Princess Dresses Don’t Come in Plus Sizes

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I don’t have a single dream, fantasy or personal fairy tale that doesn’t begin with, “Once upon a time there was a beautiful, thin girl named Mary.”

Every dream I claim as my own begins and ends with me losing weight and looking different than I do right now.

Granted, right now I’m pregnant. But I’m also significantly overweight. And I hate it. If I’m honest, I hate myself a bit for it.

Last week I went to the MOPS annual conference for a few hours. It was in Kansas City this year, and I joined my friends and colleagues from DaySpring on Friday morning. Alex Kuykendall spoke in the morning session, and she asked us, “What keeps you from believing you are God’s masterpiece?”

She instructed us to write our answers on the piece of paper she’d had placed on each chair, wad it up and toss it in the trash bags being passed up and down the aisles.

I wrote, “Fat.”

Look, I know the Truth. I know I am wonderfully made by the Creator himself. I know He sees me as beautiful, and therefore I am beautiful. I know that and at least part of me believes that, no question.

The other part of me hears the scale groan and the threads tear and the lungs wheeze as I hoof it up a flight of stairs. The other part of me has eyes and sees what the mirror reflects. The other part of me accepts God’s acceptance – but longs to care better for this body He’s given me.

The other part of me dreams of walking into the regular side of the department store, of feeling confident when I walk into a room of strangers, of knowing I can use this body to walk, to run, to play, to work – just the way He intended.

I may have given up on fairy tales in a lot of areas in my life, but this one right here is one I still struggle with every minute of every day. No, I don’t fantasize [anymore] about wearing slinky dresses and showing off toned, dimple and stretch mark free skin. I don’t give that size or that number more value than they deserve. And I though I still hope to someday find knee-high boots that fit over my calves, I don’t believe my worth is determined by my footwear or jeans size or closet full of sleeveless shirts.

But I dream of losing weight. I imagine how good it will feel, and how lovely I’ll look – and how loved I’ll feel. And I admit that a tiny, irrational part of me still believes single digit sizes might lead to my happy ever after.

What fairy tales do you still struggle with?

Please note: I am well aware that it’s possible to find beautiful dresses in plus sizes. And I promise I am not asking for – nor do I need – your reassurance that I’m beautiful the way I am, that God loves me no matter my dress size, that being thin isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, or that I need therapy to get over my issues. I’m simply baring my heart a bit for you – and asking you to be brave enough to do the same.

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{Photo by workshoppe}

Gimme three steps towards the door…

Fitting More Steps in My Day
As I was moving some things around my calendar last week, my heart sank as I noticed something I’d added a few months ago. The June 10 square on my calendar says the most awful thing: “Start training for 5K.”

What?! When – and WHY – did I think attempting another 5K was a good idea?!?

Well, even if I don’t remember when this particular madness occurred, I vaguely remember thinking:

a) I’d love to participate in the Kansas City Marathon.
b) It’s in October, so it won’t be hot.
c) Its charity of choice is The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
d) Maybe if I give myself 18 weeks to go through the 9-week Couch to 5K program, it’ll work this time.

So, in just over a month, I’ve got to get back on my treadmill and get back to work.

Which, as horrifying as that is, is also a bit of a relief, too.

See, I recently received a Fitbit to try out from Verizon Wireless. Since I’ve been wearing it [almost] every day, I’ve been – unsurprisingly – bummed out to see how few steps I actually take each day. And I’ve been wondering how anyone possibly hits the recommended number of daily steps.

Do you even KNOW how many steps we’re supposed to take each day? 10,000. TEN THOUSAND! Now, maybe you walk that much. But as someone who works online (and, FINE, likes to watch the television), I have yet to get anything close to that. As a matter of fact, on a couple days (FINE, on MORE THAN A COUPLE DAYS) I didn’t even hit 2,000 steps.

OUCH.

So, wearing a pedometer plus deciding I should attempt to run another 5K equals MORE STEPS FOR ME. At least that’s the goal. I’ll let you know how I’m doing in a few weeks. Promise. (For real.)

Have you heard of the Fitbit? I’d heard my friends at Weight Watchers talk about them but hadn’t seen one – much less bought one – for myself. Now that I’m wearing one I wonder why I waited so long!

The Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker is a pedometer, but it also tracks your calories burned and distance traveled. AND it syncs wirelessly with my computer and my phone. So if I want to look at charts and graphs and whatnot, telling me how many more steps I should be taking each day, it’s there. You can wear it anywhere on your body, but it’s small enough that I actually just clip it on my bra.

(When I remember. Because, like I said, I have forgotten to wear it a couple days.)

Until I start my “formal 5K training,” I’m still trying to up my steps a lot. My first goal is 5,000 steps a day – that’s still progress, okay?! So far I’m doing my Walk Away the Pounds video, though not every day. And I’m going to start following all those annoying tips for walking more that I’ve heard over and over:

  • park farther away,
  • take an extra trip around the grocery store,
  • march in place or pace when doing everyday tasks,
  • take the long way around . . . anywhere.

I hope to even start an after-dinner walk with my family once a week.

That’s about all I’ve got, though – and given how low my daily steps number is now, I’ve got a lot of work to do. Meeting my immediate goal of 5,000 steps – not to mention my eventual goal of 10,000 steps – is going to require a lot more than parking in the back forty. So, let’s talk walking.

How do YOU add more walking and more steps to your daily routine?

Verizon Wireless gave me a Fitbit to use this year, but all opinions and lazy habits are my own.

Photo source

Temptation, thy name is SONIC.

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When I decided to eat low carb for a while, I was surprised by a) how good it felt to follow that diet plan and b) how well it worked for weight loss. In just a few weeks, I lost 10 pounds.

Then my brother-in-law died. And I started a new job. Life just got crazy in general, and I haven’t exactly been coping well. I have, however, been coping with food. Like I do.

But a couple weeks ago, I woke up on a Friday morning and decided that I’d had enough. I ate a healthy breakfast of oatmeal (I said healthy, not low-carb) and when it came time for lunch, I racked my brain for a fast, convenient solution. Preferably one that didn’t require me to get out of my car.

I decided on SONIC and pulled into the drive-thru. I ordered three chicken strips (Not the five that I really wanted. What? I was hungry!) with honey mustard and apple slices. The speaker next to the lighted menu squawked my order back to me correctly, and I pulled up to the window to pay.

After swiping and returning my debit card, the girl in the window handed me a brown SONIC bag. I said “thanks” and drove away. As I was heading back to my office, I thought that the bag looked extremely full for what it was supposed to contain. But I’d glanced at the receipt, and it had my order listed right, so I didn’t worry.

When I pulled into the parking lot, I peeked into my brown bag that was smelling suspiciously of fried goodness and saw a box of fries! What on earth? I didn’t order those! WHY would they give me fries? I DON’T NEED FRIES and FOR ONCE IN MY LIFE, I didn’t want fries.

*sigh*

For a split second ( . . . or two) I considered eating them anyway. Then I remembered SONIC’s stingy practice of including one measly ketchup packet in their bags, and I decided it wasn’t worth it. So I walked directly to the dumpster outside our building and threw the fries in the trash.

Yes, I did. Feel free to applaud. Because, SERIOUSLY. I threw away fries, people! This is big!

I walked up to my office, feeling pretty darned proud of myself and pretty darn annoyed at SONIC. And then I opened my bag.

I had ordered three chicken strips, honey mustard and apples. I got five chicken strips, ranch dressing, the trashed fries and cheddar bites. Cheddar bites! They gave me pieces of deep-fried cheese!

ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THIS?!

You might not be surprised to hear that I wasn’t quite as strong with the cheddar bites as I was with the fries. Because I honestly thought at first that they were sweet potato tater tots, I tried one. Then I realized I had no idea what I’d just eaten, and I ate another one. Once I realized what they were, though, I immediately threw them in an trash can across the room only ate a couple more before throwing them away.

And I didn’t eat all the chicken. What was the point? I didn’t have any honey mustard to dip it in!

While some people might be tempted by SONIC’s daily happy hour drink special (mmmmm . . . cherry limeades . . .) or last week’s National Shake Day (mmmm . . . shakes . . .), not me. Apparently temptation will find me on a regular day at lunch when I TRY MY HARDEST TO EAT DECENTLY.

Have you ever been ambushed while trying to eat healthy?

{Photo by scaredykat}

My inner voice can be a real jerk.

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It’s true. My inner voice – the one I hear in my head nearly every waking minute of my day? She can be a total jerk . . . and sometimes she sounds a lot like Joan Jett. Or a lot like what I would sound like singing Joan Jett.

See, somewhere along my forever-long journey of gaining and losing and fighting and hating weight, I came up with a catchy little tune to sing when I realize I’m losing the battle. It’s sung to the tune of “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” and it goes like this:

I hate myself for loving food.
Can’t break free from the things that I do.
I wanna walk, but I run back to you.
That’s why I hate myself for loving food.

I know, you’re stunned by songwriting skills, right?

No, that’s not an original little ditty, but even worse, it’s incredibly cruel. And I do it to myself.

I don’t hear that song every day, and I truly don’t hear it nearly as often as I used to. I’ve been intentional about my self talk for the past few years, and I’m getting better at recognizing when I’m beating myself up verbally – and stopping. [Dear close friends and family, I said I'm getting better not that I'm completely cured of the habit.]

Anytime I’ve heard a sermon or presentation about self-talk, the point is always made that some of us talk to ourselves worse and uglier than we would ever dare talk to another person. Some of the things I’ve said to or about myself I might not even say about my cats!

I really have been working on it for a while, though. And overall, I think I do a pretty good job of refraining from cutting myself down out loud or internally. After going through the Bible study, Me, Myself & Lies, I learned to change a pattern I’d had for years. Anytime I’d mess up, whether making a simple mistake or committing a grievous sin, I’d say to myself, in my head, “Ahhh! You’re so stupid!”

That’s not true. I’m not stupid. And since going through that Bible study, that’s exactly what I say, often out loud, when that thought slips back in. “No, I’m not stupid. I’m a smart person who made a mistake.”

Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m just one self-help book away from turning into an SNL sketch. “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”

Picturing myself giving that little pep talk to the me in the mirror is ridiculous – but I’m not [too] embarrassed to share this with you. Couldn’t we all use a few more encouraging words and a little less criticism?

Despite my progress in much of my self-talk habits, I still struggle with this in regard to my weight. Thanks to enough psychology classes for a college minor, I know that part of my struggle stems from my high internal locus of control. In the deepest, truest part of me, I believe that my life is within my control, that my life is the result of my choices. So if something in my life is going wrong (aka, my clothes don’t fit), I’m the one to blame.

Cue the Joan Jett impression.

No, wait! Don’t cue anyone unless it’s goofy old Stuart Smalley. Because I’m ready to give up on this inner voice of mine. She’s rude, and I don’t like her anymore. So I’m going to replace the ugly, critical words with ones that are encouraging and actually create change.

I’m intentionally changing my inner dialogue, and I’m saying these things to myself instead:

Great job choosing a healthy snack!
You chose the right hard today.
That’s okay. Start over right now.
Half an hour on the treadmill is better than nothing.
That was a good start!
It won’t be long before you can do the whole video.
Nobody is perfect. Just try it again tomorrow.

It’s not as catchy as a Joan Jett song, but I’m working on it. Maybe, “I love myself for eating fruit! It’s healthy like veggies but easier to chew . . .”

No? Fine. I’ll keep working on it.

Until then, I would love to hear about your inner voice. Is she kind, forgiving? Or harsh and critical? Does she sound like an 80s rocker or perhaps your mother or your seventh-grade English teacher? Do you need to rewrite her script and add in a little Stuart Smalley?

Who does your inner voice sound like?

{Photo by floeschie}

Celebrating small victories

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When I started my low-carb adventure last month, I had high hopes of dropping huge amounts of weight in a short amount of time. I should know better, but I really envisioned a much slimmer me shopping for a brand-new swimsuit – and even wearing it in public – this summer.

Instead, as of Monday morning, I’ve lost 10 whole pounds.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m really excited about this! It’s a fraction – a small one, at that – of my overall goal. But it’s a step. And there’s no way I can get to that end goal without losing the first 10 pounds.

And, as my friend Jill pointed out, that is 40 sticks of butter. FORTY STICKS OF BUTTER!

Several years ago, I joined Weight Watchers with two girls I worked with. One of my co-workers had lost weight with the program before, and she told me that when she lost a certain amount of weight, she and her friend celebrated by going to the grocery store, putting the number of pounds of ground beef that they had lost in their cart – and then pushing it around the aisles like little kids playing hooky.

As I lost weight that time, I just made a chain of paper clips in my cubicle. I’m not really a “make a scene in the grocery store” kind of girl, I guess.

This time, though? I have even more to lose, and I’ve been trying – and failing – for even longer. So a few pounds seems to deserve great celebration at this point!

In the middle of writing this post, I followed a link to a blog post called, “The Crumbs We Haven’t Been Looking For.” [Thanks, Leigh, for the recommendation!] I love the entire post, but this part really spoke to me:

“I am victory, and I am much smaller than people think. So unless you develop eyes for the puny, you’ll spend your life believing that you’re going nowhere, that I’m distant from you, that you have no reason to celebrate.”

That’s good stuff, right? And besides, forty sticks of butter? That is not puny!

I can’t guarantee that I’ll lose another stick of butter, much less hundreds of them. To be honest, I’ve had at least one leg off the wagon this week [and, again, there were those pesky M&Ms from last week]. But I’m not giving up. I’m choosing my hard.

And I’m celebrating this first 10 pounds.

What small victory are you celebrating today? Share in the comments, so we can celebrate with you!

<stick of butter

{Photo by Robert S. Donovan}