Posted by: warsawmommy | January 27, 2010

So Far, So OK

So, we are 27 days into this New Year, and how am I doing with my resolution to make peace with this imperfect body? The one that brought my two sweet boys into the world; the one that will never model lingerie; the one that is ‘wow! you are FAT!’ by BMI standards; the one that carries my mind, my heart and all my personality around this planet. How is that self-acceptance thing going?

It’s going OK, actually. It helps that I have had an outpouring of private support from my friends and family – turns out that many of them are also sick to death of dieting to attain the unattainable. They like that I have re-adjusted my expectations on my own body. See, I quite accept that I should move more and eat better and all that, but I also accept that even when I do so, I will never be thin… I will be bigger-than-average, I will be healthier, I will be MASSIVELY FAT by fashion standards (but then again, according to those people anything over a size ‘0’ is fat. I mean, really?). But I will be the Best Me I can be. And that’s OK.

I had a moment of awareness the other day, actually. I was at a meeting with a woman I know slightly; she is Polish, she is blonde, she is elegantly lovely, she has a great figure. Slim and small and still curvy. Men ogle her on the streets ’cause her tiny round butt looks fab in her short skirts and her legs go on for miles in her knee-high leather boots. Anyway, she left the room to go and get something from her desk and I noticed her suit jacket was hanging on the back of her chair. I was admiring it – it was a gorgeous caramel-coloured, fitted jacket with three-quarter length sleeves, really to die for – and as I was looking at it and thinking how stunning it was, my eyes went to the size label. And I almost choked on my coffee. This slim, beautiful, tiny woman wears a size ’36′; this translates to a size ‘8’ in the UK and a size ‘6’ in North America.  I stared at this label in a bit of shock and I realised that she is not a size ‘0’. Not even close (though closer than I am). She is – by fashion standards and Hollywood standards – huge.

I tell this story because (and I know this sounds stupid), based on this woman’s body, I now have no conceivable notion just what the hell a size ‘0’ can possibly look like, in real life. How could she be three dress sizes smaller? Where would the weight come off? Where would she go? She’d have to disappear – or else lose some ribs or something. I looked at at her as she came back into the meeting room and I realised that there is NO WAY this petite woman could reach a size ‘0’ without losing her breasts, her butt, her curves, all those things that make her a woman. She’d have to become straight and flat and angular. She’d have to become a stick. An unhealthy stick.

I left the meeting much cheered, as you can imagine. So, I am doing fine with re-thinking my ideas about size and shape and societal expectations. Just fine.

Posted by: warsawmommy | January 13, 2010

Yeah, ‘V’ Magazine!

Oh, my! Want to see some gorgeous women??

http://www.vmagazine.com

Click on ‘One Size Fits All’ and ‘Curves Ahead’ and look through these photos… and I have to go on record and say this: in ‘One Size Fits All’, the photos of the size 16 woman – when placed next to the size 6 model – look so much better. It sounds odd, but the size 6 woman does not make the size 16 one look big and fat; rather, the size 6 woman (while beautiful) looks unappealingly thin. I mean, she looks ill when placed right next to those curves and cleavage. Or is it just me?

Posted by: warsawmommy | January 11, 2010

Too Fat To Be Surgeon General

As these articles show, for some people, being a smart, driven, compassionate woman who overcomes hardship with dignity and humour means nothing when handed a high-profile job – if you are not thin.

I call bullshit. How about you?

http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/feature/2009/07/15/regina_benjamin/

http://jezebel.com/5315443/female-nominees-continue-to-face-scrutiny-over-their-size-weight

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/barackobama/5888986/New-US-surgeon-general-criticised-for-her-weight.html

Posted by: warsawmommy | January 11, 2010

In Our Own Eyes

I remember about 9 years ago, when I was living in Hong Kong, I passed by a young woman who made me look, and then look again.

She was fat. I mean, there’s no sugar-coating this one: this is what she was. Fat. And Chinese.  Which means that she must have been under unimaginable pressure, since – as anyone who has ever been to or lived in Asia will attest – Asian women are tiny. I truly believe that many of them never enter into the triple digits in terms of their weight – they are so tiny. Narrow shoulders and hips, small breasts, short in stature, delicate feet and hands, no butts and slim thighs. These women are small, and as I heard from my Chinese female friends, they are expected to be tiny. If they gain weight, they are openly ridiculed by their families, at their places of work, in their social circles. I mean – RIDICULED.  Chinese women I knew had done horrible, horrible things to themselves to lose weight, just to make the mean comments and jokes stop. But then I saw THIS woman and I had to re-think a few things.

OK. So she was fat. What I most remember is that she had massive thighs. And she was probably about 22 or 24 years old, something like that.  She was wearing – get ready for this – skin-tight black leather trousers, a cleavage-baring red shirt (and oh boy, did she have breasts to show off!), high-heeled black boots and a fitted black jacket. She had chunky silver jewelry, she had sexy-coloured lipstick, she had outrageous fake eyelashes, she had a designer handbag, she had sleekly flowing hair. She did not walk – she strutted. She did not hide herself in shapeless tents – she flaunted her body. She did not apologise – she announced her presence. She was magnificent. She had attitude. She was gorgeous.

I think about her often. She was much bigger than I am, yet I cannot seem to come anywhere close to her amazing confidence. At the time, I had the overwhelming urge to talk to her; I wanted to tell her how absolutely stunning she was. But I didn’t. I thought it would be weird, maybe she wouldn’t speak English, maybe she’d be offended, maybe she’d misunderstand and then things would be awkward. I was not motivated by pity (which I was afraid was what she’d think) or amazement that someone fat could look so damn good (because I have always thought that big women can be gorgeous). No, I was moved by her grace, her determination to not apologise and her take-no-prisoners attitude. I was inspired by her. I was a fan. I wanted to tell her that although we simply passed each other near the stairs to the subway, I saw her. Like, I really SAW her. I really saw HER. And I wanted her to know that the sex appeal wafting off that body was so powerful, that in the 10 seconds that it took us to approach and then pass each other, she had gone from a fat woman to a sex goddess. I turned to look at her after we had passed, and by that point, she didn’t look fat at all. She looked fantastic.

Thanks to her, I learned a powerful secret that day: a fat woman who thinks she is the hottest thing on earth actually IS.

Posted by: warsawmommy | January 7, 2010

Food For Thought

Manny: “We need a code word for when the baby is coming.”

Elly: “How about, ‘AARRGGHHH!! The baby’s coming!’ How’s that?”

Manny: “No. Too long. We need something short and sweet. How about ‘Peaches’?”

Elly: “Peaches?”

Manny: “Yeah. I love peaches. They’re round, and sweet and fuzzy. Just like you.”

Elly: “So you’re saying I’m round.”

Manny: “Round is good. Round is FOXY.”

From ‘Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs’

Posted by: warsawmommy | January 5, 2010

Stunner of the Day

The unapologetically curvy – and absolutely gorgeous – Nigella Lawson.

Posted by: warsawmommy | January 5, 2010

Absurd

Honestly… this is one of the most pathetic things I’ve read in a loooong while:

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/personal/01/04/dating.site.overweight/index.html

Posted by: warsawmommy | January 4, 2010

Yeah, I’m Overweight. So what?

For everyone out there who gets up on their high horses about people who are not slim, here’s something for you to ponder.

Here’s what I am not: I am not a murderer, a terrorist, a child abuser or molester. I am not a thief, or a pathological liar or a bitch. I am not someone who subjects others to second-hand smoke, I don’t drink and drive, I don’t do drugs. I am not a bad mother, a bad wife, a bad daughter, a bad friend or a bad boss. I am not a backstabber, a vicious gossip or a blackmailer. I am not lazy, or a couch potato, or inactive. I am not ill, or chronically tired, or in bad physical shape (my resting heart rate is 90/60 and my cholesterol is very low).

Now here’s what I am: I am about 50 pounds overweight.

Let’s get some perspective here, shall we? What, exactly, does my being 50 pounds overweight have to do with your quality of life? How does it hurt you, or your kids, or your work prospects? How does it take away from your achievements and your goals? How does it make me a threat to society, or a drain on the national health care system, or a tax burden? The short answer is that it doesn’t. Not one little, tiny bit. So why do you care if I am overweight? What gives you the right to roll your eyes at me when I order dessert in a restaurant? Why do you get to snicker when I show up at the gym and work out? Why do you look me up and down in a meeting and get a tiny little smirk on your face when you do so? This is all about you, honey, and your own body issues and how you see fat, so I suggest you just own up to it.

Maybe I can help you get started with this: I am your worst nightmare, right? You look at me, and you see what you could be if you ate the way you wanted to, or gave up smoking (which curbs your appetite), or hadn’t gone for that tummy tuck and lipo and breast lift. And if you’re naturally slim, you look at me and dread the day that your metabolism slows down and you gain 40 pounds in one month and you just can’t get ‘em off. Or you see me with my two gorgeous little boys (one aged just over three years and the other just turned nine months) and you shudder at what pregnancy does to a body, and you swear – yet again – to never, ever get pregnant because post-pregnancy bodies are akin to elephants with their rolls and layers of belly fat.

See how this has nothing to do with me?

Posted by: warsawmommy | January 4, 2010

Unrealistic Expectations

What, exactly, is the deal with how we tend to see our own body, and its capabilities?

I mean, there are lots of things my body is physically incapable of doing. It can’t pole vault, or dance professionally, or do head-spins. It can’t run and win medals, it can’t do a back-flip on a balance beam. It can’t do a triple toe-loop on skates (it can’t even do a single toe-loop on the damn floor whilst wearing socks!). It can’t do a round-house kick, a handstand, a back-bend from a standing position, or put its feet behind its neck. It can’t stand on one foot with arms extended overhead for too long, or do summersaults from a high-dive board or hold its breath underwater for seven minutes. The list goes on and on.  And you know what? I am OK with my body not being able to bring home eight Olympic gold medals, or do 200 push-ups. Or, you know, do a graceful pirouette on my toes. So why – why, why, why – do I try to force my body into a shape and down to a weight that it simply cannot attain?

Here is the deal: I swam competitively for years and years, and practiced twice a day, every day, except Sunday, when I practiced once. I held an Ontario swimming record for the backstroke for two years. I was in tip-top, prime and fine physical condition. I had leg muscles upon leg muscles, shoulder and back muscles I’d kill to have again, and could swim 140 fast laps without even breathing hard. And I was still – by today’s BMI standards – ‘heavy’. When I was about 15 years old, and in the best shape of my goddamned life, I probably weighed in at about 145 solid and glorious pounds. This tells me a few things about my body:

1. It is heavy. According to my mother, all the women in my family have dense bones… and thank God! Brittle bones are scary, especially as we get older, and lose calcium. After a certain age, a broken bone is just a few steps away from sickness and death. The women in my family have heavy bones… great for my health, bad for the numbers on the scale. My Mom is much smaller than I am, with about half my shoulder width, and at the moment, she weighs 140 pounds. I almost fell off my chair when she told me that – she truly looks as if she weighs about 115 pounds. Moral: bone weight is deceptive, and skews the scale.

2. My body is large, curvy and prone to muscle, it is not slim, streamlined or delicate. I suppose I am more Amazon Woman than Willow-like Waif. Hear me roar!

3. According to my BMI – the Body Mass Index is pure evil, by the way, and I believe that it is utter bullshit – I should weigh around 120 pounds. One hundred and twenty pounds!! Let me just pause and get over my absolute, complete and total shock at this number, and the absolute, complete and total impossibility of me ever, ever, ever getting to this number on the scale. Ever. OK, maybe if I had some terrible illness, I’d get there. But is that the way I’d even want to see that number down between my toes? And besides, what I’d have to do to get and stay there would be so devastating to my quality of life, it would be pointless and empty.

I have to point out that the BMI calculates based on height and weight ALONE – nothing about shoulder width, hip width, muscle mass, bone density, etc. It does not take into account resting heart rate, cholesterol, oxygen in the blood, the balance of one’s body chemistry, if one is a smoker or not, if one consumes alcohol at a reckless rate or not, if one eats fruit and veggies or not, if one exercises or not. In short, it is NOT the best way to determine if you are in good health. After all, weight is just one indicator of health, and as more and more research is starting to show, weight is a very misguided and misleading indicator, in many ways.

So, OK. I hear you now: does this mean that I plan to sit around and stuff my face with chocolate and give up walking? Have I given up, given in, and decided to let myself go? Like hell I have.

This is where my head is starting to go on this whole issue: my body cannot do certain things, and one of these things is being slim and light. Even at my best, I was broad-shouldered, muscular and heavy. So why force my body to do something that it simply cannot and will not do? Why starve it to reach a goal weight that I’d have to stay starving in order to maintain? I mean, nobody expects me to force my body to do ballet professionally, or to become a tight-rope walker, do they? Imagine your mother or irritating Aunt Mabel saying something like that to you: “You’d be so much more popular if you just took up professional ski jumping.” Like, huh? So why do we force, contort, starve and carve our poor bodies into a shape they simply cannot attain or maintain?

So, I appreciate what athletes can do; I cheer for medalists and love watching the amazing strength combined with grace they embody. I love watching professional dancers and I marvel at how easy they make such hard work look. I can only imagine how many years of punishing practice it took for them to get to their skill levels, and I think of the dedication, commitment and sacrifice. I admire their talents, I cheer them on and I respect their amazing abilities… and I never for one second expect to be able to do what they do. And I am determined to learn to do the same with people who are slim. I will look at how nicely their clothes hang on them, and I will admire their razor-sharp cheekbones and I will smile when they grab the size 2 skirt – but I will not expect the same of myself, and I will not let that take away from my sense of self any longer.

What can my body do? Well, it can swim and lift weights and is pretty damn good at yoga. What does it like? Coffee, romaine lettuce, eggs, chicken, fish, pineapple and cream cheese. It likes potato chips and red licorice and green tea and pasta and brown bread and real butter. And since my body is prone to muscle and I won’t give up carbs ever again, what can I reasonably expect from it, starting from now? With regular exercise and better eating, I can expect it to tighten up, and get stronger. That’s about it. It won’t get much lighter, though it will get more compact, making me smaller. But will I get to 120 pounds? Nope. Never. And that’s OK.

Posted by: warsawmommy | January 4, 2010

The Truth

Here is the truth: I will never be thin.

Wow, what a relief to just say it!

It’s not for lack of trying, of course. Like most (100%) of women and many (more and more all the time) men out there, I have looked at Hollywood celebrities and models and magazine covers and scantily-clad people on the beach, and thought, “I wish I had her thighs/ abs/ breasts/ butt/ whatever.” My response to that wish has been to embark on (yet another) diet. I’ve tried them all, or so it seems. I’ve done Weight Watchers, Anne Collins, Atkins, the South Beach diet and the Scarsdale diet. I did the American Heart Association diet, the Beverly Hills diet, the Zone, the Danish diet and Slim Fast. I tried fad diets like the Soup diet, the Fruit diet, the peanut butter diet and this crazy one where you don’t eat and drink at the same time. I have had a complicated and co-dependent relationship with fat: I have eaten high-fat, low-fat and no-fat. I was vegetarian for awhile – not for weight-loss purposes, but I thought for sure that would be one of the side-effects – and then I discovered just how many veggie sweet treats there are in the world (hello, pastries!). I have starved myself, used laxatives, tried puking twice (hated that) and had days where I took in nothing but water.  I tried pills that were meant to suppress my appetite, and Acai Berry pills, and Detox pills and cleansing pills and metabolism pills and speed. I have written down everything I have eaten, every day, for months and months. I have counted carbs, calories and fat grams. I have weighed breakfast cereal and bananas and tomato sauce to make sure that I didn’t consume even 1/8 of an ounce more of these healthy foods than my insane diet said I could.

When following some ridiculous food plan and emptying several shelves in my local pharmacy failed to turn me into a goddess with an ass that wouldn’t quit, I launched myself into the world of exercise. I have joined gym after gym, and put in miles on the treadmills, step machines, rowing machines and bikes. I have done aerobics classes and boxing classes and step classes. I have done stretching, yoga, tai chi and meditation classes.  I lifted weights, swam millions of lengths and did jillions of sit-ups under the steely gaze of personal trainers. And guess what?  After 20 years of dieting and sweating and reading every article about ‘new breakthroughs’ in the search for The Answer and denying myself cakes and sweets and pizzas and McDonald’s and sugar in my coffee and all carbs and drinking only slimming green tea for weeks on end – I am still overweight!

So here it is, my New Year’s resolution: 2010 will be the year that I finally make peace with my body, with my natural shape. The bitter and heart-breaking 20-year war is over – I have laid down the diet books, the pills and the protein shakes, and I have put my hands in the air (and grabbed a bagel while I was at it).  This will be the year that I will make food and exercise choices based on being healthy and active, not trying to attain something unattainable. Is this accepting defeat? No. It’s acceptance… which is quite different.

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