My favorite scar

There is something beautiful about all scars of whatever nature. A scar means the hurt is over, the wound is closed and healed, done with." — Harry Crews

I think I just fell in love with a new quote today.  It felt so perfect for what I’m about to write—how I’ve closed a wound in my heart that I’d kept open too long.  And instead of another issue to work through, I’ve got a scar.  A new scar, a beautiful scar, a scar that tells me I accomplished something I thought was totally impossible.

I learned how to love myself.

It occurred to me the other day that I started this blog planning to talk about one thing and I’ve ended up wanting to talk about something else.  Like, a lot of the time.  Anyone else notice that?

I think it started when I moved to my own website.  I no longer had the words “FULL-FIGURED” yelling at me from the address bar or the top of the page and I guess, maybe, I felt a little liberated and felt like I’d been given permission to write about other things that interested me.

Not so bad, really.  In fact, it’s been quite fun.

But I realized something else, while I was realizing all these other things (Sunday, although truly a day where not a lot happened, was apparently chock-full of realizations) and that’s that I haven’t been writing about my struggle with body image because…I…don’t really struggle with body image that much anymore?

Wait.  What?

2013-10-15 12.09.25

2013-10-15 12.09.25

When the hell did that happen?

Truthfully, I don’t know.  I can’t pinpoint the precise moment I decided to love and accept myself exactly as I am.  Starting the blog was monumental, obviously.  I was able to publicly deal with a lot of dark and twisty stuff that I’d been bottling up for a long time.  What was even more amazing was everyone sharing their stories and struggles with me and all of us working through our crap together.  It was awesome.  It still is awesome.  Please don’t stop telling me about yourselves!

But anyway, I was pinpointing.  Or not pinpointing.  Or…whatever.  I guess at some point I just decided to stop believing all my own bullshit.  Actually, I think I decided that if I could teach myself to believe all this bullshit about not being thin/pretty/in-shape/toned/tanned/etc. “enough” (whatever that means) then I could teach myself just the opposite, even if it took another 25 years.

Besides, who doesn’t love a super-sexy and confident woman in her fifties?

kim cattrall

kim cattrall

I know I do.

2013-10-15 12.11.08

2013-10-15 12.11.08

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a bit of a struggle, but here are some awesome things that have happened since I changed my life a year ago:

-I am 100% healthier in body, mind, and spirit

-I can cook some pretty delicious and healthy dishes

-I prefer walking to driving anywhere

-I wore a bikini on the beach last April (and received an embarrassing amount of positive attention from the natives)

-I’m down a size in my jeans

-I can look at photos of myself and at my own reflection and go, “Damn girl.  You look good.”  (I did that today, actually.)

Like for instance, today my wonderful husband put up this photo of us:

1395148_578804838833540_1767869350_n

1395148_578804838833540_1767869350_n

Before, I know exactly what I would have thought, looking at it.  I would have focused on my arms and thought, “Ugh, they’re so fat and pale and unshapely.”  And I would have scrutinized my complexion and my double chin and probably found every reason in the world to hate it.

But sometime, over the last three years, something clicked in my brain and I can look at this photo and smile and laugh and tell Jer that it’s one of my favorites we’ve ever taken.  Why?  Because of my barely contained smile.  Because of the way my fingers and hands are bent at such a weird angle that I’m always going to be trying to remember what I was saying to him right before the photo was snapped.  And best of all, because of the way Jer is looking at me like I’m unlimited supply of pizza and hot wings.  Because we look young and happy and in love and it’s all kinds of perfect.

(Oh, and because my hair looked good and crazy that day, too.)

good hair

good hair

(See?  Good and crazy.)

It’s kind of amazing the difference a little love can make, especially when you aim that love at yourself.

So that’s what’s going on with me.  What’s going on with you guys?

Now!

Whoops. It's July...and my last post was in April. I've been neglecting this again. *Deep inhale* Okay! *Cracks knuckles* Let's do this...

Since the Fourth of July is nearly upon us, I feel now is as good a time as any to talk about my own independence and share something I did a few weeks ago.

Kayaked.

Oh yeah. Me...full figured, self-conscious, aquatically challenged EMILY got into a kayak and propelled herself upstream.

And. I. Didn't. DIE!

Okay, I didn't go very far, but the distance I went was upstream (at first, obviously I had to come DOWN stream to return to my loved ones) and absolutely exhilarating. This may sound silly to people who live around me and have grown up on the river and don't think twice about getting in a one-man boat and rowing down the Allegheny, but it was--in case you couldn't tell--a huge deal to me.

Here's why: A.) I was terrified. I am NOT a strong swimmer. After a near-drowning incident when I was four (thanks again for pulling me out, Dad!) I've stuck to the shallow end of the pool/lake/ocean, where my feet can touch. I could probably doggy-paddle to save my own life if things were really dire (and rescue was 20 feet away) but I wouldn't put money on it. B.) I was doubting myself. I am NOT an athletic human being. Never have been, probably never will be. Doesn't mean I don't try...I just know that nothing physical I do comes easily to me. Which, I choose to see as a good thing. To me, that means that if I really want to be good at something, it's because I KNOW I enjoy it and usually that means I work harder. Yay me! C.) I was self-conscious. I always thought I was too fat. Kayaking seemed like something impossibly tan, blonde, skinny people did to get between mountains they were going to repel down while laughing and not ever breaking a sweat. (No, really, that's the image in my head!) Actually, the idea of me being in a canoe or kayaking always conjured up this image from Shallow Hal:

It was one of those things that I filed away in my "When I'm thinner" folder and thought of longingly without ever really thinking I'd be able to do.

Stupid, right? But when I look back at my little soulful journey that began in October, I am beginning to realize that there were a lot more things in that folder than I'd like to admit. Thankfully, I'm pretty sure that everyone does that. "I'll be happier when I'm thinner." "I'll like photos of myself when I'm thinner." "I'll be more confident when I'm thinner" "I'll buy that dress when I'm thinner."

Sound familiar? Yes, it does. Don't lie.

Also thankfully, there is nothing that is preventing me (or you!) from taking a big Sharpie--in purple ink, obviously--to that folder and writing "RIGHT NOW" over top of its old label.

Be happy now! Like photos of yourself now! Be confident in your own sexiness now!! Buy that dress now! (And get it in YOUR size! Not the size you wish you were!) Doesn't that sound like a fuller, more satisfying way to live?

Yeah, yeah, I know. Not that easy. But it's definitely something to think about, right?

And sometimes, embarking on the "Right Now!" train of thought is not something you can start yourself. Sometimes, you have to say something out loud and see if the universe sends you some help.

In my case, the universe sent me Trina, who is loud and lovely and fearless and a little bit crazy and who rarely looks back.

We were at our bi-weekly barbecue at our river dwelling, kayak-stocked, magic man friend John's two weeks ago, thinking about packing up to leave. There were kids playing with boats in the river, paddling out to the middle of the river and back and, casually, almost to myself, I said, "I want to do that someday."

"What?" asked Trina, cocking her head in my direction.

I pointed to the kayaks. "That. I want to learn to kayak someday."

"Someday?" She looked around. "What's stopping you? C'mon, we're getting you in a kayak!" And before I could even protest any of my Darn Good Reasons (see above) for not being able to do it, she had pulled out a boat for me, instructed me on how to get in it, handed me an oar, and told Josh (resident expert) to teach me to use it.

Yes, we hit some snags at first. And no, I certainly won't be winning any races anytime soon. But I did it. I took something out of my "When I'm thinner" folder and I did it right then and there. I can't remember the last time I felt so genuinely, truly thrilled and proud and surprised at myself.

So, dear readers (if there are any of you left in between all of my absences!!) here is my challenge to you: Do something this summer to surprise yourself. Be bold, be adventurous, and above all else, STOP WAITING TO START LIVING!

It was just a small step into that little boat, but a big step for me.

Forever Curvy, Emily

Does pride come in this size?

So yes, this post is basically going to be a list of all the things that have been filling me with bubbly, shiny pride lately. It might be a little sappy and some of you probably won't really care about what makes me shiny and proud...but that's what happens when I don't blog for over a month. Right. Here we go...

1.) Tonight, I walked 3 miles in just under 35 minutes. That's a new best for me, and twice as surprising since I did it with glutes that were quite sore from my vigorous "Buns of Envy" workout yesterday.

2.) Yeah, I said "Buns of Envy" in a list of things I'm proud of. I'm not actually proud that I own a collection of workout DVDs entitled "Girls of Envy Workouts", but let's not dwell. Let me give you a little warning of the Girls of Envy. First of all, these girls, while looking amazing doing these workouts, are NOT fitness instructors. I repeat: THE GIRLS OF ENVY ARE NOT FITNESS INSTRUCTORS. This may seem like common knowledge, given the name and the fact that all of the "instructors" have appeared in Playboy at least once, but I'm all about fairness. I don't like to presume that just because someone is gorgeous and in amazing shape and has posed nude for big buckets of cash that they aren't capable of leading informative workouts.

But in this case, my presumption was correct. These girls are idiots. And hard to listen to...this is mainly because they speak exactly as you'd think they would. "Make sure you're squeezing your stomach really hard for this one." "Lean back and stretch your back. It's a yoga thing. It's called Child's Pose." "This one is really gonna kick your butt." It's difficult to take them seriously. It really is.

That being said, these are truly fantastic workouts. They are challenging and targeted and (according to the compliments I've been getting and the way my clothes are fitting) actually seem to work. But here is the secret: Trainer Commentary. I discovered it while looking for a "Music Only" workout option. The workouts are the same, just voiced over by the man who designed them. It's amazing what a difference this makes! This simple discovery completely renewed my faith in the GOE! I would recommend these workouts to anyone who can find them--I discovered mine in the bargain bin at a book store at the outlets. Truth.

Anyway, the thing that I'm proud about: despite their hilarious outfits and totally ridiculous way they lay down on the mats for crunches, I have spent at least four days a week working out with the Girls of Envy for the last six weeks! I am so proud of myself! And the best part is that I haven't even really been aware that I've been doing it! It's just become a part of my routine!

3.) That I even have time this week to sit down and write a blog about things I'm proud of. This weekend I have not one, but TWO Relay For Life events to staff and should, in fact, be going crazy right now. Miraculously, not only am I not going crazy, but these are two events that are on track to reach their goals. Yay! Events making goal AND getting a night off at the end of college Relay season? Oh yeah, Emry's learning time management. That's right.

4.) I've started writing chapter four of my "new" historical fiction. I say "new" like that because it's not new. It's almost a year old but I only write a teeny tiny bit at a time because I get busy and distracted and full of self-loathing. The first little bit of it lives here. It's called "Mack&Moira" and even though they are babies in the world of fiction, I am really developing an attachment to the characters.

5.) ^^That. What I just did there? I'm proud of that. It's been suggested by some fiances of mine that shall remain nameless that I don't share my creative writing enough. So now I have...I hope you'll read it and tell me what you think. I hope you'll like it too and be intrigued and tell me about what you hope will happen. But even if you don't like it and you see some places where I can improve, I hope you'll tell me about that too. (I'm looking at you, experienced writer friends!)

6.) That I blogged tonight. I forget how much I enjoy it. I hope you guys enjoy it too and you'll leave comments to tell me what you're proud of in your lives this week. Patting myself on the back and allowing myself a little peacock strut here and there is not always the easiest thing...probably because my years of Sunday school come rushing back and I'm filled with Catholic guilt thinking about humility and the dangers of vanity and blah blah blah.

But I'm learning that congratulating yourself on a job well done, rewarding yourself for a positive behavioral change, or even just saying "Hey, pretty girl!" when you look in the mirror isn't vanity. It's survival. It's a harsh, cruel world out there and sometimes, being your own biggest fan is the only thing that keeps you sane and pleasant.

Here in the Full Figured world, I love hearing how awesome you are and want to celebrate with you!

Until the next curve,

Emily

Hugging my Inner Fat Girl

Running Revolution is about to start. This is the 12 week, women-only running program in Warren that is designed to turn non-runners into runners and help women who are already runners improve their times, speeds, and all-around running style. I signed up for this not having the slightest idea of what I’m getting myself into. Last Monday, I attended the Pre-Rev class and got my first lesson in running. I learned that I have the wrong kind of shoes, my arms are too stiff when I’m running, and that my stride does something called “overpronation” which means that when I am buying new shoes, I have to find some shoes that remedy this. Who knew? The class also included some horrendously difficult ab work, stretches and rolling around with a large cylinder of foam, and some goal setting with our fearless leader. This week, after turning in a 12 week fitness plan that I constructed, I believe we are going to do Pilates. Yay!

Something else I learned? I have a lot of repressed gym class memories. No, really, this isn’t me making a joke. We were sitting in the wrestling room of the middle school (not even the middle school that I attended, mind you, or I probably would have had an outbreak of hives) and all I could think about was former gym teachers and classmates and that overwhelming feeling of “Can’t do this...too fat...too out of shape...too short...not good enough...not fast enough...not strong enough” like I remember having the whole time I was in school. Not the kind of positive self talk that is needed when beginning a fitness regime such as this.

This made me realize two things:

1.) Smell is definitely the strongest sense connected with memory (as it was the smell of a school gym that triggered these thoughts and feelings) 2.) That despite my best efforts over the last ten years, that chubby, insecure teenager is still a part of me, still living inside my head.

I had almost forgotten about her over the past week, having my head full of stressful work stuff and wedding plans, while still trying to find the time to put my fledgling fitness plan into action. But this morning, after hearing about some serious negativity directed at me, she shuffled away from the corner I normally keep her in and stood in my place once again.

This is what she does. She comes out when I need her the least, when I should be able to toss my hair and say, “Who cares what those assholes think?” and really mean it. She comes out of hiding and she takes my place so that instead, I think, “It makes sense that they’d say or think those things. We probably deserve it.” It’s that part of me that is always waiting for the good things in my life to go bad, for my boss to decide someone else would be better for my job, for my friends to come clean and tell me they’ve just been stringing me along because they felt sorry for me, for my fiancé to tell me this was all just a joke that went too far. She’s the reason I always feel just the faintest hint of surprise when someone tells me they like me, they love me, they want me around.

In a perfect world, she doesn’t exist at all. In a perfect world, I overcame my teenage-insecurity on all fronts and am a totally well adjusted young woman with a lot of really positive things happening in her life.

Yeah well. I don’t live in a perfect world. Not outside my head and certainly not inside. I wish there was a way to get rid of her for good...to send her and her Backstreet Boys t-shirt packing somewhere where she can’t mess up my good vibes anymore. But I’ve tried that. I’ve tried not listening to her, I’ve tried banishing her, I’ve even tried directing her at other people and nothing’s changed. What I really wish I could do, though, really and truly, is hug her. I wish I could go back in time and visit her when she had that first thought of “Not good enough...not fast enough...not strong enough” and I wish that I could put my arms around her and hug that thought right out of her. I would tell her, “Don’t think like that. You are a beautiful, wonderful, loveable person. Those people who are making you feel anything less than that are so insignificant it’s unbelievable.” I’d show her how great her life is going to be after awhile and all the good things that are coming to her.

But since I can’t really do that—can’t go back in time and visit a younger version of myself—I guess I’ll have to settle for telling her all those things when I feel her lingering inside my head.

In the midst of all of this self-love, self-discovery, self-rejuvenation...whatever it is, I have come to realize that becoming comfortable in my own skin has more to do than just accepting my plus-sized curves. It’s not going to be enough to say “I like the way I look” if I can’t think “I like the way I am” at the same time. I want to accept and feel that I deserve the love people give me and all the good things in my life. I want to be happy just the way I am and know that if I make any changes, they will be changes for the better and only make them because it’s what I want, for me. Not because I want fit into someone else’s measurement or ideas.

So I’m going back to the Pre-Rev tonight, and I’m going to learn how to run before summertime. Because it’s what I want and because I want to show that chubby, insecure little girl just how fabulous we can be when we put our mind to it.

That New Year's Resolution Post

We all saw this coming. New year, new resolutions; time to sit back and reflect on 2010 and make plans and projections for 2011. In the full-figured spirit of resolutions, I figured I'd take a few moments and jot down a few of my own. First, a look back on 2010. Twelve months ago, I had just barely started my job in the nonprofit world, the boyf and I had just moved into together and my financial situation was, well, to say it was "in shambles" wouldn't exactly be putting it lightly.

My 2010 New Years Resolutions were: -To pay off my credit card debt/to no longer receive collection calls and -To fill our apartment with real furniture (not Grandma hand-me-downs from 1975) and turn it into an actual home

I didn't realize it, but by August, I had not only kept my New Years resolutions but completed them in a checklist-like fashion. WAY TO GO ME! In 15 years of making resolutions, that had never happened to me. (I say 15 years because, although I am 23, I don't really recall the need for such things before the age of 8.) Which got me thinking...why did I do that? How did I do that? I did them without focusing on them much past their initial declaration and I found a way to work their completion into my life without realizing it. Of course I'd hang things on the walls eventually and replace the couch from Grandma with a real one and of course, paying off the credit cards was just a natural step on the way to financial solvency. I even managed to buy a new car. Didn't exactly erase my debt, but it's nice to be paying on a brand new car as opposed to paying for groceries I bought six months ago via Wal-Mart card. Ya know?

So my point is that if I can figure out a way to do this again, to make this year's resolutions as ingrained and second-nature as last years, maybe I'll surprise myself with another successful year. Just maybe. It's worth a shot, right? So, without further ado... Curvy Girl's 2011 New Year's Resolutions:

1.) To feel healthier and more in shape 2.) To learn to bake a perfect cheesecake 3.) To save enough money for an October wedding (mine!) 4.) To get married (I threw this in there for a gimme) and 5.) To take a few more steps closer toward my goal of loving my body

What are your 2011 goals and resolutions? Let me know below. All the best in the new year!

PS: Before I go, I do want to share with you this totally sexy plus-sized photo that I found today while searching for something else all together (as is usually the case.)

Had to share with you, curvy fans, because not only is this photo completely gorgeous and comes with a great message, it's inspired me to add something to my Bucket List that I really never would have considered before. But sorry, friends, mums the word on that one.

 Cheers.

Full-Figured Christmas List

Dear Santa Claus, How are you? Hoping you're well and not letting the stress of this busy season get to you. I've been a very good girl this year and have a few requests while you're checking off your list on Christmas Eve.

1.) A red Wii. I don't really know why I want this, I am just filled with childlike glee at the thought of owning one. If you can't do it, Santa, I understand. You may feel--just as the grown up in me does--that I don't really need one of these. You might be right. I'm just putting it out there.

2.) A house to rent in Warren. Note that I am not asking for a house, free and clear, just the availability of a house for rent. Three bedrooms, some space for storage, and in our price range. (Hint: if anyone reading this blog knows of someone renting houses in the Warren area, you can feel free to play Santa at any time!)

3.) Hollywood to either accept plus size women or not. I've given up caring which way they go at this point, I just want them to make a decision.

Confused, Santa? Allow me to expound. I am so sick of clothing stores, magazines, commercials, billboards, etc. telling us how they are creating things for "Every Body" and "Celebrating Your Curves!" Blah blah blah. That's nice, fashion/advertising world, it really is. But what I'm hearing and reading is a lot of talk. Not seeing so much with the action.

What do I mean? I mean find me more than a handful of movies or television shows where the main character is a plus-sized woman. Okay, easy-ish enough to do. NOW find me a movie or television show where the main story line for said plus sized character is something other than her weight or her appearance. I'm tired of watching a storyline unfold where a good looking man "proves his depth" by noticeably looking past her appearance and finding some other part of her attractive. No good. What is that telling plus sized women? That if, by the grace of God, someone somewhere ACTUALLY pays them any attention, they should be grateful because he obviously went through some serious soul-searching to look past her curves?

WRONG MESSAGE!

Truly, Santa, all I want for Christmas this year is a decent show, starring a normal looking woman who gets to have all the things that a bone thin woman would get to have on any other show. I want to watch her have a career and date and fall in love and interact with her friends and be funny and NOT focused on her dress size, or her struggle to lose 50lbs, or even how she overcomes current trends and learns to love herself anyway. No. Stop calling attention to it. Stop acting like being curvy is a disability or some built-in heartwarming human interest hook. It's not. It's not new or a novelty, either. It's just not what you, Hollywood, have been celebrating for the last...ever. There are a lot of gorgeous, plus-sized women out there who are tired of waiting to be represented by you and your kind.

Get on it! For all our sakes. It's Christmas.

Wishing you a very curvy Christmas, Em

PS: So far since joining Sparkpeople I've lost 4.5lbs. Not the most stellar of weight loss numbers, but it's about a pound a week. Pretty darn okay in my book. :-)

"Magic lives in curves, not angles."  -Mason Cooley

Two-Faced

No, I'm not climbing up on a soapbox to wail about how everyone lies and pretends to be someone they're not...blah blah blah. That's not what this week's blog is about. I'm sorry if that's something you're going through and thought I was going to offer some witty commentary on it. Maybe some other time. This, my friends, is about the difference between my faces. I have at least three. I know the blog is titled "two-faced" but that's because that's how many faces I see. There is the one that looks back at me in the mirror, and the one that appears on top of my body in pictures. There's that other one too, the one that everyone else sees, but unless I have an out-of-body experience, I try not to think about that one.

First, the face in mirror. I like her--I think she's quite pretty. No, really, I do. I like the weird multi-colored irises she has going on and her symmetrical freckles and the bright pink of her lips. All good things. I don't notice her chubby cheeks or double chin. I don't look at the rest of her and say, "She'd be cuter if she wasn't so pudgy." One step forward, right?

Then, the face in the photos. Her, I like not so much. Only occasionally when she has the perfect lighting and angle and professional photographer behind the camera. Even then, it's not guaranteed that she'll win my favor. Unlike the girl in the mirror, the girl in the photo has hardly any positive features worth mentioning. No pretty eyes or cute freckles or bright pink lips. In fact, the girl in the photos is comprised almost entirely of flaws. She's waaaaay to big for that guy who is standing next to her, her double chin is gross, her arms are too big and her mid-section too flabby. Eugh. Who wants to even take a picture of that, anyway?

Two steps back. Actually, rereading my uncensored honesty, I'd say that looks like three steps back. At least.

I try. I try really, really hard to find something positive about photos of myself. But usually, when I have to make a comment out loud, whatever I end up saying is a lie. It's not that the camera work is bad (dating a photographer so that's never been the case) it's the subject I find fault with.

Here's something I'm not proud of. Last summer, I found, in the dregs of my computer's memory, a photo of my mother and I from the last Christmas we spent together. My first thought? I wish my face didn't look so fat. This is probably one of the last pictures my mother and I would ever take together, and that's my first instinct? Really? Yes, really. I said I wasn't proud of it.

I guess I'm just feeling a little raw and a little vulnerable tonight. Normally, this is a time when I'd curl up on the couch, put up a melodramatic lyrical quote as a facebook status, and wallow. But tonight, I decided to share my little raw heart with you guys.

Thanks for listening.

Thanksgiving Aftermath

Here we are, Cyber Monday. Four days after Thanksgiving when all the guilt from a weekend of gluttony starts setting in. First, we gorged ourselves on Thursday on delicious food (twice on Thursday, if you're as lucky as I am to have two places to spend the holidays) and then (again, if you're like me) we all spent waaaaaay too much money over the long weekend on deals that were just omgtoogoodtobetrue.

Yes, a Monday morning with a pair of tight jeans and a dwindling bank account should be enough to make anyone feel less than buoyant. Unless, apparently, you're me.

What? What was that? Did I really just write that? "Unless you're me" ? Really?

Uh...yeah, yeah I guess I wrote that. I guess I wrote that because, well, I guess I kind of mean that.

Yes, I ate more than my fair share (okay, more than mine AND my alter ego Maria Lopez' fair share) of sweet potatoes and stuffing. Emphasis on the sweet potatoes. And I can't be ignorant to the calories I consumed the rest of the weekend or the money that I spent, but for whatever reason I'm not experiencing the usual self-loathing that accompanies this time of year.

I don't want to read into it. It's like over-analyzing a string of good luck: almost guarantees that it will make it run out. So, whatever the reason, (my heart or my shoes...tee hee, sorry. Couldn't resist a Grinch reference!) without thinking about all that I consumed, I woke up this morning and went back to my fledgling routine.

This morning began with Jillian Michaels screaming at my to surrender my soul to the workout and leave behind everything I regret. Have I mentioned that she scares me? I prefer Yoga Meltdown because at least there she's trying to be zen and calming...she still slips into her old, crazy mode every now and then, but it's nothing like the 30 Day Shred. *shudder* I still have nightmares about the Shred.

SparkPeople update: last week I was down a pound. One down, forty-nine more to go, right? Okay, that sounds more than daunting. Way more than daunting, actually. Putting it that way makes it seem damn near impossible. I think I'll take this as I've done in the past...ten pounds at a time.

So, in that case, one down, nine to go. Wish me luck!

Oh, and before I go, allow me to further celebrate the holiday that just passed by offering some heartfelt gratitude. Those of you who left comments on my last blog and facebook or sent messages or e-mails...you have no idea what that meant to me. Really, almost every one of the comments that you've left have caused me to tear up at least a little.

You're fantastically beautiful people. Really, really beautiful. Thank you.

One last thing: something else I'm thankful for...

YAMS!!

This is not a diet.

THIS IS NOT A DIET. I REPEAT: THIS IS NOT A DIET. You know why? Because diets don't work. They don't. What's that, you say? Your cousin lost 36lbs in a month by eating nothing but steak and peanut oil? That's nice. Ask her what happens when she gives in and eats a crouton and gains 45lbs overnight.

That being said, I've joined sparkpeople.com. If you're not familiar with the site, I recommend you go over and check it out--it's full of nifty tools and like-minded people and (best of all!) it's free. Yep, you heard me. 100% free to the public.

No, it's not a diet (weren't you listening?!) It's a way for me to easily keep track of what I eat and how much activity I get without hauling around a notebook and losing track of keeping journal entries. The nutrition tracker is super easy to use; after you enter in all of your specifics (height, weight, goals, etc.) it gives you a target number of calories, fat, protein, and carbs to stay within for the day. You log the foods you eat and it tells you how "on target" you are for the day. Pretty sweet, huh?

So, if I'm blogging about learning to love myself as I am, why did I join this site and set weight loss goals for myself? I will tell you why. Because, despite this lovely blog and its lovely followers, I am not happy with myself. Mostly because I don't really feel as healthy as I once did (probably an indication that I am, in fact, not as healthy as I once was) and want to get back to a point where, if I don't feel like I look good, at least I can say that I feel okay.

So Leslie Sansone and I walk/jogged this morning for a half an hour, I signed up for SparkPeople, and I watched what I ate all day. Not rocket science. Gotta tell you, though, when it comes to wake-up work-out personalities, I'm not Leslie's biggest fan. Yeah, Jillian Michaels gets annoying because she's so intense (and also because her workouts cause my life to flash before my eyes) and yells at the screen with things like "This is you last circuit! DON'T PHONE IT IN! NO REGRETS! LEAVE EVERYTHING IN THIS WORKOUT! LEAVE IT ALL!!!!!" And well...that's a little scary.

But Leslie Sansone is just so damn cheerful! She's giggling her way through her movements and telling me, "Doesn't it feel soooo good to get up and walk this morning?! I'm so glad you joined me and said 'I'm walkin' today!' I just love to hear you say that!"

Leslie, if I were in charge of such things, I would still be in bed, weighing 140lbs and never feeling the urge to pop in your DVD. Sorry, bub, that's just the way it works in my head. I also didn't say "I'm walkin' today" for your benefit. That decision was made on how much time was available for a workout this morning and how much I didn't want to hear Jillian yelling at me. Chill your life and tone down the enthusiasm.

But anyway, my goals aren't astronomical. I want to be a size 14 again--that's all. We've had a long-standing love/hate relationship, me and size 14. When I was a size 14, all I could think about was how close I was to a 12 and how I would be happiest if I could just dip down to a 12 or (gasp) maybe even someday a 10! Size 14 was just an inconvenient, seemingly ENORMOUS roadblock between me and true fashion bliss. *sigh* Oh the innocence of youth. But like with most things, absence makes the heart grow fonder. The longer we've spent apart the more I've come to realize that it's the size at which I'm the most comfortable, and the size I was when I came the closest to really enjoying the way I looked.

Rereading what I just wrote, it looks like I'm missing the point of my own blog, doesn't it? I don't think that's the case (though please feel free, gentle readers, to call me out on this one.) There is a vague hope that if I can get back to size 14 and still impress myself by reaching a personal goal or two, it may do wonders for my self-loathing body image issues.

Call it a baby step toward loving all of me all the time.

Photos

We took photos today, the boyf and I. He set up the lights and the backdrop and we had our own little Olan Mills photoshoot in the living room. We even wore matching blues...too cute for words, I know. I tried to be good. I really did. I tried really hard to look at all of the photos he'd taken and not hate something about myself. But if I'm honest with myself (which is the point of all of this) it didn't happen most of the time. In most of the photos he showed me, I thought "God, my hips are enormous," or "I wish my face wasn't so chubby," and I got angry with myself. That's why I'm posting.

Why can I look at a picture of Ashley Graham and say "She is so sexy!" and look at the reflection of a girl with her same measurements and think "She's disgusting." I know that the ads with Ashley and the other LB girls are Photoshopped and airbrushed all over the place, but that's not the point. The point isn't what I see in them, it's what I don't see in myself.

So badly I want to look at myself and say "Hi, pretty girl--lookin' good today!" But even when I try it, the words sound hollow and fake and vain. Feeling vain is probably the worst because it's not even real vanity!

But I did try something new today while I was looking at those photos. I tried to look at things other than the parts of myself I wished I could change. I looked at my eyes and my hair and once I even thought, "Look at how happy we look," before I started crticizing my appearance.

It didn't really feel like progress, but it didn't feel quite like self-loathing either. So that's...good, right?

But, so as not to leave you so pensive on a Sunday night, I will leave you with this gem I stumbled upon while Googling "cute couple poses" (again, I ask that you do not judge me for what I end up finding online.)

Anyone have a suitable caption? I'm coming up blank. BUT, since I wish to leave you neither pensive, nor emotionally scarred (as this woman's child will undoubtably be when they find this photo later in life) here is one of the photos the boyf and I took today. Actually, this is my favorite.

Cheers, everyone! Happy Sunday!

Complaints and Grievances

Okay, so there isn't all that much to post about at the present time. This week has been crazy and I haven't had all that much time to think about myself and my body image issues. But, I don't want to leave my loyal six followers hanging...so here are a few things that have been tweaking me lately. First: Allow me to first say that I am bitter. Bitter about boots. And not just any boots, either. No, no. These are cute knee-high, leather, high-heeled boots with really cute buckles around the ankles and just a general sexiness that I was lacking in my winter shoe collection.

I know what you’re thinking: Why so blue, curvy gal? There’s nothing to be embittered about; these boots sound delightful!

And they are. They ARE delightful. The only problem is that they don’t fit. And not because—like so many boots before them—they’re too small. No. These boots are too big! They fit perfectly in the actual foot part of the boot, but the problem arose when I went to zip them up the side and complete the look. My calves were swimming in them! I had a solid inch and a half on all sides! And it’s not like this is anything to celebrate, either. I mean, it’s not like I’m excited to find that all of my ankle presses and calf-specific work-outs have finally paid off. No, they’re the exact same size they’ve always been. In fact, I’m pretty sure from the knees down, I’ve looked the same since I was about twelve. I ordered these specifically from Lane Bryant (whom I love forever, don’t get me wrong) because my current zip-ups are known for the way they cut off the circulation in my legs. No good. So I order these “wide-calf” boots to avoid this problem, wait with baited breath in anticipation for them to be delivered, only to be faced with a terribly unpleasant truth. I am too big for “regular” boots and too small for plus sized boots. What sort of treachery is THAT!?

Second: I had my cat declawed two weeks ago and due to his complete inactivity and immense weight (17lbs: heavy weight champ of the world), his paws still haven't healed. This means, he's still wearing his plastic cone. Pathetic, really, bumping into walls and refusing to do much of anything other than sleep and shove his cone in my face in the middle of the night, demanding attention. Really, no one is more excited than I for the day when the vet says we can take this damn thing off for good. But the grievance came this morning when I made pancakes. (Pancakes, by the way = delicious, not grievance.) I finished their chocolate-chip yumminess and set the plate on the table where three seconds later, Radcliffe jumped up and stuck his whole head, cone and all, in the syruppy remnants.

A.) Ew. Sticky cat. B.) I had to take the cone off of his sticky head to clean up the syrup. C.) As soon as I did that and he'd taken a moment to adjust, he immediately began licking and biting at his paws. The ones he's not supposed to touch.

Third: This.

I stumbled upon this earlier this week and just looking at it now fills me with a rage only reserved for the poorest of fashion choices. This, my friends, is just wrong. How does it make you feel?

Tell me, I really want to know.

Something to Think About

So one of my best friends is getting married in May and--being the out-of-towner-bridesmaid--I was facebooked the link to the dress I'm going to have to wear yesterday. Fine, bright blue bridesmaid dress, whatever, la la la la. But, y'know how those damn wedding websites are. (If you don't know, the word you're looking for is seductive.) It's only so easy to waste a few solid hours of what would be a productive day off by clicking through page after page of dresses and shoes and color samples, saying to yourself, "Now, what would I choose?"

It's sick, really, the way they draw you in. Sick.

Anyway, I digress. The point is, no matter how or why I got there, I found myself on a page dedicated to the plus sized wedding dress selection. (No, I'm not engaged. Don't judge me.) I found a few that caught my fancy and, like any good online shopper, I checked out the reviews of each. All three of the dresses I was comparing had around 20 reviews--all of them positive. (Because really, who is going to give a negative review of a wedding dress. If you don't like it, you don't buy it.) One thing I noticed though, was that in about 80% of these reviews, the bride-to-be mentions not looking forward to wedding dress shopping.

Huh?

I read them all just to be sure I wasn't exaggerating...I wasn't. Most of the women who reviewed these dresses said that they had been apprehensive about even going into the store to try a dress on because of how difficult shopping is for them. They didn't want to be "the fat girl" surrounded by a room of size 2 dresses and being told that everything in their size would have to be special-ordered and probably end up costing more.

EIGHTY PERCENT!

Now, granted, David's Bridal is apparently a pretty slammin' place when it comes to carrying plus sized dresses in stock so these bridies were able to go home happy, which is wonderful. HOWEVER, the point I'm trying to make is before they went to DB, each woman who reviewed was apprehensive, disinterested, or--the worst--dreading going shopping. For her wedding dress. Her WEDDING DRESS! The one piece of clothing you're supposed to be excited to shop for, to have that moment where you step out of the dressing room and your mom and best friend get teary at how gorgeous you are.

This got me thinking about clothing and plus sizes and all of the drama that shopping entails. It's something I've been wondering about for years now and have never truly been given a straight answer. Why aren't plus sized clothes sold everywhere? Why are stores like Lane Bryant and Torrid necessary when we live in a country where the average woman is a size 14? Is this some kind of punishment? Are the fashion gods (ie: designers) so digusted with us and our expanding girth (which is a national health problem, I know. I'm not condoning it) that they're refusing to make clothes that fit us? Do they think that if the average store stops at size 12 then, in return, we will shrink down to fit?

It seems a rather not well thought-out plan of attack to me. And clearly not one that's seen any level of success as the rate of obesity in the US has continued to climb steadily for the past thirty years. Actually, we all started getting fatter right when the "supermodels" started getting stick thin.

Look at this photo of Cindy Crawford from early in her career: She's got boobs! And a bum! And she's all sexy! Not chubby or "full-figured" by any stretch of the imagination, but there are some definite curves happening there. Now, let's compare to a photo from more recent runway waifs:

Notice anything different? Actually, if she turned sideways, I wouldn't notice anything at all. I think she'd disappear.

So you see my point...or you don't. Whatever. The point I'm trying to make is that if we're all getting bigger, why are our those held up for display getting smaller? Shouldn't they be at least slightly proportional to each other? Do we hate ourselves that much to idolize and plaster our magazines and billboards and advertisements and television and films with people who represent 5% of the population? Women who look nothing like us? That just doesn't seem fair.

I don't know. It's just something that I've been thinking about for a long time. Maybe it's something you'll think about now. Maybe it's not. Either way, thanks for listening.

steps off soapbox, carries it off stage left

Why I'm Here

"Full figured" is a nice way of saying "fat". Everyone knows this...it's why they made up the phrase because "fat" is an ugly word that conjures all the wrong images. Example from thesaurus.com:

Main Entry: fat Part of Speech: adjective Definition: overweight Synonyms: beefy, big, blimp, bovine, brawny, broad, bulging, bulky, bull, burly, butterball, chunky, corpulent, distended, dumpy, elephantine, fleshy, gargantuan, gross, heavy, heavyset, hefty, husky, inflated, jelly-belly, lard, large, meaty, obese, oversize, paunchy, plump, plumpish, ponderous, porcine, portly, potbellied, pudgy, roly-poly, rotund, solid, stout, swollen, thickset, weighty, whalelike

Whoa. Look at those words! Blimp? Dumpy? Whalelike? Whalelike?! Now see the difference when I type in full-figured:

Main Entry: buxom Part of Speech: adjective Definition: bosomy Synonyms: ample, built, busty, chubby, comely, curvaceous, curvy, full-bosomed, full-figured, healthy, hearty, lusty, plump, robust, shapely, stacked, voluptuous, well-made, well-proportioned, well-rounded, zaftig

Well...that's better. Sort of. See, the problem arises when we hear and read these words and they sound really nice. Cuvaceous, healthy, volumptuous...nice words that leave us with images of Marilyn Monroe and Jessica Rabbit instead of thoughts of crying in dressing rooms and de-tagging photos of ourselves on facebook. If someone made up that nice phrase and made it mean all of those sexy things...why do we still not feel like it applies to us when, clearly, we're the people it was made for?

Okay, I don't know why I'm saying "we" and "us." I'm talking about me. Just me. That's the point of blogging right? To talk about yourself and your thoughts and what you're doing? Actually, I'm writing this in hopes that it won't end up just being about me. I'm hoping that you'll read this and you'll comment and follow this blog because some of this sounds like you too. And then we will be a we. And I can talk about what "we're" doing and how "we're" feeling...and maybe that will help. Maybe that's why I'm doing this. I don't know.

Here's what I do know: 1.) I've never been thin, slender, or skinny. I've never even been the right weight for my height. Not even at the top of the bracket. 2.) I don't know what it's like to look at a picture of myself and not immediately find something to hate. 3.) I can't understand why anyone would find me attractive. 4.) All of these things scare me more than anything else in my life.

After talking with one of my best friends last night and finally saying these things out loud, she suggested I start a blog...because this, she said, was definitely something she'd read about. I hope she's right and there are other people out there who need something like this to read so they won't feel like they're the only ones who feel like that. And I'm hoping that if I write about this enough, at some point I'll get to the bottom of all of this negativity and find out what it's like to love the girl on the outside as much as I love the girl on the inside.

I just realized I'm going to end up crying through a whole bunch of this. So there's that.

My other hope and wish is that, if you do read this, you won't see it as a ploy for attention or as me fishing for compliments. I hope that you'll see this as the crie de coeur that it is.

And that, I suppose, is how we're going to begin this journey...