where do we go from here, part 2 (#lmwlchallenge)

One of the things this past month of challenges pointed out to me was that I’ve gotten out of the habit of doing nice things for myself. When I was younger, the makeup, hair and nails stuff may have felt more relevant to me. I did realize, however, that there is a definite component of not feeling good enough to have a nice haircut of wear pretty cloths. I have been just sticking my hair in a pony tail or pulling it back with hair clips and the comfortable clothes I’ve been wearing have an aspect of hiding in them.

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me,
And I shall spend my pension
on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals,
and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired,
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells,
And run my stick along the public railings,
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens,
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat,
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go,
Or only bread and pickle for a week,
And hoard pens and pencils and beer mats
and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry,
And pay our rent and not swear in the street,
And set a good example for the children.
We will have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me
are not too shocked and surprised,
When suddenly I am old
and start to wear purple!

Jenny Joseph

Maybe I’m not old enough yet to embrace all of that – but there is a part of me that wants to be a little more flamboyant. To wear the jewel tones and not apologize for being too large or not pretty. As ALKD pointed out, I have a lot of clothes in my closet that don’t fit or don’t flatter me or I don’t feel good wearing. So, one goal is to go through my closet again and start giving away stuff that I’m not going to wear again. When I lost all that weight, I went on a buying spree and bought a lot of inexpensive shirts (in the $5 – $15 range at Walmart) and really, many of them didn’t end up being something I liked. I’ve given away a lot already but there remains many that I probably won’t wear again or just didn’t suit me. I may pack away a few things that I like but get them out of my closet so they aren’t hanging there mocking me. In addition, while it won’t be every week or even every month, I will continue my search to find clothes that I like, that are a little more – what? A little less hiding.

I need to get my hair cut – but that’s another expense. Still, even if I just got the ends trimmed that would be good for my poor fragile, fine, thinning, curly hair. But I’d like to go further than that and try something different. And perhaps now that it’s not so hot, I’ll do a little more makeup now and then. At least do my eyes. There’s no expense there and my eyes are my favorite feature so it is nice to go to a little more effort with them.

Getting out of the house has become a real issue for me, especially going somewhere new. I’d like to set a weekly adventure (thanks ALKD!) to do something fun or go somewhere new. It’s a little challenging down here because everything requires a drive or might be difficult from a mobility standpoint. But there are other things I could do, I think, and I like the idea of doing something creative or crafty. There is a whole storeroom of crafting stuff upstairs and I have a painting kit that I bought for my dad but it turned out to be too complicated for him. And I like cooking. It’s been my goal all summer to cook more and try new things – unfortunately not many of them have been worth putting up on Chickens and Eggs. I’d also like to try some different things that I will have to buy online. Another expense but one I think I can work into my budget now and then.

And the other thing that belongs in this category is working on the way I think. I don’t believe in affirmations but I do have this litany of negative thoughts that is sometimes even constant in my head. I want to more actively challenge those thoughts and work to stop them. I’m not going to suddenly start believing I’m beautiful – but I have pretty eyes. And I’m smart. Plus I have a good sense of humor.

So this week…

  • I was really moved by the Unapologetic Posse. It seems like that website is not being updated but I am still going to grab the assignment to stop the fat talk. “Can you go a day without talking about your weight or using deprecating language in reference to your body?” I have this almost constant voice in my head telling me how fat and ugly I am and I’d really like to silence that voice. I think this will be an ongoing challenge for me. One day at a time.
  • Start going through my closet and culling out what I’m not going to wear again.
  • Pick something creative to do. Look upstairs and see what is in Mom’s closet. Sort through the recipes I have that I want to try. I particularly want to make soups and stews to freeze so perhaps pick one of them to try this week.
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where do we go from here? #lmwlchallenge

So, today I take cookies to the nursing home staff and end this month of the #lmwlchallenge. Yesterday, I made a sweet potato coffee cake. It was supposed to be a sweet potato pound cake, that’s what the recipe was called. But trust me, it was a coffee cake. But it was really moist and tasty. And I’m taking Dad as much of that tasty cake as I can get into plastic containers. But first I need to take a photo so I can post the recipe over at Chickens and Eggs.

I enjoy cooking and I especially enjoy making cakes and cookies and other desserts. When I was working, I could inflict them on my co-workers and not have them sitting around the house. You know I believe in moderation in all things and that no food is “bad.” But having a delicious sweet potato coffee cake just sitting around the house… Isn’t it stupid that I can’t trust myself with that? One of my life goals is to learn to be able to eat just one of something and not feel compelled to keep going back. You know, because if I don’t eat it right now then I can never eat it again. If I don’t eat it right now it’ll still be there tomorrow, tempting me. If I don’t eat it right now maybe it’ll go stale and will have wasted all that deliciousness.

Okay, anyway, on to what I learned. This can be broken into two parts – both of which are more reminded than learned.

The first part is all about food and eating. Kind of odd for what I thought was going to be a program about loving yourself. But then, let’s be honest – look at the name. Live More, Weigh Less. Dieting is right there in the title. Sort of. The “Live More” part will be covered in my second set of goals and is supposed to help us to “Weigh Less” without dieting. Sort of. Most of the food and eating goals can be found in the Overcoming Overeating program and book. This is a book I highly recommend and I may use some of their exercises as challenges or goals for moving forward.

Other good books for those interested in breaking the diet cycle.

When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies
Breaking Free From Emotional Eating
Intuitive Eating
Life Without Ed

There are lots of other books, these are the ones that are sitting on my bookshelf a few feet away from my chair.

The problem with books and programs and diets in general is that most of us (or just me) are looking for the easy fix. This next program will work magically and I’ll meet all my goals in the next five minutes. I tend to buy the book and read the part that explains the program and feel like these people totally get me. But then the assignments are hard or uncomfortable and I give up. So my goals are about following through and not giving up. I feel torn between wanting a different life and not actually having to change anything.

So food and eating goals:

  • Decrease distractions while eating so that I can be more mindful about my food.
  • Pay attention to my body, listen to when it’s hungry and eat enough to be satisfied without feeling like I have to finish everything on my plate.
  • Slow down. Chew. Enjoy what I’m eating. Put the fork down. Stop when I’m done.
  • Don’t eat when I’m not hungry.

Those are bigger and harder goals than they look. And trying to make a whole lot of changes at once is a recipe for failure. Better to make small changes a little at a time than to get frustrated trying to go in too many directions at once.

So goals for this week:

  • Decrease distractions during meals by only having a video going. No doing several other things at the same time.
  • Write down what I eat and when, without judgment, calorie counting, weighing and measuring, etc. This is only for observation.
  • Pay attention when I’m eating. Slow down. Savor.

Well, this post has already gotten pretty long. I think I will save the second part for tomorrow.

why I love pooh (#lmwlchallenge)

When I up, down and touch the ground
It puts me in the mood
Up, down and touch the ground
In the mood for food

I am stout, round and I have found
Speaking poundage wise
I improve my appetite
When I exercise

I am short, fat and proud of that
And so, with all my might
I up, down and up and down
To my appetite’s delight

While I up, down and touch the ground
I think of things to chew, like honey
With a hefty happy appetite, I’m a hefty happy Pooh
With a hefty happy appetite, he’s a hefty happy Pooh

I love Winnie the Pooh. I guess I identify with him. There is certainly an Eeyore part of me and an Owl part. Hell, there’s even a Mrs. Kanga part that wants to mother people.

Pooh probably could have benefited from a more varied diet, but he loved himself for who he was. He was unashamed of loving his honey but that didn’t mean he didn’t love his friends – his life wasn’t one dimensional. When you think of Pooh, sure you think honey – but you also think of all his friends.

What I want: the magic pill. The one that makes me happy and healthy and pretty and thin and not in pain by tomorrow morning.

What I need: to lovingly accept myself where I am right now. To take care of myself with respect for all of me – physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. To know that this is a long process. To eat a variety of foods, including desserts, in moderation. To eat to nourish my body, not my emotions. To get back out there socially – and that may be the hardest one right there. None of this is going to happen overnight and I can’t fix everything at the same time. Small goals. Gradual change.

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.”
― A.A. Milne

Coming tomorrow: What I learned from this month and how I plan to move on from here.

is it really self acceptance?

A friend of mine posted this article about Kellogg’s co-opting the self-acceptance movement over on FaceBook today. It was both what I was expecting to read and significantly more.

Let’s take a look at some highlights:

It wasn’t long ago that Special K was selling us on the idea that we could “drop a jean size in two weeks” by replacing meals with cereal, shakes and their other food-ish products. In fact, the cereal has long been marketed as a weight loss/weight maintenance plan. This is a brand that once recommended pinching yourself on a regular basis to determine if you should watch your weight. […]

We start to get tired of beating ourselves up day-in-day-out. We’re broken down. We feel like crap about ourselves. And a growing number of us start to seek out alternatives that don’t make us feel so, well, crappy. The internet and social media provide larger platforms for grassroots body acceptance and body positive communities that offer these alternatives. Liberating messages about how to reject the body hate are found, liked, shared, pinned and retweeted all over the damn place. […]

What would happen if advertisers tried this newfangled “empowerment” thing, too? To sell the same old disempowering products. Hey, it might work! Now, where to find some feel-good messages that will really resonate with consumers? […]

In fact, companies peddling diets have a history of repackaging the work of body acceptance to sell what is, at its essence, body shame. “One of the clearest examples would be the phrase ‘diets don’t work.’ This is something fat activists were saying pretty much from the beginning,” blogger Brian Stuart told me. “An integral part of diet marketing has been to define diets as competitors’ products and your own product as something different. A ‘lifestyle change,’ a ‘whole new way of eating,’ or some such.” (emphasis added) How do they get away with these faux health messages and plagiarism? “Fat activists are so marginalized that the Fat Shame Industry knows that it can steal from them without impunity,” Stuart tweeted in response to the news that Special K has now incorporated the body positive measuring tape into its marketing.

“Actually these folks aren’t interested in you feeling better about yourself because if you did, you would probably stop buying their products,” says Sonya Renee Taylor, founder of The Body Is Not An Apology. “We must also remember that the fight against fatphobia and the fight for body acceptance is not just a self-esteem issue. This really is a civil rights and social justice issue. It’s about the way we allow some people to live out the pursuit of happiness and how we don’t allow others based on their bodies.”

Maura posted information about a LinkedIn article by Dr. David Katz which I also found on Huffington Post. “Weight Is Not a Choice” starts out with a statement that nearly all of us who have struggled with our weight can agree with:

But I immediately append something I know abundantly from my clinical experience: Two people can eat about the same, and exercise about the same, and one gets fat and the other stays thin.

And:

Weight is powerfully influenced, but not directly determined, by our behavioral choices. Some people, making all the right choices, will be heavier than others making the same — or even less good –choices. And people making good lifestyle choices, including routine exercise, are apt to be fit even if they remain somewhat fat, and will be far better off than those who are either fat or thin, but unfit.

But sadly, it ends with selling his new book. I took a brief look at some of his books on Amazon and they seem to fall into the “eat this way to lose weight” category which, by the argument above, is anti-self-acceptance.


Where am I going with this? Well, from the body acceptance movement we are getting the message of loving ourselves and our bodies as we are. We know from massive amounts of weight loss research that the greater majority of people who lose weight through dieting don’t keep it off. We then started getting diets repackaged as lifestyle changes and that was supposed to be different. Those lifestyle changes are sometimes healthy but then, other than the weird fad diets, most calorie based diets are reasonably healthy. But we don’t tend to stick with them. Personally, I had lap-band surgery which is a huge commitment to a lifestyle change both financially and behaviorally. I still didn’t stick to it and I gained the weight back.

There’s a temptation to give up. But even on my best day of trying to accept myself as I am, that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be better. I’m caught between self-acceptance (not self-hate) and chasing the next program that promises me that it’s different. Okay, I’m still struggling with real self acceptance, too. But in theory, I feel stuck between the message that I should love myself as I am and the very real “diet” mentality being sold by pretty much every program I’ve seen.

That includes Live More, Weigh Less. There have, on the one hand, been some really great messages about not waiting until we’re thin to do the things we enjoy, to wear clothes we like, to do whatever self-care like hair and nails and such that we want to do. There have been some mixed messages about eating healthy 80% of the time and splurging 20% of the time. And I’m not seeing how different that message is from the commercial diet programs. We’re not counting points but we’re not eating when we’re not hungry and we’re putting our forks down between bites — and let me be clear, those aren’t bad things. We’re also doing other things rather than eating emotionally. Not a bad thing. But is it really about accepting yourself or is it a diet program packaged in a different way?

And then there were the messages that really bothered me. There were the frequent references to “not waiting until you lose 20 pounds” or making changes before “you do permanent damage.” I can’t for the life of me find the link she posted to a testimonial from someone who had gotten “really fat” before she found the program. These are not messages of loving yourself. These are messages that suggest that there is still some ideal that you must measure up to and you better jump on board now in order to avoid getting or being fat.

I have been clear that I’m just not clicking with Sarah but that doesn’t mean I think her program is worthless. I think there are a lot of positive things you can take from this program. I plan to keep trying to put some of them in action and I plan to keep setting goals toward taking better care of myself – which honestly includes trying to not eat when I’m not hungry, etc. But I do think that overall, it’s a repackaged diet plan. It’s a plan that may work for some people.

winding down #lmwlchallenge

This month of Live More, Weigh Less is down to it’s final days. Yesterday, while I didn’t book a massage, I took a long, hot shower, exfoliated and moisturized. Did a face masque and filed and buffed my nails. Did a little pedicure and massaged my footies. I went back and forth between feeling pressured to do something and feeling good about it. Interesting that. My shrink will happily tell you that all you need to do is tell me to do something and I will dig my heels in.

Or maybe it was just the onset of this rotten cold. I had good intentions for today. I thought I might French braid my hair which fancies it up a bit but still keeps it out of my face. But I feel like hell and even doing that much feels like too much energy. I’ll put it on my list for goals next week.

I still plan to have a “date” with myself tomorrow night. Cooking a chicken, watching a movie – I think I’ll skip gaming Saturday night. I could use a break anyway. It’s been a long time since I took an evening just for me. I want to throw my cookie dough together tomorrow so it can rest for a day before I bake it. I’m tempted, since I’m not feeling great and I’m baking other stuff, to buy something decadent for Sunday. It’s just that I’m so in the mood for something autumnal – either sweet potato pound cake or a pumpkin based “everything cake.” We’ll see.

The challenge is almost over. I’m thinking about what I’ve learned and what I want to do next. More on that later.