A Wayword BoPo Sheep

20150822_111131I am struggling with my body positivity. I’m not sure what else there is to say. The soaring confidence I used to have in the body positivity movement doesn’t seem to be coursing through my veins like before.

It’s not that I don’t believe in the movement. In fact, I still believe it has done tremendous things for my life. I would have never embraced my ability to dance without it. I never would have explored the forest, waterfalls, and hiking in general with out it. I certainly would not have found the confidence to get on stage and try stand up comedy with out Body Positivity.

Yet, if I were to give a “State of My Union” address, I would have to say the state of my self-confidence is at a low. It’s not an all-time low. I still know I am in a better place mentally than I was when I started this journey two years ago. But, it is low.

The only thing I can pinpoint this dip in self-confidence is starting comedy. Specifically, watching myself on video constantly. I tape every set I do. I want to see how my material does. I want to see what nervous ticks I have on stage so I can work on them. The problem with cameras, especially when you have to prop them with beer bottles on a table, is the angles suck. I see myself, admittedly, at some of the worst angles in some the harshest, unflattering light. As I find less about my performance to beat myself up over, I find myself focusing on what I look like on stage.

Let’s be honest. It doesn’t matter what your size is. It is important to think about your image when you are building a career like comedy. It’s important to think about what people see on stage. I have no guitar to hide behind. I have no distractions on stage. It is just me, microphone in hand, wanting to gain the trust of an audience enough that they are willing to find humor where they might not otherwise. What I wear, what I look like is important.

It’s important for anyone, in any field. There is room for personal flair, and for all body types. In whatever any of us do, it’s important to project confidence and look like you have your shit together.
12705568_10207076201757668_390478687671836899_nBut, I’m struggling with the duality of it. Does this mean that I need to worry about my VBO in jeans? The rolls that I have? I’ll be honest. It drives me absolutely nuts. If there is anything about what I see on camera, it’s my midsection that fucks with my mind more than anything else. Where is the line between ensuring I look put together and trustworthy, and yet embracing my body for what it currently is with love and respect?

I don’t know the answer. I am far from someone who can give advice at this point. Perhaps I need some.

It’s not fair to blame it all on comedy, either. That ordeal with Craiglist hit me harder than I ever wanted to admit to anyone. I still struggle with stepping in front of anyone without thinking about it. The struggle with online hate is real. Maybe I should have waited longer before entering a new career, a new community, a new spotlight before working through that. There are other factors, other influences, that don’t have the same BoPo philosophy. It’s also not fair to blame anyone by myself. I have lost my way.

I am a wayward sheep. The farther I wander from my herd, the farther I get from the habits that helped me love my body, and the closer I get to the habits that didn’t. I drink less water. I drink more soda. I put garbage in my body. I will say, this moment has helped me remember something vital about this movement. When you love something, you treat it with care. Body positivity helped me love my body, and want to take care of it. The farther I get from that, the more I don’t care.

I think it’s the feeling of failure that burdens me the most. How could I be such a proponent of a moment for two years, and the moment I really become tested lose my way?

And, I hate to talk about it. I don’t want to be one of those women that seeks input from others to feel better about themselves. I don’t want to be a woe-is-me about this. But, I wonder if it’s important for others to see the struggle. It’s not always easy, all the time. Every journey has up and downs.

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We All Lose Our Way

20150328_140727I feel like I’ve been writing a lot about the intersection of body positivity and health. I get on the soapbox and talk about it’s possible to live in that intersection without sacrificing your self love or your desire to be your healthiest self. There is a way to meld these two together in harmony. It’s all about checking your motivatations and not making any decision purely to chase the unattainable goal of the perfect looking body. Thinness isn’t health. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Here’s the thing. I’m feeling like a fraud lately.

Ever since I went on stage for my first open mic, I’ve been battling the old voices. I thought I was strong, and ready to take my next step into the world. But, I worry. Will my weight keep people for appreciating my humor? Will people give me a chance? Will they still be able to relate to me, and what I’m saying, even if I don’t “look pleasing?” Do I need to start wearing make up at every show, and update my wardrobe?

It has motivated me to start working out at home. This is something I have battled forever. “Traditional” exercise has always made me feel weak in the past. But, that has changed. I am up to doing 100 squats, 100 crunches, and 85 push ups. I’m going slow, but it is feeling amazing.

But I know I’m doing it for the wrong reasons. I’m doing it in hopes that, eventually, it will start changing some of the dimensions of my body. I’m hoping, on top of all the healthy stuff I am already doing, this will help my body begin to conform to a more “acceptable” shape.

20140823_085751There is some truth to my rationalizations. I’m not hiking right now, it’s too cold and wintery for me. And, it doesn’t stay light late enough for me to go for walks after my husband gets home. Plus, I’m not dancing as often. So, I need to do something at home while my son is at school. I need to keep my stamina up so I can hike and hunt waterfalls this coming season.

But, I have to admit, my head isn’t in the right place, either.

We all get lost on our journeys. No one is prepared for every twist and turn. The trick to is find your way again. I’ll get there. So will you.

Why You Should Take The Picture

katy1We are in the midst of party season. As someone battling with the weight of body shame, this season is both fantastic and frightful. My nightmare before Christmas is always the pictures. Yes, I’m admitting that even as a proud voice for Body Positivity, I still struggle with taking pictures. I’ve almost lost my fear of the selfie, but I’ll admit that I tend to only post the images where I look a certain way. It’s the group pictures that I can’t really control that still bring anxiety.

The thing about pictures, especially at this time of year, is they really aren’t about what anyone looks like. I know that seems silly, given that we are creating a permanent record of appearances. But, truly, it has nothing to do with how anyone looks. Taking a picture is a really futile attempt to freeze a moment in time. It’s about trying to use the magic and sorcery of modern technology to place a moment into a bottle and keep it with us for the rest of time.

12313576_934377866615255_5393670197344542289_nWhen I look back on pictures, I’m not looking at what the other people look like. I’m not picking apart my imperfections. A picture is a jumping off point, the spark that ignites a memory. As we move farther and farther from that point in time, we need that spark to remind us of the amazing moment we had in our lives, and importantly who we shared it with.

I know it’s scary to get in front of a camera. I understand the sweaty palms, the raised heartbeat and the heaviness that body shame brings to the picture. But, I also know that when I am older and far away from that moment, I won’t see or remember any of that. I will embrace the sorcery, and let the picture spark the memory. I will remember the joke that shared minutes before, and the loving exchange of hugs moments later. It will bring back to life the people in the room with me, even when life takes them far away. family

Pictures aren’t about being perfectly posed, impeccably dressed, or aesthetically pleasing. They only capture the best of us if we let them, and the best of us has nothing to do with how we look. So, smile and let the love of the moment shine through you. Remember you are creating a spark, for yourself and for others. Let them see you shine.

The Intersection of “Health” Management and Body Positivity

IMG_5639624664301It seems like most of us are on two separate paths, or streets if you will.

Health Management Freeway: Diets, workouts, the general rat race of “weight loss.” It’s packed, crowded, and you get some rush hour traffic in January. Everyone has been on this freeway in one way or another their whole lives. Some people are on it for their entire lives.

Body Positive Way: This street is certainly not as crowded. It’s definitely the path less traveled. Body positivity is all about loving yourself for who you are, believing that all bodies are good bodies, and not stressing diet and exercise.

You would think these are two roads that are headed in opposite directions.

Yet, I think everyone who even considers becoming body positive eventually comes to the intersection of health management and body positivity. Just because I love and accept my body for what it is doesn’t mean that I ignore the fact that it is still an organic machine. It needs specific foods to function. It needs activity to keep it strong. I have many different health problems that run in my family, that necessitate me keeping track of my food choices. But, I also have a disordered relationship with my body image, that necessitates me detaching my self worth from my outward appearance. (Though, let’s be honest. Everyone should be doing this anyway.)

So, what do you do when you build a house at the corner of the Health Management Freeway and Body Positive Way? How can anyone both focus and strive for any sort of health goal (weight or otherwise) without falling into the unhealthy traps of disordered eating and self-hate?

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure I have all the answers. I’ve heard a couple different programs and books being suggested through the small sect of the BoPo community that I am connected with. (Health at Every Size, Mindful Eating, Intuitive Eating.) I’ll be honest, I haven’t really looked into any of them. I tend to be one of those “I need to do it on my own” types. It must be an ego thing.

20150614_114923What I can tell you, having set up shop on this confusing corner myself, and I’m constantly monitoring my motivations. I’m grateful I’ve had over a year to practice listening to what my inner voice says, and learning to change it to a more positive mindset.

So, when I think about the health goals I have, I refuse to think about my outward appearance. Should it come up in my brain, I let it go and replace it with a more constructive thought.

For example, I want to incorporate some sort of home work out into my routine this winter. I want to do this because I have a goal of visiting every waterfall in my state, and I’m starting to run out of the easy ones. Soon, I’m going to have to do more difficult hikes, and in a year or two I will have to start doing backpacking trips. So, I need to build of my stamina and my core strength. Do I care if it changes how my body looks? Absolutely not. Do I care if I end up losing weight? No.

I want to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in my diet. I want to do this because I know too much processed food is bad for me. I’m starting to think that, as I get older, my body is not a huge fan of cheese. Also, diabetes and heart disease run in my family. And, now that I’m… older… I am starting to realize I really should pay attention to these things. Am I focused on how a change in my diet will change my weight? Nope. Do I care? Absolutely not.

Dance SelfieHere’s my theory. My focus should be on what makes me feel fulfilled and content. My mind, and my body, feel better when I treat them both with respect. Every body is different. It’s about listening to what MY body wants. What MY body craves. I can tell you, it doesn’t crave crossfit. It does, however, absolutely love a good hike. Heck, even a good 2-3 mile hike in the wilderness does wonders for my mood. My body does not crave brussel sprouts. Nope. But, it is enjoying Spaghetti Squash, Cauliflower popcorn, and the occasional Zucchini noddle. It also enjoys a snickers bar and the seldom made homemade cupcakes. My goal is to do things that make my body happy. Dancing makes my body happy. Long showers makes it happy. Cuddling with my family, and reading under blankets, and watching star trek while knitting, also make it happy.

Will my body composition change as I get more in tune with what MY body needs? Perhaps. But that is up to my “physical transportation vessel”. Whether it changes or not doesn’t modify who I am as a person. Whether I lose weight, or gain weight, has little to no barring on my goals and life. So, I refuse to pay attention to it. I’m not sure the last time I stepped on a scale at home, but it’s been over six months. I certainly don’t plan to break that anytime soon.

So, that’s how I plan to be happy at the intersection of health management and body positivity. I don’t have to join the rush hour traffic of self hatred. Honestly, I think true body positivity leads to health more quickly and efficiently than the freeway does anyway. It’s all about loving and accepting yourself. Our goals should always be to learn to listen to what our bodies want, not what other people think our bodies need. There is no healthier lifestyle than that.

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Give Yourself The Gift Of Self-Love

wp-1448999133321.jpgI used to spend the month of December in self-reflection hell. It meant I only had a month to get everything on my resolutions list done (remember that thing from January you’ve forgotten about?) It also meant having a month to think about everything I wanted to change about myself.

This year is different. I don’t need self-hate to motivate me into the new year. I don’t have to fight my body composition to win my self worth.

I know that putting pressure on myself doesn’t help me deal with my nervous habits.

I know that I will never fit the narrow definition of perfect. No one does.

Though, I’m disappointed I put off trying Stand Up Comedy. By the time I got the courage to try it, there was no longer open mic comedy nights. Either I’m going to have to travel to a bigger city (which I suppose is an option) or release this goal into the nether. It was one of the many lessons I learned this year: Some challenges in life you are never ready for. You have face them now, or never get the chance.

IMG951083I don’t need a new year to create new goals for myself. I have spent 12 months working on the goals that matter. I continue to work on my journey towards becoming fully body positive. I saw some new waterfalls. We did a couple parks for our park tour. I’ve even learned how to cook some great, healthy food. (This time last year, I was still slightly afraid of raw meat and my slow cooker.) 2016 will be another year full of loving myself as I am, and embracing all the wonderful thing I can, and already, do.

I can love and support without reservation, because I am worthy. I can befriend without fear, because I am a good person. Radical Self Love isn’t just about being able to love how you look in the mirror. It’s about letting go of any negative thoughts about yourself. It’s about believe you are a decent person worthy of the space (no matter how much) you take in this world.

If I could give my friends any gift this holiday, it would be radical self love. They deserve to see themselves how I see them: Beautiful, amazing human beings who light up this world. I wish they knew the differences they make in peoples lives, and how perfect they really are.

wp-1448999148219.jpgUnfortunately, radical self love isn’t purchased in a store, put in box, and wrapped up with a gorgeous bow. Radical self love is a gift you truly give yourself everyday, all day. When you look in the mirror, when you chase your passion, and when you give unyielding love to those around you.

Give your self the gift of freedom. Pamper yourself with the gift of radical self love this season. You are wanted. You are loved. You are worthy.

Trigger Put The “T” In Thanksgiving

girl-517555_1920“I should avoid eating any dessert. I don’t want to look like one of ‘those’ fat people.” – Me

“I really have to be careful about the portions on my plate. I suck at portion control.” – Me

“I should really just put vegetables on my plate, so I don’t eat a bunch of stuff I shouldn’t.” – Me

What.The.Actual.Fuck. I’m not going to say that I am a paragon of the Body Positive lifestyle, but my negative self-talk has been at an all time high lately.

I’ve taken some time to think about and I suppose I can understand why. I’m not sure how our society can be both obsessed about this one gluttonous meal and how this one meal will cause women (well, everyone right?) so much weight.

I’ve love to meet the unicorn of a person who can magically truly enjoy this meal without getting shade about it. Honestly, if your too skinny your not eating enough. If your fat, your eating too much.

The media lately has been saturated with horrible messages. If I see the “set your scale back 10 pounds” meme one more time I might scream. I feel like everywhere I turn I am either reminded that I’m expected to eat this huge meal tomorrow, or I’m expected to be scared and distant with this huge meal I’m suppose to eat tomorrow. It’s no wonder my mind has fallen back into it’s old safe place: managing how other people may view my eating patterns.

I’ve decided to initiate the next level of self-care. I’m going to spend extra time just loving and playing with my son. If there is one person in this world that will remind me that I am loved and worthy of love, it is him. It’s time for a new social media purge (sorry dieting friends.) I’m going to spend some extra time engaging in activities that connect me with my body (line dancing in the living room anyone?). I’m going to make sure to drink a little extra water, because I know I always have more energy when I do. And, I’m going to do some things that bring me joy (like make some Ice Balls.)

As for the turkey day meal, I’m going to try to frame it differently. It’s not about the meal. It’s not about the food. So, there’s no reason to treat this meal any differently that I would anything other dinner. Tomorrow is about family, and friends, and taking time to be thankful for all the amazing things in my life.

Lovelies: Don’t forget to love yourself. Add plenty of time for self-care in this busy season.

You are loved. You are worthy. You are beautiful.

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What The Fat Stigma Study Left Out

girl-517555_1920I’m sure most of you saw the New York Times blog about the Fat Stigma Study. I am absolutely thrilled that researchers are starting to look into the way society actually contributes to disordered relationships with food. We have a huge section of society that believes in the idea of “shaming people thin.” When, really, what they are doing is encouraging more unhealthy habits. When I am shamed, I generally have a greater desire to eat my feelings because I am experiencing an increase in negative emotions (and cortisol according to the study.) In the past, I’ll admit the shame has temporarily motivated me to do start some sort of exercise routine or diet. But, rarely were any of them healthy. Never did any of the stick.

Here’s is what I thought this study, and article, was missing: We can’t control what other people say or do. But, the biggest battle we can actually wage is the shame and guilt we bring on ourselves.

I’m no biochemist, but I’m pretty sure I experience the same sort of cortisol increase when I’m body shaming myself in the mirror. I know I get the same, if not stronger, triggered feeling after bullying myself about my body and my weight. Really, the journey to body positivity for me has very little to do with changing how the world around me reacts to my body shape. (I’m very grateful there are so many amazing warriors fighting the fight, though.) My challenge is changing how I see myself. My goal has been about erasing the negative self-talk tape in my head. Becoming body positive is learning to love myself, unconditionally, however I’m presenting to the world in that moment.

I can’t spend my energy focusing on what other people are saying. I have no doubt I would burn out overnight if I fought, and argued, and screamed every time someone said something that was decidedly anti-body positive.

But, this is what I can do. I can only say (and think) nice things about myself when I’m looking in the mirror. More importantly, I can spend some time naked in front of the mirror reminding myself there are very GOOD things about my body. I can embrace the many body positive bloggers, posters, instagramers, tumblrs, ect. I can ensure that my life is filled with an amazing amount of body positive examples. I can surround myself with friends and influences that are aware of how they speak of their bodies, as well as the body of others.

20150816_163745I don’t discount the study about Fat Stigma. I experience everyday how society is swimming in messages about what a woman’s body (and men’s) should and should not be. Every day I am reminded that a large sect of society believes I should be activity trying to lose weight. The thing is, I know that I’m not able to change society. I will never get the Don Drapers of the world to stop using women’s insecurities to sell EVERY PRODUCT EVER. I know what I can do, and that’s be the change I want to see in the world. I can speak kindly of myself. I can speak kindly to others. I can continue to work on erasing my own negative self-talk tape, and replace it with confidence-boosting speeches. I can surround myself with body positive influences, both in my media and in my friend circles.

I can accept and love myself, as I am, today. I can chase my dreams and goals from a place of self-love. I can exercise accurate self-care as a way of combating those nasty elevations in cortisol.

I am so glad to see a study come out that shows shaming, blaming, and stigmatizing Fat people has a negative impact. What I need to remember, and what I hope others on this journey remember, is we are sometimes are our worst bullies. The voice in our head, which is admittedly fueled by society’s bullshit, can also contribute to this negative impact.

Change your inner voice. Change your world.

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