Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Lilly Pulitzer and Fearing Fat as Motivation

Once again, the idea of "fat shaming" has made the news. What happened this time?

New York Magazine published a "behind the scenes photo tour" of Lilly Pultizer's headquarters. For those who don't know, Lilly Pullitzer is a pretty famous clothing brand known for it's bright colors.Their stuff is cute, and recently became available at Target.  Anyways, this photo was part of the "photo tour"

If you can't read the text of the pictures, they read " The captions read, "Just another day of fat, white and hideous... You should probably just kill yourself," and "Put it down, carb face."

At first, this seems really bad for Lilly Pultizer as a brand. Like, really bad. A women's clothing company terrorizing larger women? Not cool, not cool at all.

But upon further investigation, apparently these pictures are posted in an employee's cubicle. Her personal space.

Meaning- these pictures must serve as some sort of motivation for her or something- she's clearly pretty terrified to gain weight and seems to think that being fat is worthy of killing oneself. Which is a damn shame.

It's a shame because no one, no matter where you work or what kind of clothes you wear, should feel this way- yet, we all do it. Maybe not to this extent, but we do. We strive for these perfect bodies, and we're terrified of looking "fat". But the even more complex part of that is that we all have different ideas of what "fat" is. So we beat ourselves up over every little pound that we gain, or every stretch mark on our body, because we align those things with failure.

It's not just this employee that does this and while it's a bit confusing to me that she would have this up in her workplace, I can't call her a horrible person or pint a finger at her. Because as much as I preach body positivity, I too, get down on myself.  I have also used looks as motivation. I don't like that I do, but I'm human.

So maybe instead of attacking this employee, we need to have deeper conversations about the root of this issue as a whole. WHY IS BEING FAT THE WORST THING IN THE WORLD? Why? I would love to explore that question with the world. I want to know answers.

Some may answer "it's gross" and to that I again say- why? Who determines what's "gross" and what's beautiful? Is there some sort of regulation that tells us people over a certain weight or bmi are now considered gross? I don't think so. Other's may argue that it's unhealthy, which is just a cop out answer. Fat does not equal unhealthy. Skinny does not equal anorexia. We keep trying to put people in boxes and it just doesn't work that way. I don't know about you, but I rather like the fact that there are so many different kinds of people walking this earth. Comparing and contrasting needs to stop- appreciating each other for all that we are is where we need to head.

To the employee who posted these drawings and these words, I hope that after today you've had some deep reflection and that you learn to love yourself. Quit looking for perfection in your body type and just be happy with the way you are. Also, please know that as a former fat girl, being fat is really not that scary, nor is it the worst thing in the world to be.

To the rest of the world, let's stop shaming OURSELVES or others as motivation. You want some inspiring words or pictures to hang in your cubicle? There's this thing called the internet. You can google "motivational quotes" all day long. If that doesn't do it for you, post a picture of something you've always wanted to do or that you will do when you lose the weight. If it's motivation to not gain weight, post a picture of yourself looking fabulous in the size you are now. That way, when you can look at it, your thoughts will be "Damn, I look good".  Because you do.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Weight Loss Wednesday

This week, I am going to address some of the questions/comments that I receive in regards to my weight loss. In some cases, they can come off as offensive. Although I know that most people don't MEAN for it to come off that way, it can, and I want to help explain why.

  • "You're so healthy". I get this a lot when I am out to eat with family or friends and I order my turkey burger without a bun and swap fries for broccoli... or at a party and I fill my plate with veggies or salad. This is not one of the offensive statements, but, I never really know how to respond. I usually just shrug and say "yeah...".  I do my best. Sometimes I treat myself, but I always give myself a limit.
  • "Are you allowed to eat ::insert name of food here:: ?". I'm "allowed" to eat anything! As I said above, I do limit myself. But usually what I eat depends on how many calories I burned that day, what else I have consumed, etc.
  • "Are you tired of people telling you how good you look?" Honestly? No, I'm not. Maybe that makes me extremely narcissistic, but I've worked pretty hard to get where I am and it's reassuring to hear other people say that they notice certain things.
  • You are so much thinner-You haven't been sick, have you? I recently got this comment twice in one day, actually. I totally recognize that it was coming from a place of concern. Both individuals who asked me are older women whom I have a mother/daughter relationship with and I know that my well being is important to them- which I appreciate so much! BUT. What this insinuates is that I couldn't possibly have lost the weight without being sick. One of the things I am most proud of is that I have lost the weight gradually, and in a healthy way. I never once did anything crazy or a specific diet. And I certainly was not sick! The other thing it could mean is that I "look" sick. I certainly don't think that I do, and that's not how I took it, but I could see how someone else might.
  • How do you stay motivated? I've addressed this before, but I will say it a million times over if it will help someone else. It's hard, and I've been tempted to quit so many times In the 3 month plateaus, on the days when I'm so exhausted I have to drag myself to the gym, when my sore muscles need a break, when I'm sick of eating veggies. So, for a brief few moments, I remember how I felt before the weight loss: miserable. I was always sick, had zero energy and even the simplest of tasks seemed impossible. And I remember that I never want to feel that way again. So I keep on going. I also think about my future, and how I want to be able to run around with my kids- and also live longer, and steer away from things like cancer. That helps :)
  • Have you ever tried Beachbody/Body Wraps/??? No. I follow a loose paleo diet, and sometimes order off a gluten free menu, but that's really because I've chosen to eat low carb.  (PSA: Gluten free and low carb are NOT the same thing, but often the gluten free menu has low carb options). I've never tried a specific weight loss product or system. One of my trainers at the gym does not recommend the body wrap, and I trust him. When it comes down to it, I have not HAD to use anything. That's not to say that some of these products don't work- I am sure that they do, but everybody is different and I personally do not want to use a product. That's just me, though! My roommate has been pretty successful with the 21 day fix. I think the diet plan for that program is pretty great, as long as you follow it and stick with it.
  • What has been the best part about losing weight? There are so many ways that I could answer this question. I think, though, what it comes down to is the simple fact that I am doing whatever I can to add years to my life. Now, we all know that tomorrow is not promised, and that something out of the blue or tragic could happen. But, I also know that my getting healthy, fit, and strong, I am extending my life as much as I can control. I'm reducing the risk of most diseases and I am increasing my energy and strength. That doesn't mean I can never be diagnosed with cancer, but it does mean that my chances are less. It also means that instead of locking myself indoors because I have no energy and am feeling so sad and depressed that I am out and about and enjoying life a whole lot more. And the more I enjoy it, the more I want to stick around to see more of it :)
  • What does Tom think? Well, for starters, Tom fell in love with me at my heaviest weight. He's never really seen me as my weight or body type, he just sees me and knows me. He's proud of me, he's impressed by my strength (I know this because I practice my kickboxing on him), and he is happy that I have finally learned to love myself- but overall, I'm pretty sure he feels the same way about me he always has.
  • What will you do when you hit your goal? For starters, I hope I will celebrate. I really didn't do much when I hit my 100 lb mark. My parents took me out and gave me a very nice gift, but that was it. When I hit my goal, I'm doing SOMETHING. Second, I will start the maintenance phase. Maybe cut back on my workouts, but continue to eat healthy. I want to work on toning. As far as what will I do with my time, I've actually thought a lot about that- that I'm gonna need a new hobby or passion. Maybe I'll do more yoga and running or maybe I'll do something totally different. I'm not sure yet ! Let's get there when we get there. Also, I'll have a lot less stuff to talk about ;-)

I know that some of what I said in this post is repetitive, but I thought it was a good "check in" to see how things were going. And since I've been getting stuck on what to write recently, I'm not asking YOU! What do you want to read more about? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook.

-Food Diary
-Workout samples
-Emotional journey 
-Body positive stuff 
-Interviews from family/friends - This is one that I really wanted to do, but I don't want it to come off as asking people to tell me they think I'm great. I want to know how they perceive my weight loss- what changes they've seen in me, etc. Again, that probably makes me sound narcissistic, but I am curious and think that it would be interesting to get it from another perspective

Monday, May 11, 2015

American Idol Says Goodbye

This morning, Fox announced that American Idol will end in 2016 after it's 15th season. I know most of the reactions are "Thank God" and "that show is still on?". As a dedicated fan of the show, I'm sad about the news, but I also must admit that I pretty much share your sentiments. It's time. Ratings are low, energy is drained...the format this past season was all kinds of wrong. So yes, it's time.

But I will defend this show to the grave. Maybe there hasn't been another Kelly or Carrie. Maybe we won't get someone who will sell out stadium shows and break records on the charts. But what this show has given me, and countless others, is so much more than that.

First, the music. While Kelly Clarkson is the Queen, and one of my favorite artists of all time, my ITunes is full of talented musicians whom I discovered on Idol. Sure, YOU may not know their name. You may not know their songs. But does that mean they are not talented? Just because you don't know who they are? No, it doesn't mean that. I could list dozens of artists that I want you to listen too-it would be enough blog posts for months. I would just encourage you to try a few.  Idol opened my eyes to different types of music, to songwriting, to taking risks. I am so thankful that this show led me to listening to really great music.

The next gift Idol gave me is the experiences. From watch parties at my house to Idol tour, I have so many memories that I wouldn't have had without the show. American Idol has been a huge part of my life, ever since I was a sophomore in high school. Some of the best times of my life relate back to Idol. Like the time I saw former contestants perform in concert IN THE MOUNTAINS. Or the time Jordin Sparks presented my cousin with a humanitarian award. Or the time Mandisa inspired me to start my weight loss journey. Cuz yeah, that's pretty important. How lucky am I that a TV show led to such great experiences? And led me to the person who I am today?

And most importantly, those experiences brought me friendships- the most precious gift I have been given through American Idol. I cannot write this post without acknowledging my friendship with Sam. Although Idol is not how we met and it is not the only thing that connects us, it was a big part of our friendship. Most of my experiences involved having Sam right by my side. It was something we could bond over, and something we both loved so much that it made the experiences more fun. But along with strengthening my friendship with Sam, I am so lucky that I have made new friends because of this show. Mostly, people I met at different tour stops. Some of those people are still my closest friends. I just said "yes" to a Girls Weekend in Northern Michigan with some of those friends. They are real, true friends that I never would have met had it not been for American Idol.

There are a very special group of people that I absolutely cannot ignore- the Backups. You see, one of the best "experiences" was meeting Melinda Doolittle. Through her, I was connected with her fanbase, known as The Backups. Those people- those sweet, sweet people, are the people that carried me through my early 20's. I needed them- and they swooped in just in time. For so many years of my life, I considered them my second family. I told them everything, and they guided me through each bump in the road. They helped build a confidence in me, they believed in me and they challenged me. We aren't as close as we used to be- time and distance will do that. But there is nothing, and I mean nothing, that will ever take away how much they mean to me.

I am also blessed that I can call Melinda a friend. She is the most genuine, compassionate person I know. When I was 19, she was my role model. I admired her faith, her strength and her heart. I prayed and prayed that one day I would be like her. I've learned now that I don't need to be like anyone, that I can just be me. But that doesn't take away from my admiration for Melinda. She remains one of my biggest inspirations. There just aren't many people on this earth that are like her. And I get to call her a friend.

So you see, maybe it is "about time" and maybe the show did "run it's course". But I am proud that I was even on that course. I will remember this show for as long as I live. I will hold the memories close, and the people even closer. It's not just a show. It's not about ratings or sales. It's about the life that I lived because of it. It's about how I starting writing because I knew that Kelly Clarkson wrote songs and I wanted to do that, too. It's about how I fell in love with the Beatles when the Season 7 kids sang the songs so beautifully. It's about how young kids who never would have had a shot had a few moments of fame. It's about how many lives have been touched, how many stories have been shared, and how much music has been put out into the world.

And let's, for just a second, remember what this show has done for the contestants who have been on it. I guarantee you that any of them, whether they were in the top 24 or they won the show, would say that Idol changed their life for the better. It exposed them, it brought them their own crazy unique experiences and it gave them a voice. How cool is that? Even if they aren't doing music anymore or they didn't get a big break, I have no doubt that the show made a positive impact on their life.

PS: I have created a Spotify playlist just for you guys :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Still Working on my Masterpiece

Good news, friends. Over the last few weeks I have had a pretty big drop and I am now sitting at 110 lbs lost. I am keeping my fingers crossed very tightly that the trend of losing continues, and that I don't get stuck or gain again. But if I do, it will just be another bump in the road and I will push harder.

I re-evaluated some things to figure out why I wasn't losing. I changed some habits- I cut out coffee again, I'm REALLY careful about my sugar intake, and I cut back on alcohol. These things, combined with really focusing to reach my "calories burned" goal each week, seem to have helped. So far, at least.

Today I wanted to talk about something a little different than most of my other posts. I want to preface it by saying that I truly believe most people who talk about my weight loss and who offer tips, suggestions, advice, etc are being very genuine and very sweet. In other words? They mean well. Yet, sometimes the way statements are delivered stings a little.

I've had all kinds of things said to me. From "Don't get too thin!" to "I didn't realize how fat you were before!". Both of these are slightly offensive, but I sort of laugh them off. But there's one thing that people say that I can't always shake off.

"When are you going to get a tummy tuck?"

I get where this question is coming from. I really do. Almost anyone who drops a significant amount of weight has an issue with sagging/extra skin. Lots of those people have surgery.

But that's their choice. If that's what they want to do, they should do it.

But I probably won't. And that's my choice.

There are a lot of reasons behind that decision, and I don't feel like I have to share them to justify it. More importantly, let's talk about how it feels when someone asks that question. It feels like a slap in the face. Like after all my hard work in the last two years, after losing 110 lbs, counting every calories I consume- like after all that, it's not good enough. For some people, at least.

I'm not saying I expect everyone to be singing my praises and telling me I look good- but I also don't want to put my body to shame when I've just learned to start loving my body.

I know that I have some rolls on my tummy where the skin is starting to droop and that it can be off putting. I try my damnedest to wear clothes that hide it. I'm already self conscious about it but I have been learning to live with it and embrace it. I'm actively attempting to get rid of it by myself- by drinking green tea, cutting sugar, doing core exercises and other tricks I am picking up.

Basically, my point of this post is to once again ask that all of us need to take a minute to think before we speak. Consider if your words could be harmful.

I will never be perfect. None of us will ever be perfect. Perfection is not my goal. I don't know why anyone else seems to think that it should be.

Monday, May 4, 2015


A few weeks ago, I decided I was going to start running.


Certainly not because I feel "free" or  because it's "therapeutic". Plenty of people say they get a runners high, and that running makes them feel something. That's not the case for me...not really, anyways. I mean, most of the time as I'm running all I can think about is how badly I want to stop running. I don't particularly love it.

It's also not the best cardio. It's great, and builds endurance, but I burn double the calories in my Kickboxing or Bootcamp or Circuit classes. So it's not as if I am doing it to accelerate my weight loss.

I'm doing it because for most of my life, I couldn't run. Okay- I COULD run. For about 2 minutes- at the most. Even as a little kid, when I was much lighter, I was the last in my class to finish the mile, every single year. At field hockey practice in high school I was always lagging behind. As I got older, and my weight became more of an issue. I only got slower. I remember the first year I did the color run. It was my 24 th birthday and I was in Indianapolis. My best friend Sam and I were running together- at least that was the plan. But we made it about 20 steps before I told her to go ahead of me- my legs had already given up.

Now, I can run a full mile without stopping. It takes me a longer time than most, but I can do it. I've been running a little over 2 miles for the past few weeks.

It is incredibly liberating to be able to do something you've never been able to do before. It's as if I have overcome something. It's like I am telling everyone who's ever told me I can't that I CAN.

I don't know if you'll ever hear me say the words "I love running". Because I don't. I actually hate it, most days. But what I do love is that I AM running. That I can run.

Each time I finish a run I feel incredibly grateful to have been given the strength and determination to keep going- and to break these barriers. I may not necessarily get the "runners high", but I do get this urge to encourage everyone else to fight past whatever is holding them back. Because it is possible to accomplish something you never imagined possible.