ Happy Healthy Mama January 3, 2013 at 10:43 am

I’m so happy to see you post this. Great message and right on point for the new year. You look fabulous and I think you’ve found a great balance of being at a healthy weight and not being obsessive about how your body looks.

Happy New Year to you, Tina! :-)

41 Kasey Shuler @ Well of Health January 3, 2013 at 10:48 am

Totally agree with this. I have priorities as well, and my number one just isn’t to have 5% body fat. Being in shape and having tone is nice and something I am convicted to steward well, but not at the expense of always missing out on precious time spent with loved ones and feasting with them! Enjoy the life you’ve been given!

42 Suzan January 3, 2013 at 10:58 am

Thanks for this post Tina!

I love what running has done for the way I look at my body. My thighs are large but I no longer look at them with disdain, I am amazed that they can carry me as far as they have.
I am constantly surprised by the secret stores of strength that I have hidden in the curves and soft spots of my body. :)

43 Ari @ Ari's Menu January 3, 2013 at 11:02 am

You know what? I think you look BETTER now! Your body is still amazing, and you can see the happiness in your eyes. That is the most important!

44 janetha January 3, 2013 at 11:03 am

Love this post, your thoughts shared, and your attitude toward your body and life in general. GREAT approach, great message. Love you!

45 Amanda January 3, 2013 at 11:10 am

YES!! I really buckled down a few months ago to look and feel my best for my wedding. I was doing two workouts some days and really cut back on any junky foods. I felt amazing, but I know that it could not be sustained!! I was tired and had little time for anything else! After a honeymoon and the holidays, I’m likely about 5 lbs heavier and I’m trying to be ok with that! Thank you so much for this post. You still look amazing!!

46 Paige @ Your Trainer Paige January 3, 2013 at 11:18 am

Worrrd, Tina. I hear you SO much on this topic. And I agree – I’d much rather have a little extra padding (which I say lovingly) and be healthier and happier. I’m not my leanest either, nor do I want to be.
You look gorgeous, Tina, and in my opinion more beautiful and feminine in the second picture, anyway :)

47 maria @ lift love life January 3, 2013 at 11:36 am

Tina, this is exactly how I feel. As a fitness professional, I’ve always felt an obligation to look a certain way and though I know exactly what it takes, and I’ve helped others get there, I’m not willing to give up all that time, good food, and energy just to “look a part”. I say we’re all gorgeous the way we are, and we don’t always have to be our leanest. That’s a ridiculous aspiration for busy mothers and wives like us!

48 Jennifer Dunham January 3, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Such a fantastic post. I have also been struggling with accepting my body. Accepting that I fill out pants better than I once did. But, like you , I want to focus on health and happiness, not just being thin (for me) or lean (you). I have learned the lesson, in the most unfortunate way recently, that life is short, we need to enjoy every aspect of it while we are here and quit sweating the small stuff. Fantastic post. Awesome. Inspiring.

49 Ana January 3, 2013 at 12:34 pm

You look great! What’s truly matters in this work is doing what truly makes you happy. Perfection is a myth. I love what you said : happy and healthy. Thank you for this awesome post.

50 Libby January 3, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Great Post and great comments! I am sorta struggling with body issue right now. I am about 5-8lbs heavier then before I started marathon training and I don’t like it at all. I don’t like the out of control hunger that I get. As someone who has struggled with my weight for so long..the out of control feeling scares me. I love that you are feeling joy and balance which is what I am praying for! Thanks so much for sharing this!

51 Brittany January 3, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Ah, you couldn’t have said it better. I know exactly how you feel and after getting to my leanest last year and having to gain weight to put my body back in the “safe zone”, it’s difficult to not let myself fall into the trap of the past. This is where our bodies are healthiest, and THAT’s what matters!

52 Sarah (Shh...Fit Happens) January 3, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Great post! I couldn’t agree with you more! I used to care so much about having the flattest abs and skinny, defined arms and so on….. now I am just enjoying LIFE! It is so much better :)

53 Julie January 3, 2013 at 1:12 pm

I am trying to get there, but I am not there yet with totally accepting my body as it is now. I’ve been reading about primal/paleo eating and experimenting with my eating, but it has triggered all this anxiety about food. And a small, evil voice is telling me, “if you will just cut out grains, dairy, beans, etc. then you will be happier with your body.” I am trying to ignore it, but it is so hard. Those diets make big promises, but after reading your post, it makes me wonder if all that effort to avoid foods that I love just to be leaner is really worth it. I am at a healthy weight for my height. I generally eat healthy–80/20! I have two beautiful children to show for what this body can do. The sick part of me always wants to be skinnier, leaner, and have no “mommy tummy.” Any suggestions on how to turn that voice off? It is a daily, hourly struggle sometimes. I feel like I am at a tipping point–on one side, unhealthy obsession with food and on the other, the journey toward a healthy perspective on my body and food.

54 tinareale January 3, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Honestly? For me, it’s all about prayer. It tells those voices to shut up…and sometimes they do still sneak in and get me down for a day or two or sometimes a week even. But I know where I’m happiest and I can generally turn to God in prayer and pull out of those thoughts and funks. It’s worth it.

55 Molly Ritterbeck January 3, 2013 at 1:33 pm

I love your honesty….you look fab!

56 Courtney January 3, 2013 at 1:53 pm

You look awesome in both pics!! Good for you for being happy with how you are and focusing on being healthy instead of obsessing over things =)

57 Lindsey January 3, 2013 at 1:54 pm

“…The goal is not to be my leanest. It is to be my happiest.” You hit the nail on the head. Best of wishes to you in your journey!!

58 Goldengirls59 January 3, 2013 at 1:56 pm

If all of us could look like your second picture! I would love to have abs that resembled yours! I think you look great, otherwise we may be sending the wrong message to our daughters. Keep up the current look!

59 Heather @ Better With Veggies January 3, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Body image is actually a tricky thing for me. I don’t do what I know I should do if I want “the body” that people aspire to, but like you I don’t really want to go there. I like living life and enjoying, so I do. Ironman training always helps and my diet is drastically different than it was the first time around, so we’ll see. Oh gosh…apparently I have more to say here than I thought. :)

60 Clare @ Fitting It All In January 3, 2013 at 3:12 pm

thanks for sharing. you still look AMAZING!:) Can’t wait to follow your lead in BBB!

61 Katie January 3, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Tina! This is one of your best posts yet! It’s something very close to my heart. I was trying to explain this to some of the girls in my eating disorder group last week. You see, for me, I also know what it takes too. I’ve always been a very athletic person, and it’s harder for me to make myself eat that it is to not eat a lot of times. But I’ve learned something. It’s almost like we have two choices: we can be healthy, or we can look like your first photo. But when we look like your first photo, that’s all we have. We think we have the perfect body, but we don’t have anything else – no happiness, no real fulfillment, it affects our relationships, we slowly lose everything. It’s a terrible trade-off. I’m learning that I would rather have all of these other things and be less than perfect because I only have one life. Besides that, when people are healthy both mentally and physically, they just GLOW, and that makes them even more beautiful.

62 Katie January 3, 2013 at 3:21 pm

PS – You look beautiful RIGHT NOW! Thanks for inspiring me today!

63 Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn January 3, 2013 at 3:33 pm

YOU GO GIRL!!! I have been the leaner, more “athletic-looking” girl, and I sure know how to get there, but I, like you, love where I am now. I love not obsessing over food. I love not obsessing over exercise. I love being HAPPY. You rock what you’ve got, sister. You are perfect, JUST the way you are!

64 [email protected] January 3, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Amen! Love this post. Life is sooooo much more than just getting more cut or lean or seeing how many plants we can eat. Or having perfect meals. Love this.

65 Lauren January 3, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Wow. I’ve been obsessing over how much body fat I have and how I’ve gained a few pounds but I’m not overweight. I have recently gotten sucked into fitspo instagrams where everyone follows a strict meal plan with the occasional treat, no alcohol, etc. I eat pretty healthy, workout at least 4 times a week. I am so hard on myself and end up sobbing thinking “why don’t I have enough self control to not eat so much, or not have that beer I want on Friday night, etc”. Now I realize that it’s because I don’t want to sacrifice my happiness, and socializing. I could spend hours in the gym and eat 100% clean instead of 75% clean but would I be happy. I think I would seeing those abs, but if I can’t commit than I don’t know. I don’t think I could live that way forever. Thank you for being so honest.

66 Sierra @ Posh Meets Pavement January 3, 2013 at 4:10 pm

I am there with you. I sometimes look at wedding photos or try on a pair of pants and think….get your act together and lean out. At the same time, I have a pretty fabulous life of balance and I embrace it. I love having a glass of wine while I cook dinner or an ice cream with my husband. There is a time and place for everything and today is not the day. Maybe another time when I am ready.

Love this post and I have ab envy in the first pic…amazing

67 Megan @ Fiterature January 3, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Tina, I really needed to read this right now. I’m struggling big time with my “leanness”. I run 3 days a week and strength train 3 days a week, and still have a layer of fat in my abdomen and arms I cannot get rid of. I know I am healthy and strong, but for the amount of time I put in – the visual results are FRUSTRATING. I even took before and after photos for the last round of bootcamp – ZERO difference. And I was religious with the workouts.

I’m struggling with the fact that maybe this is where my body is SUPPOSED to be at, without making myself miserable by restricting certain foods and carbs. Hearing that you have the same thoughts is reassuring that I am not the only one that thinks this way. I respect you, and think you are beautiful. So it’s great to hear we are alike in some ways!

68 Pavement Runner January 3, 2013 at 4:39 pm

You hit it on the head. Happiness. That is really what it is all about. Being happy. Such a simple thought, but so damn hard to get. It starts with accepting what you can change and deciding what you want to change (assuming something has to change in order for you to find happiness). What will make you happy. Figure it out and go after it. Great post.

69 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey January 3, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Best post I’ve read in quite some time. Even though you’re “not your leanest”, you still look pretty damn good. (D word was needed. ;) )

70 Olivia Hill @ life as liv January 3, 2013 at 5:18 pm

I absolutely agree with you. I don’t want to be my “leanest”, I want to be my happiest! And if that means pizza for dinner some nights and some birthday cake now and then, then BRING IT ON. :)

71 Rachel B @ Busy Mama Fitness January 3, 2013 at 6:01 pm

I’m glad you posted this. Since I fractured my foot a month ago, I’ve been a bit body dysmorphic. The holidays coming at a time of decreased activity didn’t help matters either. You’re right – it isn’t that hard to be lean (well, in terms of knowing what to do). But being that lean isn’t always equivalent with being all that happy. Life is better when you can relax and enjoy from time to time instead of having to stop and calculate your macronutrient ratios and then stress and shame about it or having to be the Debbie Downer when you’re out with friends because they’re indulging and you have to stick to a plan.

72 Julie January 3, 2013 at 6:16 pm

I love this post because I’ve done it, got obsessed, and was unhealthy physically and mentally. Not being super lean is actually better for my happiness, relationships, and self-esteem.

73 tinareale January 4, 2013 at 5:48 am

I love that you brought up it being better for your relationships too. couldn’t agree more on that end!

74 Kate January 3, 2013 at 9:13 pm

I love this (and just for the record, you’re a smokin’ hottie in both pictures)!!
As a college student (or maybe just as a female?) I feel like a TON of what my friends focus their attention on is how they look. Not “I’m eating this salad because it’s healthy and makes me feel good” but, “I’m eating this salad because it follows my eat-clean rulebook and it’ll make me tinier than I already am”. Oftentimes, it feels like a competition as to who is eating the healthiest or exercising the most, and I feel tempted to fall into those same eating/living traps (and I’ve definitely done it before, too!)
I know that I am not happy when I live like that, nor am I happy when I surround myself with ideals like that, either. Life is better with wiggle room (and chocolate cake!)

I find it incredibly refreshing for you to post about this, being that you are such an inspiring fitnessista that many people look up to and have access to online. To me, this is the epitome of a “Healthy Living Blog” because the mind is in a healthy place (as well as the body). This post is exactly what I needed to hear, and I thank you for it! :)

Here’s to a joyful 2013! x

75 tinareale January 4, 2013 at 5:50 am

Oh, wow, Kate. thank you so much for such words of encouragement. I really try to focus on being healthy and whole physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually (since no matter what a person believes, i think that only adds to health so much and I know what has personally changed my life for the immensely better). Anyway. Thank you so much for your comment and for being a wonderful blogger yourself (and example to your friends too).

76 Mandy January 3, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Hey girl! Seeing that top photo again…I must say you look so much better now:) so much healthier and happier!! Xoxo

77 Larisa Dixon January 3, 2013 at 11:17 pm

You are amazing and so inspiring. You and I have talked about our past “lean” days before and you couldn’t have nailed how I feel right now any better. Living life is so much more important than being super lean. I think you are beautiful the way you are inside and out. Can’t wait to hang with you again. Until then stay amazing.

78 Jen January 4, 2013 at 12:44 am

I wholeheartedly agree with all who have said that you look better NOW! Seriously, girl – you are absolutely gorgeous, inside and out! Not to mention, an amazing inspiration for us all!!!

79 Jen January 4, 2013 at 12:49 am

Oh, and trust me, you are still PLENTY lean!!!

80 @pluvk January 4, 2013 at 1:24 am

Amazing, amazing, amazing. This was a great post, and exactly what I needed to read. I gained 10 lb. towards the end of the year, and I am feeling really stressed about it. Plus, I broke my toe and can’t really do much cardio… thanks for the recumbent bike advice! I have to remind myself that there is so much more to life than having a good body… it should be about being happy!! Thank you for reminding me that I’m not alone and that it’s NOT important (the good body). You definitely look great!

81 Bek @ Crave January 4, 2013 at 3:31 am

Thanks for sharing- very brave!
I recently spoke to my therapist and did a similar post to this. It really is about being happy. Looking back at photos sometimes you forget how unhappy and how much you had to sacrifice to look like that.

Your body looks fabulous in both photos by the way ;)

82 Laura @ Mommy Run Fast January 4, 2013 at 7:34 am

I love this post! Like you, I prefer running over weights and see weights more as a way to stay balanced and uninjured. Part of me knows I could be leaner if I dropped the popcorn at night and upped the weights, but I just don’t want to! I enjoy my lifestyle, and I am content with my body, as imperfect as it can feel sometimes.

83 Nicole @ Curly Mommy January 4, 2013 at 8:25 am

Tina, you are BEAUTIFUL! Thank you for this post.

84 Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 4, 2013 at 8:33 am

Love this post, Tina. So true. Being lean is exactly that – a fleeting thought – because it is a thought based on fear. Your wanting to be happy is a thought rooted in love. SO, when you listen to that voice, you are living in your truth. You’re being the authentic you…and that’s why we love you so freakin’ much! I’ve stopped all cardio in an effort to my period back on a consistent basis. I’m just doing yoga and pilates…and I love my body even more because I’m connecting with it. I’m happy. I look amazing because I feel happy!

85 Sami January 4, 2013 at 10:22 am


86 Susu Paris Chic January 4, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Wow, this is inspirational! I know I have compromised my energy levels to looking skinnier. I’m looking at your confidence and trying to learn. Awesome!

87 Molly January 4, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Absolutely amazing post! I am not my leanest right now either, but I think that it makes me so much happier not worrying about everything that goes in my mouth and every workout I log, thanks so much for sharing!

88 Cait @ Beyond Bananas January 4, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Perfect post at a perfect time. I am definitely not my leanest either. Sometimes I look at my stomach and see the (lack of definition) … and I too have fleeting thoughts of getting back to where I once was… but I am so much more content with my life now – then I was then. It’s not all work and no play anymore.. and I never want that again!

89 Sara @ fitcupcaker January 4, 2013 at 8:14 pm

This is a great post :)

90 Rachel @RunningRachel January 4, 2013 at 9:45 pm

The part of my body that makes me happy is when I challenge myself … and overcome and am able to do something that I didn’t think I would be able to do. Whether it is a box jump, speedwork run, lift a certain weight, do a certain number of weights, or whatever. :)

91 Bonnie January 4, 2013 at 10:01 pm

SUCH a great post, Tina! Thank you for opening up and sharing. I feel like I’m exactly in the same boat. I look back at pictures and think, “Wow…was I ever cut!” But then I think about how little I ate and much I moved and realize that my life is much more balanced now. I wouldn’t mind losing a little bit of the extra I’ve put on, but I do believe I’m happier closer to where I am now than where I was before. Thank you for reminding me of this truth! You are beautiful. :)

92 Kate January 4, 2013 at 10:12 pm

This is awesome! I need to remind myself of this more often :)

93 Nelly January 5, 2013 at 7:58 am

I could not agree more. I am at the same point in my life, I could get as lean as I was in college, but life would not be as fun. I want to be the best example for my daughter and that is by eating healthy and being active but not going to extremes! You go girl!

94 Miranda @ Biting Life January 5, 2013 at 4:49 pm

What a wonderful post! Thank you so much for sharing :) I think you look beautiful! And being happy is a huge important part of being healthy, so good for you!

95 Danielle @ Truffles n' Treadmills January 5, 2013 at 6:04 pm

I love that you are striving to be happier rather than leaner. It is so important to be happy with yourself. You still look great by the way!

96 Sophie January 6, 2013 at 6:36 am

This is such a great post. I’ve been training and prepping to compete in a fitness contest. Getting leaner than i could imagine – then recently i realised what am i doing? My number one care is how my health is and i soon started to realised even though i looked leaner i was by no means healthier and by many peoples standards i didn’t actually look better. I think a healthy body fat is a beautiful thing. If you are naturally very lean then that is great but for me personally only seeing my upper abs a bit so i can be healthy – that is fine by me!

97 Lily January 6, 2013 at 9:43 am

Fabulous post, especially with so many people making resolutions and such. I workout solely for enjoyment and to stay healthy…no fitness competions, and when I run races it’s purely for enjoyment..but I still occassionally get caught up in the desire to train harder, and keep getting leaner..but have to stop and remind myself that if that keeps me from enjoying life, it’s not really worth it.

98 Danica @ It's Progression January 6, 2013 at 10:05 am

I appreciate this post so much…lately it seems like all I hear is about how to get as lean as possible, but by focusing solely on that we can really miss out on the important things…healthy has to be #1…and you look great.

99 Jessica @ Lovely Veggies January 6, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Thank you for posting this! It is so exhausting sometimes to over analyse everything!!!! If your healthy and happy, enjoy it! The perfectionist personality we all have can help us achieve our goals but also keep us from enjoying them.

100 Michele @ Nycrunningmama January 7, 2013 at 6:18 am

What a beautiful post, Tina!! Thank you for posting this. Working out to be healthy and happy rather than to look a certain way. I keep saying I need to do a blog post about my eating / body image…one day soon…but it’s along the lines of what you said here. For SO long, I ran to look a certain way. I wouldn’t do speed workouts or anything that would build more muscle in my legs. Slow, fat burning runs. I became a slave to the miles just so I could be a certain size and even worse, weight a certain amount. Running now has almost nothing to do with how I look – I have found my love of competing and wanting to improve…being stick thin with poor eating habits will not get me the times that I am after!
Thanks for being so honest. You look amazing now – healthy – and most importantly – happy!! xoxo

101 [email protected] January 7, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Great post! Being super thin or very lean isn’t always the healthiest nor the happiest for us. Kudos to you for really putting yourself out there. Besides, carbs rock. No need to feel guilty over some brown rice.

102 Katy January 8, 2013 at 4:28 am

I love this entry! It’s so important to be happy and if this is what makes you happy, go for it , girl!!

103 Tara @ Sweat like a Pig January 8, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Great post! I can totally relate. I know how to get to 15% body fat, but it’s not fun. I would rather have a higher body fat percentage and enjoy my treats every now and then :) I think you look great!

104 [email protected] January 10, 2013 at 7:33 am

Great post!! I can totally relate to the freedom of knowing that I’m not the leanest I could be, but also not missing having to obsess over every gram of protein or carb I injest! The freedom that comes from being able to go out to eat with a friend and not panic over the menu! Healthy happiness is where it’s at! I call mine “ghetto booty pride”. ha ha!

105 Megan January 10, 2013 at 8:34 am

Thank you so much for posting this! Right before my wedding I was being told by everyone I was too skinny — I never thought there was such a thing! And when I gained some weight back afterwards, it took me a while to accept my still skinny but not too skinny body was completely acceptable — perfect, even! :)

106 melissa January 11, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Great post! This is exactly what I needed!

107 amanda January 11, 2013 at 7:54 pm

I’ve never read your blog until today, but once I found this, it felt inspired. I’m a 30-ish mom also and I’m very fit and healthy; however, I am obsessed with being better. Leaner, thinner, tighter, more defined. I don’t need to lose weight but I fixate on being ten pounds down so my muscles will be really defined and “sinewy”.
So this week I paid some money and started a very strict sort of diet and exercise regime similar to a pre-show diet. I have been eating from a one page list of acceptable foods, cut out all sugar, diet coke, almost all carbs and most fruit, and I’ve been miserable! I’ve lost a few pounds, but I’ve been a grouchy, horrible mess. Everyone else on the plan is raving on Facebook about how the grouchiness is just your metabolism normalizing, but I’m beginning to think it’s ridiculous that I’m spending LITERALLY every waking moment thinking about food, planning food, obsessing about if it’s working, and dreaming about treats. Today I came home and made chocolate chip cookies. I ate one. Didn’t go nuts or anything, just ate one. And the baking felt cathartic. And I needed to read what you wrote. Because yes, I’m jealous of your lean picture, but yes, I have got to get some freaking perspective. Thank you.

108 Sarah @ The Healthy Diva January 12, 2013 at 3:56 am

Great post!!! You have a rocking body that you should be proud of. I love your attitude towards finding balance and enjoying fitness :)

109 Erica January 12, 2013 at 10:38 am

This post is amazing. I’m so glad Janetha linked to it. You rock Tina. Thank you for your honesty and for being a healthy, happy, amazing woman!

110 stacey January 12, 2013 at 2:21 pm

wow, well said. Wish more bloggers would put this out there like you did. Makes me open my eyes a little wider! Thank you.

111 Lauren @ sassy molassy January 14, 2013 at 12:37 am

Thanks for sharing with us, Tina. It’s a constant struggle for me too. Finding that balance of not too much food, not too little, not too much running/exercise/perfection…

112 Trixie January 15, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Great post!I’m really glad you have found a good balance:)
BTW: What kind of work did it take to achieve that before look? I think it would be refreshing to know what it takes. I guess it’s a matter of burning more cals then you are consuming. I’m currently 19% body-fat trying to lose the last few lbs…wonder if it’s worth all the effort..

113 tinareale January 15, 2013 at 7:27 pm

I worked out at least 2 hours per day and ate no more than 1600-1800 calories with zero treats and mostly the cleanest foods. Basically it was not healthy and I was very unhappy. I would not recommend it at all. Not worth a few pounds by any means. At least that is my 2 cents.

114 Trixie January 15, 2013 at 7:31 pm

Thank you for your honesty!

115 Cat January 22, 2013 at 8:57 am

I think you look fabulous in your second picture!!! I like running too but I am not my leanest either even when I run ALL THE TIME. I think the strength training is key but I don’t have the energy for that all the time, it just kills your motivation.

116 Caitlin February 11, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Hey, I just wanted to say that I think you look better in the second picture than the first. Anyway, you are so inspirational!

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