On being fat

I’ve been kicking around some thoughts about being fat.

Thoughts that make me feel vulnerable.

Thoughts that are hard to process, and even harder to write.

But that’s the point of the blog, right? To write through the discomfort. To share, perchance, to grow.

It’s well documented that the experience of being fat is not a pleasant one.

Doctors don’t want to treat fat people.

Employers don’t want to hire fat people.

I’ve often felt that anything I had to say, or just my being, was dismissed immediately because of my size.

It’s the feeling of being invisible.

Just look at any major news organization talking about the so-called “obesity epidemic” – what photo do they run with their story? Most likely, it’s a headless fatty.

How do these messages affect our society?

How did these messages affect me?

They left me scared – confirming the feeling that I was, in fact, being ignored and overlooked because of my weight.

And the photos, the images of rolls and cellulite without heads that are blasted on TVs across the world, left me without a voice.

The results of the non-existent, but extremely visible and media-friendly “obesity epidemic” is a shame-fest on fat people.

If you’ve read this blog for more than a few days, you know that I’m all about promoting the idea that you can, and should, love and accept your body at any size and weight.

This war on obesity, which is supposed to, I guess, get people to lose weight, is instead taking the experience of the fat person out of the conversation.

In my utopia, bodies are as they exist.

Doesn’t that sound more peaceful than a war on fat?

But I struggle with knowing these things and my lifestyle of actively losing weight.

I’m the body that news organizations talk about. When I see these stories, I don’t see headless fatties, I see me.

When I read stories about fat children being bullied, being discriminated against, being forced to diet, I mourn for my own childhood of similar experiences.

I’ve lost weight because I’ve rediscovered love and acceptance.

I’ve lost weight because I’ve reclaimed space for myself to exist and my body as being worthy of attention.

I’ve lost weight because I’ve stopped, and outright refused, to be at war with my body, no matter how many advertisements and magazines and news pundits tell me I should be.

Dieting is harmful and dangerous.

And I worry, a lot, that dieting is something I’m promoting with this blog.

Let me be clear here: Dieting is the devil.

The body you have now is yours for the rest of your life.

Please, don’t waste another second believing it is anything less than perfect and deserving of all the love you can give.

Body love reps

I had a great conversation with a friend yesterday.

We were both delighting in the way in which our lives our moving.

The feeling was surprising, to both of us, because of all the doubt and angst we’ve both faced that’s seemed overwhelming at times.

Becoming content, with anything in your life, works the same way.

But this is my blog, so I’m going to talk about how it works with loving your body.

Unhappiness, I believe, comes from wanting something other than what you have. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t want more or better than what you have, but it’s a lesson in approach.

I have to remind myself daily that I don’t want to lose weight. This is, after all, Jodi fat or not.

I want to love my body, which means I care for it in the best way I know how.

Movement that leaves me dripping with sweat and smiling.

Eating food that makes me glow from the inside out.

When I get caught up in the weight loss side, everything about me becomes focused on a number.

Not, I had a great time working out at the gym and smiled the whole way home.

Not, I made a breakfast, lunch and dinner with fresh, whole foods that were delicious to eat and gave me tons of energy.

These things get lost. Shadowed by the scale.

I was reading an interview with Julie Wyman on the blog Radical Hateloss when I realized just how much I had been feeling buried by the number.

Q: What message do you want to communicate most to other women?
A: What if the body you had right now were perfect?

It’s a thought that makes me grin from ear to ear.

The second I become motivated by body loathing, I’ve lost.

I could be doing all of the same things, but if it’s motivated by hating my body, it feels like an act of desperation to fit into a mold rather than an act of appreciation for this wonderful body gifted to me from the Universe.

My love for my body is not determined by how much I weigh, how fast I can run a mile or how much I can lift.

It never will be. And it was a lie if I thought it ever was.

I have to remind myself of these things all the time.

Every day I have to be grateful for my body. Body lovin’ reps, if you will 🙂

The thing is, I could talk about my eating habits all day. Go into excruciating detail about my work outs. Wax poetic about how much time is spent planning every single second of my day to make health the number one priority.

There are a million people and businesses out there that want to sell you on the idea that you need a diet plan, an exercise routine or even a lifestyle change (I’m looking at you, Weight Watchers) before you can feel like you are enough.

Don’t believe a word of it.

Start with the belief that you are enough. Replace every negative thought about your body with one of love and appreciation. The rest – the eating well, the exercise – will fall happily into place.

 

Now…The Numbers:

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 166.5

This week: 166.5

Change: 0

Total loss: 76.5

Love your fat photos, too

Earlier this week I was looking through my photos for a picture of my nephew to post with his birthday announcement, when I stumbled upon an old photo of myself.

One from when I weighed around 240 pounds.

My face looked so round, my cheeks so puffy. It was like someone had added an extra ring of skin around my face. I didn’t remember looking like that.

There was shock, And, truth be told, sadness.

And then I got angry that I felt sad.

Those photos are me. The same me that is sitting here right now.

I’m always a little bothered when people use “fat” photos as a reminder of what they don’t want to be for the same reason I feel that being disgusted with your body is not a good motivation to lose weight.

Because, as I’ve said before, you can’t hate yourself thin.

As I was looking through the photos, I stayed conscious of what my inner voice was saying, realized it was negative self-talk, and decided to turn it around.

If I’m going to continue moving forward in this way, believing that I can incorporate fat acceptance beliefs into a lifestyle where I’m also actively trying to lose weight, tuning into my thoughts is going to be critical.

Where I am now is only possible because I loved the person in those photos. I believed that person deserved a full life. I let go of the notion that being fat also meant I was sentenced to a lifetime of unhappiness.

I decided in that moment that I was not going to look at old photos and feel sadness, pity, or regret.

Those photos are just me, at a different time in my life, and obviously were taken in a moment that I wanted to remember. My weight in those photos did not define who I was then, just as my weight does not define who I am now.

Accepting and loving your body doesn’t just happen. It takes hard work, just like any change you want to make. You have to chose to do it every day, especially when confronted with something like old photos. That’s when it is the most important to not slip into a negative space.

It might feel weird at first, if you are used to bashing your body, but if you catch yourself enough times during negative self-talk and switch to a body-positive message, it will become a habit. And it will, of course, be worth it.

“The mind is everything. What you think you become” – Buddha

Fat Acceptance: A Love Story

I had a huge moral dilemma when I first started this blog. I did not and still do not want to promote diet culture. I know I have written some things that have done that, and it truly feels like a betrayal to myself and of how I actually feel about losing weight.

I’m in a hard place because on one hand I am actively trying to lose weight, but I know the only reason I’ve lost any weight is because I’ve accepted being fat.

I know that doesn’t make much sense on its face, but stick with me for a bit, folks.

Fat Acceptance. If you don’t know what it is, start here.

I’ll wait.

The thing is, I’ve gotten a lot of compliments over the last couple of months about my weight loss, and while I know people are being nice, I’m slightly, ok really, uncomfortable with people seeing my weight loss as inspiration.

Why?

Because I believe you should love your body the way it is right now, and I don’t want anyone to think that my life is better just because I wear a smaller size. I’d much rather promote body acceptance than weight loss.

It’s because of Fat Acceptance that I’ve managed to be healthy at all. Through reading Fat Acceptance blogs every day  of others who were living full, wonderful existences as fat women, I realized I could too.

My life, the one I wanted and dreamed of, didn’t have to wait until I was skinny.

People diet, I assume, because they are unhappy with their bodies. But diets are absolutely not the answer to this problem. You know what might be? Not letting your fat body stand in the way of going to the gym for some endorphin-producing, stress-reducing exercise. I don’t know if going to the gym will help you lose weight, many studies say it won’t, but I do know that your mood will absolutely improve from getting your sweat on.

My self-esteem grew immensely when I stopped believing a diet could change my life and started living exactly how I wanted to live. Me. With my fat body. Right at that second and not after I had lost weight.

Or, from the New York Times:

The aim is to behave as if you have reached your “goal weight” and to act on ambitions postponed while trying to become thin, everything from buying new clothes to changing careers. Regular exercise should be for fun, not for slimming.

Living a life that embodies Fat Acceptance means that I do not pay attention to the things people assume about me for being fat.

And when I truly understood that, the years and years of not living because I was fat ended. And so did my struggle with my weight.

That’s the truth.

I feel like I live between two worlds right now. In one world, I want to lose more weight. In the other world, I know I’m living life exactly the way I want to and that my weight does not have an impact.

It’s an internal struggle and the whole reason I wanted to start a blog.

Right now, I can confidently say that I am healthy and fit. Would you know that by looking at me? Probably not. And these are the kind of societal evils that I have dealt with my whole life and that seep in to my brain and act as sabotage.

Fat Acceptance is about seeing fat as an adjective for your body, not your person. It’s also not an adjective that is synonymous with “bad.”

I can write and read that, but what I really need to do is be feeling it.

Because, truthfully, At 174.5 pounds, I sometimes feel worse about my body than at 243 pounds.

I’ve been wrapped up in the excitement of losing weight, but instead of making me happy, it’s left me feeling like I’m not good enough when I don’t lose weight and that’s a dangerous place that I really don’t want to be in.

I’m putting my struggle with this out there, because really I want to spread a message of Fat Acceptance, not weight loss. This is who I am, Jodi, fat or not.

Be Content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. – Lao Tzu

Keep it simple, seriously!

I know the phrase is “keep it simple, stupid” but I decided to change it a bit 😉

Because, seriously, it’s something I need to remember!

I’ve been more than a little overwhelmed lately with all the paleo diet advice out there.

And then I remembered I don’t care at all about eating like a cave(wo)man. I’ve never really been good at following a plan. I’d rather just do my own thing.

I’m not abandoning the principles of paleo eating completely, however.

I’m going to continue to focus on whole, fresh foods, lots of veggies, protein, and how much sugar I’m consuming.

Food restriction and lists of “acceptable” or “allowed” foods just isn’t for me!

But a renewed interest in cooking, an abundance of vegetables and new flavors – that’s something I can get behind.

There are two blogs that I follow that have great mottos. The Life & Lessons of Rachel Wilkerson, who pushes the rule don’t be ridiculous and The Fat Nutritionist who reminds me to Eat food. Stuff You like. As much as you want.

I was both being ridiculous and eating food I didn’t like. Total failure.

Not anymore. Back to basics. Back to me.

Happy Monday 🙂


Love your body now

More than coffee, I look forward to a daily email from The Universe to start my day with a positive flow.

There is a message at the end of every email that says, “Thoughts become things, choose good ones!”

It serves as my reminder to not only think positively, but also that my thoughts have real impact on my life.

And this is why you should love your body. Because if you are working hard at the gym, learning to cook so you can feed your body healthy food, you should also love what you are putting so much effort into changing.

Right now. Not after you’ve lost weight.

Most people lose weight because they are fed up with their body or hate their body. But these are just thoughts, and you can choose to love the body you have now instead of being at war with it.

Here’s why and how you should:

1. I have fat friends, skinny friends and in-between friends. All of them have things they don’t like about their body. Weight loss does not mean you will like your body any more than you do now. The only guarantee that you will be happy with your body is to actually be happy with it. Whatever weight or size, make a promise to love your body unconditionally.

2. Be body-positive as often as possible. This means not talking badly about your body to yourself or anyone else. It also means doing body-positive affirmations. Start by looking in a mirror and smiling. Seriously, just smile. You’d be amazed how much that simple act can change your outlook. Then say nice things about your body. Thank it for adapting so well to all the changes you’ve put it through. Praise it for helping you walk, run, lift, dance, or whatever movement you’re into. I, like everyone else, sometimes get caught up in front of the mirror looking at imperfections. It happens. But make sure the opposite also happens. Stand in front of the mirror and admire things you like. It’s not vain. It’s an important part of self care.

3. Don’t be ashamed of your body. Own it. Wear a bathing suit proudly. I used to be that girl who wore t-shirts over my bathing suit. Then I became certified as a lifeguard and for five years of my life did not go more than a day or two without wearing a bathing suit in front of other people. Lifeguarding was not only a great job, but it helped me overcome a lot of my body consciousness. Not once in five years did anyone ever say anything negative about how I looked at the dozens of pools that I guarded. I figure, people know I’m fat. Seeing me in a bathing suit is not some big reveal. Trying to cover up is always more awkward than just being yourself, no matter what.

4. No more “if only…” This is something I really struggle with! I remember looking at girls who were size a size 12 thinking “if only I looked like that.” Now that I’m almost a size 12, I see girls who are smaller and think “if only.” It’s a cycle that can keep going and going if you don’t keep it in check. There will always be people skinnier than you and fatter than you.   Learn to love the place you are in.

5. You and your body are one and will be for the rest of your life, so you might as well learn to like it. Think of loving your body like you think of making any other change. It will take work, you will have to shift your thinking and face fears. It will be worth it. The joy of feeling at peace and content with one’s self – body, mind and soul – is not dependent on a number on a scale. Love and accept who you are now and the rest will follow.

Step 1: Love

I’m not a big believer in one “moment” that sparks a journey. You’ve heard it before, someone is sitting on a couch with one hand in a bag of chips and something comes on the TV that makes them reconsider their life and then they start a diet, join a gym, blah blah blah.

I’ve had many moments where I said to myself, “Tomorrow will be different” and vowed to change my life. These moments were usually alone, in the dark, after eating too much and drinking from the cocktail of shame, regret and hate.

It’s my experience of having a thousand of those “I’m going to change my life” moments that lead to me believe they don’t exist.

Why? Because when you hear about them, they usually start with some form of realization of disgust in oneself.

What a terrible place to draw inspiration from.

I also don’t believe in those moments, because I think it makes light of the work that goes into creating change.

Change doesn’t just happen. It’s not something that you wake up with one day.

But change does have a beginning.

Step 1: Love

Three fat women helped changed my life.

Lesley Kinzel of Two Whole Cakes

Marianne Kirby of The Rotund

and Kate Harding of Shapely Prose (which I think is now KateHarding.net)

They are all Fat Acceptance writers who have, in my opinion, some of the best insight into our culture and some the best messages to spread.

Kate Harding has an absolutely brilliant post about The Fantasy of Being Thin. If you’ve ever had the thought in your head, weight loss or not, that goes something like “My life will be different when ________” — then you need to read this.

She talks about Fat Acceptance as overcoming the fantasy that being thin will change your life.

Now you might think that as someone who is actively losing weight, I still believe in the fantasy of being thin.

And sometimes you would be right. Some days I let the numbers on the scale get to me. I see a gain and I’m ugly. I see a loss and I’m empowered.

But then I remember the reason I’ve been able to lose weight and my source of inspiration.

Love and acceptance.

In those weak moments I tell myself, “My life hasn’t changed from two seconds ago, before I stepped on the scale.”

It’s not a an easy battle, and it’s certainly not one I want to make seem easy, but fighting it is so, so worth it.

Because when you don’t lose weight (it happens) and when you don’t make it to the gym (it happens) and when you eat too much (it happens) – it doesn’t matter.

You’re still you.

I’ve put a lot into changing my life. Everything I have. As a result, I’ve lost weight.

But the motivating factor has always been love. And I’m here to argue that it has to be. You have to believe you are a person worthy of change before change happens. And to believe you are worthy of everything you want, you have to accept and love who you are.

It doesn’t work any other way.

There simply is no hating yourself thin.

I no longer read those Fat Acceptance blogs as often as I used to, but those three amazing women are the voices I come back to when I need a lift and when I need to remember why I’m living the way I live.

Sometimes my life between Fat Acceptance and actively losing weight can cause a bit of cognitive dissonance, but when I really get down to it I know I’ve changed the way I live because for me, loving my body means feeding it the right food and moving it around, fat or not.