OSFM?

It’s 2014, folks, and very near 2015. Movies can be made entirely on the computer, a desktop printer can print a 3D object, robots are being used to clear up hazardous waste, and there are just so many leaps and bounds being made in technology.

There are not flying cars yet, but you know what is still kicking around? The phrase “One Size Fits Most”. *Cue angry music* Formally known as “One Size Fits All,” OSFM, in my opinion, is as outdated as last year’s ham. Dried up. Old. Stinky. THROW IT AWAY! Why can’t we just do away with that size “option”?

I’ll be honest, I don’t see a lot of OSFM clothing, but the one time a year I’m bombarded with it is October… at the Halloween store (I’m looking at you Spirit Halloween)… where I’m DYING, BEGGING to give them my money for a size 2X/3X, plus size, fat, whatever you want to call it, costume! But no, I get OSFM.

“You’re joking right?” is what I mutter to myself when I make the yearly trip to the Halloween store and see so many cute items that could potentially be mine. In reality, I’ve either already purchased my costume from an online retailer (shout out to Torrid), or I’ve had to make my own costume months earlier because I know for a fact that dang store will not have anything in my size.

We’ve seen this GIF before, but seriously? What the heck? You can’t make those tights in a larger size? I know there are larger costumes out there. Can’t you expand your product line? What is the purchasing manager thinking?! In all fairness, Spirit does offer plus sizes online, but I don’t want that! I want brick and mortar. I want to feel that fabric in my hot little hands, and I want to try it on. I don’t want to have to pay for return shipping and going to the post office or paying the return fees. I just want what I want and I want it now. Equality for all sizes in brick and mortar shops. I can PRINT a freaking piggy bank in my home office, but I can’t go to Target and buy a fashionable top or costume? Something is wrong here.2014-10-17_1242This costume would have been fun, but alas, I’m much happier with the one I made myself. Plus, as I’m aging and have a toddler, all that boobage isn’t home/work appropriate.

Have you been subject to any OSFM discrimination, or am I just angry cat for no reason?

See my original post here.

Today In F Words: Fat and Fandoms

Confession: I’m a card-carrying member of several fandoms. Okay, so there aren’t actually cards to carry (that I know of), but I’m proud to be one of those possibly crazy people who loves something pop-culture related so much that we actually have names for ourselves. Are you a Superwholockian, a Whedonite, an Arrowhead, a Gleek, a Fannibal, a Cortexifan, a Trekkie, an X-Phile? (Feel free to guess which of these I am.)

Seriously, it's a thing.

Seriously, it’s a thing.

While those are television examples, there are also fandoms for books, movies… even professional wrestling. Being part of a fandom can be a wonderful experience. Communicating, commiserating, and collaborating with like-minded people all over the world is, to quote someone you may or may not know, fantastic. Being part of something makes us feel good.

Yes, we do.

Right behind you, Doctor.

Now, let’s say you’re an out and proud member of your fandom, and want to wear your love on your proverbial literal sleeve. You’re in luck! There are a host of sites that make t-shirts that cater to fans. Here’s the thing, though: Don’t bother ordering one if you’re fat.

#truth

#truth

From Qwertee to ThinkGeek, pop-culture t-shirt manufacturers seem to have that same problem that so many other clothing makers have: They don’t want my money. I’m not sure why. I mean, there are theories out there that certain brands won’t make clothes for fat people because fat people don’t fit their “target demographic,” which I guess they think is a polite way of saying they only want to be associated with thin (read: attractive) people. If fat people are out wandering around in Lululemon or Abercrombie & Fitchor, god forbid, designer brandsthen… bad things happen like they get more money and more exposure. Oh, the horror, I guess? I haven’t quite worked this out yet, forgive me.

But this is how it makes me feel.

But this is how it makes me feel.

And now we have the custom-made-for-a-cause t-shirt trend. Celebrities like Stephen Amell and some of the cast of MTV’s Teen Wolf are jumping on the bandwagon, offering up limited-quantity, limited-time, custom shirts that support a cause, like cancer or cystic fibrosis. Nothing wrong with raising money for those causesor even for an up-and-coming artist who sells their designs this way. The problem is that they’re using represent.com to sell these shirts. And the manufacturer behind represent.com? That would be American Apparel.

Pay attention, Oliver.

Pay attention, Oliver.

Now, there are a host of problematic things about American Apparel. But what I want to talk about today is the fact that AA really only wants you to wear their stuff if you’re small.  Check out their sizes for women and for men. I love how men get up to 3XL, but women only get 2XL (and, at a 16-18, that’s hardly double extra large). What that means is that if I want to support causes that use represent.com, I have to buy a men’s shirt. Which means the sleeves are going to come down past my elbows and the chest is going to be enormous. I hate men’s t-shirts. I have a drawer full of them that I never wear. I really dislike you, American Apparel, and your sizest crap that prevents me from flying my pop-culture geek flag proudly and comfortably.

Apparently.

No, everyone else has.

And here’s a related thought: It’s pretty commonly known that the average American woman is a size 14. (Read this for an interesting look at clothing sizes.) In a sensible world, doesn’t that mean clothing manufacturers should make a size 14 their medium (meaning “about halfway between two extremes of size or another quality; average”)? But no, most shops make 14 an XL. That doesn’t make sense, but honestly, at the end of the day, I don’t care what the number is on the shirt. I don’t care if it says XL or 4XL or Fat Fatty McFatterson. I just want it to fit well and look good.

Well, it's a terrible one and it doesn't fit!

Well, it’s a terrible one and it doesn’t fit!

Seems to me that TV shows, movies, bands, and, yeah, professional wrestlers all want more fans. After all, more fans equals more money. So, are the decision-makers behind these brands all body snobs like American Apparel? Do they think money from fat pockets is tainted? Or are they all thin themselves, so they never even think about fat people? Or do we just not fit their “target demographic”? Seems to me, their target demographic should be anyone with money. Full stop.

Walter Bishop, ladies and gentlemen.

Walter Bishop, ladies and gentlemen.

I’ll wrap things up with an image that I’ve used before, and, sadly, will likely use many more times.

This, always.

I hope I can retire this someday.

Are you a member of a fandom? How do you show your fandom pride? Share in the comments!

To Start and To Finish

You might think that the most important part of doing a marathon is getting to the finish line. And while that action is what earns you a medal and bragging rights, the act of getting to the start line can be just as – or even more – momentous.

The yellow and gray shoes belong to me.

The yellow and gray shoes belong to me.

A week ago Sunday I got to the start line of my twelfth half marathon. And while the three-and-a-half hours that followed were incredibly difficult, what I went through to lace up my sneakers and pin on my bib that morning was some of the most challenging weeks of my marathoning career.

Bibs with names are the best!

Bibs with names are the best!

Years ago, with only two races under my belt, I fell and banged up my knee. I’ve been injured practically every race since. As you can imagine, my pace has slowed considerably. I have pushed myself longer and harder than I should have. Finally – several years too late, I’m sure some of my doctors would argue – I’ve finally decided to hang up my (moisture-wicking) hat and retire. Forever? Probably not. But it will be years before I get to a start or a finish line again.

Oh, woe is knee.

Oh, woe is knee.

Some people have asked why I push myself so hard. Why not just walk slower, enjoy the training and racing, and cross the finish line feeling good? Why do I only feel good about racing if I’m going fast enough, if my finish time is something I can be proud of? Why am I only proud of a certain pace? Why can’t I be content with just finishing, no matter how long it takes? After all, didn’t I say that I loved Ragen Chastain’s quote about a marathon being a distance, not a time?

One last race shirt. And this one fits!

One last race shirt. And this one fits!

Yeah, but. I can’t seem to let go of the half marathoner I was. Never mind that I was younger and uninjured. I can’t let go of the idea that 13-minute miles are within my grasp.  Never mind that I was thinner, too. A big part of why I have kept marathoning even when my body was practically begging me to stop is because I wanted to prove myself as a fat athlete (a fathlete!) by being really fast. So I have ignored and pushed through so much pain in order to prove that, even though I’m fat, I’m fast and strong… and good enough. No one is putting that pressure on me (although I’m sure there are plenty of trolls who would love to help witht that), except me. We are all our own worst critics in so many ways, and this is one of my ways.

Gilda's Gang 2014!

Gilda’s Gang 2014!

My hope is that two or five or ten years from now, I’ll be happy to just finish. I’ll be able to enjoy each mile as it passes. I won’t stress about pace or chip time. If I can’t ever let go of being the marathoner I once was… well, I have twelve medals and seven years of memories. I have countless friends I’ve met from racing and from Gilda’s Gang. And I have contact info for some really amazing physical therapists, if you need one! (More about that soon.)

Pretty and shiny!

Pretty and shiny!

Sometimes, getting to the finish line is the hard part. Sometimes, getting to the start line is the hard part. And sometimes, knowing when to walk away is the hardest part of all. Thanks, friends, for ringing your cowbells for me all these years. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Rocco’s View

If you follow celebrity new and gossip, or read any online news site, you may have heard that Whoopi Goldberg and Rosie O’Donnell have lost some weight. In fact, you may have heard little else about them this week. Their show, The View, introduced two new hosts, garnered their best season premiere ratings in eight years, and covered a number of topics including federal politics, the death of American journalist James Foley, and the issue of sports and violence. Plus, of course, they talked with a slew of celebrity guests. But, if you’ve seen any headlines about The View this week, they were most likely centered around weight loss.

Credit: ABC / Fred Lee.

Whoopi, Nicolle, Rosie, Rosie. Credit: ABC / Fred Lee.

On the season premiere, Rosie O’Donnell was re-introduced to viewers after leaving the show in 2007. Did they focus on the fact that she’s gotten married since then? Nope. Did she get the biggest applause when she mentioned her son? Of course not. Her biggest news, at least according to the press, audience applause and her co-hosts, was her 50-something pound weight loss.

The already thin and lovely Nicolle Wallace spent her two minutes running down her biggest accomplishments, as well, though those included political work, novel writing, and her family. No mention of diet, exercise or weight management. The same went for Rosie Perez.

Then the cameras turned to the one returning host, Whoopi Goldberg. Her news? Weight loss. Her reward? More applause, followed by compliments on her clothes and her body from the other hosts.

Because, let’s face it, it’s not what a woman does that matters, it’s how she looks doing it—especially if she’s not appropriately thin.

Whoopi told ABC News that she saw Sherri Shepherd, former View host, and was struck by the fact that she was “skinny,” so she asked her what she did to make it happen. The super easy, quick fix answer to all of her and YOUR problems? Rocco DiSpirito’s The Pound a Day Diet…of which Sherri Shepherd and now Whoopi are spokeswomen.

The Pound A Day Diet

This book is going to make everything in your life perfect.

I was curious about The Pound a Day Diet. Curious in the way one is curious when driving by an accident. I know I shouldn’t look. I know it’s not going to be good, but I have to glance over to see what awful mess has everyone’s attention.

First, in case you’re not familiar with the name, Rocco DiSpirito is a celebrity chef. Second, he’s written a book, and he wants you to buy it. Third, he’s lost weight, which leads him and everyone in the press to believe he has a right to tell you what you’re doing wrong.

Rocco's before and after (so far).  Coppola, Bedder/Getty Images.

Rocco’s before and after (so far).
Coppola, Bedder/Getty Images.

The Pound a Day Diet offers quick, easy results, which is great, because there is nothing we like better than instant gratification with no work. And we all know how sustaining quick weight loss is. DiSpirito explains that he will turn our bodies into “fat burning machines,” and teach us how to lose five pounds every five days.

Now, I could talk about how you’re expected to eat no more than 850 calories a day, and how completely and horribly unhealthy that is, not to mention unsustainable. I could also talk about how most of those calories are consumed via protein shakes, and how depriving ourselves of all carbs can be extremely damaging to our bodies. But, you’re here, reading Big Fit Deal, so you already know that.

Instead, let’s talk about how completely insulting and off-base the assumptions are that this diet is built around.

First, you are instructed to drink half your body weight in water, a day. So, apparently, the first couple of pounds are going to be peed out, and we’ll feel like the diet is working. Great, but that assumes that no fat person drinks water. After all, if you’re fat, you must spend your day guzzling down sugary drinks, right? Well, I already drink about double his recommended water intake and no sugary drinks, so that kind of blows that assumption out the window.

Mmm, water.  Greg Riegler / Flickr

Mmm, water.
Greg Riegler / Flickr

Second, DiSpirito has explained the “science” behind his diet, and yes, I’m using the term “science” very loosely, here. 3500 calories equals a pound of fat. So, according to DiSpirito, if we eat 850 calories a day, we create a deficit of 3500 calories and lose a pound a day. This means that he assumes that if you are fat you must consume at least 4350 calories a day. Otherwise, you would be thin, right? But what about those of us who just naturally don’t consume even half of that in a day? Or, someone like me, who burns around 900 calories in a two hour workout at the gym, but somehow still isn’t skinny? For this diet to “work” we’d all have to, as he assumes, be stuffing ourselves with extremely high caloric and unhealthy food, and all the thin people of the world must be cooking healthy, whole foods at home, at all times. Do some overweight people eat unhealthy food? Sure, but so do some thin people, just like some overweight people eat very healthy meals.

Yep, he's been on The Biggest Loser. Dave Bjerke  / NBC

Yep, he’s been on The Biggest Loser.
Dave Bjerke / NBC

Rocco DiSpirito suggests that all we have to do is put down the sugary drinks, stop eating fast, processed food, and start cooking healthy, tiny meals for ourselves, and we will all magically and miraculously be cured of our overweight epidemic. (The website actually uses the word “miraculous”.) In an article on U.S. News & World Report, DiSpirito stated that the country is struggling economically because of diminished productivity brought on by an overweight workforce, and our society is suffering from it. He states, “There are very few things we’re personally empowered to change with our everyday choices, and the one thing we can change is how our personal health affects our economy.”

So there you have it. Your “choice” to be fat is affecting our economy, and you should be ashamed of yourself…After all, Rocco DiSpirito knows exactly what you’re putting in your body, what you’re doing with your body, and how your body works, right? If we follow his logic, all fat people eat too much of the wrong thing, which means all thin people must be eating all the right things, and those who haven’t lost weight yet simply haven’t wanted to. And don’t we all owe it to our economy and our society to be thin?

Dealing with Personal Hypocrisy

About five years ago, my partner and I were sitting in church next to a church elder who is a divinely-inspired intuitive. She looked over at us and gave my partner a bit of wisdom and then turned to me. She said, “your dream to become pregnant will come true. It will be easy to get pregnant, but once you’re pregnant you will have a really hard time dealing with weight gain. You’ll feel uncomfortable in your skin and you should take time now to figure out how you will deal with that.”

1

I had no idea of the challenges of the road ahead.

While I thought her advice to my partner was spot on, I knew her advice to me was hogwash. She was saying the things people often say to thin people: “Wait til you get pregnant/hit 40/get stressed. Then you’ll need to watch what you eat!” You see, I’ve always been thin and have always eaten more than anyone I know to maintain what for most of my life was an unhealthy underweight state. I couldn’t gain weight at all until I hit my late 20s/early 30s and finally got to a healthy state and rejoiced at not being sick all the time, not catching cold after cold, and not being constantly tired. I acknowledged that I would gain some weight, but I thought I’d be like my similarly-shaped tall, thin cousin and gain a basketball-sized baby belly and that was it. Plus, I was a feminist, damn it! Women at every size are beautiful! I loved the body I had at that moment and I knew no matter how much I gained, I would love my pregnant body, just as I encouraged all around me to love their bodies for the amazing works of wonder that they are, whatever size, color, shape, or arrangement.

WomanFactory1940s2

Feminists love every bit of themselves and each other, right?

And then I got pregnant. And she was right. It was easy getting pregnant…and I did have an incredibly hard time dealing with the weight gain. Very early in my pregnancy – like week 3! – my body changed overnight and in ways that were totally unexpected to me. My thighs, arms, face, and butt doubled or tripled in size. I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror anymore. And I didn’t like it…and I didn’t like myself for not liking it. “What happened to loving everything about myself?” I asked. “Where is that woman-powered spirit that encourages others to love the skin and body they are in? Why can’t I find that for my body in the shape it’s in right now?” I cried!

4

I’d locked my heart against loving myself.

I couldn’t find peace within this new body. And no one understood that my sadness was 95% about the hypocrisy of being disappointed in my own reaction to my new body. I felt like a hypocrite of the highest order. And I really needed to figure out a way beyond it.

3

I had to close myself off from “helpful” comments and shut down my own hateful self-talk until I could change the track.

That period of time in my life really forced me to question my beliefs and be truly honest with myself. In the absence of an experience, it’s easy to say that we should be proud of our bodies or culture or skin color or level of ability. But then when something changes that tests those convictions, we are all called upon to live our beliefs to the best of our abilities. I stumbled mightily in those early months of my pregnancy. It took a lot of soul searching to figure out what I needed to do to get back around to loving and accepting myself. It took some “acting as if” to face “helpful” comments from loved ones, like “you know you’re going to have to lose all that weight eventually, right? You might want to watch how much you gain!” I had to respond to those “loving” comments with “I love my new body and think it’s beautiful at any size!” even if I wasn’t believing it myself, until I could believe it myself. And I got there. And it didn’t happen when I had the baby and lost the weight – it happened while I was still pregnant and at my heaviest – I gained 90 pounds during my pregnancy. And I loved that body! I loved it for the amazing work of wonder that it was at that exact moment. And I actually loved it more that I had ever before.

Michelle pregnant

I fell in love with myself and my growing body as I was falling in love with the baby growing inside me!

Now that I’ve had my little girl, my body is still not the one I had before. It’s different and strange in so many ways, but I love it. And I love the ability I’ve found to be honest and acknowledge to myself that sometimes, with honest intentions, I’m just talking the talk, but when it comes down to it, I’ll be able to follow it up with a walk that I can respect and be proud of.

88

I want her to feel only love for herself no matter the size, shape, or arrangement of her parts.

Just Breathe

I have asthma. It’s not an excuse, it’s not a bid for pity, it’s not a symptom of being overweight. It just is. The last 8 or so years of my life have seen a lot of difficult changes with my body. I’ve developed allergies to everything. My cats, pollen, dust, grass, molds, my dog, bee stings. I have to carry an Epi pen because in the words of one doctor, “you never know when the big one might happen.” I’ve developed eczema on my hands and elbows. I have asthma. I’ve been overweight in one form or another for most of my adult life. It’s a struggle. But it has nothing to do with my asthma, allergies, or eczema. It has nothing to do with the fact that my feet keep forming neuromas, painful nerve bundles that have to be surgically removed and have nothing to do with my weight and everything to do with the way my feet are formed (thanks genetics!). I have hypothyroidism. This means that I have to take a little pill every morning to make sure that my metabolism doesn’t completely shut down on me. I have a tough time regulating my body temperature. I get tired, so desperately tired, if I don’t take my meds. It’s estimated that for thyroid patients, it’s about three times harder to lose weight than for those who don’t have thyroid issues. Again, I’m not using it as an excuse, it’s just a thing that I have to deal with.

IMG_4780

The asthma thing is the newest of my things to deal with. I haven’t yet found a doctor who can help me control my asthma. I ended up in urgent care after a week or more of complete and utter fatigue. Every time I sat down, I would fall asleep. I knew that I had things to get done, but could not get up the motivation to do them. I was beyond exhausted. It turns out I wasn’t breathing right and just didn’t realize it. I went to urgent care, got a nebulizer treatment and was right as rain again. So, it was recommended to me by my urgent care provider to ask my own personal doctor about atopic triad. A very specific condition that involves allergies, asthma, and eczema. Bingo! I have all three. So, I found a new doctor because my former doctor, who I loved tremendously, was the only one in his group that I would see. I didn’t like the PAs, the nurses, only my doctor and it was very difficult to get in to see him. So, on the recommendation of a family member, I went to this new doctor. I mentioned atopic triad to me and he threw back his head and laughed. Yep. He laughed at me like it was the best joke he’d heard all day. I’m looking for something, anything that will help me and this guy is sitting there on his little stool, in his white coat, laughing at me while I stared on in mute fascination. His suggestion to help with my allergies and asthma? Well, sell the house, because it’s old and probably dusty and moldy, and get rid of my pets. Of course!!! How ridiculously simple that I couldn’t come up with that plan myself. Oh, except that I love my pets as parts of my family and have worked for years to own my home and even if I wanted to, there is no way to afford to just pick up and buy a new house.

IMG_4781

I’m just finishing up a round of antibiotics and steroids. I developed asthmatic bronchitis and suffered for a few weeks before breaking down and seeing the hilarious laughing doctor. When I called to make my appointment, the nurse informed me that I would not be able to be seen that day but I could certainly go to urgent care. I hung up on her. What is the point, exactly, of having a doctor I can’t get in to see? On a Friday? When I’ve been sick for 3 weeks. She didn’t even ask me what was wrong. Just said that I would not get in to see anyone. So, I waited all weekend and called on Monday. The receptionist asked who my doctor was and I gave her the name but said that I didn’t want to see him. I don’t like him. She seemed surprised but got me in with another doctor that afternoon. It had been about 2 months between my first visit and this one and the first thing they want me to do? Hop on the scale so we can get your weight. Why? I’m not there to discuss my weight and being overweight is certainly not contributing to my difficulty breathing and racking cough. The nurse looked at me as if nobody had ever denied her a thing in her entire life. I told her that I respectfully declined getting my weight taken. I was here 2 months ago. My weight hasn’t changed and it has nothing to do with my cough. She sputtered a bit, but eventually moved on to the dreaded blood pressure. The automated machines assume that, because I have a large arm and need a large cuff, my blood pressure is high so it sits there for interminable minutes pumping and pumping and whirring and whirring. I tell every nurse that I have low blood pressure and they just smile at me. I tell them that the machines hurt my arm. Indeed, I have left the doctor’s office in the past with a lovely circle of bruises from that machine. So there I sit, hacking, wheezing, and being miserable and this nurse is just watching, watching the machine go up, up, up. I tell her it hurts. I tell her again it hurts. And one more time I tell her, in a raised voice that she needs to get the cuff off of me. She acts like this has never happened to her. “I just don’t understand” she says. I say I understand. It happens all the time. She is shocked. I’m bruised, and hacking, and miserable.

bpc

The doctor comes in and is wonderful. I have asthmatic bronchitis. Lovely. Steroids and a Z-pack. She said that the only concern that she has is that the steroids may increase my appetite. I looked at her and shook my head. I said my only concern is that I can breathe easily again. Who cares if my appetite increases for the 7 days I’m on the steroids. Will the damage really be that severe? It’s now a week later. My cough is remarkably better, not 100% but we’re getting there. My appetite did increase for a few days, but so did my body temperature. God I was so hot!! But she didn’t warn me about that. I slept well. I ate well. And now I’m healing. And I’ll continue to love my cats and dog, live in my house and search for an answer that will help me deal with my things.

This Isn’t Stepford!

I’ve been fat all my life, it’s just how life is for me. I’ve heard the gamut of insults slung from my school aged peers, heard the reasons to lose weight, read all there is to read about being fat and why you shouldn’t be but it wasn’t really until a few days ago I really told myself “Yep. I’m fat. Nope, there is not a skinny person inside me wanting to get out and I’m ok with that.” I always had the fantasy of being skinny. WE all know life would be so much better if I (we) were thin. I just know there is skinny person screaming to get out inside me…. WRONG! I’ve also lived most my life really hating that I was fat and just putting myself down, never being fully happy, never able to accept a compliment because I know that person is lying to me, It wasn’t until I discovered HAES (health at every size) and body acceptance that I learned I could be happy AND fat AND I’m still beautiful! Regardless of all the haters there are out there, as the saying goes:

haters-gonna-hate
I deserve to be happy.

I really hope this message, that you can be healthy at any size and still love yourself and live a full and happy life regardless of your size starts to spread to the younger audience. All the years of self loathing and depression could have easily been avoided, or at least lessened, had I seen main stream media that showed women and young girls of all sizes, had I not been flooded with images of all thin people on magazines and TV, etc. and thinking “something must be wrong with me.” Here’s to hoping someday soon the mass media will learn that we are all just people and ALL of us worthy to grab life by the horns and that we should be doing so with our heads held high knowing that we too, despite our flaws and despite our size/color/race/gender/handicaps can achieve anything we want to.

This isn’t Stepford, people. Unique people and unique point of views is what makes the world go round.

See the original post here.

A Scale Tale

I have a confession – I weigh myself. I step on the scale every single day. Sometimes, twice a day. It’s a habit, or maybe an obsession, and definitely a ritual. I strip down before a shower, shedding every extra inch of unnecessary weight. I take a deep breath, close my eyes, and step up onto the scale. It’s a small, square box with a digital window at the top, and it makes a squealing sound when I step on it – a sound which I both love and hate. It satisfies an ingrained need to check myself, but I cringe when I hear it. Maybe it squeals because it’s a cheap scale, a Target special, or maybe because I’ve stepped on it a few too many times, but it reminds me that I am not light and delicate. I am heavy and weighted. That squeal is the sound of my body pressing down, the digital numbers flickering up, up, up, before settling on a final amount.

scale

That number is almost always the same, give or take about five pounds (mostly give). It’s gone down, before, and I felt proud, accomplished, acceptable. Compliments and accolades accompany that number going down. It’s also gone back up, as pounds are wont to do, and I felt ashamed, defeated, fat. Rude looks accompany that number going up – or worse, no looks at all.

thumbsdown

So, I weigh myself, and judge my worth by the number on the scale, but that number actually represents a lot more than I give it credit for. It represents my natural curves, my full breasts and my round hips – my femininity. It represents my struggle with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), a condition that wreaks all sorts of havoc on the body, including high levels of androgens, infertility, painful cysts, insulin resistance, anxiety, depression, and weight gain. That number on the scale is partially caused by the PCOS, but it is also in spite of it. That number represents strong arms that lift heavy weights at the gym and accomplish more push-ups every week, and it represents strong, solid legs that run and bike and swim, and yes, also rub together and have stretch marks.

http://www.kellymartinspeaks.co.uk/2013/09/the-gap-between-womans-thighs-natural.html

http://www.kellymartinspeaks.co.uk/2013/09/the-gap-between-womans-thighs-natural.html

I’m currently working through a heavy-lifting fitness program, which includes an amazing online community comprised of every shape and size woman you can imagine. Everyone is supportive and everyone is supported equally. Some people are there to lose weight and gain muscle. Some people are there to gain weight and gain muscle. Some people are there to feel better about themselves and some people are there to work their troubles out in the weight room. My weight has actually gone up since starting it, but that’s ok. The truth is that I’m not actually supposed to be weighing myself at all, but the habit has been hard to break. The focus is on strength and empowerment. I’ve gone from dreading the gym and feeling embarrassed in the weight room, to craving a lifting session and proudly watching myself in the mirror as I push those weights into the air, sweating and grunting. I’ve gone from worrying about how much I weigh to wondering how heavy I can lift.

Sometimes I even work out in public!

Sometimes I even work out in public!

My doctor will still tell you that I weigh too much, that I’m obese and I need to lose pounds, but anyone who knows me knows how much better and stronger and more self-confident I feel. So, yes, I still step onto the scale, and yes I sometimes still get mad at myself when the number creeps up and wonder why it doesn’t go down. After all, every piece of media I’ve seen suggests that if you make healthy eating choices and work out, you will weigh less and therefore be “better,” but I’ve got another confession to make – though I weigh myself every single day, the number is becoming less and less important to me. It’s losing its value and the effect it has on my own self-worth. Maybe, soon, I’ll stop thinking about it altogether, and throw the scale away.

Qualifications

Hello! I’m Michelle and I’m happy to join the BFD tribe…well, sort of. Actually, when Bethany asked me if I was interested in being a part of the gang, I was thrilled…and absolutely terrified.

Michelle1

I’m a big carrot addict!

You see the thing is, I’m thin. I always have been. “What will I say to BFD readers that they will find valuable?” I asked myself. “They’ll all think, ‘That stupid skinny girl is posting again and has no idea what it’s like to be me!’ and skip over all my posts,” I feared.

And you know what, you’d be right to think that I don’t know what it’s like to be you. No one does. I think that’s the thing we all have to remember and that I needed to remind myself when I was about to go to Bethany and un-agree to be a member of the tribe. All of our experiences are different, but they are all valuable and can make such a difference just in the sharing.

I’ve been reading BFD for a long time and getting such insight from it. Why wouldn’t the inverse be true? I have never been fat. I thought without that, I had no qualifications to be a member of this family. But I was missing the whole point.

love

It’s all about love!

This family is about loving yourself at whatever size and loving others and helping others to love themselves, whatever size. It’s about body positivity and healthfulness and being the ones who determine what “healthy” means for ourselves and living that definition. We’re all “qualified” to talk about that. So, I’m very happy to be here…I just took a bit of convincing.

Motivation When You Haven’t Found “That Thing”

You know how a key component of a healthy lifestyle is moving your body in a way that you enjoy? Yeah… I struggle with that. See, as an adult, I haven’t found THAT THING yet — the thing that makes me say, “I’d rather be doing THAT THING than hanging with my kids or reading a book or watching a movie with my husband or sleeping.”

I used to be a dancer.

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A very disciplined dancer.

From three to thirteen, I lived in a leotard. I still struggle with the misconception that I’m fully dressed when wearing just tights. From 13 to 18, I dropped most of my formal dance classes, but I still performed in school musicals and called myself a dancer.

After 18, it got a little less clear cut in my head. I could still rock the dance floor at a college party, but my body was changing. The insane core strength and muscle tone that was a side effect of hours of barre work and floor exercises started to wane. The pudge that had always surrounded my midsection started migrating downward, covering my former rock-hard butt and legs. My stamina and flexibility were shockingly crappy. My self-image and self-esteem, while never stellar, were as low as my arabesques.

After college, my activity levels really changed. I was working full time and feeding myself on an entry-level salary (all carbs, all the time). I wasn’t making a conscious effort to add healthy movement to my lifestyle, and my body and overall health reflected these choices. By the time I realized “muscle memory” and youth weren’t going to keep me healthy for the rest of my life, I had been rocking the sedentary lifestyle for the better part of a decade. (And I’m not even going to touch my disordered relationship with food. That’s a post for another day.)

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All carbs all the time.

Fast-forward through 12 years of desk jobs and weight-loss attempts, two pregnancies, multiple failed relationships with personal trainers, many miserable late-night workout sessions after the kids were (finally) asleep, and I find myself here: embarrassed at how different my 34-year-old body is from my 14- and 24-year-old bodies, and not motivated to work out.

I was pondering this dilemma recently during a particularly sleepless night when it hit me. Two things are holding me back from incorporating regular, healthy movement into my life:

  1. I don’t like working out because there’s nowhere to hide from my body. I’m actually focusing on it instead of pretending it’s not there. It can’t do what it used to be able to do, it hurts a lot more, and that’s depressing.
  2. I’m a full-time working mom. I already feel guilty for spending so much time away from my kids. Taking MORE time away to go to the gym or go for a bike ride just riddles me with guilt.

What if there was a way to build healthy, fun movement into my life WITH my family? What if instead of waiting until my kids were asleep to try to motivate myself to work out, I could work out with them? I could model a healthy, positive relationship with exercise while getting my own butt moving. I’m a champ at expressing body acceptance and positivity when my kids are around, so maybe their very presence would shut down demons in my own head.

So I decided to email my current trainer, whom I had paid in full for a year and then successfully avoided for six months. She’s one of those amazing women who always seems to say “YES!” and she didn’t bat an eye when I asked her to train my family of four instead of just me. She created an awesome interval-based class that involves teamwork and competition that meets the needs of two adults and two young school-aged kids. We meet twice a week, and though we often feel “too tired” to go after a long weekday, we always feel amazing when we leave. And guess what. I’m far too busy cheering on my five- and seven-year-old to give a second thought to what I look like in my workout gear. I’m more interested in how many push-ups they can do than how many I can’t. We’re a team, and we’re kicking butt.

Team Healey

Team Healey

I won’t go so far as to say that I’ve found THAT THING. I’m never just DYING to go workout, but I feel so good about including my kids in my workouts that I’m willing to keep going. I’m actually motivated to get over myself and just be in the moment with my family. Next up? Maybe a family dance class!

How about you? Have you found THAT THING? Is there something active you love doing so much that you can’t imagine life without it? For those of you with kids, how do you incorporate healthy activity into your family life? How does your relationship with your own body affect your motivation to get active with your kids? What solutions have you come up with?