Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Smash the Scale- New Year's Confessions

Tomorrow is New Year's Day.  For a good portion of my 33 years, I wasted that day writing long lists of "resolutions" (aka unreasonable-and-unreachable-goals-disguising-themselves-as-healthy-lifestyle-changes), complete with calendars, benchmark goals, accountability measures, etc. only to have the goals eventually fail, usually by about February or March. Then, as an all-or-nothing perfectionist, I immediately labelled myself as a hopeless loser, and gave up on my "healthy lifestyle", crashing and burning with flair and Oreos.

But here's the weird thing.  The reality is, that's what I wanted.  I wanted the failure as much as I wanted the Oreos, in fact probably more.  Oreos are a nice calming, happy-inducing, non-judging friend.  But failure is even better.  You see, there is a certain safety in being a fat failure.  It took me a long time to realize it, but I have a suit of armor I carry around with me at all times.  It protects me from having to let people see the real me.  If anyone rejects me, I have an instant scapegoat- it's the armor they're rejecting instead of myself, those shallow jerks.  I get to look noble in comparison to their prejudice, and I also can wallow in self-pity.  It's a win-win.

Several years ago, I stopped making resolutions to magically transform my body and my life, mostly because it always turned out badly and emotionally devastating, and I decided to be kind to myself and no longer put myself through that abuse.  I occasionally still make goals of things I plan to accomplish that year anyway, like paying off my car, taking lots of hikes, or doing a summer internship.  This year is no different.  No body transformation goals.  Instead, this:

I'll get to the "because" in just a moment.  But first, smashing the scale (ie with a sledge hammer) is an interesting notion for me, because I have already weened myself off the scale.  I actually don't own a scale anymore, and I have only a rough idea of what I weigh.  It's nice living without a scale, and I highly recommend it.  (So if you haven't yet, go smash yours!)  No person actually NEEDS to know their exact weight every day or even every week.  The only time I ever have to know my weight is for filling out my driver's license application, and filling out medical forms.  I find out my weight a couple times a year when I happen to get sick enough to go to the doctor.  Being mostly in the dark about the number on the scale is just fine with me.  Instead of a number dictating how I'm going to feel about myself on any given day, how I FEEL dictates how I feel.  (Imagine that.)

Beautiful, even sans makeup

So since I have no scale to smash, I will have to smash other modes of hiding and protecting myself.  Giving my body fat status as protective armor ensures that I both love and hate it and subsequently love and hate myself.  I want to remove that status and give myself permission to love myself (including the fat), while also letting my true self shine through.  That won't be as instant as smashing a scale with a hammer.  And I have to be careful to avoid thinking my true self I've been hiding is a skinny hottie that has to be let out of the fat suit.  I already am the hottie, and the armor is actually in my head.  My physical appearance probably won't actually change all that much as I disrobe and let people see the real me.

A few things I have already started to do this past year, and plan to continue.
  • Play more!  I have actually had times where I would exercise at home so I could get myself looking presentable enough to work out in public.  Now I don't care what people think when they see this fat girl hiking, backpacking, and river rafting.  I just do it, cause I enjoy it.
  • Smile at myself in the mirror.  Instead of focusing in on little parts of my appearance to see if they look okay, just smile at beautiful me.
  • STOP making shaming comments about myself.  Making negative comments about my appearance teaches the wrong things to my sons and anyone else who hears me.  Only positive comments, and try to avoid comments focused only on appearance.
  • Avoid commenting on others' appearance.  Compliment their character, their hard work, their health, their joy.
  • Lose the makeup.  I do this not because I think makeup is evil, but because my natural "me" is without makeup.  I only started wearing it when I was 19 when a guy indoctrinated me with the idea that I should wear makeup.  I eventually convinced myself I needed it in order to be acceptable or presentable.  That belief is not me, and I'm getting rid of it.
  • Hug people more.  (This is a newer one.) I like to hug but I hold back in case it will make someone else feel weird or uncomfortable because they don't like me enough to hug me.  But in the process I end up making the situation feel really awkward and it's just dumb.
  • Be myself.  I will only attract awesome friends if they can see my awesomeness. 
So, that is how I will "Smash the Scale".  Now for the "because".

Because I'm a human being.  Because I deserve to see my body as a means rather than an end.  Because I'm a complex person and my worth is not dependent on how I look or what others think of me.  What matters is what I think.  Because my body is a tool to do awesomeness.  Because my sons will learn much from me about the worth of women and how to treat them, and how they should treat themselves.  Because I am happier when I just live.  And I don't need anyone's permission to do so.

What about you?  Are you ready to smash the scale?  What's your "because"?  Please comment!

Smash the Scale is a body love movement put on by The Militant Baker and her Body Love Conference.  (Read about Smash the Scale at her blog, and visit the FB page for the conference.)  Thanks for the inspiration, Jes.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sex Trafficking- a rant

I never use this term cause it's dumb, but it's actually appropriate now.  WTF?!!!??  I just went to a symposium on slavery and sex trafficking at UVU.  (http://www.uvu.edu/sei/events/slavery_symposium/) Oh my gosh!  Are you kidding me?  What is going on here?  This world is so disgusting!  There's not an extreme enough word to describe how debased, horrible, and evil some people are.
The first shocker...  some people (ie refugees from other countries) are actually being kidnapped and robbed of their ORGANS to sell piecemeal to the highest bidders.

Then on sex trafficking, I'm afraid I actually swore out loud at the symposium when they showed this.  In Portland, people can "rent" a 10-year-old kid for the weekend, no questions asked.  OH MY GOD, WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE???!!!!!!!  (Not taking my God's name in vain here, but literally crying out to Him.)  I want to gather up every child and lock them somewhere safe!  This is so depraved and disgusting, I can't bear it.

How much of the pornography that YOU look at do you think is actually fully consensual?  People are being trafficked for prostitution and pornography all over the place.  And because we love and revere pornography so much, here's an interesting loophole...  prostitution is illegal in most places, so if you take one of those trafficked prostitutes and pay them for sex, you're committing a felony.  But, take that same person, FILM the sex and post it as pornography, pay them as a porn "performer" and guess what? It's legal!!!!  WTF again!!!???!!!

When will we see that Pornography is EVIL and needs to be done away with?!?  This really is the worst drug, evil people are making loads of money off it at everyone else's expense, and if YOU still think that watching porn on your own time does not hurt anyone....PLEASE stop lying to yourself.  You're hurting real people, even if you won't admit that it's hurting yourself (which it is), you do NOT know that the "performers" you're watching aren't actually trafficked individuals having their lives destroyed through constant rape and abuse, their families' lives threatened, etc.  Take away the demand and the supply would subside.  BOYCOTT PORNOGRAPHY!!!!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sugar Withdrawal, Part 1

I'm doing a sugar fast at the moment, because I tend to go overboard with the sweets and eat the whole package of Oreos or whatever I have on hand.  I know that is not at all normal, that's because it's actually an eating disorder, although not one of the two well-known ones. (Binging but no purging cause I'm a wimp about vomiting - Binge Eating Disorder.)  This umm... "condition" is actually brought on my compulsive dieting.
Luckily (?) for me I binge pretty much exclusively on sweets, which I can just cut out and be fine, right?  It's not like I need them to survive.

Well as I'm quickly finding out due to the fact that I am also currently fasting from media (Facebook, movies, YouTube, radio, etc.), and my boyfriend, so I have NONE of my usual coping strategies, sugar is important in my regular routine.  It's amazing how much of a stress-reducer and coping mechanism sugar is for me.  It has an almost instant calming effect on me, which is why it tends to be the retreat of choice at the end of a long day.  Every long day.  Every day.

I've been dying to know why sugar is so calming for me, so addictive, and more importantly - how to deal with it.  I have researched sugar addiction and its similarity to alcoholism and other drug addictions.  But I still don't get why the body responds to it like a drug, when glucose is the fuel of choice for our body's cells.  How can it be so important but also so detrimental?  I've heard some say that it's actually fructose that is the culprit, and there could be truth to that.  Table sugar is half glucose, half sucrose.  But fruits are full of fructose and I don't have problems with that and it's considered healthy to eat plenty of fruit.  I'll still do more research on that one.  When I have time.

The "how to deal with it" part is really tough.  A lot of people say I should do "Intuitive Eating" - don't cut out any foods or food groups, but just stop eating when you're full, honor your hunger cues, eat a variety of foods, etc.  That's great advice.  But I sure do like sweet things a lot, and can find a way to have dessert with every meal.

Is it more like alcoholism where I should be giving it up cold turkey and never touch the stuff again?  And how strictly can I hold to "no sugar"?  Obviously there's some sugar in everything if you're talking carbs.  If it's table sugar, believe me, I can still binge on "sugar free" candy and crap like that, but at 3 times the $$.

When I have gone off it completely, I set myself up for a huge binge when I do mess up.  One time I was off sugar for several months!  It was out of my system, I didn't even crave it any more and I felt great.  Food no longer controlled my life.  But inevitably, little things start to bug me, like not getting to have pie at family gatherings.  Cravings creep up after a while more as a psychological thing than a physical one.  I guess I broke myself of the physical part but not the mental.  Do I really want to NEVER have ice cream or cookies or pie ever again?  After those months, I "fell off the wagon" and it has been pretty much a non-stop binge since then (several years now), perhaps cause I'm scared that I'll not have that food available when I decide to say goodbye to it again.  That's another case for intuitive eating - stop making certain foods "off limits", and giving them so much power.

Ugh...  but anyway, I'm doing a 2-week fast from stuff because I have felt really mixed up in my life and wanted to remove all my crutches and distractions, forcing myself to do more important things like introspect, clean my house, and do school work.  I didn't do this restriction as a permanent thing, but as a 2-week fast.  I know some people who fast from sugar the entire holiday season, except for Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.  That way they still get their favorite holiday treats on the holidays themselves, but they aren't gorging themselves all season long.  You can't do a ton of damage in just one day out of the whole month, so it seems a pretty good strategy.

I'm at the one-week mark currently in my 2-week fast, and I'm dying right now (which is why I'm writing so I have a constructive distraction).  I was thinking the first 3-4 days would be the big withdrawal time, but in actuality, it's from about days 4-8 I think.  (At least I hope this doesn't last many more days!)  I am SO tempted to cheat right now, it's not even funny.  I keep thinking things like, "I should just have some dark chocolate, that's really good for you, and I can just have one piece."  Well that may very well be true, but it would still be breaking my fast in which I wanted to literally have NO sugar/ sweets.
What I wouldn't give for some warm chocolate chip cookies and milk.  No!  Stop that train of thought.

So, I have been snacking a lot to try to get rid of the cravings.  But really, is this any better than if I were eating the sweets?  I'm eating chips and dip (good ones though- multigrain chips with spinach dip).  I made smoothies and that helped a lot to ignore or cover up cravings, but I ran out for now.  That was also really healthy and good (frozen fruit, juice, banana, spinach, Greek yogurt).

I am going to try getting up and listening to music while I clean, and if that doesn't work, I'll just go to bed early and hope tomorrow goes better.  Wish me luck.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Barbie is "On the Job" shaping girls' futures...whether we want her to or not.

This is a repost, originally written March 14, 2012 on BioGeoNerd.blogspot.com.  Decided to crop it down and put it here, as it's very appropriate to this blog.

Barbie "I Can Be..."
Can I just comment on what I happened to see on the girls' toy aisle the other day (I was going down every aisle looking for a stuffed animal moose for a friend).  I stopped when I saw a couple of Barbies saying, "I can be....[insert career here]"  Okay so now Mattel is going to tell all the girls in the world what jobs they can do?  That's my first problem with this - what if something they're interested in isn't on the list and therefore isn't cool or beautiful like Barbie is?  Will they abandon it and go for one that IS on the list?
My second problem was the options there at the toy store - Pet Vet, Teacher, Art Teacher, Preschool Teacher, Ballet Dancer, and "Kid Doctor".  Okay at least they had a doctor, but why can't you actually call her a Pediatrician?  Teach the girls some vocabulary for heaven's sake!  They've probably all been to a Pediatrician, it's not that far-fetched that they know what they're called.  Must we continue dumbing everything down?  And does Barbie HAVE to be wearing high heals and a dress only slightly longer than the lab coat (mid thigh)?  Seriously, what doctor do you know that would dress like that?

The Barbie website has some information on each of the professions complete with a couple of videos and games.  I cannot believe this game I just played for the "Babysitter" job.  You have to guide the little kid around the house and move toys out of her way so that she doesn't have an accident on the way to the potty.  When she makes it there you see her sitting on the potty, hear a distinct plop and the girl grins, and they show the toilet flushing with yellow and yes a little brown circle in there swirling around.  Holy heck!  Are you serious?

They do have more professions that just weren't on the shelves where I went, but they still have a pretty limited scope: lifeguard, snowboarder, baby doctor, zoo doctor, rock star, cooking teacher, fashion designer, track champion, tennis champion, gymnastics champion, chef, movie star, and my favorite - bride.

Girls aspire to be "brides".  But are they ready for the title that comes next - "wife"?  Or did they spend all their time planning for the wedding instead of the marriage?
The only non-traditional things are race car driver and architect.  The website showed a software engineer, but I haven't seen the actual toy of that anywhere. 
Anyone notice the trend?  Girly stuff involves either: being famous and adored by all (rock star, sports champions, movie star), cooking, or liking "cute" stuff like kitties and babies.  Don't get me wrong, I love cooking, animals and babies.  But I also love seeing cells in various stages of mitosis under a microscope, collecting Brine Shrimp eggs, taking way too many pictures of rocks, and cutting things open to see what's inside.

So, Barbie's at it again...  shaping our society.  Thanks, but no thanks, Barbie.

A Different Kind of Barbie
Speaking of Barbie, I went to this way cool seminar at the beginning of the semester by this awesome lady scientist who does a lot of work in the rainforest, and she has many non-profit projects she does to educate people about the rainforest.  She uses rock climbing techniques to study the canopy of the rainforest.  They actually created a "Tree Top Barbie" with her all decked out in her gear to climb to the top of the canopy, and she kind of joked that she was surprised that Mattell was not interested in it.  I think it's sad though, it's cool stuff like that they should promote in addition to Ballerina, Art Teacher, and Babysitter. Broaden the horizons of girls.

The battle field is probably a lot younger than we think.  Girls in Elementary school have already been brainwashed that they need to be pretty to be worth anything, they can't "get" math and science, and they're only supposed to like things that are small, fuzzy, and/or pink.

Well, I've got one for you, girls.  A curious symbiotic relationship between an animal and algae - hungry corral polyps grasping for dinner.  This is the basis of an entire ecosystem in the tropical oceans- the corral reef.  More importantly: AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL -  just like you.


Thanks for reading, please spread the love (there are Facebook and other links, right down there).

Be curious, be strong, be kind, and above all: be yourself.

Using F-words to describe myself

Hello, I'm fat.  I'm also fun.  And relatively fit.  And lots of other F-words.  Some people will scream at me something like, "YOU CAN'T BE FAT AND FIT AT THE SAME TIME!!!"  I will just respond: please kindly remove your caps lock, you're scaring the normals.  Also, you're wrong.  There are many different levels of fitness, and "fat" or "skinny" are not a prerequisite, requirement, or even sure evidence that one is in fact "fit".  I'll address that issue another time.

That aside, I find it interesting that I'm allowing myself to be identified by this adjective.  The 3-letter adjective that I hate.  The 3-letter adjective that was altered and used by a certain boy to taunt me in 4th grade and destroy my life. A word which I will always scold my children for using if I catch them judging someone with it.

I think the real reason I've decided to use it, is that I've been deciding to embrace my fatness.  I don't care if I'm "fat" according to you, or him, or those chicks.  Everyone has a different opinion of what is fat, and I've realized that even at my ideal healthy weight, some would still consider me to be fat (even if I were no longer obese).  What matters is what I think, and how I feel.

Fat is supposed to be a description word, not a judgment word anyway.  Like saying someone is slender, tall, short, fair-skinned, black-haired, blue-eyed, etc.  Words to describe a person's general appearance, like the introduction of a new character in a book.  But our society has turned these words into things that are permanently sealed to judgments of "bad" or "good".  Fat is bad, skinny is good.  Actually, neither of them are bad or good, they just are.

Fat is the first adjective, but notice there are a bunch of others.  I'm a complex person with a lot of passions.  I am a total science geek.  (I maintain another blog for that passion of mine.)  I'm a feminist.  I'm a mom.  I'm a daughter.  I'm a mormon.  I love food.  I love fun.  I love the earth.  I love exploring said earth.  I love learning.  I'm a little bit crazy, but usually in a good way.

I've decided to open this new blog as an outlet to share research, information, and my own thoughts and ideas about various topics that I care about.  Quite often these will include "fat" issues, and women issues (since women are the ones most subjected to fat-shaming, among other things), as well as issues in the media, politics, and the environment.  Just basically anything I am passionate about that may not be on-topic for an educational science blog.

I did do one very interesting blog post on my science blog that melds many of my passions, that anyone interested in this blog would enjoy.  It's quite an interesting read, do check it out.


Until next time.

Be curious, be strong, be kind, and above all: be yourself.