Sunday, January 9, 2011


This is the 9th day of the ReVolution, and it is time to rest.  Like anything, if we don't take time to rest and rejuvenate, we can't keep at it.  Rest is highly underrated.  So, today I am resting. 

But, I wanted to share this little tidbit with you, mostly because I like it, and I think it is in keeping with the ReVolution.  Because, really, we are in this together, and with a little encouragement, we can do anything!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Crappy Buffet

Today we celebrated my niece's 7th birthday at one of those big video arcade things with a crappy pizza buffet.  My in-laws were excited because "this buffet has so many options!"  I may be a food snob, but even with the "extra" options of gloopy pasta and Icee's, this buffet sucked. 

I really love my niece, so I was up for the sacrifice of having a yucky meal at the crappy buffet, but boy, did it remind me how important enjoying my food has become.   

At one time, food was a source of fear, shame, and pain for me.  At the height of my eating disorder, the only foods I deemed "good" were vegetables and sprouted grain bread.  While I do like my veg, and sprouted grains are a really fine food options, living on only this can really make you into a crazy person, which is exactly what happened to me.  I lost all pleasure in eating, because 1) it is gross to eat only veg and sprouted grain bread, and 2) everything else had so much emotional baggage attached to it, that eating at all was a really stressful experience.  I got all kinds of praise for "being so healthy!" and for "looking so great!"  Never mind that I was by far the least healthy I have ever been.  I could say so much more about this, but, that is another post....

Anyway, it took me a really long time to let go of my disordered emotional baggage, and enjoy food again.  Along the way, I found out that tasting and enjoying food is actually really good for us!  Whoot!  When we experience pleasure, our stress levels go down, we absorb nutrients more readily, and we feel both full and satisfied when our bodies have had enough to eat.  Magical!  Isn't it amazing what happens when we listen to our bodies?

So, now I try to pay attention to my food, and really enjoy it.  Which is a challenge at crappy buffets.  I kindof didn't know what to do!  I tried to pick the least crappy options, and I tried to focus on the sweet 7-year old across the table from me.  I did the best I could, which is good enough.  I am not on a journey to perfection, I am just on a journey.  This was not the best meal in my life, but I guess a little crappy buffet food once a year never killed anybody.  Honestly, I never want to eat there again, but it still served as a nice reminder that I have made some progress. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

In the Ring

Behold, Brett, my cute little trainer at the boxing gym.  Just celebrated his 23rd birthday. Babyface McGee.  And me, unsuspecting in my big pink boxing gloves.

I walked in today thinking that it would be business as usual, and only vaguely wondered where we would practice, since there was a gaggle of tattooed guys punching at one another on the main floor mat.  And then, cute little Brett announced, "We're going in the ring today."

I had a little panic attack.  Umm... that thing is raised up, like 4 feet off the floor, a spectacle for all to behold.  I am just barely OK with the fact that I am in the boxing gym at all.  I am wearing pink boxing gloves, for crying out loud!  There is a gaggle of tattooed men down below!  The Ring!  Oh My God.

I told cute little Brett about my panic attack, but he didn't care.  So, we stepped into The Ring, a place other people go.  I could hear the Rocky music in the back of my head begin to play.  And I started to laugh.  Really, laughter took over where panic began.  

Nobody else in the gym seemed to care that I was in the ring - it is probably a really common occurrence - but for me, it was like a little victory dance.  I conquered a fear - I got up in a place where I was visible,  doing something totally out of my comfort zone, and I enjoyed it.  I made a bunch of racket, not only laughing, but working my ass off, and I didn't care whether I looked stupid, or weird, or funny.  I just let go, and I had a blast!    This is what it's all about, people.  Being in our bodies, and finding the joy.  Releasing the shame and fear, and allowing ourselves to LIVE, whatever that means for each of us.

This is a Rocky-worthy victory, for sure.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I Love My Chin

Today is the 6th day of my 31 days of Revolution, in blog form.  This morning, Marilyn Wann, Flabulous Fat Activist Extraordinaire, and author of FAT!SO? sent out a challenge over facebook to think of something positive/loving about a part of our bodies we have either disliked, or have ignored.  She also offered extra credit for sharing this with someone, so I am sharing it with you!

At first, I was thinking, "What?  I love ALL the parts of my body!  I am on a Revolution high, man!"  Ha, ha. 

Actually, I thought of the usual suspects: my stomach, my thighs - things I can see easily, and catch my attention when I look in the mirror every day.  I have been practicing saying nice things about these areas of my body, so I knew I would have plenty to share with you in my blog!  My belly is curvaceous and round, my thighs are strong and powerful... See?  I can say good things now (in public!) about my body that I would never have uttered before HAES.  So, yay! Right?

Then, I got videotaped.  Well, actually, I got videotaped last week, and today I got to see some highlights.  Guess what?  I am fat.  And, I have a double chin.

Really, it was the chin that I started freaking out about.  I have worked on making friends with the other parts of me.  Stomach? Check!  Arms? Check!  Belly? Check!  Chin?  Oops, I missed that one.  What is a girl to do with a double chin?  Do other people have these?  Has anybody else noticed mine? If I had been sitting up taller, I bet I could have made it look less prominent.  Or if I had stretched my neck out.  How about doing a re-shoot, in which I drape myself backward over the chair, and speak upside down into the camera?  We could turn the camera upside down, too, so it looks like I just put in alot of hair product to get such voluminous, upstanding locks.  Ha, ha!  I just made myself laugh! :)

No, I think I have to see my double chin as just another acceptable part of this body I happen to have inherited in this particular lifetime.  I have to start thinking positively, rather than rudely, at this perfectly normal part of my anatomy.  What is good about chins, anyway?  Well, if I didn't have one, I would really look funny.  And eating, drinking, chewing, and swallowing would be difficult.  Where would my teeth go?  And, since we are talking double chin, we're talking neck here, too, folks.  What would I do without a throat? I really have to admit that, no, I do not want to lop this part of my body off.  I actually kindof like having both a neck and a chin. I like knowing that I can stick my tongue out at people only when I want to, and not just because my tongue has nowhere to go while hanging out in my head.   I like being able to talk, sing, laugh, chew, and swallow. Those things are actually pretty important, and functional to boot!  Hooray for chins!  And two cheers for double chins!

For good measure, I formally extend Marilyn's challenge to you, now.  Hey, I have put it out there with the chin thing - now it's your turn.  What's great about a body part you have been remiss about loving?  Which part of you are you willing to own again, even after it has been highlighted with videotape? Here is to loving yourself more, and hating yourself less, little by little, one day at a time!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Harnessing Balance

Boxing and Yoga.  They seem like absolute polar opposites.  Yoga is gentle, loving, nurturing, and subtle, even as it challenges me and pushes my limits. Yoga teaches non-harming, to oneself, to others, and to the planet.  Lovely!  Boxing, on the other hand, is just plain aggressive. You punch stuff.  If you throw in a little kickboxing, you kick stuff, too.  If one is so inclined (which I am not) you can even punch people, and get in a ring with them while they try to punch you.  Ugh!  Why do I like this so much? 

I have been trying to put this together for myself, the strange dichotomy of loving yoga (and I mean, I really love yoga) with the gleeful delight that takes over when I am boxing.  I get really into punching stuff!  Throw in a little bit of loud, aggressive music, a bunch of sweaty, stinky, posturing men, and a few other gleeful women, and I am hooked.  It is great!  But, what gives?  Am I secretly still really angry, deep down?  Possibly, but I don't think that's it.  I think that there is something balancing for me in having both yoga and boxing in my life.

Boxing and yoga are symbolic ways that I am working out balance in all areas of my life.  The more I engage with both boxing and yoga, the more I notice the dance of opposites in the rest of my life, coming into and out of balance: work and rest, control and surrender, acceptance and willingness to change.  In a concrete way, I am enacting these polarities through movement, and working them out in a very body-centered way. 

Just like any other polarities in my life, both yoga and boxing offer necessary benefits when done mindfully, and yet can become unhealthy if taken to the extreme or thrown out of balance.  If I get too riled up in boxing, I throw out my neck, and get all cranky and sore, and just want to lay down.  Likewise, if I aggressively muscle my way into a difficult yoga pose, or fail to listen to my body in some way, I not only hurt myself, but I lose the subtle engagement with the sublime that is most important to me in my yoga practice.  So, I can't over-do either boxing or yoga.  On the other hand, I can't "under-do" them, either.  If I don't do enough boxing, I feel sluggish and my body starts begging for movement.  I miss the excitement of it!  If I don't do enough yoga, I feel all discombobulated, and disconnected from myself.  I start to feel rigid, ungrounded, and lost.  Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, I have to find the place of balance for myself - not too hard, not too soft, but just right.

Boxing has become a form of yoga for me. It is a piece of my practice. The word, Yoga, actually comes from the root verb, "Yuj," meaning, "to yoke."  To yoke is to harness, or unite.  When I "yoke" seeming opposites, and engage with the polarities in my life, there is a tension between them, but ultimately there is also the possibility of finding balance in holding both of them.  I can't do one without the other.  Both are necessary - the yin and the yang.

At the end of a yoga class, the teacher and students typically bow to one another, and say, "Namaste," which means, "The divine in me bows to the divine in you."  I wonder what would happen if I bowed at the end of a boxing class.  Maybe smacking gloves with somebody has a similar ritual form to it, "Good work, Man!" being a very westernized version of bowing to the divine in each other.  Call me crazy, but I think boxing allows me to tap in to divine joy, and exuberance, and play in ways that balance, and are balanced by, the divine awareness and compassion that yoga brings.  I am taking the best of both worlds, and calling it good.  Namaste, Man!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Pink Boxing Gloves

A few months ago, I joined a boxing gym, which is totally out of character for me.  But, not only did I join a boxing gym, I also bought pink boxing gloves at the same time!  Pink!!  And not just the boxing gloves, either, but the hand wraps as well.  When I show up for my boxing classes now, I am adorned in pink, down to the skin.  Maybe I will buy a pink workout shirt, or pink underwear to go with these purchases.  This whole pink thing wouldn't be that weird, except that  I almost never buy anything pink.  Even as a child, I rejected anything whose primary color palette included pink.  I have always thought it was kindof a blah color, and associated it with Barbie dolls and bubble gum. Pink was a color other girls could wear.  Pretty girls.  Those girls.  Not me.  It is like I somehow thought I didn't qualify for the pink team.

When I bought these gloves, though, I absolutely HAD to have pink.  The excuses I made to rationalize this purchase were that my kids won't steal them, and they support breast cancer research.  It was my civic duty to buy these gloves!  But when I got to my car, I was kindof horrified.  PINK.  Pink boxing gloves.  I wanted to hide them under something, but boxing gloves are actually kindof enormous, so that didn't work.  I had to live with my purchase.  I had to own up to owning pink boxing gloves.

Three days later, I had to brave bringing them in to my boxing gym for my very first personal training session.  It came free with the gym membership, or believe me, I would not have signed up for this.  First of all, personal training has historically been a nightmare of convincing some well-intentioned, but less-than-helpful, gym guy that no, I don't want to talk about how I should lose weight, or how I should take on fat shame, or why I should follow their diet plan (which I know they themselves have never tried).  I hate that, because it is exhausting, and makes me want to run screaming from the gym.  Strange how shame is such a powerful de-motivator... but I digress.  I have honestly avoided personal training for years, but this time I really did need to know something about boxing.  I am completely out of my element with this, .  So not only did I end up meeting a personal trainer, I found myself doing this wearing pink boxing gloves.

And, guess what?  Boxing, even with a personal trainer, is totally fun.  My trainer is this cute little guy who laughs with me (instead of at me - important distinction!) and never says a word about burning calories or firming my butt.  Instead he teaches me how to box, or kickbox, or whatever I feel like learning.  I heard he made some other woman puke, but I think that is gym-myth.  He laughed when I asked him about it - but neither confirmed or denied it.  At any rate, he does really bring a kick-your-butt workout, but we laugh the whole time.  Which is pretty easy, because I am, after all, wearing pink boxing gloves.  How seriously can one take oneself wearing these things?

And now, I am off to boxing class, which has become a regular routine for me, even though it has not gotten any easier.  Super fun!  And, I blame all of this on HAES, because without it I might never have taken the risk of doing something out of my element.  Or wearing pink.  Viva la Revolution!!

Monday, January 3, 2011


Last night I was writing something to post for today, the 3rd day of the 31 days of the New Years Revolution, and it just wasn't right.  I may re-work it, and post it eventually, but something about it just didn't jive.

I wrote this long thing about how I am not going to die any sooner than anybody else, even though the weight loss industry would like for me to think so, blah, blah, blah.  It was a very "stick-it-to-the-man" kind of piece, which, when executed properly, can be empowering and inspiring.  This one?  Even though the information was true, and well researched, this post sent me to bed feeling sour.


Because, I realized as I my head hit the pillow, I am happy!  I am happy to be who I am, in this particular body, in this particular incarnation, in this particular place and time that is my life.  I am happy to be able to ski, and box, and do yoga.  I am happy to snuggle with my kids, and watch crappy movies with my husband, and spend too much time on the phone with my friends.  I love my job, and I love my clients, who teach me a thing or two about what happiness even means. 

I am so happy, I think I ran out of energy to be mad.  I don't feel like fighting the power today, because "the power" just doesn't own me anymore.  "They," and we all know who "they" are, do not get to determine whether I am happy or not.  I do.  I choose it, every day.  I keep at this happy thing, in a consistent, focused kind of way, and perhaps all that work is paying off!  No, this is not a particularly sexy thing to sell, but it is true for me that working at happiness has gotten me further than any external pill, program, lecture series, workshop, or even one-on-one training has ever done.  Boring, but there it is. 

I don't need to be sour.  I don't need to sell HAES to everybody, I just need to live it.  I don't have to convince anybody.  Maybe people will be inspired - and I hope they will! - to take themselves back, and to take their rights to their bodies and their lives back.  But, whether they do or not, I am just really grateful that I am in this place. I can stick it to the man another day.

In honor of my realization that I am, in fact, happy, here is a list I have been composing in my head all day of the things I am grateful for, in no particular order:

1. Yoga.  Yoga rules.  I really, really love yoga.
2. My husband and my kids, of course.
3. Work that is meaningful and fulfilling
4. Learning new stuff, all of the time
5. Boxing - Even though it throws my C3 vertebra out of whack every time, it is super fun
6. Skiing
7. Living in a beautiful, mountainous state
8. Roller Derby
9. Friends
10. HAES and the Fat Acceptance Movement
11. Greens
12. Really soft pajamas
13. Bubble Baths
14. Thick books that take a long time to read

I would love to hear what you are grateful for, and what makes YOU happy today!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

People Who Need People

I went to see the new Narnia movie last night, and was irritated to spend my first 5 minutes in the theater with a larger than life commercial for "The Biggest Loser."  *SIGH*  How come the rest of the world isn't in on HAES?  Don't they know that the biggest loser producers starve, withhold water, berate, and otherwise abuse those contestants while keeping them locked on a ranch? (See Golda's interview with one of them here! I am not making this up!)  I wish the rest of the world knew about, and appreciated, Health at Every Size!!  For a minute, I got really mad.  I wanted to stick my fingers in my ears, and shut my eyes until it was over, like I was watching a horror movie! But, then I thought about the work of the HAES folks with this New Year's Revolution thing, and about how I believe one person really can make a difference, and how maybe I'm not totally alone in this - even if nobody else in the theater looked like they were cringing at Jyllian Michaels.

When I got home, I started thinking about how long it took me to discover HAES, and how, even when I did, I went back and forth about whether I could really accept myself - heck, I still go back and forth about it!  I have 30-something years of practice at treating myself way worse than those trainers treat the biggest loser guys.  The reality is that it takes a lot of patience, effort, and practice to un-learn all of the crap we've been told.  It is a daily battle, starting the minute I wake up.  Can I like myself today?  Am I OK in this skin?  Am I going to fall victim to the hype, or am I going to buck up and keep trying to stand up for myself?  Sometimes I get derailed.  I have days where I lament the size that I am, long for a fix-it pill or a miracle cure, beat myself up for the way my butt looks in those jeans, or feel totally insecure in a general "too fat to be alive" kind of way.  It's like my brain is wired that way, and my daily job is to work at re-wiring it.  Like practicing yoga, or medicine, or psychotherapy, I have to stay present, all day, every day, to myself and to my truth.

I wish the world was a little more supportive, for sure.  I wish that all of my friends and family totally understood, but not all of them do.  They have to follow their path, and I have to follow mine.  I share what I can, hopefully without turning into a zealot (I have my days!), and I try to make room for a variety of experiences and values.  I practice not sharing sometimes, when I know the response will be less than supportive.  Let's face it, sometimes I just don't have the energy to get into an HAES treatise with the chatty lady-on-a-diet buddy-ing up to me at the gym.  For me, compassion wins out most of the time - sometimes it means understanding where the gym lady is coming from, sometimes it means just being who I am and modeling a different way, and sometimes it means being an all-out activist and sticking it to the man.

The most important choice I make is to be around people who love and accept me for who I am.  I talk about other stuff! I do fun things, and try to enjoy my life, and the people in it, one moment at a time.  I am so blessed to be able to do this, even if some days it takes more work than others.  I think that, when it comes down to it, that is the point of all of this body image stuff I am so passionate about - it is about reclaiming the right to have a life worth living.  Everybody deserves that.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Tackling Myths

Happy New Year, and Viva La Revolution!

As you may know, as part of my New Year's Revolution, I am posting daily about Health at Every Size (HAES) topics from Linda Bacon's fantastic book.  This morning I woke up to her newsletter, with a mention of my blog - can anyone say, "starstruck?" Well, at any rate, here I go with this revolutionary adventure!

Today I want to talk about myths - cultural myths, and my own personal myths about what it means to be fat.  Let me note here that before my HAES journey, I would never have used the word fat to describe myself.  I would have used round, or big, or chubby or some other euphemistic word.  Unless I was beating myself up - then I would lament about "feeling fat."  "FAT" was a  mean word, hurled at me by schoolyard bullies, and threatened at home at the dinner table.  One wouldn't want to be fat (*gasp!*) because to be fat is to be associated with all of the terrible myths about what being fat means.  "Fat," a supreme insult, really meant stupid, lazy, ugly, undesirable, unlovable, rebellious, indifferent, hedonistic, emotionally screwed up, unattractive, unhealthy, worthless, undignified, embarrassing, and otherwise useless.  Ouch, man!

I used to think that I must be doing something wrong - how can I possibly be normal or OK if I am still fat? I used to believe in the stupid/ugly/lazy myths, even though I couldn't figure out how to fix myself.  It sure didn't feel lazy to slave away at the gym in perpetual punishment.  It didn't feel stupid to pore through nutrition and weight loss books. I figured it was me. Obviously, I would be skinny if I was doing "it" right (whatever the elusive "it" was).  I think that could be why all the weight loss ads are so seductive!  We are fed the myth (perpetuated with great enthusiasm by the weight loss industry) that if you just find the right diet, or the right "lifestyle change," that you, too, could be on the track to OK-ness.  And lots of us buy it!  How ingenious of the diet industry - sell something that doesn't work 98% of the time, and then blame the consumer when it inevitably fails.  Wow, talk about a marketing plan!

Even as I discovered mindful eating, when I didn't lose weight as promised, I figured there must be something wrong with me.  Obviously, I wasn't mindful enough. Intuitive enough.  I couldn't actually listen to my body.  Other people, apparently, can listen to theirs, but when I listen to mine, it just stays the same. What a betrayal!  Stupid body! Stupid me!

The most tragic part of our cultural myths about fat are the human hurts.  I know what it feels like to internalize the crazy body hate messages - and I would be willing to be that you do, too!  I have yet to meet anyone who hasn't been affected.  Even thin people are impacted!  Fat is feared and reviled, and we live in a cultural terror about "getting fat."  This cultural anxiety shows up every time we talk negatively about our weight, fret about this diet, or that "approach," assume someone should or could lose weight, compliment someone because their butt looks a tiny bit smaller, or laugh at a fat joke.  These things hurt everybody.

Imagine what the world would be like if we could appreciate people for who they are, including (but not limited to) a diversity of body shapes and sizes.  I personally love getting compliments now and again - how about you?  What a relief it is to be able to accept them, now!  When someone says, "you look great!" I say, "thank you,"  instead of averting my eyes in disbelief and thinking to myself, "oh, no, you don't realize that I was .4 lbs heavier when I stepped on the scale today.  I'm terrible, fat, ugly, and bad."  What a relief not to have to live in a state of body hate anymore.  I feel like I escaped from a cultural prison, and I am determined not only never to go back, but to free some of my brothers and sisters from that same awful place.

When I was a teenager, I was riding my bike when some guy yelled, "Hey buffalo butt, I love you!" out of his car window as he sped by.  At the time I was mortified, and walked my bike home with my sweater wrapped around my butt so no one would notice my buffalo-sized derriere.  I cannot think of a more cruel or shaming thing to do to a teenaged girl, but that guy obviously wasn't thinking about what kind of damage his actions may have had on me.  When I think back on this, I wonder about alternative responses to hiding in agreement with his meanness.  What if I flipped him the bird? Of shouted, "I love you, too, asshole," or anything really that didn't involve allowing that dude to determine my level of self-esteem.  Which brings me to my next point about cultural myths:


Challenge people when they support or perpetuate cultural myths about body image or body fat! Stick up for your fat friends.  Don't take it lying down when someone says something critical to you about your weight, your food, your body, your looks, or any part of you!  Even (especially) if it's a loved one or family member.  You don't have to be nasty back (although I do secretly wish I had said something nasty to buffalo butt man - yes, I am still harboring some resentment).  Change starts with me.  It starts with you.  Come up with ways to protect yourself, and fight back.  For me, this boils down to every day mundane acts of self love, and maintaining confidence in myself.  I take back the word fat - it is a descriptor, like short, or tall, or blue-eyed. I refuse to take on the cultural myths and meanings around the word "fat" anymore.  I believe in my right to live in the world, and in my body, with comfort, affection, and love.  I try to live as if it is unthinkable that someone would criticize me for my body - which it actually is! - and respond from my own power around those who do criticize. 

I would love to hear what you do to speak up against cultural myths about fatness - Have you come up with ways to fight the diet police in your head?   Have you set aside time for self-care?  Have you invented come backs to "concerned" relatives?  Have you encountered your own buffalo butt man?  What did you do?  Let's share the wisdom, and fight these cultural myths together.