Love yourself 

S

Hello, my friends. It’s a hard topic today, I’m afraid.  

I’m in London on business and I had an unfortunate conversation yesterday. I stewed on it a few hours then took it to a powerful support group: my friends at my friendly neighborhood fitness studio. This is what I wrote, and thank goodness for their positivity & support. 

Here it is: 

Hi ladies. I had an emotionally hard evening earlier and I’m still bothered by it so I felt I should write it out. 

It’s my last day in London and at an after work cocktail party I was having a conversation with 3 other women. Two are vice presidents within the company, 46 & 48 years old, and the other is a manager like me, and she’s 40. All three are about a size 6. The manager also teaches body pump and is fairly muscular. The VPs started talking about how they’ve gained weight. How they have “ballooned” since last year due to stress & travel & dining out a lot & drinking a lot – as is often expected at these work things. They both started sharing horror stories about clothes not fitting, bathing suits where they have back fat where they didn’t used to. One referred to herself as having become “a fat whale.” It went on like this for several minutes. 
I was so offended. I felt it was such a distasteful, nasty, mean-spirited conversation on two counts: 

1. How dare they speak so horribly about themselves! And their wonderful bodies! I wanted to shake them and say don’t you understand the beauty & glory & honor it is to be uniquely you? Just as you are? 

2. I was standing there in my size 18 body, in the conversation, while one called her own body a fat whale. If she thinks that of herself then what does she think of me? Is she judging the size of my thigh? The jiggle of my upper arm? Does she think I am less capable than I am because I’m not slim & trim? 

I am sick of women who feel they have to tear themselves down. In doing so they tear down the other women around them. These are strong, amazing, successful women who just absolutely tore apart their bodies in a 5 min conversation, and, I felt, tore mine apart too.

The other manager and I both were silent. I think she has a healthy, realistic body image, as she should – she’s worked hard for it. 

I felt so uncomfortable, so awkward. Like I was, literally, the elephant in the room. 
I just wonder if women like them can hate their own bodies so much then am I stupid to be okay with mine? I mean, I’m *not* okay with it but I’m also doing something about it! And in the meantime I don’t have to hate it. I can celebrate it and the strength and amazing things it’s done for me over these last 5 months at the studio – plus the last 41 years of my life! But this conversation implied that I should hate my body unless it’s perfectly perfect and it made me so sad. It made me feel shame. Like how dare I love my body when these women don’t even like theirs! 

That’s not okay. 

It also made me wonder if I have to to be like them to promote further within my company? If so, then maybe I need a new company. 

I’m coming home tomorrow and I cannot wait to come back to my life. This got long so bless you if you read through it. See you all soon.

* * * 

That kind of talk is foreign to me anymore. I love my body and how hard it works, how it moves, how it keeps me alive. I think we need to change how we talk about ourselves. We need to love ourselves no matter our size. We work hard. We love others and we want to be loved so why is this so hard. 

LOVE YOURSELF. 

Xoxo,

Stef

P.S. Stop reading women’s magazines & celebrity magazines. It’s bad for your health. 

P.S.S. The pic is of me on stage speaking in front of 200 people earlier this week. Do you have any idea how hard that is for me? How self-conscious I feel? But I fake it. Hide the nerves. Put on my Spanx & a dress and just fucking do it. Because I’m smart, capable, and I know my shit. Nobody is going to dim my light. Afterward someone said they were in awe of my confidence and that I obviously really know what I’m talking about. I’m cute, I’m smart, I’m capable, I’m loving, and, oh yeah, I’m also fat. But it’s only a feature of my whole. 

I have cobwebs on my ceiling

Warning: expressive, explicit language. 

Sometimes I sit in my living room and look up at the cobwebs on my 20 foot ceilings and I think, man, I should clean that. I must be a terrible housekeeper. That must mean I sort of universally suck, right? Then I remember I don’t have a telescoping ladder and I feel even further defeated. How the fuck am I supposed to clean the ceiling now?

I recently fell in love with “Say Yes to the Dress (Atlanta).” Mostly it makes me laugh & smile, but sometimes … when the love is so real, so heartfelt … it makes me cry.

Sometimes the loneliness is palpable. And when the kids are gone, and some lady on tv is glowing with love, I think, man, is this it for me? Is this my life now? Alone, with dirty ceilings and no mechanism to make them better.

The boys have been with their dad all weekend. I miss their voices when they’re gone. I did have a lovely weekend, though, and I even had a date(ish thing) recently, but … then I get to Sunday night.

My house is quiet. My phone isn’t making the sounds I desire to hear. The walls are closing in. The cobwebs mock me. The full to bursting gutters, the hole in the wall, the loose faucet .… they haunt me. And I think, what am I doing? I can’t do this. I can’t manage this on my own. Then I remember that I AM actually alone, and likely will be for the rest of my life.

So this is what’s going through my head, and then it gets worse.

Because I’m short & chubby, with terrible legs and I snore, and my big boobs point down rather than out, and I’m stubborn and a control-freak and I always feel like I have to be right, and I have to do right, and live right, because if I screw up then I’m a fuck up and a failure.

So that’s what I am, right?

Because look at those damned cobwebs and my short, fat legs and how the fuck can I be good at anything if I can’t keep my ceiling clean? Nobody is going to love me. In fact, the man I thought could love me decided, nah, not going to do it. And why would he? I can’t even figure out how to clean the ceiling in my own house.

So it’s Sunday night and I’m folding laundry. I’m watching a miserably sappy movie about love, faith, and doing the right thing. I’m sad. And my phone is stubbornly fucking quiet and I think, you pathetic moron, what does it even fucking matter because your time has come and gone. Get used to this, fat ass. Fold your damn laundry and just focus on being a mom because you don’t deserve shit.

Then I turn on a recorded episode of “Say Yes to the Dress (Atlanta).” Lori & Monte are packing up to go to a bride’s home. That’s unusual. Then we get the story. The bride recently lost her 8 year old son to cancer. Her mother & family conspired to put together a wedding & surprise the bride with a dress. The family is still so deep in their grief. For their son, and grandson. The bride doesn’t feel like she has the right to be happy with her son gone.

Well don’t I feel like a jackass?  Sitting over here being a crybaby because of a hole in the wall (that can be fixed) or some full gutters (that can be emptied) or the fact that I feel universally unloveable (which ebbs & flows). But what is that in comparison? That’s nothing to her pain.

I have two amazing sons. I have a good, challenging job. I have a home, cobwebs & all, that keeps us warm & dry. I have my family & a few friends I love dearly. I wouldn’t trade what I have for all the clean ceilings in the world.

Sometimes life hands us these little reminders so that we will shut the hell up and stop brooding over what we can’t control. Just a little kick in the ass.

Know better; do better. (And buy a telescoping ladder).

Xoxo,

Stef

On Jiggly Butts

My 10 year old, little J-man, is Autistic. One of the most awesomest by-products of his Autism is his lack of artifice. He doesn’t know how to read facial expressions and only tell people what they want to hear. He just calls ’em like he sees ’em. He’s no Eddie Haskell.

For the last year or so J-man has had an obsession with my butt. Flattering . . . . except he’s 10, and my son.

When I’m laying on my tummy he’ll come up on the bed or couch next to me, start pushing on either side and say, “It’s so squishy!” or “It’s so jiggly!” Then he says he loves it and “hugs” it. It’s so silly. And cute. And, you know, it IS squishy and jiggly so he’s just making an observation.

So a few days ago we were getting ready for school and work in the morning and I was flying around my bedroom in my panties and bra looking for the rest of my clothing. J-man came in so I could help comb his hair. As I was spraying and combing he started poking at my tummy. Poke. I shifted away. He followed. Poke. I shifted, he followed. Poke.

“Stop!” I said.

He’s unfazed, “I didn’t know your tummy was jiggly & squishy too!”

“Hey, buddy, people don’t really like to hear that,” I said, feeling the familiar disdain for my own body.

Jamie seemed perplexed, “but why? That’s what makes you unique, momma.”

And I may have teared up, hugged him close and told him he was so very right. *sigh*

What a kid. We could learn something from him. He hasn’t been sullied by the magazines and tv and everything that tells us beauty is about appearance, and only a thin, unwobbly body is what makes a woman beautiful. To him, I’m his momma, his beautiful momma, who loves him and whose round, squishy body is unique and it’s what makes my hugs and my cuddles so very soft.

I often feel like my body holds me back. That I could be further in my career, I could have felt stronger and more confident, that I could have kept the attention and love of some people in my life who may have been disenchanted with those exaggerated curves. I think those things at my low points.

But, you know what? Screw that. I am so much more than my body.

I’m right where I need to be in my career – and it’s not a bad place to be! I am just as confident in my professional life as I need to be, and that’s only growing over time and as my expertise increases. I’m realizing at a certain point in your career your appearance really doesn’t matter as much. To say that another way, if your appearance still does matter then you haven’t proven yourself yet.

Also, not insignificantly, I’ve been told that my curves are pretty enchanting so, you know, those people who don’t like them can go take a flying leap.

My curves are ME. They are who I am. I have been curvy as long as I can remember. Even when I was super-thin, I was curvy. It’s the way I’m made. As J-man said, it IS one of the things that makes me unique.

I’ve been within the same 10 lbs for the last 3 years. No matter what I do. I can sign up and train for 5Ks, I can cut out carbs, I can eat a box of Milk Duds twice a week, and I will still stay within the same 10 lbs. There comes a time when you just have to say, “this is my body.” This is me. Accept it or not. Love it or not. I choose to accept it.

(Except at the beginning of bathing suit season when a certain amount of trepidation is perfectly normal. I think).

Disclaimer: Health is important. There is body acceptance and then there is just being in denial to health problems. A happy medium is recommended.

You don’t have to love my body, but if you love me then you need to know that this is the package that the fabulous gifts that are my brain, my heart, and my soul are wrapped in. Love me or don’t –  but I recommend that you do.

Below is a video of a women, Allison Hatfield, telling her story of summoning up the courage to pose naked in front of a stranger and the life-altering thing that happened when she saw the end result. It’s truly powerful so give it a watch/listen:

Or read the transcript here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/oral-fixation/i-hated-my-body-until-i-let-a-stranger-draw-me_b_4860925.html

This is also a good time to remind you that April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day! Light it up BLUE! More to come on this, but if you want to prepare your home for Autism Awareness month, April, then blue lightbulbs are available at Home Depot.

Remember: Different, Not Less. (And that applies to sooooo many things!)

All my love,

Stef

I am not really the "working-out" type

I hate to sweat. Like seriously. I hate to get over-heated. And I hate it when my fingers swell.

I absolutely loathed P.E. class in jr. high and high school and was happy when I didn’t have to bother with it anymore for my junior & senior years. (Plus my jr. high P.E. teacher, Mrs. Phillips, was a royal witch with a capital “B.”)

BUT. Big ole BUT.

I had been thinking about it for a while. Thinking about how so many women I know run and do marathons and just absolutely get that bug and then they get all skinny and then I have to hate them. AND I HATE THAT. Having to hate them, that is. So I thought, hey, could I do that?

Then I said shut up, you’re not a runner. You hate running. You hate sweating. What’s wrong with you?

Then I said, no, YOU shut up. Because I could totally do that. I just need to shift my paradigm.

(par·a·digm n. 3. A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.)

So I did. Or have been. It’s an on-going battle. I decided to start on my first full day back from vacation – July 10. So for the past three weeks I have been doing it.

I’ve mostly been working-out on our elliptical machine. I like it. I like being inside. I do intervals on the elliptical too – I’ll go really fast for a bit and then go back to a more moderate pace. I have a bit of a routine – I definitely work-out every Monday night. That’s when I watch my guilty pleasure TV and working out at the same time balances that nicely, I think. I’ve been doing 3.1 miles consistently on the elliptical on Monday nights. Then I try 2-3 more workouts during the week as well.

When I work-out outside I try to do run/walk intervals. More walk than run because I know I need to start conditioning before I run too much or I will literally fall-down dead. Other things make working-out outside less desirable – like my own insecurities. I don’t want people to SEE me working-out. I’m sure I just look ridiculous.

This morning I was determined to work-out outside. It didn’t go as well as it could have due to a sore left heel, I forgot my water, my nose closed up due to allergies, and it was 89 flippin’ degrees and I was roasty-toasty. I came home early and took a COLD shower. All in all, I did just about 2 miles today.

But, HEY, if it was 5 weeks ago then I wouldn’t have done that at all, would I?

Conclusion: I still don’t like running or sweating but I love the feeling I have after doing it. I feel like I really accomplished something. And I just feel better about myself. Like I’m actively doing something to better myself. I feel SEXIER already. That feeling just absolutely rocks.

Two people have told me that I look thinner. I’ve only lost about 4 lbs so far. We’ll see.

Now I think I need to invest in a better sports bra – because these girls CANNOT be contained – and new trainers (Britishism). My current tennies give me blisters on the inside of my arch, just before my heel. Odd.

So there’s my first work-out update. I’ll try to post anytime I have something worthwhile to say. Please keep the support and encouragement coming – I will definitely need it.

Cleaning out my closet (it’s a metaphor, people)

Cleaning out my closet. Metaphorically and literally.

But first the literal: As previously mentioned here, my bedroom was a freakin’ disaster. We don’t have enough closet or dresser space to hold all my clothes so, before the bedroom re-do, they would be folded (usually) and piled. In places. Like on any level surface.

I didn’t accumulate all this on purpose. I didn’t go out of my way to have all these clothes with no home.

It’s my weight, you see. I have gained and lost the same 30-40(ish) lbs twice in the last 5 years. That’s a deviation of about 3 clothing sizes.

Also, I shop when I’m depressed. When I’m at the higher end of my weight circuit (like right now, dammit) then shopping is depressing too, but at least I think new clothes will look better/camouflage me better than my old clothes. It’s a vicious cycle.

So when we decided to do this bedroom makeover I knew I would have to do something with all my clothes. They needed to be seriously evaluated and a good chunk discarded. I’m mostly done with that. I have a huge black heavy-duty contractor bag full of clothes I’m going to donate. Some of them are very nice clothes and I was loathe to part with them but I need to be realistic, you know?

I also have a storage box for stuff I absolutely want to keep. For when I’m thinner. (Because, YES, that will totally happen. Someday.) But I just kept the stuff I liked the most and couldn’t part with.

The only thing still pending is a pile of dress pants & jeans. Pants really are the absolute worst for me. I can fit my mammoth boobages into most tops because, contrary to my weight, my frame is small. (Judging by my frame, I should be really cute, petite and tiny. The last time I was cute, petite and tiny was in 1997 when I was stupid, making bad decisions and incredibly unhealthy. But, hey, I looked FABULOUS!)

Back to pants. I hate them. I have short, fat legs. Always have had. Even when I was cute, petite and tiny. And I have a booty. Like for reals. I’m not talking about the “Baby Got Back” kind of booty (by the way, I have to tell all the big girls out there, like me, that Sir Mix-A-Lot is not talking about us. He’s talking about J-Lo. He’s talking about that Kardashian chick. Not the big mamas. Got it? I mean, I like the song too but it’s not OUR theme song. Anyway I would prefer a theme song not relevant to my weight and personal appearance – like “I Will Survive” or “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.” Just my opinion. Moving on.) Back to my booty. I’ve got one, it’s not small and I hate pants.

So how many sizes of pants do you keep? I mean, when you really find a pair that fits and then grow out of them with the full intention of getting back in them then you should keep them right? But for how long??

Well, I’ve kept a ton. I told the hubby last night if I could just lose 30 lbs again I would have so many more clothing options. I just need to have the will to lose that weight. I keep waiting for divine intervention on this one but I think I’m going to have to find the motivation on my own. I’m working on it.

The thing is – I need to lose weight for my health, but I don’t want to be depressed about it. That’s not healthy either, you know? And having all those clothes in smaller sizes is just taunting me. It’s not really motivating me – just making me sad.

So I am metaphorically cleaning out my closet as well. I’m pushing those memories of the slimmer me out of my mind in order to accept who I am today. I’m not going to lie and say that I love the way I look. I don’t. I hate it. But I need to accept that this is who I am right now. I will work on losing weight in my way and in my time and I can’t be pushed on it.

I can’t have my weight struggle holding my happiness hostage. I do not want my weight consuming every minute of my life.

So, certain pants are being kept and tucked away for later days. I’ll get back into them in the fullness of time. The other stuff I’m donating. Let someone else who is either on a weight upswing or downswing get the benefit of them.

Attitude adjustment complete. This is who I am. Love me or don’t.

Note: I have some pics to add but they aren’t with me. I’ll try to add them to this blog later. No guarantees though because I’m picking up my momma in 4 hours and I have a little boy turning 9 tomorrow.

The best you that you can be

Every day when I drop my oldest at school I tell him, “Remember, be the best Poohbear you can be today, ok?”

To his credit he doesn’t sigh or roll his eyes (maybe 8 (almost 9) is too young for that), but he says, “Okay Mom! Love you!” and bounds out of the car with nary another thought for me or the message I’m trying to impart.

As I drive away, I often think about all the good things I want for him (to be honest, I often think of Starbucks and how conveniently located it is to his school as well).

What does that mean – be the best you that you can be? Let’s think about that for a minute.

Does it mean to be kind, understanding and attentive to others? Yes, obviously.

Does it mean to listen and learn and be present (in all senses of the word) to what happens during the course of the day? Yes, absolutely.

That’s what I want for him – my clever, cute, quirky son.

If I turn that around and put the focus on myself – what does that mean for me? My expectations for myself extend far beyond the expectations I have for my son.

Am I being the best Stef – mom, wife, woman – that I can be? The answer is a resounding NO.

These are the steps I think I need to take to get there. Bear in mind this list may be revised. Often.

  1. Health. I need to work on my health. I don’t know if I am brave enough to go into more detail than that, here – yet – but I need the strength, the confidence, the determination, support and encouragement to do it. Please. I’m starting already – baby steps.
  2. Outlook. Positivity. Glass half full-ness. Looking on the bright side. Finding the silver lining. Because, when it comes down to it, does bitching about something help? At all? The negativity weighs me down and I’m not having it anymore. Dunzo.
  3. Self-awareness and positive personal growth. Focusing on the me-ness. Really knowing who I am – what makes me tick, sets me off, calms me down, etc. What I excel at and what I suck at. Then embracing the me-ness and the stuff I love about me. This blog is going a long way towards that goal.
  4. Love. Give it all, to everyone, in abundant boundless bundles. To my family, to my friends, to strangers. I don’t know anything, any situation, any problem – ANYTHING – that isn’t improved with a little love and a big, open heart.

So that’s it. For now. That’s my challenge to myself.

Tomorrow, when you check your face in the mirror – at home, driving to work, or in a passing car window reflection – just pause for a second and ask yourself, “Am I being the best me that I can be?” I hope the answer is yes; if not, make your own list and get on with it, sister!

On being busy

Started before Christmas:

Lucille Ball said:

If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more things you do, the more you can do.

But I think she MUST have been talking about women only. Not that I don’t appreciate men, because I do – I really, really do (especially that cleft between their hip and groin area – swoon) – but I know very few that are good multi-taskers. Now that we are 4 days away from Christmas this multi-tasking deficiency is painfully obvious.

Christmas is CRAZY. Super-duper, going nuts, spending money, shopping, wrapping, picture-taking, printing, Christmas card mailing, party-attending crazy.

Finished after Christmas:

See what I mean about being busy? I couldn’t even finish my blog about being busy! How ridiculous. Anyway, we got through Christmas fairly intact – though, to be honest, I totally crashed on day 4 of the festivities. It was after the last get together – the big one with the hubby’s family in which I made cupcakes, cookies, deviled eggs, candied yams and mashed potatoes and took it all over to the in-laws’ house for a 7 hour preparation, eating, gift-opening THING – that I came home and just nearly passed out. I laid on the sofa in my comfy clothes like a log. The next day was a work day and I started getting sick. The following day one of my lymph nodes was so swollen I couldn’t swallow without significant pain. I went to the doctor – which goes to show how freaked out I was (OMG! What if it’s cancer??) – and she said virus. That was two days ago and I’m definitely better today.

But that brings me to a very good point. My doctor lectured me because, she said, “I only see you when you’re sick! How about coming in for a physical?” Ugh, who has time, or inclination, for that? Seriously, I’m too busy . . . right? Well, the right answer is no, I’m NOT too busy to work on my health. I just don’t want to deal with it. It’s not a simple thing – zip in and out – because there’s the lab work first and the fasting with that, and then, inevitably, there is something more that needs to be done – like medicine to treat certain things or follow-up appointments and, perhaps the most dreaded, the conversation about a “healthy weight”. Well, yes, I know perfectly well what a healthy weight is and I know that I am not in that range. I really don’t need the lecture and the guilt that follows. I swear, the guilt will kill me one of these days. (Side note: one time Poohbear’s teacher asked me if I was Catholic because I had the guilt thing down pat). It’s so unfair. I actually eat fairly healthy; by that I mean that I’m not a fast food person. We cook good food from scratch here. We eat lots of veggies and get our protein. We eat good carbs. BUT, chocolate is my Achilles heel. I have a relationship with chocolate, and with all GOOD food. I want MORE.

Which would all be okay if I balanced my food with exercise. I don’t mind exercise when I do it; I actually feel really good afterward. I just can’t seem to do it much. I’m so, so tired at the end of the day, and there’s so much to do, I have trouble fitting it into my day. I want to relax and escape after a hard work day – not get my tennies on and get up on the elliptical. I already don’t get enough sleep and I’m decidely NOT a morning person.

Yes, yes, excuse central – I know. One of these days I will suck it up and do it. Hopefully soon. For my health. Plus – ugh – my 20 year class reunion is in less than 3 years. I will ONLY go if I’m under 140 lbs. *sigh*

To sign off, though, I will add something positive – when I went to the doctor it was Dec 28 and she said the last time I was there was the previous January. I actually weighed 3 lbs less on this visit, 3 days after Christmas, than I weighed a year ago in January. That’s something, right?

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year to all. May we ALL have a prosperous 2011!! (Oh please, oh please, oh please!!) Mwah!