A nudge from my niece helps my day start out right.

Yesterday my niece, Mali, reminded me that she had nominated me to do the “I’m beautiful the way I am” challenge.”  “The purpose is to bring yourself up, not down.”  In being nominated, my task was to post 5 to 17 pics that I feel beautiful in.

I accepted the challenge — usually I wouldn’t — because it seemed interesting that the reminder came within just a couple of minutes of me posting about writing on the back of photos why I felt grateful for the pictured person, place, thing or activity.

I was reminded that gratitude often works both ways.  I express gratitude; my mind is taken (often) to a better place.  Someone else expresses gratitude toward me; that person helped take my mind to a better place.

So I really need to thank my niece.  First, yesterday (a Sunday, which usually sucks for me because of my anxious mind) was made better:  1) for helping me identify photos that show I can feel good / beautiful; 2) because lots of my Facebook friends started to “like” my response post of pictures; 3) one friend noted “And you’re pretty darn beautiful!” and; 4) another wrote “We all got to feel beautiful this day!!” attached to a photo taken at her wedding reception.

Second, I started this Monday with a huge smile on my face as my Facebook feed was filled with happiness about Mali’s challenge and my original blog post.

Third, about today’s photo of me standing near the sea in our recent trip to France.  I have been working for nine years to transform my body from the over weight guy (once, briefly, at 200 lbs) to what I am now (roughly 145 lbs).  As I was getting close to that weight, I started weight training in earnest.  I am beginning to see muscles I haven’t seen since the mid-90s when I worked out at a neighborhood weightlifting gym, Los Campeones.  I was moving from one challenge — weight loss — to another — muscle gain.  The attached picture shows mostly the results of weight loss.  But there are hints of the muscle-building.

And fourth, there’s nothing like taking a trip to a warm locale and seeing the body you’ve been working for emerge.

“Thank you, Mali!”  I know the challenge was to show “I’m beautiful the way I am.”  True.  But I am proud at how the work I’ve been engaged in for nine years is paying off.

Obligatory before and after photos.


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and after: