“That’s it, baby, when you got it, flaunt it, flaunt it!”
Well, flaunting it is easier said than done, when you don’t think you got it in the first place.
Yes. Self-hatred, depression, anxiety, and compulsive behavior all go hand-in-hand with an eating disorder (see post Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice). And even when you’ve “recovered” from the eating part (aka you are no longer starving yourself), all of these other symptoms rear their ugly head on the regular.
Mind over matter, right? Not quite.
If you’ve been reading my posts from the beginning, by now you’ve noticed a trend: a musical reference in some form regardless of the main topic.
Shout out to Kristin (friend and owner of PREP by K.U.G.-see post Preppy Eats) for bringing this quote to mind. It’s always been a fave, and I follow little signs (like this) throughout the week as I transform my thoughts into blog posts.
My appreciation for all types of music (outside of gangster rap) came from my mom. But, it wasn’t until later in life that I learned to truly appreciate music from other generations including Bette Midler, Dan Fogelberg, Melissa Manchester, Kenny Loggins, The Drifters, Aaron Neville, Collin Raye, and the list goes on. Millenials with a huge question mark in your mind right now — you are missing out!
Anyway, I would often roll my eyes as my mom blasted Bette’s “I’m beautiful, dammit!” on repeat in the car on our way to anywhere really, during my ED recovery in the late 90s.
“Ooh don’t lemme start lovin’ myself, Ooh don’t lemme start lovin’ myself.”
The song is pretty catchy and while the eye roll was one of my signature expressions (and still is), after a while I couldn’t help but sing at the top of my lungs with her (shh! don’t tell anyone). Pretty sure that was her goal.
“I’m beautiful, I’m beautiful, I’m beautiful, dammit!”
If only I believed the words I was singing.
No, I didn’t think I was beautiful, and I definitely didn’t appreciate the support system I had growing up — even now I tend to take a lot of things for granted.
For Mom, as I have mentioned before, food equals love, and for a number of years I blamed her for my eating disorder. In fact, (in my mind) she was the reason I was ever overweight in the first place.
Everyone would (in some way, shape, or form) take the blame and pay for my (self-inflicted) misery including my own (amazing) parents.
Recovery turned into vanity once I hit my teens. It was not only a self-destructive behavior, I was destructive to others well into my 20s. And believe me, it’s not something I am proud of.
I met (my now husband) Thomas in the beginning stages of my recovery, on the benches outside of our school gym when I was in the eighth grade. Although he was a grade above me, he was the youngest freshman in his class, so we were pretty close in age. He is 4 months (to the day) older than me, if you want to get technical.
Anyway, we would often meet at those benches after school because our moms were never really on time to pick us up.
Often times, it would just be me and him still waiting, so we didn’t have much of a choice but to talk. And as I’ve previously mentioned, I’m not much of a small talker. Something drew me to him, though. Not sure what it was. Maybe some sort of comfort, I dunno?
He just looked like a warm hug.
So, one thing led to another and we ‘teenybopper’ dated until I had to move away at the end of my ninth grade year. We may not have been old enough to drive, and Thomas never made it around the bases if you know what I mean (although trust me, he tried), but he was most definitely my first love. It took me a really long time to know that, and embrace it.
There is nothing quite like your first love.
Like me, Thomas has struggled with weight his whole life. We often joke that genetics were (are) not on our side.
But the double standard between men and women (boys and girls) is inevitable. While I’m sure he endured his share of ‘fat jokes’, it is just different for a female. Part of me resented him for that, and sometimes I still do (in a more loving way, of course).
Why is it more acceptable (and even endearing) for him to be “the big guy” than for me “the big girl?”
“Big girls” are (for the most part) frowned upon by society.
By the way, that whole “dad bod” phenomenon really made me mad. One of those, ‘IS THIS REAL LIFE!?!’ situations, and I am not even a mom nor he a dad.
That being said, we have come a long way.
Thank you, Ashley Graham.
Growing up with the Kate Moss ‘ideal’ damn near killed me (literally). After all, nothing tasted as good as skinny felt. Remember?
Don’t get me wrong, I maintained an ‘ideal’ weight into my mid-twenties, but nothing was ever good enough. My “skinny” was another person’s “fat,” and the BMI standard told me the same.
That’s right, genetics don’t allow me to be anything less than a healthy size 6/8 at my ideal, and even then the scale teeters at the 150 mark (on a good day).
At my thinnest, people still made negative comments, and I believed them.
“So pretty. . . for a big girl.”
“You have such a pretty face.”
“If you lost 20 pounds, you would look perfect.”
For reference, people, these comments are NOT compliments. They hurt.
In saying any of this, I am in no way minimizing the fact that both males and females of all ages suffer from eating disorders in our country. I am merely pointing out that society tends to put more pressure on women to be thin, and that I have suffered through that expectation all my life.
I lived far away from Mississippi for a number of years — finishing high school and (barely) making it through college to graduate and enter the dreaded real world — but Thomas stayed in the back of my mind (whether I wanted him there or not).
He crept up to the front from time to time when certain life situations occurred that I couldn’t ignore, but trust me I tried. While I appreciated his friendship at a distance, I pushed him away in a romantic sense for the longest time, and I finally realized why.
He was a mirror of my past.
Fast forward to Sunday morning 11/6 . . . another end to daylight savings time and a beginning to (yet another) attempt to get back on track with some semblance of a workout routine. I rolled out of bed, earlier than usual thanks to the extra hour of sleep, laced-up my tennis shoes, located my headphones, and out the door I went for a morning run (ah-hem, WALK).
“Walking is for fat people.”
This statement rings in my ear everytime my feet hit the pavement these days. (And let me just tell you that outside of getting from point A to point B, my feet haven’t been hitting much pavement here lately.)
The statement is compliments of Paul Lacoste, a fitness guru out of Madison, MS who came down to the coast to offer his intense twelve-week PLS fitness bootcamp, FIT 4 the Coast, three summers ago. Thomas lost more than 50 pounds, and I lost half that. (Another fun issue we women face in comparison to men. To add insult to injury, they tend to drop weight quicker than we do.)
While I’m a pro at running away, running in an athletic sense. . . not so much! I’m a total amateur even on my best day and a crappy one at that.
In more forward terms, unlike Erin Edits (see post Silence IS Golden and Stars DO Align), I am not a runner (although I have tried for many years to be regarded as such.)
No matter how ‘in shape’ I am, running just isn’t for me. Plain and simple, I suck at it. My heart rate shoots up within my first 20 steps, and within the first five minutes I am breathing like someone suffering from an asthma attack.
During our final PLS bootcamp workout, they made us do the same routine we had done the first day to see how far we had come, and I STILL couldn’t complete my mile run without stopping to walk.
“Walking is for fat people, Claire. . . You can’t stop. . . Keep going”
Well, I must (still) be fat because, dammit, I gotta stop.
Paul Lacoste had a reputation for saying ugly things to motivate boot campers. He took my insecurites and ran with them in full-sprint speed. And it worked for me. I lost weight.
I was accustomed to abusing myself in my mind, so why wouldn’t this tactic work? People were dropping from the $700+ program like flies on the weekly because they couldn’t take it anymore, and I was loving it.
Finally, someone sees me how I see myself.
This tactic also worked for Thomas, but for different reasons. He’s played sports his entire life and now coaches high school football. He is accustomed to the ‘not so nice’ words used by coaches and trainers that are meant to push you (literally) to work your ass off. But it wasn’t personal for him like it was for me.
After the bootcamp ended, we made a pact to continue the workout routine together. We went to his high school field house and stadium four mornings every week: 5am, Mon-Thurs.
This lasted longer than I initially antipicated. We stayed ‘on it’ for a little over a year and a half, then slowly four days turned into three days, turned into two days, until the workouts ceased to exist. One cheat meal a week turned into two, and so on until healthy eating went straight out the window as well.
We were stressed. It was too cold. We will start again tomorrow. We will start on Monday.
The excuses were back.
And now, we are back to where we started.
As for me, I am the heaviest I have ever been in my life.
Thomas had his shirt off one evening a few months ago. We were both standing in the mirror and in an (ass-backwards) attempt to kickstart some sort of motivation, I exclaimed “God, I am fat. How did we let this happen. And you, well you look so different.”
I will leave my facial expression to your imagination, but the look on Thomas’s face in that instant will forever be stamped in my mind, on my heart.
In that instant I learned that there is a real difference between a football coach or personal trainer being “abusive” with words, and those ‘not so nice’ words coming from someone you love.
This was more than a wake-up call.
I didn’t love myself. I was abusing myself with thoughts, and now inflicting that pain on someone I love deeply through my words.
Every ounce of me wanted to take those words back.
I wanted him to know that I love him no matter what size he is; that he is perfect to me.
In that instant, I learned a valuable lesson. While I so badly wanted to take the words back, the situation was necessary. And it has allowed me to heal on a different level. It has made our relationship stronger.
Double standard aside, we are in this together. . . for the long haul.
More importantly, actions speak louder than words (and thoughts).
“Ain’t this my sun? Ain’t this my moon? Ain’t this my world to be who I choose?”
If you don’t like something, you have to do something about it.
No one can do it for you.
So, Sunday morning, I had a different approach. While “Walking is for fat people” rang in my ear, I used it for ‘the personal trainer motivation’ that it was and not as a personal thing.
I actually sorta smiled and laughed to myself for once.
I will stop trying to be someone I’m not. I will never be a size 2, and that is ok.
My size is not who I am, and a size will not define me.
And last but not least:
“I’m beautiful, dammit!”
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I found yet another fantastic cover photo from an artist via Etsy, this time from a shop called replAVinyl:
While I typically just give a quick shout out for photo credit, this Austin, TX couple has a really neat story that I thought I would share, which can also be found in the “about” section of their Etsy page:
A cruelty free shop, our vinyl records come to us scratched, dirty, begging for a new life and a forever home!
A fairytale romance, Neil moved 1700 miles from PA to ATX to be with me, and soon after we started talks about owning a business. Something that was a mix of both our interests. As our vinyl collection kept growing, Neil told me about how his sister melts vinyl records into bowls. That combined with both our art degrees (Art Institute of Philadelphia, PRATT Inst.) we knew we were on to something! As soon as the record store across the street put out the next box of scratched up, unplayable vinyls, we just took the whole box. And thats how replA was born!
Our unplayable, undesirable vinyl records have found new life as Art, Bowls, Bird Feeders, Planters, and Chalkboards!
Just goes to show, that ‘one man’s trash is (really) another man’s treasure’.
Be sure to check out their site: