Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fat does not equal lazy

Since January, I've been challenging myself to increase my physical fitness. I'm improving my diet, increasing my exercise, and trying to achieve a higher level of overall health. I have increased my water intake and have added some vitamin supplements to my diet.

I've adjusted what I eat. Does that mean I always eat healthy or low-calorie? No - but because I am trying to lose weight, I am accounting for every single calorie that passes my lips. Do I always come in under my daily goal? No - but I am more aware of what I'm eating and what I should be eating (or not). I'm a lot closer to my daily goal than I have been in the last couple of years. That's all part of health.

I've been to the gym at least once a week, every week, for the last 7 weeks (thanks, Foursquare). In the last few weeks, I've been there 4 times each week, and am working on increasing my weekly visits to 5. My pants are not looser; my waist is not smaller. So far, the only real change I've experienced is that my arthritic knees hurt so much, I can't bend them enough to step into the shower. Awesome.

I work a full time job; I am a part-time consultant for a small business; I author or contribute to 6 blogs. I own a home and am the only person responsible for the upkeep (inside and out). I pay my own bills, buy my own groceries, run my own errands. I do all of this in addition to the work-outs. 

I've worked full-time since I was 16; I've never been unemployed, even when I was a full-time college student working 30 hours a week at an internship. I have never been lazy - but I have always been overweight. I even remember being chubby at 6, and being made fun of by classmates. I certainly wasn't lazy back then; I just didn't have a good metabolism, and never made the proper adjustments. 

The one time in my life I did manage to lose weight, I did so by barely eating anything, exercising for hours every day, and taking amphetamines. I had chest pains, did irreparable damage to my knees, and made myself sick - all in the name of being thin. It worked; but the minute I resumed healthier habits, I put the weight back on. 

No matter how hard I try, I won't ever be thin. That won't stop me from from trying to get healthy or improve my physical fitness, but it does make the work that much more frustrating. What's even worse is hearing people say things like, "fat people are just lazy," or "she should just lose the weight," or "well, she chooses to be that way." 

I didn't choose to be overweight - but I do choose to be happy with myself. Every single day, I make a decision to like the woman I am, and my heart breaks when I see others losing the same struggle. I get angry with people who think that just because thin is easy for them, that means that thin is easy for everyone. Think that what works for you will work for everyone? Not so. 

Everyone struggles, and every person's struggle is different. Putting labels on people is a bad idea, because no matter how much you think you know about someone - what you know is only a scratch at the surface. 

Still, I proudly wear the label of curvy, or plus-sized, or over-weight. Personally, I'm even okay with the label fat. Why? Because I am also smart, confidant, successful, pretty, charming, funny - and very, very grateful. Fat isn't who I am; it's one part of what I look like, which is a very small part of who I am. 

Really, the only label with which I'm not OK is lazy. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

If only

At church on Sunday, we started a series called "Forever Young." For the next few weeks, the Pastor will talk to us about maintaining a youthful spirit, even in a world constantly trying to age us with stress and worry and pressure. 

He started talking about if only... You know - I could be happy, if only...I had a husband; I had a child; I had a better job; I had a bigger house; I wore smaller jeans. 

If only.

I've actually been thinking about this a lot lately, though not in the context of keeping myself young. More about how I used to look at life that way - and now that I've changed, how easy it is for me to spot someone else doing the same thing.

I used to think that all I needed was that next thing, and all my problems would be solved. Then I lost everything that I never knew mattered - and learned happiness doesn't come from what you can get. Happiness comes from appreciating who you are, the people around you, and what you already have.

But that's a tough thing to say to someone else. No matter how badly I may want to teach, it's the sort of lesson a person has to learn on her own. Some people (like me) have to lose it all before they can see what they really have.  

It's heart-breaking, though, to watch someone bounce from goal to goal, getting more and more lost, because even as she gets that next big thing - she's not any happier. She doesn't feel better about herself, her life isn't where she wants it to be, and she's losing ground with the things she thought she'd achieved. 

If only she could see the her I see. The beautiful, smart, confidant woman who is a good wife and a good mother. The woman who does for others without thinking of herself. The woman who is good at her job, who juggles without dropping and can make magic happen for her kids. The woman who has the guts to get up there and do something in front of others, even when she's afraid. The woman who isn't afraid to learn, and try, and be wrong - and keep going.

If only she saw that woman, and loved herself the way others love her, she might finally find happiness.

If only.

Movie Monday: Oscars

If you like movies, the Oscars are a big deal. Time to honor the best of the best - the actors, the writing, the directing, the music...

The red carpet dresses.

I actually don't always watch award shows. They get a little boring, and a little long. But, I do enjoy a red carpet - and the Oscars red carpet is the best. It's the culmination of the awards season, and the super bowl of red carpet-worthy dresses.


Of course, for every best-dressed, there are two worst-dressed. Sometimes, everyone agrees - like that time Bjork wore a swan, or Diane Keaton wore a tux. But other times, it's about personal taste. At the end of the day, it really is all about style, and how the actresses wear the dress.

I've always felt that style is more than just a pretty dress. It's finding the right dress for you; one that you can wear with confidence. A dress that doesn't wear you.

It's also about finding the right dress for the occasion. The Oscars? Not the place for risque, or the crazy. Save that for the Grammys.

Style is also about more than the dress. It's about the hair, the shoes, the jewelry, the hair...

....and making sure it all coordinates with the dress.

Stacy Keibler
So pretty - she looks like one of the statues!

Maya Rudolph
She's beautiful - I do wish her hair was up, especially with this dress.

Emma Stone
Her neck was attacked, and no one bothered to help.

Octavia Spencer
My first pick for best dressed - and she won Best Supporting Actress!

And my other pick for best dressed....
Sandra Bullock

Images from, except for Sandra Bullock, which I grabbed from twitter.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I never really liked Whitney Houston

I don't really trust celebrities (except for him). I figure their job is to portray a certain image; I portray an image that's not me at my job, so I can only imagine how motivated all that wealth and power makes them to pretend.

But celebrities are still flawed, imperfect people. Sometimes, the bigger you are, the harder you really do fall. At the very heart of it, a celebrity is just a person. Each has her own history and experiences that have shaped who she is, the choices she makes, and how she reacts. A person may not deserve sympathy for having been a celebrity; but that doesn't mean she was without her problems.

When those problems are big enough - sometimes, it becomes impossible to hide them. Whitney Houston was a celebrity who stopped pretending to be perfect years ago. She made a lot of mistakes, and regardless of what actually killed her, her choices probably contributed.

Except for a brief period in junior high, I was never a big fan; but I can certainly understand why so many loved her, even if I didn't. Her music touched a lot of hearts and lives, and she had a family who truly cared for and will miss her. My heart breaks for them; my heart breaks for anyone who loses someone so young. Regardless of her choices, that's something no family deserves.

Her celebrity, and her legacy, made her death world-wide  news. I personally don't want to hear any more about a celebrity dying other than, "She died." I figure the rest is really not my business, unless charges are filed somewhere (public record and all). She passed away on a Saturday night; by Thursday, I was tired of hearing "Whitney Updates" on the radio and TV. Updates? What's to update? She's still dead, right?

The coverage got so out of control that a week later, CNN broadcast the funeral. Seriously? I only caught a few minutes because it was on the TV at the gym. I looked up and immediately noticed two things.

Most of the family was wearing sunglasses - and Jesse Jackson was sitting right up front, in full view of the camera, slouched over with his legs spread wide.

What. The. Hell?!

Yes, she was a celebrity, and comes from a celebrity family. All her friends were celebrities. She died suddenly. My feelings on the "world's leading news network" broadcasting it aside, the funeral was a big deal. She was a prominent African-American artist - so it makes sense that with all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the funeral, Jesse Jackson would show up. It even (I suppose) makes sense he'd be sitting with the family. It might even make sense he be sitting right where the camera would be on his the whole time.

But you would think that a man of his stature, at an event of this size and importance, would know how to sit. You'd think he'd at least know he should sit up straight, and at least pretend to look like he was paying attention.

I mean - he's a celebrity. Isn't pretending part of the game?

I may never have been a big fan of Ms. Houston - but I'd say she deserved at least that much on this one day.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Get going

So, this whole fitness challenge just stepped up a notch. I am (tentatively) going to be on a beach later this a bathing front of, you know - people.

That changes things.

But, I have found that the idea of being in a beautiful destination, with beautiful company, surrounded by beautiful (read: thin) women - motivates me to get things moving.

Luckily, I was already on this little fitness-kick (thanks, Baking Suit), so it wasn't a total shock. I got some great advice from another friend on how to focus my energies from now leading up to the Bathing Suit Incident of 2012.

One thing I had to do is adjust my priorities. Friends, work, home - I always have something "more important" to do, before working out.

That had to change, and I've moved the workouts to the top of my priority list. I'm even - *gasp* - getting up early to go to the gym on days when I know I won't have an opportunity after work. I've worked the gym into my social schedule, too, so that I know it gets done.

Obviously, somethings gotta give. I just hope my employer(s) understand (kidding - sorta).

Thursday, February 16, 2012

One of those days

Have you ever had one of those days where everything goes wrong? You can't get out of your own way while getting ready for work, your outfit or hair (or both) just isn't working, and everything you say or do is just off.

You comment on a facebook status and end up starting an argument. Or you post a facebook status - and not even crickets comment. You write a blog and get nothing but nasty comments. You text a friend and she ends up upset with you for something you didn't even know you did.

Everything you touch at works just falls to pieces, and you end up having to re-do your own work several times, just to get it right. You forget appointments, or to-do list items, and have to scramble to make up what you missed.

I hate days like that; especially when they last for a whole week.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Spiritual savings account

At church the day, our pastor was talking about financial health. He was talking money and budgets, and I'll admit, I found it a little ironic that someone would talk about how to manage money - and then pass around a bucket for handouts.

But really, the point of his sermon was that tithing should be a part of your budget; that being generous to others is a part of honoring God, and therefore, it should be in your budget. 

While I haven't fully accepted the whole church-thing just yet, I do like to go and listen, and each week I challenge myself to really understand the message, and listen to what it can teach me. Sometimes, I have to think on it a little bit; I've been known to judge way too quickly. 

Whether I agree with a church giving financial advice is really beside the point. Pastor did say something that really stuck with me. He said that living in excessive debt makes it hard for people to form a relationship with God; that basically, you can't serve two masters, and if you're drowning in debt, your lender ends up being the master you owe. 

Whether or not you believe in religion or God or consider yourself a Christian, I feel like there is something for everyone in that message. When you get too attached to money - or to the things or status it buys - you lose a part of yourself. You can't manage a good relationship with yourself, with God or with anyone else if you're always chasing the next "thing." 

Drowning in debt means you've made your lender your master. They're not looking out for you; they don't care about your or your family or your future. Your lender isn't your friend. So why would you forsake your relationships, or your own self respect - to serve them? 

Christian or not, I think anyone could agree that doesn't make any sense.

Anyone who knows me knows I like my stuff. They also know I put up with a job simply because it allows me the chance to have the things I like and meet my obligations. 

But don't confuse responsibility or enjoyment with serving the wrong master. Those are things you want, but what you need is an honest, healthy relationship with yourself, your family, or with God.

Until you understand that, you won't ever truly be rich.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

Love is a beautiful thing. Not just romantic love, or new love, or exciting love. Love, in any form, is something special, and worth celebrating.

If you're lucky enough to have someone you can count on no matter what...someone who helps without judgment or're lucky enough to celebrate.

Whether that person is a significant other, a best friend, a sibling, a parent, a cousin, a coworker... whoever he or she is, make sure you reach out and let him know how grateful you are for the love in your life.

You don't have to be in love to know love.

And you don't need to wait for today to celebrate - but we can all use a reminder now and then.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Laid back

I know a lot of people who describe themselves as "laid back." I know far fewer people who actually are.

Maybe everyone thinks of themselves as laid back? Which, if you think about it, makes sense. Everyone thinks their reactions are normal - otherwise, they wouldn't react that way, right? So if you freak out because your kid asks you the same question 15 times, or the online order you placed incorrectly was, well, incorrect - you're still laid back. Those freak-outs were warranted.

Even more surprising than the number of friends who describe themselves as laid back? The number who describe me that way.

I know people like this - but not many.
I'm not. Not even close.

Know the difference? I actually just don't care about very much.

As a result, it takes a lot to get a reaction from me. More often than not, if I do react to something, it's the result of unseen, unrelated stress that has me already wound up. Then something little happens and - Boing!

Crazy lady.

To me, actually being laid back means that no matter what, you don't freak out. You take everything in stride, with a calm, steady rhythm that most can't achieve. 

That's not me. But so few people see my freak-out side, they don't believe me when I tell them it exists.

Apparently, my apathy allows me to cleverly disguise myself as a laid back adult.

I'm totally adding that to my list of super powers.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Just like family

Do you have friends who you consider family? I do. In fact, most of my family is made up of people to whom I'm not actually related. They're who I call when I need a shoulder to lean on, or I have news, or I need an opinion.

I know there are people who feel the same about me. I know, because they've told me.

You don't choose your family.
They are God's gift to you, as you are to them.
(Desmond Tutu)
It's sort of easy to say, though. You get really close with someone because she's there for you in a difficult time, or helps in a way no one else could. Suddenly, she's looking a lot more like a sister than the one who was just screaming at you over the phone.

So, you tell her. "You're like a sister to me." The words roll off your tongue naturally, and you both smile, hug, maybe tear up a bit. Then you go on your merry way.

But is it true? Is the mark of a sibling (or someone "just like" one) that she's there through the good and bad? That she doesn't judge or scold? She's always there to listen?

To me - that's a friend. A good friend maybe - but a friend.

I don't think you find family based on who treats you well. I think you find family based on how you feel when someone treats you poorly.

If she ticks you off, and you can just walk away - she's not family. If you delete her from your phone because you don't hear from her for a while - she's not family. If you flush the friendship the minute she tells you the harsh truth you didn't want to hear - she's not family.

Yeah - family tells you the truth, even when it hurts. Family annoys you and even ignores you occasionally. But when someone is really like family to you - you won't just walk away.

As an only child, I know this is all too well. I know that no matter how good a friend I am to someone, or how close she feels to me, I'll never get away with the things that a true sister could. It's just a bond that can't be broken - and one I don't have.

Truthfully, though I reap many rewards for being an only child, there's nothing that can replace the unconditional love true siblings have for one another. Those who have it should take care to never let it go.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Go Giants!

Personally, I don't care who wins. I like the commercials - and the food. And Madonna is performing the half-time show. Yay!

I still don't know much about football - but I am learning.

In the meantime - the Giants are important to someone who is important to me - so I'm rooting for them. I'm also taking the day off on Monday, just in case the game runs long - as it seems football games sometimes do.

Go Giants!