Category Archives: beauty

Selfie

For some time on my blog I’ve noticed that one of the search terms that keeps coming up is ‘women’s abs selfies’. I think this is possibly because I have blogged about ab selfies before and about how pointless they are and also how unrealistic many of these pictures of abs are for most of us to achieve. I don’t even want to think about the lack of eating that goes in to achieving abs. I also don’t see what they achieve above looking ok when you have your top off, and in the UK that might happen one good bank holiday every year.

But ab selfies are not going away. Log onto instagram and there are plenty of women and men baring their tummy, trying to show us their lunch via a close up of their belly button. Visit the side bar of shame on one particular ‘news’ site and you will notice plenty of female celebs showing their abs for all to see. Abs do not seem to be going away, so to satisfy the people who end up on my blog looking for a toned, sleek, shiny, tanned stomach…….

here you are.

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There ain’t no washboard there and Jess Ennis I definitely am not. I have a little paunch that hangs over my shorts and when I get into a plank position the skin hangs. When a 5ft woman with a small torso carries a 9lb baby boy the skin of your stomach becomes stretched beyond the point of all return. Two pregnancies very close together have also meant that my belly button doesn’t really exist any more. I have stretch marks galore and I am a little soft round the edges. Photo shop would have a field day on this stomach, this is my very own ‘Post Baby Body’.

But lets look at things a different way. This ‘Post Baby Body’ has run many miles including two marathons. It can lift weights and keep up with two energetic little boys who if allowed would have the upper hand constantly. I have done exercises, planked, done sit ups and yet my stomach remains the same and do you know what? I really couldn’t give a shit. I may never have the taut, lined stomach of a fit mag cover model but posing in bikinis wouldn’t get me where I really want to be and that is crossing finish lines with a smile across my face.

 

Abs and Selfies

Oxford Dictionaries named ‘Selfie’ their word of the year for 2013. The editors from Oxford Dictionaries very helpfully explained that:

‘The word has evolved from a niche social media tag into a mainstream term for a self-portrait photograph’.

If you’re a keen user of any social media then you know exactly what a selfie is and you will no doubt have taken one yourself. I use Instagram and Twitter and I’ve been known to take a few myself. Selfie of myself after a run, selfie of a new make up look I’ve tried, selfie of me posing with my children, selfie of my new nail colour. But there is one selfie I haven’t and probably won’t attempt and that is the selfie of my Abs (or abdominals).

Taking a picture of your own abs and uploading it to social media seems to be incredibly popular. I couldn’t say whether it’s more popular with the men or the women but I follow a fair few women who like to show their abs. Some do it in a before and after format, to demonstrate their fitness journey, which is fantastic. To see how someone has transformed themselves with diet and exercise is brilliant. Some though will just upload their torso just for selfie’s sake, which really is quite dull.

Abs show, in my humble opinion, that you have a very low percentage body fat. It probably shows that you’ve been hitting the sit ups rather hard. It shows me that you would be quite good at flexing your trunk over your hips. It doesn’t tell me anything other than the aesthetic, which is fine if that’s all you’re bothered about. But what I’d rather see is what those abs have achieved: the races, the personal bests, the games won, the experiences and the journeys. A headless torso, while very well defined, tells me none of the things that have shaped that body.

I have had two children and I’m pretty sure my second 9lb (and the rest) baby obliterated the diastasis that holds the two sides of my rectus abdominal muscles together. There is a physical test you can do on post partum women to measure that gap. I have been running and exercising, including core work, since my second son was born and if I try and measure it I can still feel the gap between my abs. I doubt that gap will ever totally close but as long as I can run in the long term without peeing myself I will call that a win. I will probably never have an amazing sculpted six pack but I really don’t care. I like my food, I like running and I ran sub 3.40* at my first marathon.

So fear not, there will be no abs selfies from me. I will just bore you with my training and races via this blog. And when anyone posts an abs selfie I will hum the song Mysterious Girl to myself in honour of the king of showing off his abs.

Heeeey! Top abs Pete, but when the zombie apocalyse comes I’m going to be way ahead of you (pic from http://www.bodyconfidential.co.uk)

*ok my time was 3.39.49 but technically that is still sub 3.40.

*apologies to Peter, I haven’t seen his show but I’m sure he’s lovely.

Get the Slap On (or not).

Make up and running. (This could be one for just the ladies but I know some of the chaps out there like to dabble). So yes, make up and running. Do or don’t? To be a painted up glamour puss or a natural beauty? I’ve been guilty in the past of being a bit snooty about the ladies who choose to pop a bit of mascara and blusher on before a run or race but I think I’ve had an attitude change. I think make up, including nails and hair, are all about your game face and ritual.

Everyone likes to prepare before a big occasion so why should running a race, a fairly big huge occasion, be any different? Before my marathon I found the exact shade of nail polish to match my Macmillan Charity vest (Seven Dials by Nails Inc if you really want to know). I defuzzed (definitely more for the girls) and applied my moisturiser and sun screen. It may sound strange but applying my nail polish the night before, with under coat and top coat no less, somehow made me feel ready. If it is possible to feel like that the night before your first marathon! It was my ritual and it relaxed me and my nails were a pretty awesome shade of green.

I may have imagined it but many years ago I saw an interview with Sally Gunnell, the former Olympic 400m hurdles champion, and she talked about making sure her hair, make up and nails were all right before going into a big race. And at London 2012 athletes were not shy about their manicures, braids or their little make up touches. They obviously felt more ready with those things. If sitting down and applying nail wraps, hair dye, braiding hair or getting out the eye pencil for a flicky eye made them game ready and perform to the best of their ability at the biggest event of their lives then who are we to judge? Compete at the Olympics? Yes she did and she looked damn fine doing it too!

Ok so we’re not all aiming for the Olympics. The majority of us are way way way way below elite level but for us amateurs we will find our own ‘big event’ and for that you want to be ready and for everything to be just right or as near perfect as it can be. I’ve had an attitude change and decided that make up and running are not mutually exclusive. Neither should exercise and femininity if you want. There’s no evidence yet that it makes you faster but I like to pretend, however you probably have to be a little bit sensible about it:

Nails painted? Yes. Fake eye lashes? Possibly not as the glue might melt due to the heat and you’ll look like you have two spiders crawling on your face.

Tinted moisturiser with protective SPF and a bit of blusher to make you feel a bit brighter through the nervous nausea? Ok. Fake tan? Probably best not to unless you want to look streaky after the first mile of sweat. You might have another 25 miles to look like a tie dye jump suit.

A bit of tinted lipgloss? Ok then but I’ll leave my Chanel red at home because I tend to wipe my face a lot when I run. Big red Joker face is going to make other people run faster, away from you!

So wear make up or don’t wear make up for your run. It really doesn’t matter as long as you feel prepared and ready. If that’s your bag then don’t worry what other people think. If they’re worried about the make up that you’re wearing to run then they’re not thinking enough about themselves, which in running is a major error. You’ve got to run your own race, lippy or not.

(As a side note I don’t tend to wear a lot of make up for running but I do love make up. My favourite blusher is Nars Orgasm. But I definitely think someone should invent a blusher called Just Run Glow because everyone looks amazing after they’ve been out doing some exercise).

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