Wednesday, August 28, 2013

LOVE YOUR BODY NOW! Body Image Obsession, Control Issues and Childhood Abuse...

I've been feeling a lot of pressure lately.  A lot of pressure to 'accept my body' to 'stop obsessing about how I look' and to just 'enjoy the journey of getting healthy'.  Those phrases specifically were starting to really annoy me.  Mostly because I was TRYING to accept my body, and I started to feel like people were judging me for NOT loving myself enough RIGHT THE HELL NOW.

I had people telling me that I needed therapy, I had people getting ANGRY at me for not feeling sexy and JUST ACCEPTING IT RIGHT NOW.  I had one woman tell me in no uncertain terms that I needed to get help because having feelings like I had expressed was abnormal and WRONG... even after dozens of women had answered my original post saying, "I FEEL THIS WAY TOO!"

I saw comments on other peoples' pages expressing the same general idea, "If you don't fully love your body right now, there is something WRONG WITH YOU.  YOU ARE MENTAL, YOU NEED OUTSIDE HELP... THIS IS BAD, YOU ARE WRONG... YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE WHO FEELS THIS WAY..." etc.

BULL SHIT.  I know that I am not the only one seeing these messages and feeling this way.  Shaming me and making me feel like some freak of nature is NOT HELPFUL.

Yeah, I see plenty of "love yourself" memes and pictures...

But often instead of seeing THIS:


**I know consciously that is not the INTENTION behind these words/memes

I realized that I was becoming really FURIOUS, over the top angry with people for this.  I realized that I was overreacting, mostly (I thought) because I had been TRYING to overcome my shame about my body, my shame about being fat.  For the last two years, I scoured self help sites, looking for some way to accept the fact that my body had accumulated this extra fat.  Looking at myself in the mirror did not help.  I just felt worse.  Repeating mantras over and over about how much I loved and accepted myself weren't helping.

All of the "Don't let the MEDIA tell you how you should look!!!" doesn't fit for me, either.  Hell, my IDEAL body STILL wouldn't fit the media ideal anyway!

I had to leave some groups/unlike some 'encouraging pages' because they were starting to trigger this deep seated response in me that I couldn't figure out, and it was having an effect on my day to day life, depression, my ability to enjoy ANYTHING and especially my ability to keep on moving on a path that I know I believe in.

Trigger Warning

I finally, through a conversation with my very frustrated husband, dug down deep enough to try to explain that my "body image obsession" wasn't even all about my body.  It was about my WHOLE SELF.  It was about CONTROL when I'm feeling overwhelmed by life stresses.

First off, my whole body image obsession thing is just as much a coping mechanism as anything else. At times when life gets too stressful, that is the only thing that I have ever been able to actually control. Be it my growing up years, years of sexual abuse in my childhood, bullying in elementary school, being ostracized throughout middle and high school, or even just stressful adult years... the only thing I often have always felt like I was in control of is what I eat, what exercise I do, etc.  

When I first started asking my mom questions about my childhood (without telling her that I was asking because I was having memories of sexual abuse), she told me that when we lived in WI with [her boyfriend, one of my abusers], that she always found food stashed and hidden in my room... [her boyfriend] could come to my room at night and take control of me, but he couldn't force me to eat at meal times.

I don't remember why, but I know that there are certain foods that cause a deep seated reaction in me. Tomato soup, for instance.  One of my vivid memories as a young child is being at my aunt's house because she was watching me and making tomato soup.  I can't even stand the smell of tomato soup without wanting to vomit.  Ever.  I don't have any specific memories of abuse at her house, just an overwhelming feeling of... discomfort, grossness, yuck.

I remember food being a control issue for me all through middle school and high school as well.  My mom could worry, my step dad could yell, but they couldn't force me to eat.  Boys could pressure me, grope me, try to take advantage (or take advantage), but they couldn't control what *I* chose to eat, how I chose to treat my own body.

I had very few friends and was often at odds with them because I didn't play the power trip games well.  I might not have had any control over anything else in my life, but I could control what food I put in my body.  I could punish myself with food or lack of food, I could make myself forget the stress going on around me, in my home life, with the emotional abuse and just dark cloud that was always hanging around by focusing on food.  Controlling food.  Making myself starve, making myself exercise until I slept.

In ADDITION to all of the 'don't be fat' mantra that I told myself/heard all the time.  It was something my mom and aunts (on my mother's side) were always obsessed about.  In that family, the thin people were 'good', the overweight people were people to feel sorry for.

So the whole, food=control aka being thin/fit=good, wanted, etc... the fact that I have totally lost control over that (aka, I got *fat*) has been a HUGE source of stress for me for the last few years ON TOP OF the actual body image, just the fact that I've lost the ability to even control what my body is doing/looks like? That's a pretty deeply seated fucking deal. (Yes, I'm 42 years old and my childhood shit is rearing its head AGAIN. I know.)

So no, its not just about body image... its about the fact that it FEELS LIKE everything is crumbling around me all the fucking time and there isn't a damned thing I can do about it.  Even knowing that RATIONALLY, my life is okay and things will get better/be fine, all of the accumulated stresses (even just the financial shit) really sends me SUBCONSCIOUSLY into the whole lifetime routine of focusing all of my stress onto my body, my 'willpower', my self control... Its not as simple as "Just love your body right now"...  I need to figure out how to reset these deeply ingrained thought patterns in my head.  

And its just not as simple as "love your body the way it is right now"  I wish it was.  I DO think its possible to heal from this, to FIX this, but I need a different focus, a different message... and I WILL find it.

And that is enough rambling for today.  Sorry for the disorganized stream of thought rambling... I'm trying to figure things out.

Monday, August 19, 2013

WHOA: Eye Opening Conversation about my "Low Carb" Atkin's Diet Days (How NOT to raise kids with a bad self image!!!)

When my kids were younger, we used to live on the road.  We lived in a 40 ft bus and traveled the US for about three years.  I painted and etched on motorcycles at rallies for our income and we stopped and explored the country between those stops.  I remember it as being an amazing adventure.  The rest of the family does, too...

I am second in the back row, I'm even wearing a bikini.

Our home, sweet home.

Today I was talking to my 18 year old son about Krispy Kreme donuts (I don't know why it came up, we talk about everything) and I said, "Oh, I remember back when I did the Atkins low carb diet years ago.  I went with no grains, no sugar and ate pretty much only meat and vegetables for 2 years."

**Note, I have always remembered this as my "Skinny" time.  I thought I was just FABULOUSLY happy with my 'thin' self.  I wore a size 3-5, I thought I was doing amazing things and I only had another ten pounds or so to lose...and I would be 'happy' (of course).  People always told me how fabulous I looked for having five kids, etc.  I also didn't exercise at all.  Nada.  My back always hurt.  I couldn't sleep then, either, but I was THIN.**
And yet I still have hardly any photos...

My son looked at me and said, "Was that when we lived on the bus?"  (Remember, he was 6-8 at the time!!!  This was TEN YEARS AGO)  When I nodded, he said, "Oh my god.  I remember that.  You were SUCH an UNPLEASANT individual then!!!"

I was... shocked.  I couldn't believe that he not only remembered that time...
but remembered that I was that unpleasant because of my DIET.

He was 6-8 years old, and his memory of me for those years is that I was always in a bad mood and angry and unpleasant... because I "couldn't eat anything fun".

Wow.  That was eye opening.  So I looked thin, yeah.  I felt pleased with my appearance because I looked skinny and wore a small size.  But my kids remember me as just being unhappy.  

And in the end... I ended up getting a "treat" of Krispy Kreme donuts for my birthday after two years of "being good"... and I binged.  I ate most of the BOX of a dozen donuts.  Then I ate more.  As I told him, 

"I not only fell off the wagon, I think I ate the wagon, too, because when I came to, there was no wagon anywhere to be seen..."

In the years since then, I did find that I do best eating less grains, little wheat, and sticking with very little sugars.  The grains seem to make my digestion feel cranky if I eat them a lot and consistently.  Sugars tend to give me headaches and make me tired.  I have stopped labeling them as "good" or "bad" and I can have them in moderation now without beating myself up and without needing to eat everything in sight and surprise... they don't affect me negatively when I don't binge on them!

I do better with more protein and less carbs.  I still eat plenty of carbs, I just know that I need to pair it with protein if its in the form of refined carbs.  Instead of setting some strict diet dogma to follow, I am just paying attention to how food makes me FEEL.  I eat what makes me feel best (and I DO need carbs... and plenty of them if I want to have energy to workout!) and even at times eat things that don't make me feel the best, but I enjoy the food, enjoy the company and enjoy celebrations without 'rules' and without 'cheating'.  It has been life changing.

The most important thing, though, is that I'm developing a HEALTHY, SANE relationship with food.  And my body.  Is it always easy?  No.  But its worth it.  The changes might be slow, but they're coming. 

The best part?  My kids are seeing that I'm on a healthy path.  I'm much more stable emotionally.  I can participate in desserts and celebrations without inhaling everything in sight or without being near tears and cranky because I won't allow myself to "cheat".  They go to the gym with me, or join us for PiYo on the back deck.  They see that I'm taking care of myself to be healthy, instead of beating myself up trying to some form of "perfect looks"...
My son and I this summer... my beast of a workout partner 
(although at that time, I was benching as much as he was!)

I like to think that I'm having a much more positive impact on them... and on myself.

Results are awesome, yes, 
but the journey counts.
A lot.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

How I am Healing my Metabolism...

No matter what *diet*/workout plan I have followed, I have always been on a mission to find what worked for ME... sometimes obsessively, often times unhealthily, but always searching for the answers that would ft MY body. All the while not even LISTENING TO MY OWN BODY, but trying to force it into some mold that promised the answers/look I wanted.  I mostly avoided photos when I was "fat", so I don't have a lot of range... but these photos encompass over a decade... looking at them now, sometimes I know I felt like I was MUCH bigger than I was, and I wish I could have just appreciated life instead of always feeling like I needed to be "fixed"... its frustrating to me that I'm STILL fighting that need to fix my body to LOOK better instead of just trying to find a healthy place...

It wasn't until I was forcefully downed with several health issues and overuse injuries that I was finally able to STOP and start listening to those who had already been there and had been trying to help me along the way. 

After several months of "refeeding" and trying to heal my metabolism by STOPPING the insane "Diet Train" I was on. Weight lifting and learning to eat enough to fuel my workouts and my daily activities. It has been a struggle! 

Yesterday I was feeling horrible and crappy about myself, my lack of progress and just feeling generally ick. I KNEW it was in large part because I haven't been sleeping well, I am bloated and PMS-y, but I was really feeling down and decided to post here and be real.

The support I got, both in comments and private messages really helped a lot. Knowing that I'm not alone in this is a really good thing, and I'm glad I started this page. The reminders that I'm doing this in a far different way this time than ever before caused me to go back and LOOK.

I AM making progress. Yes, it is SLOWER than I would like... but slow and steady is more likely to stick with me this time, and in the long run, I'd rather have slow and steady! Anyway, I looked at some photos and realized that although my changes have been minimal the last few months, I have come a long way since the beginning of the year. I also know that I'm tired and cranky and need to get back to my smoothies, because that made me feel SO much better. I am going to keep working and ignore the scale, the mirrors and anything else until this PMS/perioding phase is over this month. Then I will take photos and reassess. 

I have to admit that these pictures depressed me a little bit. I still have SO much bloating in the stomach area... messed up eating for decades really screwed with my metabolism (imagine that), but I AM healing that, so it is OKAY. 

It is not the end of the world, and within a couple of months, it will all be gone, healed and healthy. My back is DEFINITELY changing a lot, though, and I am definitely getting stronger. My legs are changing, too, but since I only have this little camera that won't work on a tripod because the battery keeps falling out, you'll have to wait for that!

But most importantly, my emotional and MENTAL self is healing.  A lot.  I am getting better.  I am getting stronger.  I can lift heavier things, and I can fight off those annoying voices in my head that want me to be miserable, that want to beat me up for not fitting my 'perfect' image.  

I am HEALING.  It is a good thing.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Back to School: EASY Healthy Bulk Breakfast Burritos

From my old "Clean Eating" Blog... make these as "clean", as healthy, as filling as you want.  Use whole wheat, non whole wheat, gluten free or whatever wraps you want.  Sometimes we make bagels instead of burritos, but eggs and veggies make for a GREAT start to your morning!

We were going through the breakfast burritos at an amazing rate, so I found an even easier, faster way to make them... because you can count on me to constantly be on the look out for ways to make things more efficient so I have more time to be lazy:)

Baked Quiche Wraps!

Use whatever ingredients you like... for our Clean Eating Wraps, we like to use a variety of the following:
Whole Wheat Tortillas
Peppers (especialy red & yellow bell peppers for me!)
Sauteed Chicken
Onions (lots of onions!)
low fat cheeses

Not so Clean idea that my kids like, and helps extend the eggs are oven fries (cut really small).


  • Sautee your choice of veggies and meats in a skillet with a little coconut oil.
  • Beat eggs in a separate bowl (I used 2 1/2 dozen for our pan, with LOTS of veggies)
  • Pour all ingredients into a 9x13 baking dish
  • Bake at 350 until done.  (Our 'new' oven is REALLY off temp, wise, so I'm really unsure of the time for a regular oven.  Probably 15-20 minutes?)

After the eggs cool (I just put them in the oven overnight), divide the pan into 16-18 servings.  I cut across the middle first, then in half the other direction... it makes it easier to get more even slices.

Lay out your tortillas with cheese and wrap.

Wrap each on with plastic wrap and you're ready to go!

I keep them in the fridge in a drawer and they're ready to go for my early morning husband and kids!

 What is your favorite easy-go to recipe?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Raising Children with a Healthy Self Esteem, Positive Body Image and Self Confidence

I have five very different children.  Five children, who, for the most part are very self assured, have very positive self images and healthy views of their bodies.
My two boys, 14 months apart, the one on the left had been to the gym maybe 10 times at the time of this photo.  The one in the right has been into sports his whole life and spent the last semester in weight lifting at school.  They are both proud of their own accomplishments, even though they are built so differently.  They were complimentary to each other, even though they are both highly competitive.  This was a BIG "win" in my book!
I've purposefully raised them from the get go to be individuals and to be proud of their OWN individuality.  We have always talked very openly about our bodies, body types as well as nutrition and exercise.  We've always been very open about body changes/puberty, periods, PMS and hormones.  We talk about sexuality and attractiveness.

I find it ironic that in my most recent journey towards both physical AND mental fitness... that I've started realizing that all of the things I've told my kids from the very beginning are true for me, too.  (I know, it shouldn't be rocket science, but I had a lot more baggage to get over than they did).  I am not different than them, I don't need to starve myself or 'wait until I'm lean and fit' before I'm worthy of acceptance.

If I wouldn't talk down to my children the way that I talk down to myself... why do I think its okay to talk to myself that way???

Things I've told my children that I need to learn.
  • We all have different body types.  None of them are better than any others, it just means that you might have to do different things to stay lean than someone else, if that's what you want.  You might have more curves, bigger boobs, no boobs, a bigger butt or wider shoulders... you might gain muscle really easily, you might gain fat easily, too.  You have to work with what you've got.
  • Eat when you're hungry.  Eat food that makes you feel good.  
  • When you eat something that makes you feel crappy/gives you a head ache/makes you tired... either eat that less, or find other things to eat with it that help your body deal with it better (ie: in my case, eating protein with sugar helps me not have that sugar crash later)
  • It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks of you.  At all.  

I didn't really know if any of these words were "sticking" as they grew up... until my middle daughter decided at 13 to make a youtube channel.  I pictured all of the nasty comments I'd seen on kids channels before.  I knew that she was coming to a time where her skin would probably break out, that she might gain some 'chubbiness' as her body and hormones leveled out.  *I* don't care about those things... she didn't appear to... but I knew that someone online wouldn't hesitate to bring it up.

Her first... non complimentary comment was pretty mild.  After a long, somewhat rambling video, someone posted "Zzzzz....Z.zzzz.... Zzzzz..."

Her reply?  "Hey, I think your phone is buzzing, you should go answer it."

I laughed and realized that she simply wasn't as sensitive as I was, because she is confident in WHO she is :)

Then she did a video review of some makeup... and her skin had broken out (just a little), but she didn't seem to care.

Then this happened:

Now I know it wasn't horribly mean, but I know that for me as a teen... that would have had me piling on the makeup (I was very insecure about my looks... always).

I wondered after that, if she would start being more paranoid about it... but, nope.  She honestly didn't care and has continued to show herself as confident, self assured and happy with herself.

Since then, we've had two girls with completely different body types hitting puberty, filling out and changing... I thought that might cause some problems, and there have been some spats, but they're very minor.

One of them was, (My youngest daughter, 12), "Mom, when we were at our friends house, *P* told them that I had boobs!!!"  (she is JUST starting to develop, but earlier than her sisters did)

I just said, "Well, you ARE getting boobs, aren't you?"

"Um, yeah."

I said, "Well then, I imagine that your friends and their mom all know what boobs are, right?"  She nodded.  "Then I suppose they can SEE that you're getting boobs, so its really no big secret, right?"

"No, I guess not."

"Are you sorry that you're getting boobs?"

She almost seemed offended, "Well NO!"

"Then what is the problem?  If you have boobs, some people are going to notice.  Maybe your sister is just getting panicked because she thinks you'll get bigger boobs than her, maybe she's just so surprised, she wanted to point it out.  Maybe she was just being bitchy and trying to get a reaction, but honestly, it doesn't need to be a big deal.  I don't think she meant it to be hurtful, I think she's just surprised by the whole thing."

She seemed completely reassured and everything was fine (and to be clear, if my daughter is being bitchy, I have no problem admitting that, to her or anyone else, we all have our days, especially the passionate people in this house!).  I took a volatile situation and made it NORMAL and OKAY.  Its okay to change, its okay to feel strange and need to talk about it, but it is not necessary to let other peoples' words, observations or opinions change out own perspective.

I don't know.  Maybe I'm just talking out of my ass here, and no one wants to hear what I have to say.  I do have a LOT to say on raising children, though... I'm just not sure if I should say it :)  Parenting is such an individual thing.  Hell, I'm a different parent to each of my children within my own house.  If there is one thing I've learned, all children are different and you can't just treat them all the same and expect the same results!

Any specific topics you'd like me to cover (especially when it comes to self image, body consciousness and instilling confidence in our children)?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Parenting: Getting Teenagers to be Quiet in the Evenings

(From a journal post in March, 2013)

So, I've been falling asleep earlier. Anyone whose been here for any length of time knows that I have struggled with insomnia for a long time.

My kids are generally good about being quiet at night. And going to bed at a reasonable hour. I used to be awake to be witness to this, or to tell them to "Hush" if they started getting noisy.

Things have changed. They've been staying up later, getting more obnoxious (or the fact that I'm not actually able to sleep IF its not quiet has changed things)... So, I have tried several ways to tell them that I don't care WHEN they go to bed, as long as they aren't grouchy the next day AND as long as they are QUIET at "bedtime".

We've started having a struggle with the quiet. The kids, being teenagers, on breaks or weekend especially, have been staying up later and later and later and getting LOUDER to the point that its disrupting my sleep, Abyni's sleep... its just gotten ridiculous.

The other night, in the car with my 15 year old daughter *P* and 17 year old son *K*, *P* was being a SPAZ, and I told her that she'd have to calm her tits once we got home because it was bedtime

The kids were all, "Well, good luck with that!" and I tried talking to them reasonably about it being an issue of respect... to no avail, so I explained a little what I MEANT by 'mutual respect'.

I said, 

"Listen, your father and I are quiet when WE go to bed out of respect for your ears, so you can and had best start showing MUTUAL respect for the quiet that happens at bedtime, or we may not bother to be quiet either."

My 15 year old got it immediately and was all, "EWWWW!!!"

The oldest son, oddly enough, took a bit before he started 


I just said, "What? I mean when we're watching movies, we're always quiet in OUR ROOM..."

But they didn't believe me.  This is a good thing.

Boy, was it quiet in our house that evening. I think I made my point.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Epiphanies whilst Eating the Food and Finding Myself

This is kind of a rambling post, just raw feelings as I have some realizations about myself on this journey.

Learning to love myself is much harder than I thought it would be.

I realized last night that I'm subconsciously twisting things to fit my own self doubt.  Subconsciously setting myself up for failure and self loathing.  Feeding my insecurities.

There are games that I play that he can't possibly win... because I play them to keep my own insecurities at the forefront because I don't think I deserve to feel good about myself.  I don't deserve to be loved.

I want him to chase me.  I want him to want me.  Yet I feel so insecure about myself that I can't bear to be touched if there is any chance that he's going to be repelled by my weight.  I don't believe him when he says he wants me.  He can't win.

Somewhere deep inside me, I feel unloveable.  Undeserving of love and affection.  I don't know how to reach this part and bring it out.  I attribute it to the weight I've gained, but I know its deeper than that.  Its not like I felt deserving of love when I was thinner.  I always think, 'I can't control what is going on inside of my thoughts/feelings but I can control the weight, even if I can't seem to fix what's inside.  

This has been my lifelong battle with my weight.  I'm trying to control the one thing that feels like it is within my ability to control when everything else seems out of my hands.

I go to bed alone, lonely, aching for his touch.  He comes to bed and curls up around me, his hands caressing me and I tell myself that its only because I made a big deal about him not being attracted to me anymore.  He can't win.

He will admit that although he is still attracted to me, he was more attracted to me when I was leaner.  I can't even be angry, because I feel the same way about myself.  How can he possibly be *as* attracted to me now, 70 pounds heavier?  Why do I have to hear that as a black and white "I don't want you until you lose the weight"when that isn't at all what he said?

I asked him to tell me the things that he finds sexy or attractive about me, so that I would feel sexier.  He commented that my ass is looking pretty fine.  It wasn't a surprise, or maybe it was, but it broke my heart a little bit that that was the only positive thing he could think to say about my looks.

I don't know how to "eat the food" and be okay with continuing to stall or gain weight, but I LOVE not being a slave to food anymore. I KNOW this is the right thing to do.  I thoroughly believe that I need to eat enough, and that taking restrictions off has absolutely helped me with my disordered eating habits.

I don't know how to quit drinking when I feel so devastated and undeserving of happiness.  I know that if I quit drinking every night that I would be able to lose the weight faster.  I just need to get my head in the right place.  I was sober for almost 4 months at the beginning of this year.  I can do it again.

Maybe if I stay sober long enough, I can force myself to deal with these feelings that I keep bottled up and get them out.  Get the voices out of my head that tell me I don't deserve to be happy, that I don't deserve to be loved. 

I will continue to meditate on it, and try to change those voices... it feels good to just get it out of my head right now.

I deserve to be loved.  

I am beautiful.

My body is... (Maybe I'm not quite there yet.)

My body is strong.

I want this to be the last time that I struggle with food.  I want to get healthy and lose weight in a healthy way so that I can maintain it.  I want to get past the inner struggles and heal myself from the inside out.  I deserve to be loved, and my husband deserves to have a wife who can accept his love and love him back.  I will get there.  I am not giving up, because as much as I am hurting right this minute, I feel like I am finally on a sane path to healing my self image and learning to love myself.

And when my husband asked me how I was feeling today, I wrote, "Odd space.  Depressed.  Feeling unloveable, unattractive and lonely."

His reply, "You are a beautiful, funny, intelligent, attractive and witty person who I love with all my heart."  If only I could have a loop of HIS thoughts about me playing in my head all day!

I know this was a sad post, but it was pretty raw and honest and I hope that by acknowledging my feelings on this, that I can get them out of my head and maybe start some healing conversations that will help others along with myself.