When Your Mother Says She Is Fat

I was literally in tears at the end of reading this, so beautifully written and powerful:

Dear Mum,

I was seven when I discovered that you were fat, ugly and horrible. Up until that point I had believed that you were beautiful – in every sense of the word. I remember flicking through old photo albums and staring at pictures of you standing on the deck of a boat. Your white strapless bathing suit looked so glamorous, just like a movie star. Whenever I had the chance I’d pull out that wondrous white bathing suit hidden in your bottom drawer and imagine a time when I’d be big enough to wear it; when I’d be like you.

But all of that changed when, one night, we were dressed up for a party and you said to me, ”Look at you, so thin, beautiful and lovely. And look at me, fat, ugly and horrible.”

At first I didn’t understand what you meant.

”You’re not fat,” I said earnestly and innocently, and you replied, ”Yes I am, darling. I’ve always been fat; even as a child.”

In the days that followed I had some painful revelations that have shaped my whole life. I learned that:

1. You must be fat because mothers don’t lie.
2. Fat is ugly and horrible.
3. When I grow up I’ll look like you and therefore I will be fat, ugly and horrible too.

Years later, I looked back on this conversation and the hundreds that followed and cursed you for feeling so unattractive, insecure and unworthy. Because, as my first and most influential role model, you taught me to believe the same thing about myself.

With every grimace at your reflection in the mirror, every new wonder diet that was going to change your life, and every guilty spoon of ”Oh-I-really-shouldn’t”, I learned that women must be thin to be valid and worthy. Girls must go without because their greatest contribution to the world is their physical beauty.

Just like you, I have spent my whole life feeling fat. When did fat become a feeling anyway? And because I believed I was fat, I knew I was no good.

But now that I am older, and a mother myself, I know that blaming you for my body hatred is unhelpful and unfair. I now understand that you too are a product of a long and rich lineage of women who were taught to loathe themselves.

Look at the example Nanna set for you. Despite being what could only be described as famine-victim chic, she dieted every day of her life until the day she died at 79 years of age. She used to put on make-up to walk to the letterbox for fear that somebody might see her unpainted face.

I remember her ”compassionate” response when you announced that Dad had left you for another woman. Her first comment was, ”I don’t understand why he’d leave you. You look after yourself, you wear lipstick. You’re overweight – but not that much.”

Before Dad left, he provided no balm for your body-image torment either.

”Jesus, Jan,” I overheard him say to you. ”It’s not that hard. Energy in versus energy out. If you want to lose weight you just have to eat less.”

That night at dinner I watched you implement Dad’s ”Energy In, Energy Out: Jesus, Jan, Just Eat Less” weight-loss cure. You served up chow mein for dinner. (Remember how in 1980s Australian suburbia, a combination of mince, cabbage, and soy sauce was considered the height of exotic gourmet?) Everyone else’s food was on a dinner plate except yours. You served your chow mein on a tiny bread-and-butter plate.

As you sat in front of that pathetic scoop of mince, silent tears streamed down your face. I said nothing. Not even when your shoulders started heaving from your distress. We all ate our dinner in silence. Nobody comforted you. Nobody told you to stop being ridiculous and get a proper plate. Nobody told you that you were already loved and already good enough. Your achievements and your worth – as a teacher of children with special needs and a devoted mother of three of your own – paled into insignificance when compared with the centimetres you couldn’t lose from your waist.

It broke my heart to witness your despair and I’m sorry that I didn’t rush to your defence. I’d already learned that it was your fault that you were fat. I’d even heard Dad describe losing weight as a ”simple” process – yet one that you still couldn’t come to grips with. The lesson: you didn’t deserve any food and you certainly didn’t deserve any sympathy.

But I was wrong, Mum. Now I understand what it’s like to grow up in a society that tells women that their beauty matters most, and at the same time defines a standard of beauty that is perpetually out of our reach. I also know the pain of internalising these messages. We have become our own jailors and we inflict our own punishments for failing to measure up. No one is crueller to us than we are to ourselves.

But this madness has to stop, Mum. It stops with you, it stops with me and it stops now. We deserve better – better than to have our days brought to ruin by bad body thoughts, wishing we were otherwise.

And it’s not just about you and me any more. It’s also about Violet. Your granddaughter is only 3 and I do not want body hatred to take root inside her and strangle her happiness, her confidence and her potential. I don’t want Violet to believe that her beauty is her most important asset; that it will define her worth in the world. When Violet looks to us to learn how to be a woman, we need to be the best role models we can. We need to show her with our words and our actions that women are good enough just the way they are. And for her to believe us, we need to believe it ourselves.

The older we get, the more loved ones we lose to accidents and illness. Their passing is always tragic and far too soon. I sometimes think about what these friends – and the people who love them – wouldn’t give for more time in a body that was healthy. A body that would allow them to live just a little longer. The size of that body’s thighs or the lines on its face wouldn’t matter. It would be alive and therefore it would be perfect.

Your body is perfect too. It allows you to disarm a room with your smile and infect everyone with your laugh. It gives you arms to wrap around Violet and squeeze her until she giggles. Every moment we spend worrying about our physical ”flaws” is a moment wasted, a precious slice of life that we will never get back.

Let us honour and respect our bodies for what they do instead of despising them for how they appear. Focus on living healthy and active lives, let our weight fall where it may, and consign our body hatred in the past where it belongs. When I looked at that photo of you in the white bathing suit all those years ago, my innocent young eyes saw the truth. I saw unconditional love, beauty and wisdom. I saw my Mum.

Love, Kasey xx

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Up (and Down) – Body Image

This weeks photo challenge was UP

So today while I was lying by the pool enjoying the 80* San Diego weather, I took this photo.

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Then I flipped my camera around and took a “down” photo. This is the photo that I want to talk about.

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For as long as I can remember I have wanted to lose weight. It has been on my mind since High School and continues today. I have never been significantly overweight or obese, but I have also never been “skinny”.

I have never felt comfortable being in a bikini, exposing my flaws the the world and comparing my body to the Victoria Secret models who advertise what my body “should” look like in a bikini.

I recently deleted all of the “fitspiration” facebook and Instagram pages I followed, because I found myself getting depressed by looking at them, rather than inspired. They would post the fruit they ate for lunch and I would feel like a fat cow for eating a bagel. Or they would post photos of the “ideal” body type, and I would find myself looking down at my own perfectly beautiful body and hating it for not looking like what it “ideally” should.

The only page I still follow is This is Not a Diet – it’s your life, because she has such a wonderful way of inspiring people to love their body and strive for being the healthiest version of themselves, not someone else’s version.

She posted a link to an article last week and I was incredibly moved by it. In fact, it was what prompted me to delete all the fitness pages I was following because I realized how negatively it was effecting my self esteem.

“At what point did we find it applaudable to look at pictures of other people and say “instead of looking like me, I want to look like her.” Why don’t we balk at the suggestion in the magazines to cut out those pictures and paste them to our refrigerators? Pictures to remind us that instead of feeding ourselves, we should be punishing ourselves. Instead of eating what we want when we’re hungry, we should instead be perpetuating a cycle of shame, guilt and jealousy. You are not enough as you are, is the message. Or rather, you are too much as you are. Don’t eat again. Have a glass of water. Take a diet pill. Maybe have some carrot sticks. Work out instead. You don’t want to be stuck in that body of yours forever, do you? Who will love you? Certainly not yourself, that’s for sure….

….So the next time you stand in front of a mirror and sneer at your less than flat abs or get angry with yourself for having enjoyed a dessert, ask yourself why. Why is perfection so important? What does it matter and who does it matter to?

I am a size 12 and I am healthy. I do not look like a Victoria Secret model, and I probably never will. My body is not perfect, but I am satisfied with it and my husband loves it. That is all that should matter.

Weekly Photo Challenge and Advocare Diet Review

This weeks photo challenge is “lunchtime”, which connects well to another post I had planned on sharing today. So that works out great!

Today for lunch I had Panda Express, because today is my cheat day after completing the 24 day Advocare challenge.

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I lost 6 pounds and 4 inches on the challenge (the average weight loss for women is 10 lbs., so I think I did a decent job).

I thought I would write a review of my experience, what I learned, what I liked, what I didn’t like, etc.

First off, I found it very hard to stick too. Mostly when it came to eating out. Jeremy and I normally go out with friends 2x a week, wether that be a BBQ at someones house or just meeting up for dinner. We also eat out together 2-3x a week, breakfast on Sundays, dinner on Friday, etc.

The diet basically boils down to fruit, vegetables, lean protein (chicken, turkey, fish, etc.) and limited whole wheats, like brown rice, whole grain past and whole grain bread. (for a more exact description of the diet you can explore the Advocare website)

That doesn’t give a ton of options when you go to a BBQ at a friends house and they are providing the food.

So I did not stick to the diet 100%. I would say my average was about 80%

However, what I did learn, and will take a way from the experience, is that there are ways to eat the above mentioned foods in tasty ways. A few of my favorite recipes were turkey tacos (whole wheat tortilla topped with salsa), pineapple turkey burger (on a whole wheat bun) and sweet potato fries.

My two biggest problems with sticking to any kind of diet like this is 1) I have no willpower, and 2) I LIKE yummy-bad-for-me-food

I don’t think I will ever be one of those people who gets excited for a turkey burger, I would much rather eat Panda Express. And if you put both of those options in front of me, I will probably grab the Panda Express, I don’t have willpower.

So how do I lose the weight that I want to lose? Figure out something that works for my lifestyle and stick with it long term.

I will not be able to stick with a strict diet, I was amazed I made it at 80% for 24 days.

My plan now is to use what I learned as far as healthy eating habits, incorporate it into my daily life, give myself room to cheat a little, and make it a long-term lifestyle change.

When Jeremy and I go out to eat I don’t have to order the french toast with hash browns, I can have oatmeal and eggs. Every once in a while I can have a cheat day and order the pizza and Panda Express, but for the most part I have learned that there are healthier options at most restaurants that still taste pretty good.

And there are healthier options for me to cook at home, where my lack of willpower isn’t such an obstacle. I only buy healthy foods and try to cook at home most of the week, eliminating the temptation of bad foods.

The word “diet” is so negative. Just saying it makes me miserable. I want to live a healthier lifestyle, a lifestyle that I can actually accomplish and stick too long term, not just for 24 days or a few months. I recently found a FB page that I love called “This is not a diet – this is your life”, and I think her message is great!

I have 11 lbs to go until I reach my first goal weight and obtain a “healthy” BMI. Using what I learned from Advocare, I think that is a realistic possibility for me in the next 2-3 months.

I’m down 10 lbs. since I started this journey in January, it’s slow progress, but at least it’s in the right direction!

Weight Loss Motivation Cycle

I vacillate between two opinions when it comes to weight loss.

#1: the “if other people can do it I can do it” phase where I am inspired to other people weight loss and tell myself that with dedication, eating healthy, working out and staying motivated I too could be an inspirational ‘before and after’

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#2: I like to call this phase the “Marilyn Monroe”, where I should learn to love my body the way it is.

What’s wrong with being a size 12? I have never been a skinny girl, I should start to accept my body the way it is instead of trying to meld it into what is socially acceptable.

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I normally go through these phase in 2-4 month cycles. I decide to motivate myself to lose weight, I keep it up for 2-3 months, then I get tired of missing out on all the foods that I love and go back to my old ways, telling myself that I am just fine the way I am.

Today I went through both of these phases in one day.

Jeremy and I have been eating healthy and working out for the last 3 weeks and I’ve lost 3 lbs. I was depressed about the lack of progress after giving up all the foods that I like…and I was majorly craving Girl Scout cookies lol.

But then Jeremy was amazingly supportive and helped me brainstorm ideas to keep on track. He is very disciplined (something I am not) and is in very good shape (another thing I am not) lol.

After a long discussion we finally decided that I will be started the Advocare 24 Day Challenge, in the hopes that losing weight and seeing results right away will keep me motivated in working towards the healthy lifestyle we are trying to live.

I think one of my challenges in losing weight and staying motivated is that I’m not really that unhappy with my body. I always tell my clients, that people only change if they are uncomfortable enough with the way they are now. If your okay with your life, then you have no motivation for change.

Would I like to look hot in a bikini when I go to the beach? Yes. But since I don’t go to the beach that often and I think I look good in clothes, it’s not a huge motivating factor for me.

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But I’m hoping with Jeremy supporting me and investing my hard earned money, I will be able to break my cycle and make it more than 3 months of being healthy. My goal is 6 months, then a year and ultimately a lifestyle.

“It took more than a day to gain it, it will take more than a day to lose it”

My Weight Loss Journey

Well, I guess I can add another item under my list of “what you will find in this blog”…my weight loss journey. 

I’ve always struggled with my weight, ever since High School. I’m not obese or anything, but I’m on the high side of “normal” and occasionally my BMI will tip over to the “overweight” range. I normally wear between a 10-12 in women’s, fairly average, but certainly no bikini body. 

I hate working out and I hate eating healthy, which is probably why I struggle with my weight lol. Honestly, if I could have a metabolism that would allow me to eat what I want, never work out and maintain a socially acceptable weight, I would do it. I hate girls like that lol.

When Jeremy left for this deployment my goal was to lose 25lbs. I managed to lose 15 during the first 3 months, but then I got lazy and busy with school and work and probably put back on the 15 by the time he came home.

Jeremy, on the other hand, got into amazing shape on this deployment. He has always been slender, the man eats 3x the amount of food I do and never seems to put on a pound, damn him! lol. But over the last 6 months he has mostly been lifting weights at the gym and is now sexy buff…like, I can count all 6 abs 😉

He wants to do a triathlon soon, so we decided to get into shape together. I certainly won’t be attempting the triathlon, but I’m still going to get into my own version of “shape”. Pear is a shape, right? lol

On the Saturday after he got home we started by shopping for healthy food. We don’t eat extremely unhealthy, not like fried chicken and McDonalds every night, but normally a lot of pasta, red meat and no vegetables. 

We were going to go really healthy, but neither of us like vegetables, so we got kinda stuck lol. Plus, I think it’s important to have realistic goals, we aren’t going to be able to maintain eating nothing but steamed vegetables and grilled chicken. 

Today was the next step, gym membership! There is a gym walking distance from our apartment and today we walked over and signed up (and worked out, of course). Our plan is to go together 4 nights a week and take a spin class on Saturday and Sunday morning. 

I’m hoping that by going together we will motivate each other and it will be a good husband/wife activity for us, since most of the things we like to do together don’t involve much physical activity (e.g. going to the movies and watching TV) lol. 

So we will see how the next few months go! I’m hoping I can keep it up and start to see some small changes in my body which will motivate me to keep it up! I know the best way to get in shape is to make a lifestyle change, rather than crazy fad diets and exercise regimes. Hopefully making the change as a couple will make it stick for me this time 🙂