Thursday, December 20, 2012

Anti-Holiday Husbeast

It is hard to be a holiday person when married to an anti-holiday person.  Don't get me wrong, The Husbeast LIKES holidays, he just doesn't want to do anything to make holidays special. 

If I ask him to bake holiday cookies, I get a "maybe" in the tone of voice that means "I'll never actually get to it, I'm just humouring you." 

If I mention that I would like to run presents around to some of our friends, I get a "I suppose." in that same tone of voice which means I'll either end up doing it by myself (which just isn't as fun) or it won't get done at all.

I have to nag for the tree to come down from the attic, and if I want decorations on it, well, that means I'd better plan on doing it myself.

As for lights on the outside of our house?  Yeaaaahhhh...never going to happen.

It really does make me sad because when I was growing up the holidays were a pretty festive time of year.  Mom would have Dad get out the decorations and we would all spend a weekend putting them up.  Garland would go around the banisters on the stairs, we would spray the fake snow stuff on the picture window in the living room, those fake plug-in candles would go on every window sill, and we would decorate the tree.

Decorating the tree was almost a ritual, really.  We would finish dinner, we would help Dad untangle and test the lights, and then the ornaments would come out.  Mom would sit on the couch and lovingly unwrap each one from its tissue paper, and alternate handing them to my brother and myself.  We would tell stories about each one, remembering how it had come to be in our collection.  Some we had made, some were bought to commemorate important events in our lives, and some just were always there.  The final step was always the icicles, those strips of silver tinsel that are like the decorative icing on a cake.  Mom and Dad would always make us put it on a few strands at a time, and whenever they weren't looking, my brother and I would just randomly throw handfuls at the tree to see where it landed.

I've always loved just sitting in the living room with the lights off, watching the tree lights twinkle and shine, catching the ornaments and reflecting the colors around the room.  For some reason those times have always been among the most peaceful of my life.  It is like everything stops for those precious minutes, the world calms down and just breathes, and I know that everything will be all right.

I think that's part of why it is so frustrating to be married to an Anti-Holiday Husbeast, because even the years when the tree somehow makes it up, that's all there is.  No other decorations, no sense of peace or comfort, no feeling of home.  And it makes me sad. 

Overall I'm pretty lucky.  He's a good man, and he loves me, and I love him.  I know that this isn't a major roadblock in our lives.  It is just a small difference.

I have to admit, though, I wish that it were different.  I wish that he enjoyed it all as much as I do, and that we could share that joy and that brief feeling of peace together instead of him feeling nagged and me feeling pushy and ignored.

But we don't, so all that I can do is create as much of the holiday as I can on my own and settle for that.

I think I'm going to go into the living room now.  The tree is up and has lights, but the ornaments are still in the attic.  They probably won't come out this year.  But I have a tree...and lights...and for a little while I can turn out the living room lights and just watch the tree-lights twinkle in the darkness, and hopefully feel a little peace.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Taking a day off when you're unemployed

Being long-term unemployed is an insidious thing, really.  It wears away at you in a number of ways.  You start to lose self-worth because your emotional response to the situation is that you aren't contributing to the household and are just a drain on resources.  It isn't true, of course, at least for most people.  Most people spend the time getting things done around the house in between sending out resumes and (hopefully) going on interviews.  Dishes, laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, all of the things that would normally be crammed into the two days of the weekend are now able to be spread out and completed more thoroughly and without feeling rushed or like you never get to relax.

The irony is, though, that it is very easy to refuse to allow yourself a day off when you're unemployed.  The mind starts twisting it, saying that you're home all week so you have no right to just relax on a Saturday or Sunday, that you should treat them like every other day and Do All The Things!  Even when you let yourself have a lazy day with your spouse or even just on your own, guilt tends to make itself known, ruining any enjoyment that you may get out of giving yourself time to unwind.

I have been fighting that battle recently.  In October I didn't have weekends because we were working the haunted house, and even though we were home on Sunday, we weren't awake til afternoon due to not getting home until 4 or 5 in the morning.  We got up, had food, and collapsed for a few hours before going back to bed and starting the week over.  Those few hours were a haze, really, but even that haze was filled with "I shoulds".  I should be doing laundry.  I should unpack the car.  I should pull the dirty clothes out of my duffelbag.  I should, I should, I should.

October ended, and we regained our weekends, but did we?  Not really.  The first weekend after haunt ended was spent quite enjoyably (yet exhaustingly) at a convention as panelists.  It was a wonderful experience, we met awesome people and got to know some other awesome people better than we'd been able to before.  But it wasn't relaxing by any means.

Then, the weekends after that were spent in a whirlwind, desperately trying to get the house ready for Thanksgiving.  We have an open house that day, and anyone that we know who doesn't have other plans for the day is welcome to come and bring a dish to pass and share time with other holiday orphans.  Of course this requires that the house be up to standards for having people over.  As my standards differ greatly from my husband's standards in regards to 'clean enough', there is usually some added stress there as well.  But in the end the house was mostly ready, the people came, the food was eaten, and I hope that a good time was had by all.

Still no relaxing.

Today the husband had plans to be out of the house the whole day, and I decided that finally I was going to allow myself to have a day of relaxation and NOT allow myself to spend it seeing all of the things that I should be doing and feeling guilty that I wasn't doing them.  Even the unemployed need a day off now and then, and I had reached the end of my endurance. 

So I did it.

I have spent my day so far watching movies, scritching purring kitty cats, and knitting.  Once I finish this entry, I will then go online and play some Facebook games and then sign on to Star Wars: The Old Republic (tm) and spend a few hours either saving or conquering the galaxy (depending on my mood).  And it feels good.  There have been a few times when I have started to think to myself that I should be doing something, and I have made myself stop, put that thought aside, and just let it go.  Tomorrow there will be should be's.  Today there is only yarn winding through my fingers, soft fur against my cheek, and the hum of my lightsaber.  And it is good.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


A lot of my friends are doing "Daily Thanks" posts on Facebook and other social media during November.  I was asked why I wasn't doing the same thing, and here's my reply:

You see, I try really hard to be thankful for what I have every day, not just during a certain month of the year.  It isn't always easy, and I don't always succeed, but it is part of my journey toward growing into a better person.  I'm not saying a person who is better than anyone else, but a better version of myself.  I look back at previous versions of myself and am not particularly happy with what I see.  I haven't been a good person at certain times in my life.

Sure, I had justification for my actions at the time.  At least I thought that I did.  The reality is, though, that no matter what the world may do to us, there is nothing controlling how we react to it but ourselves.  For part of my life I wasn't old enough to understand that hurt and pain are just part of living, and that the people who hurt my feelings may not have done so intentionally.  Even the ones who DID do it intentionally weren't really doing it out of dislike of me, but rather out of dislike for things in their own lives that they somehow saw reflected in me.

It is human nature to amplify our own faults when we see them in others.  We hate them in ourselves, but we can't admit that to ourselves so we point to others who have the same faults and use that as reason to dislike the person. 

I've hated a lot about myself in the past.  I hated people who "disrespected" me, because I couldn't respect myself.  I hated people who were obsessed with their looks because I was obsessed with my own and my weight.  I looked down on people who were willfully ignorant because I went out of my way to sabotage my own education.  I've been envious of people who had the things that I thought I wanted, and I have turned my nose up at people who were lazy because I couldn't find the motivation in myself to achieve my own goals.

There has been a lot of hard work, tears, and self-examination that have gone into making myself see what I was, and what I could be.  Sometimes it is hard knowing that I will never fully achieve the best me that could possibly exist, because there will always be something else that I need to do, some other lesson that I need to learn.  When I start to get discouraged by that fact, though, I make myself stop and realize that the never ending learning process is part of being human, and that when we stop growing and stop trying to become more than what we are, we have reached the end of life and are only existing instead of living.

In order to live we have to find joy.  In order to find joy we have to find thanks.  In order to find thanks, we have to acknowledge all of the beauty and good in our lives.  The way that I find it is by lying in bed for a few minutes after my alarm goes off in the morning and finding something to be thankful for.  It doesn't have to be big, and it doesn't have to be said aloud, it just has to mean something to me.  There have been mornings when I have been thankful for the purring of whichever cat is curled next to me.  There have been mornings when I have been thankful that there will be eggs in the fridge when I get up so that I can have breakfast.  There have been mornings when I have been thankful that the sun is shining, the rain is falling, or the earth is still turning.  Sometimes they are big things, and sometimes they are little, but they are all things that make my life a little happier for at least a moment.

If you really want to appreciate your life and the world that you live in, set aside a time every day to be thankful, genuinely and truly thankful, for something in your life.  Whether you put that moment at the start of your day, the end of your day, or sometime in the middle, make it an important part of your routine.  There will be days when life is throwing negative after negative at you, and your emotions will want to say that there is nothing to be thankful for right now, but stop and find something.  Anything.  It doesn't matter what it is, just find it.  I think that you'll discover a whole new way of looking at the world after a while.

I know that I did, and it helped me start the changes that I continue to strive to make.  And if you're doing the November Thankfulness exercises / meme, consider continuing it after December 1st.  You don't have to do it aloud or in a public way, this is something just for you.

I hope that you try, and that this little thing gives you joy. :)

Holidays and Guilt

We are officially into the holiday season now, and it is time for all of the weight loss companies to start throwing preliminary guilt at everyone in order to prime their potential customers for the Weight Loss Resolution Season.

What is it about the human psyche that will not allow us to just enjoy a holiday without throwing guilt and self-castigation around like confetti?  Why do we seem to think that we don't deserve a little fun without beating ourselves up for it?  I think that we should all take a serious look at how we approach the holidays and make a stand for a more realistic view of things.

The fact of the matter is that very few people gain a lot of weight over the holiday season.  A clinical study published in Nutrition Review in 2000 showed that the average adult gains 0.8 pounds from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day.  Yup...less than one pound.  And yet how many people will spend the entire season talking about their weight, thinking about their weight, and denying themselves because of their fear of their weight?  The experts have repeatedly stated that it isn't what you eat on Thanksgiving or Christmas (or even most of the month of December for that matter) that causes issues, it is what is eaten every day throughout the year.

If we tie this in with the basics of intuitive eating, then freaking out about holiday treats is even more ridiculous.  When we eat intuitively, and we learn to listen to our bodies, we find that while we enjoy that slice of holiday cheesecake, or that turkey dinner with gravy and mashed potatoes, we also hear when our bodies say "please stop now" and we do so.  If we really LISTEN to ourselves, we aren't going to overindulge throughout the entire season, because we'll know when our body says, "All of these treats taste great, but I would really love some vegetables right now."  We can indulge without going crazy.

What tends to happen most of the time, though, is that people stop listening to their bodies, and they deny themselves even the smallest of treats.  Then, when they are in a setting which allows for them to have things they may not normally eat, they go overboard and eat until they make themselves sick.  Then they use that to justify even stricter denial, which leads to another binge in the future.  This isn't healthy behavior, and if we stopped and got off the denial / binge cycle, we would see how it begins to rule our lives.

So take a moment right now, Dear Readers, and have a chat with yourselves.  Figure out your comfort levels when it comes to holiday treats and listening to your body.  If you've not practiced intuitive eating for a while then maybe you want to be a little more aware of how the food that you eat tastes and makes you feel.  Listen to when your body says to stop eating something or when it asks you for another kind of food.  If you have been following an intuitive eating pattern, then keep a sharper ear out than normal because there will be things available to you that aren't around the rest of the year and nostalgia or scarcity may override your body's inner voice.  No worries if it happens, don't beat yourself up over it, just adjust your inner volume up a bit so that you're more aware in the future.

We only get candy canes, gingerbread men, baked ham with pineapple rings and cherries, sweet potato casserole, and other holiday offerings for a short time each year.  They are foods made with love and with the intention of sharing.  Let yourself enjoy them.  Let yourself really taste them.  And when your body says enough, let yourself stop.  When your body says that it is time to do a little movement to work off the sluggishness, then move...and ENJOY it.

Lets enjoy our holidays this year, because as with all good things, they will never be exactly like this again.  Love your family and friends, and just as importantly, love yourselves.

Blessed Yule, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Happy Holidays...whatever you prefer.  Thank you for sharing my journey with me, even if it has fits and stops now and then.  I appreciate that you read my maunderings and the feedback that I've gotten over the past year.

Now go and ENJOY!!!! :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Relearning how to eat intuitiviely can be hard

One of the hardest parts about my "new life" as someone who has thrown all of the Weight Loss Industry's garbage out has been learning how to eat again.  We get so many messages thrown at us every day about food.  This food is "bad", that food is "good", if you eat too much of this food you'll die, if you don't eat that food you'll die.  Superfoods will fix everything, no...wait...we only thought that was a superfood, now we know it will kill you.

It gets so overwhelming.

The real harm that all of these mixed messages do, however, isn't just in the fact that people are throwing misinformation around like it is fact (though that is a VERY harmful thing), but rather that we all tend to use this misinformation as reason to stop trusting our own bodies.  We stop listening to them, we stop understanding how to interpret the signals that our body sends us on a regular basis.

It begins with the idea that we should only eat at certain times.  It doesn't matter if you're hungry right now, just ignore it or drink a glass of water!  It isn't time for one of your scheduled meals or snacks!  And so we ignore the signal, telling our body that our mind says it is wrong and that we aren't REALLY hungry.  The body then gets confused because it knows that we're hungry, it knows that its energy stores are low and it needs more fuel.  But we tell it that we are not giving it more fuel yet, so it can just suck it up and continue working without said fuel.

Later, when we finally decide to condescend to give our body the fuel that it needs, it says, "Great!  I'll take a steak and a baked potato, some broccoli, and then a serving of that tasty apple crumble!" and we tell it, "Oh no you won't!  Except for the broccoli, those are BAD FOODS!"

At this point our body's confusion grows.  Steak is protein and that is needed to build tissue.  The baked potato is a mixture of simple and complex carbs, which will give energy now and for a bit into the future.  The apple crumble is another mixture of complex carbs and fiber, which are needed to give energy and to keep the digestive system moving.  Sure, there's some simple carbs in there too, but that's okay, because those will keep the body's system moving until the complex carbs are processed and ready to be used as fuel.  The body finds itself wondering what about these things are bad?  And then, to make things worse, instead of this balanced meal made up of moderate portion sizes we give it...a processed, chemical stew, formulated "milkshake" out of a can.

"There you go, Body!  That should hold you!"

*blink blink*  "WHAT???"

This pattern goes on for a long time.  Deprivation, continually telling our body that it doesn't know what it is talking about, that it doesn't really need the foods that it is asking for, and that all of the so-called Weight Loss Industry Experts know what is better for us than we do, it happens over and over again. 

Finally our body begins to believe that it doesn't know itself.  It begins to believe that someone else is a better judge of our experiences and our needs than we are.  So it stops talking, it stops sending signals and just withdraws letting you do what you want without telling you that in ignoring what your body says you are making a huge mistake.  You are interfering with a very delicate balance, and when that balance gets out of whack, it takes a long time to recover.

One day, after watching our weight go up and down like a yo-yo, after telling the doctor repeatedly, "I don't know why I'm not losing weight.  I'm doing what I'm supposed to do!", and after throwing our body's metabolism so far out of alignment we finally wake up and realize that there is another way.  It could be that we read a blog, or had a friend recommend a book on intuitive eating.  It could be that we discovered Health at Every Size (tm) or it could be that we're just tired of the merry-go-round and we want off.  Whatever the reason, that day comes when we throw all of the "Good food / Bad food" and "should be eating" bullshit out of the window and we say, "I just want to be able to eat and enjoy my food again."

That day comes and we turn to our body and wait for it to tell us what to eat, but by now our body is so beaten down by being told that it was wrong for so long, it doesn't know what to do.  We are so out of practice when it comes to listening to our body's signals, that we can't interpret them any more.  Is that hunger?  Or is it thirst?  Do I want a salad or a burger?  And even if we DO get a clear signal, we are stuck fighting the mental tapes that we have put into place so securely for so long. 

The body says, "I want a burger, please." in a tentative voice rather like Oliver Twist asking for another bowl of thin gruel.  Our first instinct is to say, "Oh no!  A burger?  That is BAD FOOD!" and then we remember that we're not classifying food as good or bad any more and we're trying to listen, so we hedge, " about a ground turkey patty?" and our body sighs and shrugs to itself and stops communicating again because it still isn't being listened to by our minds.

So we try again another time.  "I'm hungry.  Body?  What do I want?" and the body raises its head and offers hopefully, "A burger.  I want a burger."  And we offer to negotiate once more, "What about a nice salad?" but instead of shutting our body down, we actually wait for its opinion.  "A burger." it replies firmly.  And so we grit our teeth, struggle to dampen the blaring mind-tapes, and order a burger.  Then we bite into it, and we realize for a brief moment that it is the best burger we've ever tasted, because it really IS what our body wanted and needed!  The enjoyment flashes through us, followed by a tidal wave of Weight Loss Industry induced shame.  "But I'm not supposed to WANT a burger!" we wail inside.  "I'm supposed to want a salad with some supplement pills!  If I eat a burger I'LL GET FAT!!!!  OMGFATDEATH!!!!"

Quietly the body sighs and slinks back into hiding once more.

Over time, however, we can fight those tapes.  We can really focus on listening to our body, to understanding its needs and wants, and eventually we will find out our own, personal pattern of eating.  When do we tend to want and need protein versus carbohydrates?  What times of day does our fuel tank run low and need a little something to keep us going?  How does our body work at its most efficient?

It isn't an easy path.  When we first start, we think, "I'm going to be stuffing chocolate cake, and ice cream, and candy down my throat 24/7!  I just know it!  My body has NO SELF CONTROL!" (Because that is another of the many messages that the Weight Loss Industry wants us to believe.), and at first it may even happen because when we are freed from constraints that have been binding us for so long, the first thing we want to do is to rebel and do everything we were told we couldn't do before.

But if we are patient, and we hold true through that period of rebellion, still listening to our body and what it wants, re-learning the signals and how to interpret them, we find ourselves slowly changing from eating all of the so-called "bad" foods that we deprived ourselves of for so long, and incorporating a much more balanced and rounded way of eating.  The body will only want chocolate cake for so long before it says, "Hey, you know, a chicken breast and some brussel sprouts sound really good right now."

That isn't to say that it won't occasionally say, "Man, I could really go for a cupcake right now!" but that's all right because the rest of the time it will be asking for grapes when it wants something sweet.  All that we have to do is trust it.  All that we have to do is to learn to trust ourselves.  WE know what we need, not some faux-medical professional wearing a lab coat in a commercial on television.  Not some so-called "doctor" who is really a psychologist but is constantly pushing "nutritional programs" that they claim is the next big thing but they haven't got the knowledge OR the research to back up those claims.  We know what we need better than some multi-million dollar corporation whose whole business model depends on you losing weight then gaining it back and coming back to them to buy their product again...over and over and over.

Take the chance, go through the struggle, learn to listen to your own body again.  I can promise you that it will not be easy.  There are so MANY obstacles in your way, put there by people who don't want you to trust yourself.  Some have been put there by you, because sometimes it is just easier to follow the pre-printed meal plan than to make one more decision at the end of a long, hard day.  But if there is anything that I can tell you other than how hard it will be, that is that YOU are worth it.  You are worth that effort, you are worth that struggle.  Living a healthy life, one in which your self-worth and happiness aren't based on whether you are following Dr. John Doe's Famous Meal Plan or not, that is worthwhile. 

Trust yourself.  Love yourself.  Believe in yourself.  Believe that you are worth that trust, love, and belief.  Listen to your body, your heart, and your own mind.  Dig past those tapes that others have pounded into your thought patterns and find your own tapes, the ones that you had when you were a child, before the world tried to convince you differently, when you knew how worthy of love and self-respect you were.  You are still that person, you are still worthy of it.  Believe it...and listen.  You can do it.  Just listen.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bullying comes in many guises

October is Anti-Bullying Awareness Month.  It is a month where we are supposed to heighten awareness of the various kinds of bullying, and the price that is paid by all involved.  There have been a lot of incidents highlighted in the media recently, incidents of bullying of various kinds.  There will be blogs written all month by people who have been victims of bullying.  Some were victims when they were children, others when they were older.  Some were victims because of their sexual orientation, their looks, their behaviour, or any number of things. 

The thing is that bullying is an insidious thing. It comes in many shapes and sizes.  We are all familiar with the more obvious forms:  physical and verbal abuse, ostracizing someone and making them a social outcast within the peer group, disdaining them for whatever reason.  Those are all horrible things, and no one should have to suffer through them.  But the kind of bullying that I'm going to discuss today is the kind that hides itself, that masquerades as something else. 

You see, I'm fat.  I know!  What a shock, right?  It was TOTALLY a shock when someone told me how fat I am!  (Not really.  Sorry...fell into Sarcastic Snark Mode for a moment there!) As a fat woman I have to deal with people letting me know that I'm fat in many ways.  Some give the "Please Don't Sit Next To Me" look when you're getting onto some form of public transportation.  Some snicker as you walk past or make overloud comments that you are supposed to "accidently" overhear.  Some aren't that brave and just whisper as you go by, mortified by your horrible, horrible fatness.  Others yell comments out of passing car windows or across the street.  It happens a lot more than people realize. Most of the time it doesn't even phase me any more.  I have actually had not-fat friends get angry for me when someone has pulled something like that, and it is sweet of them but really not necessary. 

I've come to accept the fact that I'm fat and I probably always will be.  I eat healthy foods, try to move as much as I can, and do my best to maintain healthy habits.  So those obnoxious twits don't really bother me one way or another.  If anything, I sort of feel sorry for them, because the only way that they have to bolster their own self-esteem is to put others down.

No, the ones that still bother me somewhat are the ones who are being "nice" when they throw out the Fat Phobia.  They may be pretending to be nice, or they may honestly and truly be concerned human beings who want others to live long, healthy, and happy lives.  The thing is, they make the mistake of taking it upon themselves to decide who is healthy and happy just based on how people look.  Never mind that the slender person next to me is eating two Big Macs, a large fries and a supersized sugary soft drink. They are obviously healthy because they are slender. 

So what happens next?  This Good Samaritan decides that I need an intervention.  I need someone to point out that if I lost weight I would be healthier and happier (even though I won't necessarily be either).  Because they are nice people, they want to do it gently, so they start a conversation about how their Aunt Mathilda had gastric bypass, lost 150 pounds, and is SO much happier as a consequence.  Or they suggest "better" food choices for me.  Then there is the lady who took food out of a friend's grocery cart, stating that my friend didn't need to eat that.  Yes, it happened.

When this kind of thing happens, we Fatties are at a loss most of the time.  The person doing it isn't trying to be cruel, so being outright rude back to them tends to go against the grain.  But when you think about it, isn't this just another form of bullying?  Isn't it just another form of saying, "Hey, I'm better than you so you should shut up and do what I tell you to do." only with a veneer of civility that your basic brand of bullying doesn't have?  Bullying comes in so MANY guises that it is easy to forget that it IS bullying until you stop and think about it.  By then the moment has passed and all of the things that you could or would have said have gone unsaid because The Polite Bully has gone on their merry way, sure that they've made the world a better place and taught The Fatty a lesson that was sorely needed in their life.  They may even imagine bumping into said Fatty later in life and having The Fatty fall to their now-slender knees in gratitude for those "kind" words.

I'm going to tell you now, if you truly want to be kind, if you truly want to help others then what you need to do is just stop.  Stop before you say anything or do anything.  Stop.  That person's weight or health or happiness is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!  There are many other things that you can legitimately do in this world to help other people.  Offering unsolicited weight or health advice is NOT among those things.  If you truly want to help others, then go volunteer somewhere!  Raise money for some worthy cause!  Look for opportunities to help those in need in ways that are actually helpful!  Just keep your unasked for opinions to yourselves.  Believe me, you'll be happier and The Fatties of the world will be happier.

Stop the bullying.  Whether it is the overt kind or the subtle kind, make an effort to stop it.  Say something when you see it happening, let the instigator know that such behaviour is unacceptable.  It is time that we all did everything possible to really teach our children that everyone has the right to live their lives in the manner that is best for them (within the law, of course), and that no one has the right to judge or try to force others into some kind of cookie cutter "normality".

No matter what guise the bullying takes, when you see it please make an effort and take a stand.  If we all do that, then maybe someday we'll live in a world where people aren't judged by their looks, but rather people strive together for a greater generosity of spirit.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I'm Tired

There are days when I am full of energy and ready to take on the world.  I love those days, because I can face any problem, solve any issue, and just take apart any opponent without breaking a sweat.

And then there are days like today.  Days when I read about something like what happened to Ms. Ida Davidson.  You see, Ms. Davidson had started seeing a new primary care physician, and on the second visit Dr. Helen M. Carter of Worcester, Massachusetts told Ms. Davidson that at 200 pounds she is too fat to be a patient of Dr. Carter's and that she needs to look elsewhere for basic medical care.

As if this weren't heartbreaking enough, I made the mistake of reading the comments on the news story.  I know, I know, I should know better but I can't help hoping that THIS time will be the time when the public steps forward and acts like decent human beings.  It was foolish of me to hope, because what I got was another wave of Fat Shaming.

I am so tired of it all.  I truly am.  It exhausts me mentally, emotionally, and physically to constantly have to battle for my right to exist as a human being without being subjected to a constant barrage of messages about how I am worth less because I weigh more.  It is like a never-ending storm of hatred and shame, battering at myself and others who are fat, and like those storms it can wear defenses down over time.

I don't understand why people feel the need to shame others for what they look like.  Since when has teaching someone to hate themselves ever helped them achieve great things?  Since when did shaming someone push them to aspire to wonderful heights?  Grinding someone's self-worth to dust does NOT lead to glorious triumphs.  All that this kind of shaming and hatred does is break people into pieces that may never get put back together again.

Is that truly what we, as humans, want to do to our fellow citizens of the world?  Do we HONESTLY want to make as many as possible feel like they are worth nothing?  What kind of sick pleasure can someone get from treating people that way?  I don't understand it, and I hope that I never do because I don't EVER want to treat my fellow human beings like that, much less enjoy it.

I will continue to fight against Fat Hate and Body Shaming.  I will continue to work toward a day when it is what we do that defines us rather than how we look.  I will keep trying to teach people that everyone's life is their own business, everyone's health is their own business, and that no one has the right to tell others what to eat or how to look or even how healthy they should be.  As my friend Ragen says, "Everyone is the boss of their own underpants."  No one is the boss of anyone else's underpants.

I will continue to work toward the day when I can walk down the street without someone thinking that it is their right to comment on my body.

But that won't be today.  Today I am tired, so I am going to curl quietly up and cry for a while and wonder what Ida Davidson and I have done to make so many people hate us.

Today I cry.  Tomorrow I fight.  Someday I won't have to fight any more.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

All I needed to know, I learned from sports movies

I have a weakness for a good sports movie.  I really do.  There's just something about movies that have an underdog (person or team) striving to achieve goals when the rest of the world thinks that they'll fail.  I love watching the turnaround, when people start to realize that the underdog is really them, the underdog represents us all as we fight against odds that, at times, seem stacked against us every step of the way.  And really, everything you need to know in life you can learn from a few good (and not so good but still enjoyable) sports movies.

Bull Durham:  We gotta play 'em one day at a time.

Isn't that the way of it?  We can make plans, and have dreams, but in order to achieve those goals we have to take them one day at a time.  Heck, there are times when we're taking it one minute or one second at a time!  But if we keep pushing forward, if we keep working on overcoming the challenges in front of us and doing so bit by bit, then eventually we find ourselves further along the road than we ever thought we would go.  One day at a time, one moment at a time, that's how to get things done.

The beauty of this quote is that it has a second meaning, at least to me.  We have to take each day, each moment, and really BE in them.  Spending your whole life looking toward the horizon means that you miss the beauty and life that surrounds you at any given time.  It is good to look ahead, but life isn't just about the destination, it is about the journey.  The journey is what makes us into who we are.  The experiences that we have form our selves, our hearts, our minds, our lives.  If we spend the entirety of our existence focused on where we want to be, we miss the actual experience of living and all that we end up with is regret.

Like any traveler, we need to keep one eye on the road ahead, and one eye on where we are.  Then we get the best of everything because we have the hopes and dreams of the future, and the fullness of the now.

The Replacements:  Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory... lasts forever.

I know that this has almost become a cliche, but as always that happens for a reason.  There is so much to this quote that it just amazes me sometimes.

Pain heals.  When you're in the midst of it, you forget that sometimes, or you think that it isn't possible in THIS case, but it is possible and it will happen.  Pain heals, we move on, and while there will always be grief and loss in the world, there will also always be life and love.  As human beings we experience pain, whether it is physical or emotional, or both.  As human beings, how we use that pain defines who we are.  We can choose to wallow in it, choose to forget that there is still laughter in the world.  That is a possibility that sometimes seems easier than moving forward.  But it is when we embrace the pain, let it move through us and past us, that we grow and become stronger for it.  As hard as it is when we're in the midst of things, we have to remember that pain heals.

Chicks dig scars.  People have an empathy for others who have gone through pain.  We all have it in our lives in some form or another, and we all admire those who have overcome and gone on to achieve great things.  Nelson Mandela, Oscar Pistorius, Chen Guangcheng, people such as these surmount incredible obstacles to accomplish wonderful things, and they give us hope that we can face the obstacles in our own lives with such grace and wisdom, with such determination.  It doesn't matter that our obstacles are not as extreme to outside observers, because every challenge is important to the one facing it.  What matters is that there are examples like this in the world who reinforce for us that anything is possible if we believe in ourselves and others.  Those scars will still be there, but they will stand for something, and those around us who observe them and understand where they come from will honor where they have come from and what we have done despite them.

Glory lasts forever.  Someday we will all be gone.  Nothing will remain of us.  The words on the screen will have disappeared into Internet Heaven, paper journals and letters will have decayed and gone to dust, just as our bodies do.  The people who knew us will also be gone, and eventually only a bare handful of the people alive right now will be remembered by name or face.  The rest of us will die among the faceless mass.  But while some would say that this means nothing we do matters, I say that they are wrong.  Glory lasts forever.  The marks that we make on the world around us echo down through time, reverberating through the life threads of people who will never know where that vibration started.  Every action that we take has an effect on others, every kindness, every moment of spite, it all carries through and influences actions and reactions.  Buying the coffee of the guy behind you in line doesn't seem like much, but it could be the simple act of kindness that brightens an otherwise horrible day.  Donating to a charity is just a moment of time on the internet or writing a check, but it could mean the world to the recipients of the services offered because of those funds.  Cutting someone off in traffic could be the action that creates an anger that causes them to snap at their children when they get home.  Leaving a dish of water out on 100+ degree days could mean survival for a bird or stray pet.

So many choices are made by us in the space of a day, and every choice has the potential to be a legacy.  Glory lasts forever, as does infamy.  We get to choose which one will be ours.

A League of Their Own:  It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great.

This is one of my favorite quotes of all time.  It can be applied to so many situations, so many states of being.  Life is hard.  Love is hard.  Growth is hard.  If they weren't hard, they wouldn't be worth doing.  The hard is what makes them great.  The hard is what makes all of us great.  We face it every day, we overcome it, we continue on.  The hard builds us into the people we are.  It teaches us to face challenges, sometimes with fear and sometimes with hesitation, but always moving forward.  We look it straight in the eye and we take that next step, because we know that we can't give in to the hard, and when that step is done, and we're taking a moment before the next one, in that moment was greatness.  We have tapped into the greatness that is our selves, and the greatness that is our world, and the euphoria of that moment of greatness carries us forward to face the next moment of hard.

I can't imagine a life without the hard or the great.  I can't imagine a life without the scars, the pain, or the glory.  I can't imagine life without the challenge of the next day, and the now.  And all of these things have been summed up by the joy that is the sports movie.  There is meaning there, and that meaning doesn't have to be wrapped in some existentialist, deep-thought kind of wrapper (though there's something to be said for those too!).  We find our own meanings, and sometimes great meaning can come in the form of an underdog striving to achieve a goal while the crowd roars.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Technology doesn't replace face time

I find myself getting frustrated by technology.  More and more I notice that things are replacing people in our lives.  Yes, it is ironic to be posting this on my blog, I get that, but right now I don't find it to be amusing.  I find it to be frustrating.

When I am sitting at a table with someone, I cannot express how insulting and annoying it is to have them constantly check their cellular phone for texts, Facebook updates, e-mails or Twitters.  It gives the message that my company is not nearly stimulating enough for them, that I am boring or uninteresting, and that they would rather be elsewhere.  That may not be what they MEAN to tell me, but that is what their actions say.

I make a strong effort not to do that to anyone else.  If I have to check my phone for some reason when spending time with someone else, I try to let them know why and I only do so if it is important (waiting to hear that a family member has arrived safely somewhere or someone who is having a medical procedure is all right), but there are very few things that are important enough to pull my attention from the person who I have chosen to spend time with.

When did we start becoming so dependent upon being "connected" that we started losing touch with the reality of being connected with the people that we care about?  Electronic connections are a great tool, they allow us to make plans and to keep up on day to day happenings, but they were never meant to completely replace the personal touch.  E-mail has replaced letter writing.  Facebook has replaced having coffee together.  Twitter has replaced a quick phone call to chat about nothing important.

I think that it is time to slow the tide a bit and to bring back the personal touch.  When you're at dinner with your friends, or even sitting in the living room with your significant other while watching a DVD, just turn off your phone.  Take a few minutes and write a card or letter to someone that you care about.  Set up a time to just hang out with a friend without a laptop or tablet in sight.  Hang onto those personal moments, because they are becoming more and more rare and they need to be cherished.

Be real, be respectful, be human.  Put away the cellphone and really pay attention.  You never know what you'll learn about the people that you care about.  I CAN tell you that they will learn that they really mean something to you, and that is one of the best things that can ever be learned.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner: An Aggravating Saying

"Hate the sin, but love the sinner."

In these days of constant wrangling regarding subjects such as Same Sex Marriage we hear that saying over and over again from people.  They talk about how they believe that being homosexual is a sin, a choice being made by the persons of that orientation, and that choice is a sinful one.  But the ones saying it insist that they don't hate the persons who are homosexual, they just hate the fact that the homosexuals have chosen to be that way and have thus, in the speaker's mind, forsaken God.

Now, there are several potential arguments that could be brought up here.  We could discuss how not everyone is a member of the religions that condemn homosexuality, and even how many of those who ARE members of those belief systems do not feel this way.  We could discuss that being homosexual is not a choice, it is genetic.  Those are topics for another day.  My thoughts today center on the phrase mentioned above.

You see, I do not personally believe that it is possible to hate the sin and love the sinner.  My thinking is that the sin is part of the person, it is part of what makes the whole, and thus cannot be separated out into some singular entity to be hated.  The mistakes that I have made in my life have contributed toward making me into the person that I am today.  If I had not made those mistakes, I would be someone else, and not only that, I would be a someone else who has less knowledge of who I am and the world that I live in.  So if you took those mistakes away, you would be taking part of me away too.

Let me say it plainly, I do NOT think that being homosexual is a mistake.  Because I know that there will be people who seize upon that word and run with it, putting words into my mouth that I never said.  There ARE people who feel it is a mistake, and it is their thinking that I am addressing with this blog entry.

So assuming that you are one of the people who thinks that being homosexual is a mistake, but who is determined to hate the sin but love the sinner, I ask you how do you do this?  How can you separate out something that is such an integral part of a person as their sexuality and hate it without hating the person?  Because sexuality IS part of the person, and by hating it you are hating them.  Again, ignoring the (very important) discussion of whether being homosexual is a choice or hard-coded into us, I understand what you are trying to say, but I'm here to tell you that this particular phrase does not offer any comfort to those who are among the hated.

Quite frankly, I am not homosexual but this phrase makes ME grind my teeth with frustration, so I cannot even imagine the levels of anger and resentment that it must create in those it is being applied to.  I find that when someone says, "I hate the sin, but I still love the sinner." that it screams condescension to me, it says to me that the person saying it is placing themselves above the ones that they are referring to and that the speaker is announcing to the world that they are on the moral high ground and that they will lower themselves to acknowledge that while they believe the person being addressed is in the wrong, they may have SOME redeeming qualities.  The speaker also implies that while there ARE some redeeming qualities in the addressed, those qualities will forever be overshadowed by this one aspect which the speaker finds unacceptable even though it is really none of their business to begin with.

I have to admit that I am always tempted to come back with, "Well, I hate the sin of pride and the sin of presuming to speak for deities, but I still love the sinners.".  I have always been curious what would happen to the speakers if they had their phrase turned around on them.  Would they still believe in hating the sin and loving the sinner?  Or would they start finding reasons why it applies to everyone else and not them?  But as I have a hard time with the entire concept of sin, I can't really do that. 

It really boils down to the fact that I believe the greater evil is to nurture hatred and discrimination.  What other people do in their bedrooms with consenting adults is their own business, not mine.  If someone loves a person of the same gender, or if they love someone of the other gender, it doesn't matter.  Everyone should have the right to visit the person they love in the hospital, to declare that love openly, and to build a life together without worrying that it will be arbitrarily taken away because someone somewhere arbitrarily names that love a sin.  These are the things that matter, and for everything else, well that is between the individual and the person(s) that they love. 

Love is never a "sin", and to hate love is part of my definition of evil.  To claim that you can hate love while loving the lover is ridiculous and aggravating because it isn't possible.  Love is part of us, part of the whole, and if you claim to hate the part while not hating the whole, I say to you that is an impossibility.  Stop and think about it, and think about if you really love that person.  If you do, how can you not love all of them?  I just can't wrap my mind around it, and I'm not sure how anyone else truly can either.

So I welcome those of you who say "Hate the sin, love the sinner" to explain it to me.  Seriously, I want to know the thinking behind it.  Do so in an adult, plain-spoken manner.  No personal attacks, no generalized attacks, how about no attacks at all for that matter?  Adult, rational conversation about the topic is welcome here.  Any other kind of discussion won't see the light of day because, as always, comments are screened. 

*Note:  I screen for offensiveness.  I do not only allow comments that agree with me, but I do not allow comments that are trolling or obviously picking fights.  You don't have to agree with me, but you DO have to be civil, polite, and adult in how you make your points.  Thank you.

Loving Your Body: It Isn't For Wimps

I follow another blogger, her name is Ragen Chastain and her blog is Dances with Fat.  She says a lot of things that make sense to me, some things that I strive for, and a few things that I disagree with.  In other words, she writes an excellent blog!

One of the things that she says that I strive for is that it is important to love our bodies as they are, to appreciate all of the things that our bodies do for us on a daily, or even moment by moment, basis.  Our bodies breathe, they blink, they digest food, they move, our hearts beat and our brain sends and receives messages.  Whether we are fat or thin, whether we are at peak physical condition or have dozens of medical issues, our bodies are there for us every moment of every day, doing the jobs that they have to do to keep us going.

I'll admit, this is a hard one for me.  I have spent most of my life hating my body.  I have spent many hours cataloging the things that are wrong with it and having others point out the things that are wrong with it, and have neglected to appreciate everything that it does for me.  I am trying to change that, but the habits of so many years are so difficult to break.  So my current project is to counteract every negative thought that I find myself thinking with at least two positive ones.  "I hate that my knees hurt so much." is followed by, "But I'm glad that my hands are nimble enough to do all of the crafting projects that I do, and I am happy that my brain is alert enough for me to enjoy reading the many kinds of books that I love."  It isn't easy, and really feels downright fake sometimes, but this is the only way that I can think of to counteract the negativity that I'm feeding myself.

Of course, sometimes things catch us off guard.

For instance, there I was, doing something good for myself when *wham* I was caught right between the eyes by my own negativity.  You see, I was dancing.  We got a Kinect for our Xbox 360 and I was trying out a new torture device game called "Just Dance 2".  It is one of those games where the figures on the screen do dance moves and you're supposed to imitate them.  The Kinect tracks your movements and you get points for how well you do what is being done on the screen.  It is a surprisingly good workout for someone like myself, who is relatively sedentary, and is actually fun which beats going nowhere on a treadmill for hours.

However, the makers of this game were apparently cruel, evil-minded Class-A Torturers.   You see, they decided to just randomly have the game take pictures of you as you're busting a move.  So there you are, happily dancing away, when suddenly it starts clicking.  The next thing you know, there you are!  Sweaty, red-faced, and looking totally ridiculously NOTHING like any of the toons on the screen.  Wow...what a de-motivator!  This is very much not a moment for wimps!

Thus the challenge to myself for now:  I am going to continue dancing to my game, working on moving better and enjoying the movement that I'm doing.  I am NOT going to disable the photo option.  I AM going to remind myself when those photos come onto my screen that they are photos of a woman who is working on being healthier, who is enjoying herself, and who is dancing to her own tune!  I will fight That Little Voice when it says that the woman on the screen looks ridiculous and should just hide from the world.  TLV doesn't know what it's talking about, and the woman on the screen is kicking butt and taking names!

So, Dear Readers, I challenge you to find a way to love your body for the next month.  Whether you decide to start washing your face and moisturizing before bed every night, or to rebut the negative remarks that your TLV makes with positive ones, or to walk for ten minutes every day, it doesn't matter.  Find a way to love your body that you haven't tried before (or that you've tried and just stopped doing), and let it know that it is appreciated.  Let yourself know that YOU are appreciated just the way that you are.

Don't say you'll love your body when (insert condition here).  Love it now.  Love yourself now.  You're the only You that you've got!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Mixed Farewell to Raspberry Zingers

Health at Every Size (tm) is about making healthy choices for yourself, and loving your body as it is without judging it or yourself.  As those of you who read regularly are aware, I've been trying to make changes in my own life to reflect that way of thinking.  Sometimes they're very hard, and sometimes I manage them with little difficulty.  But there are always those unintended consequences that catch you off-guard.  Today, I found one of those consequences.

Before I discovered H@ES I honestly hated my body (and by extension, myself).  My body was something to be despised, and I could list a thousand negative adjectives to describe it.  I didn't care whether I moved or not, I didn't care what I put into it, there were even times when I didn't care about showering or washing my hair because why bother to take care of something that was so repulsive to me?  I managed the bare minimum of socially acceptable personal care when I had to go out in public, but when I was at home for any length of time, it just didn't matter.  If I ignored it, then maybe it would go away.

Of course, all that mindset did was to reinforce my already negative self-impression.  But when someone is in that mode of thinking, it is really hard to get through to them from the outside.  They really have to find it within themselves to care about their body.  That isn't easy to watch, and it isn't easy to do.

Anyway, consequences!

One of my favorite foods back when I didn't read labels or care about ingredients used to be Raspberry Zingers.  You know the ones!  They are that impossibly moist yellow cake with the white, creamy sweet stuff in the middle and a coating of Impossibly Pink Gooey Stuff on the outside that holds the sweetened coconut to the whole thing.  Normally they come in either a box of 8 or 10 (I honestly can't remember how many are in a box now) or in my favorite, the vending machine three-pack.

When these Impossibly Pink Coconut Covered Nuggets of Goodness would appear in the vending machine at work I would literally bounce with excitement and grab for my change stash.  I apparently wasn't the only addict in the office, because they would inevitably be the first thing to sell out (unless there were Chocolate Zingers in there, then the chocolate ones sold out first to be followed shortly by the raspberry) and I wanted to get MINE!

I would insert the coins, push the appropriate buttons, and watch anxiously as the corkscrew-shaped Goody Holder would turn, mentally sending every ounce of energy to make sure that my precious treasure wouldn't become a victim of The Snagged Treat Syndrome.  I would rejoice at the solid "thunk" that followed, reassured that I had avoided the horrible fate of staring helplessly through the glass as my Zingers swung there, stuck on the end of the Goody Holder.  I wouldn't become another office casualty, trapped under a fallen vending machine because I shook it too vigorously in the attempt to get my Zingers to let go.

My hand would reach through the swinging door at the bottom of the vending machine, extracting my prize and deftly avoiding having the flap close on them, making squished Zingers.  Once I had them in my hand I was off to my desk, huddling over them like Gollum held his Ring, holding off any attempts to intercept myself or my treat with a ferocious glare of possession.  And then, then I would be at my seat and I could finally safely open the package.

First, the scent.  That sweet, heavenly scent of faux raspberry and coconut, with just a hint of fake vanilla extract!  I would breathe deeply, savoring the anticipation of the first bite for just a moment longer until I couldn't hold myself back any more.  Mere minutes later the evidence would be on my desk in the form of a crumpled piece of plastic and a small, white rectangle of thin cardboard.  Maybe there would be a stray piece of pink-ended coconut here or there, or a smear of pink on the cardboard, but that would be all that remained of the three Zingers that had existed just moments before. 

I didn't take my time and enjoy them, I inhaled them.  And immediately I would feel a combination of over-sugared nausea and the desire for more.

And the shame.

I was ashamed because I got them to begin with.  I was ashamed because I ate them so quickly.  I was ashamed because they were "bad food" and society says that when we eat bad food we should punish ourselves.  I was ashamed because I was fat, and I was eating food that fat people shouldn't be eating.

So when we saw a display of Zingers, mini donuts and other treats by that company in the store yesterday priced at 10 for $10 I told my husband that if he wanted to take some for his desk at work he should grab a few.  As an afterthought I told him to grab me one package of Raspberry Zingers too, please.  I haven't actually had them for about three years or so, I would say, maybe longer now.

Today I decided to have them as a mid-afternoon snack.  I was worried in the back of my mind that they would trigger a craving to have more and more and more of them (part of why I only got one package), but I really wanted to taste that Raspberry Goodness again, so I decided that I was safe from going too nuts as I would have to go back to the store to get more and getting a craving THAT strong is rare for me.

I opened the package and inhaled that remembered fragrance, but it wasn't quite the same to me this time.  The smell had a slight chemical tinge to it that I didn't remember from the past.  Then I took a bite.  Now, Dear Readers, I wish that I could say that I took one bite and stopped, throwing the rest away.  I don't want to say that because I think that is the reaction I should have had, but rather because it would make a really cool dramatic ending, and I AM a writer (amongst other things) after all!  But that's not how it happened.  I actually ate all three, but rather than gobbling them down and not tasting them, I ate them relatively slowly.  Each bite that I took was followed by a small hint of disappointment and the unspoken hope that the next bite would bring back the enjoyment that I remembered so fondly.

And then they were gone.  There was the crumpled plastic, the small white rectangle of cardboard, the stray piece of pink-ended coconut.  The evidence was in, and it took me a long moment to realize what the evidence was telling me.  Finally comprehension dawned:

I don't like Raspberry Zingers any more.

I found myself torn between exultation and sadness.  Raspberry Zingers had been a comfort food to me at a time when I needed comfort.  I had so little that I liked in my life then, and those little round-cornered rectangles of sweetness had given me something to enjoy, even for a moment.  But now that enjoyment was gone.  I have been eating real fruits and treats made with real ingredients for long enough that my taste buds were thrown into shock by having all of those chemicals assault them at once.  (I'm not sure they've forgiven me yet, but we'll see when I have dinner if they will let go of their indignation or not.)

I know that some are asking, "Why write an entire blog post about this, Lys?"

Quite simply, this episode has brought home several truths to me, and personal truths are really what blog posts are supposed to be about, right? 

It is a personal truth for me that my tastes HAVE changed in a way that I believe is for the better.  My body expects, DEMANDS, that I give it quality, whole foods prepared in ways that are healthy and taste great.

It is a personal truth for me that you CAN change your tastes over time if you start small and make your changes one at a time. 

It is a personal truth for me that I am no longer the person I was then.  I have grown, I have changed, I have discovered ways to *gasp* love myself. 

It is a personal truth for me that I'm not totally there yet.  I still have very far to go on this path but while I have a distance to travel, I can look back at the path behind me and see that I have come so very far already and celebrate that distance.

It is a personal truth to me that this journey is worthwhile because I am worth it.

That's what it comes down to in the end.  We're worth it.  We're worth more than self-hatred.  We're worth more than shame.  We're worth more than thousands of negative adjectives.  We're all worth more than that.

I'm worth more than those things.

So are you.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

It had to be done

My friend Matt posted a blog today about how people react in emergencies.  He discussed how some people think first in an emergency, trying to decide how to act, and how other people act first and do what needs to be done, then think about it later (and usually have a lovely breakdown when all of the "what ifs" hit them at once).  A phrase that has been in my mind since I read his post is "it had to be done".

This afternoon I was putting new elastic in the waistband of a pair of pants.  I could probably have done it in five minutes if I broke out the sewing machine, but I find hand-sewing to be very relaxing, so I settled onto the couch and turned on the television for background as I worked.  I happened to land on a showing of "Iron Man".  (Yeah, yeah, there's a point, I'm getting there! *grin*)  My attention was caught by the scene in which Tony Stark tries to stop Pepper Potts from walking out of his life by explaining just WHY he has to put himself in danger to help other people.  He discusses how he's reaped the rewards of violence and arms development without really thinking about how those items are used, and now that he has been through his experiences and had first-hand exposure to the havoc that his creations wreak, he knows that it is his responsibility to make up for some of the chaos that wouldn't have occurred if he hadn't come up with his ideas, if his company had been more responsible about who they were sold to and where they went.  He looks at Pepper with anguish and the hope that she'll understand and says, "I just have to."

The Universe isn't really known for its subtlety.  It has a tendency to smack people in the back of the head with Clue by Fours every now and again, and I suspect that this thematic recurrence is just another one of those CxF type instances.  But I find myself examining it and wondering just how it is supposed to apply in my own life.  I mean, I'm not a billionaire playboy philanthropist, so I can't really build an amazing suit of powered armor and leap into the fray.  I do tend to be one of those who act in a situation rather than sit and think about what I should do, but I don't think that it would be helpful for me to run around trying to find emergencies as here are many well-trained and qualified people out there doing that already (this is where you should pause a moment to give a heartfelt thanks to the many police, firefighters, EMTs, doctors, nurses, military members and so on who keep our butts relatively safe every day).

So what is it that The Universe is trying to get me to do?  As I ponder this question I come to realize that it isn't always the big things that need doing.  Pulling someone from a burning building is an amazing feat of courage and ability, but sometimes the little things can change people's lives nearly as much as the big ones.  When someone is on their last reserves it can be the small gesture of kindness that pulls them back from the precipice. 

I'm doing my best to grow as a person, to find ways to make the world a little better, a little kinder, a little nicer than I found it.  Some of the ways are bigger than others, but all of them are things that I just have to do.  I can't look at certain situations without jumping in and doing what I can to make them better.  What those situations specifically are don't really matter to anyone besides myself and the others (if any) involved, what matters is that I'm not sitting back and just thinking about what I should do, I'm going ahead and doing first, thinking later.

I suspect that if you look around yourself, you'll find things that you can do, things that just have to be done.  Little things, big things, little things that are big things to the recipients, there are all sorts of opportunities out there if we just pause and look around and then look inside ourselves.  Once we find them we can move forward into acting, not just throw theories around about how to make things better.

Take a moment and pull your head out of your own life, take a look at the world around you.  Seize that moment, do that thing and that stuff for those people.  When you're all done, stop and think about it, why you did it, what worked and what you could have done better, even possibly break down for a moment because it is a little overwhelming.  And when you've done all of that, take another moment, a deep breath, then smile and say to yourself, "It had to be done."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Changing Focus

When I first created this blog, it was done with the thought of having somewhere to put my political and social commentary.  You see, I have another online journal that acts more like...well...a journal, but I wanted somewhere that I could express thoughts in a more public forum.  These would be thinky type thoughts rather than general updates on my life or other things that are probably of interest only to myself and maybe some friends.  So I kept this blog for generally political and social expressions.

Then I realized a couple of things:

1.  I don't tend to post a lot of political type posts, because I find myself getting so wound up about politics as it is in modern America that I can't really put down what I want to say in a coherent, non-asshole-ish way.

2.  Most of my social commentary tends to focus on My Life As A Fat Person, and that is generally covered in my "Confessions of a Fat Superhero" blog.

3.  There's more to life than political and social commentary.

So I decided to re-purpose this blog and make it a bit more general.  But don't worry, it isn't going to become my journal, because I still have that online journal and can use that to bore my friends with the mundane details of life.  This blog is going to still contain what political and social commentary I want to cover, but will expand its focus to include random ideas and thoughts as well.

I have no idea how that will go, but I figure that since I enjoy writing, it behooves me to get regular practice at it in a place where people can give feedback on what I say.  Between "Fat Superhero" and this blog, that should be feedback enough for anyone!

It's kind of funny, though, because as I think about it I realize that we are constantly changing our focus in life, so it is rather appropriate that I change the focus of my blog too.  I mean, when we're children our focus is rather small and contained within the area of our family, friends, and school.  We get up, we go to school, we do homework, we play, and we go back to bed.  Sure there are chores and family time and things in there too, but life has a reassuring monotony to it at that age.  We know our routine, we know what is expected of us, and we don't have to worry about the bigger picture.

Then we get older, and our focus widens.  We start working or go to college (or both!) and our vision grows to include the bigger world around us.  Society infringes on our secure sphere of existence.  It pushes into our lives in little ways like dealing with traffic during rush hour every day, and makes itself known in larger ways like catastrophes, elections (sometimes the same thing as the previous item), terrorism, the economy, and so on.  A lot of those intrusions are negative, which can wear us down over time, make us tired, and make us want to pull back into ourselves and our safe little spheres.  We know that it is an illusion when we're hiding amongst the fragile walls of our routine.  It becomes all too clear that we can't go back to not being aware of the outside world.  That doesn't stop us from trying to keep making our worlds smaller sometimes, though. 

But let's face it, we need that larger world.  We need to be aware of everything that is happening around us because if we aren't aware of it then we can't have any effect on it.  It is our responsibility as world residents to have an effect on things, to try and make things better for ourselves and for future generations.  When we stop trying to have that positive effect, when we settle for not doing anything or when we decide that the only way out is to make things so bad that no one will want a future any more, then we become part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

So I guess that changing my blog's focus is one way that I can widen my view and start looking for ways to become part of the solution.  They won't be big ways, because despite my childhood dreams of riches and fame, I'm just me.  I'm a Fat Superhero who lives an everyday life and is just trying to pay the bills and enjoy what time I have on this world.  However, now I know that part of the enjoyment for me is to do something that will make the world that I eventually leave behind a better place for someone, or hopefully a lot of someones.  It may mean doing a lot of small things rather than one or two big things, but I'm hoping that I can find those small things and get them done.  If enough of us do the small things, they'll add up to some pretty powerful changes in the end.

That's my hope anyway.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I can do this...

Life is full of moments, and most of those moments pass by and eventually blur into that "nothing special" that is every day.  But now and then we are given the gift of A Moment, and those moments are the ones that we remember and that can influence our lives beyond what we ever expected.  I look back at my Moments, and a large number of them are negative, which is sad in more ways than I can say.  I can see a landscape of time littered with choices that I made that caused me to end up giving up on goals and dreams, and those choices were totally mine, which not only makes me sad but it makes me wince and want to look away.  But really, isn't part of growing as a person making yourself look at those moments and learn from them?  And so I've been working on that with myself over the past couple of years, and recently I had another Moment, but this one was a good one, and one that would have turned out completely different ten years ago.

I've always struggled with what I wanted to be when I grow up.  I could tell you a host of things that I DON'T want to be or be doing, but pinning down that elusive feeling of "Yes!  This is IT!" has never come easily to me.  I thought that I had it a few times, but it turned out that it was still easier for me to make the choices that led to losing those dreams.  I don't blame the dreams themselves, they were good dreams, and if I'd been stronger I believe now that I would have been very successful at any one of them.  But I wasn't emotionally ready for them, and so I chose...poorly, and ended up saying goodbye to things that were important to me.

I know, you're probably saying, "But Lys, what does this have to do with being Fat?  Because isn't this blog about being Fat?  I'm confused!'  Just bear with me, and the connection will happen, I promise.

Unless you've been fat, you don't realize the toll that it takes on you every moment of every day.  You are constantly being told that you are less worthy than other people simply because of how you look.  Your time is less valuable, your skills are worth less, and your abilities are discounted simply because of how you look.  Even if you start out believing in yourself and saying that others are wrong, this kind of  repeated bludgeoning wears at you, pounding against the walls until they start to weaken and crumble, then That Little Voice creeps in through the cracks.  You know the one, That Little Voice that whispers in the back of your mind, "Maybe they're right.  Maybe you shouldn't expect so much of yourself because Fat People just aren't successful.  Look around and tell me how many fat role models there actually are.  None, because Fat People are less worthy, less able, and JUST....CAN'T...SUCCEED!"

Too many of us end up listening to That Little Voice and give up on ourselves.  I was one of them.  I stopped singing because there aren't Fat Singers.  I didn't finish my teaching degree because I didn't want to be at the front of the class while my students mocked me for my weight.  I let my Fear of Fat determine my life's path in so many ways.  But I've finally reached the point where that isn't happening any more.  I had A Moment.  It was a wonderful Moment.  I keep that moment in a velvet-lined box in my mind, and I take it out now and then to cherish it and to remind myself about how much I've changed.

When I got laid off, I had choices.  I could apply for jobs, take the first thing that came along, and just keep puttering through life with the assumption that I am going to end up being one of the Faceless Masses who live through history.  After all, there are more everyday people than there are famous ones, right?  The vast majority of humanity ends up as the Faceless Masses, but they're still mostly happy and live their lives without that being a problem. 

My second choice was to do something that I've wanted to do for a long time and always talked myself out of based on a lack of funds, or that it just wasn't the right time, or who was I kidding because Fat People don't do things like that.

I decided to try the second choice, but judiciously and with planning.  I decided to start my own business making jams and jellies.  I always knew I wanted my own business, but was never sure what it would be, and then I found out that I LOVE making jams and jellies, and watching people's faces when they bite into whatever the fruity goodness was resting upon.  I love that moment when their tastebuds start firing messages to their brains, and their eyes get that glazed, "OhmygodthistastessoGOOD!" look.

I took my idea to the local Small Business Development office and discussed my proposed plan of action with them, and my advisor there agreed with how I wanted to proceed.  She made a point of telling me that she felt strongly that I not only had the skills but the personality to do well at this.  And that was without even tasting anything!  (Later I took samples and the office tried them and unanimously enjoyed every bite!)

I walked out of that office and I had my Moment.  I pushed the door open, stepped out into the parking lot, walked toward my truck, and in my mind That Little Voice became a Big Voice, and it shouted to the world, "I CAN DO THIS!!!"

If you have never had to deal with being your own worst critic, I'm not sure that you can understand just what having that kind of moment, and that Big Voice shouting in your head means.  I lost all doubt, I brushed away any remnants of Fat People Can't Succeed, and for that shining moment I held the world in my hands.  It was wonderful, brilliant, and full of joy!  And it was mine.

 Fat doesn't matter.  Other people's prejudices don't matter.  That Little Voice doesn't matter.  What matters is that we all should have this kind of Moment in our lives.  It shouldn't be reserved for those who are considered more socially acceptable for whatever reason, it is a gift that each and every person should be allowed to experience.  So if you're struggling, and hearing That Little Voice over and over, please look for a way to silence it.  And if you're discouraged because you've been looking and you've been trying, just keep going.  Keep looking, take those chances, tell That Little Voice just where it can go because Fat People CAN succeed!  I know that we can!  And when I'm there, and my company is thriving at just the level where I want it, I would love to look over and see you, Dear Reader, thriving right next to me.  I want you to have that Moment, and many others like it.  Because you deserve the right to earn them, no matter what the fashion magazines, or the obesidemic people say.  YOU deserve the right to earn them, YOU matter.  YOU can do this.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"Just don't let it get to you." - Fact or Fiction?

I have a friend that I respect and admire very much.  He is talented, smart, innovative and self-confident.  There are many ways that I wish I were more like him.  That said, he has a definite blind spot, one that is actually a positive in moderation, but he takes to extreme.  My friend, whom we will call X, firmly believes in Mind Over Matter.  If you are tired or hurting, push through it.  If you are angry or sad, suck it up and move on.  If you feel as though someone else is putting you down, just don't let it get to you.  And yes, while I agree that we cannot control the actions of others, we can only control our own reactions, we part ways on the subsequent thoughts.

You see, I don't agree with just not letting it get to me, ignoring it and continuing on my own way no matter what.  When it comes to social iniquity, that sort of "ignore it and it will take care of itself" attitude is not in my personality because it doesn't work.  If we ignore it, that doesn't mean that it will go away, it just means that the people who feel that being obnoxious, rude, or cruel will continue to do so without repercussion.

I believe in doing what we can to make the world a better place for everyone, not just ourselves.  I believe in letting people know that certain comments or actions are unacceptable.  I believe that EVERY person has the inherent right to be treated with courtesy until they prove that they have forfeited that right.  We share a social contract with one another, and the growing tendency toward verbal abuse, rudeness, and outright hostility to whichever group happens to be the current target needs to be stopped.  The only way to stop it successfully is to bring enough social pressure to bear that those who continue such practices are given the clear message that their behaviour is NOT acceptable.

The other day, Mr. Stephen King posted an admirable article discussing how many of those fortunate to hold positions in the financial top 1% feel that they should pay more taxes.  (WARNING:  Which is NOT the point of this blog, so folks who comment on that part of my entry will probably not have their comment approved.)  Unfortunately, Mr. King felt the need to make some unacceptable references to Governor Christie's weight.  Another friend (mutual to X and myself) posted a link to the article.  I replied that while I applauded Mr. King's main sentiments, I was dismayed that he'd felt the need to body-shame to do it.

X didn't see my concern, and said that if someone is upset or shamed by their body, it is their own choice and their own perception.  Again, I agree with him to a point, but not past that point.  I don't believe that we should allow others to make us feel ashamed of ourselves, that we have the right and the responsibility to ourselves to be proud of who and what we are, no matter what our shape or size.  Our bodies are amazing things, and should be celebrated in all forms.

Where I again part ways with X is simply that, unlike him, I am very aware that not everyone is strong enough to be able to cast off the burden of public opinion.  I have been one of them, and still struggle against the deep currents of negativity directed at fat people every day.  When someone is bombarded with messages about how they are weak, lazy, gluttonous, worth less than others and should be ashamed of themselves, it is hard to maintain the strength to resist those thoughts.  After a while they creep in, they worm their way into your mind and eventually through everything that you do or think about yourself.  You start to believe it, and start to hate yourself for your weakness.

So I am here to say to those of you who think that it is easy to just let it slide when you see something that is inappropriate and hurtful, "Just don't let it get to you" may work for you, but if you are only concerned with yourself, then you're just as bad as the ones who are being cruel to begin with.  We can't expect everyone to be the same as we are.  We can't expect everyone else to have the same strengths.  It is our responsibility to use our strengths to cover for the weaknesses of others, just as it is their responsibility to use their strengths to ease our weaknesses.  If we can do that, then we all grow stronger together as a consequence.

Make a joke about it if you like, comment about how all of those fatties just need to not let it get to them, or whatever allows you to feel that you're off the hook when it comes to letting others know that body or size shaming is unacceptable.  Keep thinking in your mind that people should just shake everything off and be stronger.  I'm happy that you are sure enough about yourself and your body that it isn't a problem to you.  I do wish, though, that for just a little while you would feel compassion instead of smugness, empathy instead of scorn, and understand that maybe...just maybe...those people who you envision as being weak are actually as strong as you (or even stronger) because despite being told that they are lesser beings almost 400,000 times per year, they continue to try the best that they can every day.

It's easy to be strong when you don't have to be.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Eating: A Necessary Evil?

By now, if you've read any of my other posts, you know that I'm trying to re-adjust my thinking to follow the precepts brought forth by the Health at Every Size (TM) movement.  The three major ideas that H@ES promotes are:

  • Accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes.
  • Eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite.
  • Finding the joy in moving one’s body and becoming more physically vital. 
I've talked a lot about the first and the third, discussing how important it is to accept people for who and what they are rather than what their body size is (large OR small!).  I've also talked about my still ongoing search to find forms of movement that I enjoy enough to do on a regular basis.

I have slacked a bit, however, in talking about the second thought.  I haven't talked much about eating and how it fits into First World Society as a whole, and how it fits into my life in particular.

Eating is viewed in many ways as a necessary evil.  We have to eat to survive, but it is so easy for our eating to become a source of self-hatred and frustration.  We are constantly bombarded with conflicting messages about food, eating, and our relationship with both of them.  We see commercials running back to back promoting the current weight loss trends with long, loving shots of gooey cheese or rich chocolate or whatever food item / restaurant they sold that air time to.  There are even entire television networks devoted to food.

We're told to "eat right and exercise", but no one seems to really know what "eat right" means.  One minute we're told to use margarine instead of butter, and the next minute we're told that butter is healthier than the hydrogenated oils used to make margarine.  Eggs are to be avoided due to high cholesterol one moment, then touted for their high protein the next.  Drinking too much is bad, but everyone should have a glass of red wine every day.  Don't eat sugar because it will rot your teeth and give you diabetes, but artificial sweeteners will give you headaches and can lead to cancer.

It really is amazing that we manage to eat anything at all with all of this being shouted at us from every direction.

And then there is H@ES, which has what I consider to be among the most important words in their philosophy about eating.  What are those words, Dear Reader?  Well, quite simply, those words are "flexible", "pleasure", and "satiety".

Look at the whole statement again:

Eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite.

Nowhere in that statement do you see any discussion of the "right" foods to eat or the "right" proportion of nutrients, or the "right" number of calories.  It simply talks about eating in a way that is flexible, pleasurable, and satisfying.  I KNOW!  Doesn't that just blow your MIND???

So let us look at these words for a bit.


To me this says quite simply that I should resist the societally-ingrained urge to categorize foods as Good Food and Bad Food.  There is no good food, there is no bad food, there is only food.  And if I stop listening to what the deafening wave of voices outside of my body keeps telling me, I will learn what it is that my body needs as well as what it wants.  Furthermore, if I let myself have what I want, when I want it, my body will tell me that it wants what it needs to sustain it at top form.  You see, one of the main reasons that we tend to think of things like ice cream as treats is that we don't allow ourselves to have it whenever we want.  I strongly suspect that for most people, if you allowed yourself to have ice cream whenever you wanted it, you would reach a point where it is just another food and something that you would eventually want only once in a while.
Thus it stops being a Bad Food, and becomes food.  Just food.

Our bodies aren't stupid.  They know what we need, and when we stop fighting them and start listening to them, what we eat becomes more balanced.  We've just forgotten how to listen.


Food is pleasurable.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Please re-read the words in bold lettering just before this sentence again.  That's right, there is nothing wrong with food being a pleasurable experience.  As a matter of fact, it SHOULD be a pleasurable experience!  We should make more of an effort to turn mealtime into a pleasant experience rather than gulping our lunch down at our desks as we work, or mindlessly shoveling food into our mouths as we watch TV.  There should be less eating while we drive, and more drive to enjoy what we eat.  I'm not saying that you shouldn't have a cheeseburger and fries (back to that whole Good Food / Bad Food thing), because cheeseburgers and fries definitely have their places in life.  What I'm saying is that you should take the time to sit down and really enjoy that cheeseburger and those fries.  Let yourself focus on the soft bun, the sweetness of the ketchup as it hits your tongue.  Think about the meatiness of the burger and the salty sharpness of the cheese.  Enjoy the tangy crunch of the pickles, the salty crisp outside and the fluffy hot inside of the fries.  It should be appreciated!
(I'll wait here as you run out to your favorite burger place.  Don't close the browser window, just pick up where you left off when you get back.  *goes and plays Star Wars: The Old Republic while she waits*)

Back now?  Okay, good!  I hope that you took your time and really tasted what you were eating, savouring those pleasurable flavours.

There will be days when you find yourself wanting to savour a crisp, green salad.  There will be days when you find yourself wanting to enjoy the cold, creaminess of gourmet frozen custard.  There will be days when your body decides that it wants to sink your teeth into a thick, juicy steak (or tofu patty...whichever you prefer).  Let it.  Appreciate every bite of whatever it is that your body is asking you for that day, that hour, that minute.  No guilt, no Good Food, no Bad Food, no beating yourself up.

And appreciate when your body says, "No thanks, I don't need anything right now."  Which leads into...


Based on the word "Sate" which has several definitions.  The one most applicable to my discussion today is:  to satisfy (any appetite or desire) fully.

I'm not talking about stuffing yourself so full that you can't move.  Every day should not be Thanksgiving!  What I'm talking about is satisfying yourself, which is something else that we seem to have forgotten how to do in our First World existence.

Again it comes back to learning how to listen to our bodies.  Learning when our stomachs have reached a point of satisfaction rather than waiting until we have to loosen our belts or we start to feel sick.  We have to learn how to pay attention as we eat, and to notice when we've gone from hungry to satisfied without being overly full.  

I can tell you that after I had my gastric bypass, I had no choice but to learn how to do this.  There are very messy and unpleasant, sometimes even painful, results if you overestimate how much you can eat at any given meal.  But really, we don't want everyone to undergo invasive surgical procedures to grasp this concept.  It would be better if people just start paying attention.  You know, while you pay attention to the tastes and textures of the foods that you're eating, also pay attention to how your body feels as those foods enter your system.  I think that you will find that by eating consciously, by allowing yourself to be aware, you will get more of a kick out of your meals AND your eating habits will slowly regulate themselves into a pattern that is most natural for you.

Since I got laid off (which is part of the reason there's been such a gap in my postings, as I had to deal with everything that goes along with being laid off first) I have found that my eating habits have drastically changed from what I assumed was my "normal" way of eating.  For me this involves eating a lot more in the way of whole foods, fruits, vegetables, and so on.  Please note that I am NOT saying that this is how everyone should eat.  As far as I'm concerned, everyone has the right to decide their own eating habits, whether that is a diet based on whole foods, or one based entirely on boxed macaroni and cheese, or something in between.  Not my call! 

But what I have found is that I have time to prepare meals from scratch every day, and that I'm able to eat the leftovers for lunch the next day, and that I can sit down and really enjoy my meals rather than shoving breakfast down my throat without tasting it so that I can get to work, and then eating my lunch at my desk while I work, and then feeling beat when I get home so just going with what is easiest rather than what I may really want. 

Oh...and being more aware of when I am actually satisfied and stopping before I feel like I've overeaten.  You know...satiety!

I know that this has been a long one, and bless those of you who have stuck it out and read to this point.  I hope that perhaps my thoughts and words here have given you pause, and maybe even gotten you to think about how you eat.  

Food is not the enemy that the Weight Loss Industry wants us to believe, nor is it the saviour that the Food Industry wants to promote.  It is, quite simply, just food.  Not good, not bad, not our downfall, not our security blanket.  It is crispy, creamy, savoury, sweet, salty, umami, charbroiled, ice-cold, fuel-providing, flavour-giving food.  We should appreciate it for what it is, and stop ascribing vice and virtue to it.
Eating food is not a necessary evil, it is a necessary pleasure and joy.  Something that we should be more aware of in our lives.'s what's for dinner. :)