Day 8. Or maybe 60 or 83. So . . Prompt 8.

Describe the last time that you had the type of fun that made you smile for a few days.

I’m not exactly sure what “fun” is so I’ll talk about the last time I laughed so hard I couldn’t stop.

I’m known for my laugh. My children told me that they can find me in a store because they hear me laugh.

I love laughing.  Laughing’s my favorite, but I’ve never been big about constructing a situation to intentionally have fun. I love life and believe in living it fully and more often than not, that means laughing throughout the day.

The other day Jason and I were talking. I don’t remember what it was about, but we both got tickled and started laughing. One of us said something else that struck us as funny so we laughed even more. The next thing said was also funny and it was late at night and we were tired so the laughter just keep going.

I don’t remember the details because this happens regularly. We laugh. We laugh at ourselves and each other and life and it is so good to have this.

If the people in your life aren’t helping you laugh like this, stop and ponder. How can you bring more joy into life? How can you find ways to add laughter into every day? Laughter is a good, good thing and it’s free. Absolutely, positively free.

I dare you to laugh out loud today.  Find the humor and the joy and share it with others.

These are not my words

Isabel Foxen Duke works extensively in the field of body acceptance and writes regularly about diet culture. In an email I received today, she included these words.  They are powerful and deserve to be shared.

I can think of fewer drugs (and I’ve tried some) quite as intoxicating as the pursuit of weight loss.

Planning a new diet used to literally soothe me of my greatest feelings of anxiety and hopelessness.

Whenever I believed I was ‘on my way’ to weight loss,
or perceived myself to be ‘winning’ at its pursuit,
I felt safe
like I could finally get some ground under my feet,
like everything was going to be okay;
I felt powerful
like I was gonna be someone,
like life was gonna do my bidding.

For all the hullabaloo about emotional eating (my thoughts on this here), emotional eating doesn’t even compare to how mind-altering, and ultimately habit-forming, the pursuit of thinness really is.

And if you don’t believe me—I dare you to give it up.

Stop trying to make yourself thinner…stop trying to make your body look a certain way…and then tell me how dependent you really are on this drug called “weight control.”

The highs, and the come-downs, are intense;

lest we forget about the come-downs…

the painful rebounds,
the excruciating feelings of failure,
the anxiety of needing to ‘keep it up,’
of slipping, of hanging on by our fingernails,
and the increasing and progressive hopelessness
we feel with every spin round the cycle.

Like most addicts…we too often forget about the come-downs when in the grips of a trigger.

Those are powerful words.  It’s easy to think of being addicted to food.  It happens. Even if it’s a behavioral addiction and not to a mind-altering substance, there’s something calming about sitting and eating at the end of a stressful day.

But have you ever considered that thinness could be an addiction? That the idea of having a smaller, more acceptable body could be an unhealthy thing?

Ask yourself: what would you do if you weren’t focused on losing weight and being thin?

Why aren’t you doing that now?

What would your thought processes be if you weren’t thinking about what to eat and when to eat and what other people think about when they see you?

If you can’t imagine a life without without thinking about food and weight, I completely understand. When I was asked that question a couple of years ago, I couldn’t answer it.

I want to encourage you to think about those things now. Today.  Think about how amazing you are. Think about how beautiful the flowers are today. Think about how much you love spending time with your friends and, yes, about how good that pizza tastes when you eat it. Enjoy it.

It’s OK to enjoy your food.

Week or weak?

I haven’t written in a while. If I stay with the 30-day journal prompt, today is day 7, but you all know I started writing longer than a week ago.  So, is this a Week Post or is a Weak Post due to procrastination? I don’t know if there’s a right answer to that.

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But here I am again, and so I’ll follow the prompts.

Day 7: Review your entries from the past 6 days (or few weeks . . . whatever!). What patterns are you noticing?

1: I like pictures.  I love words, but also believe that pictures tell a bigger story than words can.

2. My family is important to me.  Very important. Last weekend, Jason and I went to see Wonder Woman.  Any time I saw Wonder Woman engage in battle, my thought was “yes. . . this is what women do. . . we fight for the people we love.”

3. I am comfortable being me. I am comfortable in my skin.

4. I do not have a good relationship with food, even though I have a much improved relationship with  my body and my self. In fact, when I have to think about my lifelong relationship with, there’s anger mixed in with.

5. A side note: I miss writing about clothes and figuring out life in these bodies of ours. I may some super fun discoveries lately and I’m excited about sharing them with you!

Mirror, mirror

Day 6: When I look in the mirror at myself, I feel…

…both thankful and challenged.

Why thankful? This may be the most important part.

I am thankful because I am.
I exist.
I live, I breathe.
I am capable of doing everything necessary for life.
My eyes work, my mind works, my limbs are strong.
I’ve grown, given birth to, and raised babies.

My body works as it is supposed to even though I haven’t always taken good care of her. (And yes – my body is female so I will use feminine pronouns.)

I am challenged because when I look in the mirror these days, I can also see two realities. A lifetime of weight gain and loss is obvious. Stretch marks. Loose skin. A higher set point. Minimal exercise. It’s all there. I’m still thankful for every bit of it, so the challenge is to not dwell on I should have or I wish.

I should have kept the weight off.
I should have exercised more.

I wish I’d found yoga sooner.
I wish I could tan.
I wish I hadn’t sunburned in my 20s.

Those thoughts could take over if I wanted them to so I challenge myself daily to see the positive aspects of myself.  I am also challenged not to moralize my choices as right or wrong or good or bad. They simply are. It isn’t right to be athletic.  It isn’t wrong to be a reader. It isn’t right to be thin and it isn’t wrong to be thick. It isn’t right to be energetic or wrong to be tired. It simply is.

And sometimes, choosing this daily is too much.  Sometimes, I choose it one small moment at a time.

When I look at myself in the mirror I feel thankful and challenged because I am a remarkable human being (and you are too) and each day holds new opportunities.

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Gratitude is the best attitude

Day 5: List 10 things you are grateful for today

  • Health.  After a spring of being very sick, I am thankful that I am healthy and able to get up and do what I want to do each day.
  • My relationship with my children. They’re pretty much grown now.  My oldest is 28 and my youngest will be 18 soon, so it’s a different kind of relationship than a mom with younger children.  Mercy, I love those human beings. We haven’t always communicated well and I made mom mistakes along the way, but we can really talk about things now. They’re remarkable human beings and I am thankful for them all.

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  • Yoga. Although there are days that I don’t do yoga (and — cough, cough– weeks), I cannot deny that it has made a difference in my life. Not only have I found a form of activity that I enjoy, but it meets a specific need for stress reduction and improved flexibility.

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  • Music. What would the world be without music? It expresses things that words cannot. It serves as a bridge between cultures and time. There are very few life situations that are not improved by adding music.  Having a bad day? Play some loud music to deal with the anger and frustration.  Need to focus? Find some calm classical to bring you back to where you  need to be. Having a great day? Turn on some music and get up and dance!giphy
  • Lifelong friends. If you know me, you probably know these people.  Or at least you’ve heard me talk about them. They are my people.  They’ve been here for as long as I can remember.  They know 8 year old me and high school me and college me and young adult me and present day me.  We have been through much together and we will continue to be there for one another. I have no doubt.
  • A husband who encourages me to do what’s good for me even when it means more work for him. I could not have taken the time for therapy or for starting a graduate program in counseling without the support of my husband. On a daily basis, I know he’ll not only pick up some slack, but go above and beyond even after having been at work all day. I am thankful.
  • Fiction.  I love fiction.  Fiction.
  • The internet. How many of us have been able to reconnect with people from our past because of the internet?  How many of us have been able to find information that helps us with our daily lives?  Yes, it can be a time drain if it’s not used well, but it’s an incredible blessing.
  • New beginnings. Whether it’s a new week, a new semester, a new month, or a new insight, I’m thankful for new beginnings.
  • The fact that clothes have finally been demystified for me. I’m almost fifty and it’s only been within the past couple of years that I’ve gained any real security in what I wear. I grew up in a school with a very high dress code so it took me years to learn how to dress casually without feeling and looking sloppy. I wasn’t allowed to wear pants to school, so that was another hurdle to cross. As women, our bodies are constantly changing and for years I was either pregnant or dressing in mom mode. I don’t even know what made the biggest difference, but these days, I feel confident in what I wear even if others may not like it.

What about you?  What are you thankful for today?

Day 4: After a weekend full of family

Dear Body,

I love you.  It’s taken me years to be able to say that, but today I can unapologetically say that I love my body. Yesterday alone, you enabled me to walk through the Clinton Library and Little Rock’s Old State House and share part of my story and the story of my state with people I love. You also supported me through a much-needed yoga practice after a weekend of busyness and activity.  Your skin — my skin — even let me know when enough sun was enough by slightly changing color and feeling warm.

 

Outside the Clinton.  The current traveling exhibit features giant bugs.  lol!

I love a good tablescape.

And you know I love me some Jimmy Carter, even if he’s painted on an Easter egg!

Little Rock’s Old State House.  A part of Arkansas and Lisa Fuller history. In high school, I was a delegate to student congress and our sessions were held in the old House of Rep and Senate chambers.  It was super cool. 

 

Last night, you slept and slept well. My eyes allowed me to watch one of my favorite movies with Jason and my hand allowed me to hold his hand while we sat together. My ears heard music that brought wonderful memories of both my mother and my daughter to mind. My mind accessed stored memories that had been filed away for later.

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I love my body because it is strong. It grew and gave birth to babies and fed them throughout their first years. Sure its size and shape has been all over the place, but it has thrived through all of those changes and is still strong and capable. It lets me go and do and see and hear and feel and remember and smile and speak and sing.

After a lifetime of being uncertain, today it is very good to say: I love my body.

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Food

Day 3: What is your relationship to food like? Write it a letter, as if it were a real person.

Dear Food,

Please, just leave me alone. I’m tired of you.  I’m tired of thinking about our relationship and whether you’re enough for me or too much. I’m tired of the guilt that you bring to every interaction that we have. It makes me angry that you are necessary to life and that I can’t just walk away and never have to deal with you again. Everyone else talks about you like you’re this wonderful thing, a treat that makes days better and that sharing you with others is a highlight of life for them.

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Not for me.  To me, you are a constant source of stress. Planning, shopping, preparing, cleaning up. How much? What’s a “good choice”? What are other people thinking of me when they see the food I choose? And don’t tell me that other people don’t notice what I eat, because other people have commented on my food choices all of my life. “Are you sure you need that?” if I got something and “What’s wrong? Don’t you want something?” if I didn’t. “Eating too much will make you fat,” partnered with “You have a headache? You must be hungry; get something to eat.”

Mixed messages.  Mixed messages at home, mixed messages throughout culture, and mixed messages in my own head.  I love the thought of having people over and feeding them; I hate the stress of it and feelings of responsibility.

So please, Food.  Just leave me alone. Some people may look forward to heaven because of that idea of it being a  never ending banquet.  For me, heaven would be never having to deal with food again.

Sincerely, but definitely NOT yours,

Lisa

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What I want, what I really, really want

Day 2: What do I really want out of life? How do I make sure I get it?

Good question; I’m going to rephrase it.

What do I really want out of life? How do I make sure I keep it?

From my earliest days, I’ve wanted a family that worked.  A family that could communicate and work together and be a place of love and happiness and strength and faith.

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It’s taken a lot of work, but I have that now and I want to keep it.

That takes intention. It takes being responsible for my actions and being willing to apologize when I’m wrong.  It takes having boundaries and not falling into the rut of being a people pleaser. Everyone needs to contribute and we all need to be working toward health. It takes being vulnerable and being willing to talk about things when it’s hard. It takes looking people in the eye and not being constantly distracted by technology. It takes planning to be sure everyone’s physical needs are met.  Is there food in the house? Are the bills being paid? Do you have clean clothes? All of that is important.

I love my family. My blended, diverse family is one of the absolute favorite parts of my life. We may not be traditional and we may even cross over into some people’s definition of “not family,” but I don’t care. These are my people. We are family by choice and I am willing to do what’s needed to keep it.

 

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Day 1 of 30 Day Challenge

I’m starting a 30 day challenge.  Part of the challenge for me is to write daily.  Another part is to face my fears in terms of writing about things that really matter to me rather than staying with the easy things. I found a set of 30 emotional eating writing prompts and am going to use them as a jump start.

Day 1: My biggest barrier to weight loss is___________________ and here is why:

Well.  Here’s the thing: I’m not in this to lose weight.  I’m in this to adopt healthy behaviors.  There’s a lot of research that points to the unhealthy impact of diet culture and the quest for thinness.  Here’s an academic journal about it and here’s a whole book you can read. There’s also research showing that size isn’t the important thing, but that healthy behaviors are. So my goal isn’t to lose pounds; my goal is to adopt healthy behaviors.  With this in mind, I will continue.

My biggest barrier to adopting healthy behaviors is myself. In the past, I would have said time, but my youngest child is graduating from high school in a few days and my children are very self-sustaining.  Yes, I work full time.  Yes, I’m also in grad school and taking two classes, but there’s time for a few 30 minute walks or a yoga practice at home. Somehow, though, by the time I get home, I just want to sit on the couch and hang out with Jason. I’ve spent the majority of my life not wanting to be home.  Now I love it.

Oh.  And I don’t like to sweat.  That’s definitely a factor.

Food is actually getting much better.  We decided to cut out as many simple carbs as we could, so for the past couple of months, we’ve eaten a lot of protein, fresh vegetables, and some fruit. We’re not aiming for perfection. We are aiming for keeping the goal in mind. I’ve noticed, though, that I have much more energy than I did when I ate a lot of carby foods. I also have a goal of drinking a couple of glasses of water every day at work.  Being hydrated definitely helps.

So there’s day 1: a clarification of goals and a basic assessment of my biggest hindrance: me.

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Let’s talk about our bodies 

See that? It’s me. Me when I’m about to go to yoga. Me wearing exercise clothes.

There’s this weird truth that our culture looks at people with larger bodies and thinks, “Geez. Why don’t you exercise?” Then they also look at us when we do and think, “Geez. Why are you wearing that? No one needs to see that. Cover it up.”

So this is what happens: large person wants to be healthy and move more. Large person goes to gym or exercise class. Large person is wearing all the wrong kinds of clothes because they want to cover up. Larger person is incredibly uncomfortable with the whole thing, especially the super fit, thin person who is wearing shorts and an exercise bra right next to them, so large person never returns to gym or class.

I have the utmost respect for the current movement of men and women who are refusing to let their size determine when and where they will exercise and what they will wear when they do.

Jessamyn Stanley

Dianne Bondy

Anna Guest-Jelly

Michelle Carter

Richard Widmark Jr.

These yogis are bold, brave, and they inspire me to just keep moving. To face the insecurities, wear the clothes that make it easier, and just keep moving.

I would like to encourage all women to do the same thing. I don’t care what your size is. Find a way that you enjoy moving, find the clothes that make it work for you and hold your head high when you walk into a gym or a class.

Large women who care about their bodies are not woodland elves who exist only in people’s imaginations. We are real people. We exist. And we deserve to be prepared and comfortable.

BGPS: If you’re looking for plus size athletic wear that works, try Torrid or Rainbeau Curves. I’ve loved everything I’ve gotten from them.