So What if Beyonce Can Do It?

My Radiant Sister and I, luckily she is able to do things I can not.
My Radiant Sister and I, luckily she is able to do things I can not.

Something people have been saying in conversations to me, and on the internet is, “If Beyonce can do it…” trailing off as if that was all there is needed to be said. The thought is that if Beyonce can do something then anyone should be able to. Does this sound right? I don’t believe so. It isn’t as if we don’t beat ourselves up enough, now we must hold ourselves to a standard of song bird/superstar? I am not saying that life hasn’t been hard for the beautiful, talented, and exceptional singer. She works extremely hard, I am sure, and she worked hard to get where she is. Now, however, her life is very different from a normal human.

I don’ t really need to go through the list of reasons a normal day for Beyonce would be different than anyone like excess time, money, help, and resources. My goal is not to belittle Beyonce’s struggle or to make light of her accomplishments. She is a multimillion dollar recording artist, amazing beyond words. My hope in writing about this is to encourage women to not be so hard on themselves. This is another example of holding an impossible standard. I don’t believe it is fair to hold myself to the standard of any other woman.

My best friend is a runner. She gets up and goes walking and running religiously. She also is very good with shopping on a budget. Both of these habits elude me.

My own sister is really good at exercise. My own flesh and blood is amazing at exercise. She is able to go to the gym and work out sometimes for hours. We joked that if she ate like I did and I worked out like she does we’d both be skinny. Certain habits are inherently easier for different people. Can we admit that and stop persecuting ourselves?

What is bad about this type of accusation is that it not only belittles the efforts of the person saying it, but also the efforts of all other women. We must ask ourselves: Is it so easy because another woman does it?

These performers showed major athleticism! I have trouble standing up while putting on my pants!
These performers showed major athleticism! I have trouble standing up while putting on my pants!

When I went on my honeymoon I watched a woman who did acrobatics and hand stands to tropical drum music. Her rock hard abs didn’t seem to even hurt after and mine hurt for days after one session with a palates’ instructor. Do you think I could do what she does? Maybe, if I abandoned all my current goals and dedicated my life to this pursuit I could do it, but it is doubtful.  So if I said, “Hey the dancer on my honeymoon can do it…” not only do I belittle her accomplishments, I make an impossible goal for myself, which in turn makes my failure to become an acrobatic goddess seem even more disappointing.

Please, those who are accidentally comparing yourself to international super stars be nicer to yourselves and other women by not just throwing around these senseless sayings that make it harder for us to feel good about ourselves. We all work within our own time and have our own pressures. No one knows how the obligations in our lives work, what our bodies can handle, or how we want to spend our time but us. It is up to every woman to be kinder to herself and in turn it will allow us all to be gracious with ourselves and each other.

I Am Resolved To Have Fun Anyways

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Running errands will keep me in shape, no?

Let me just say that having PCOS sucks. Okay I got out the anger right away, I am done. So I am on pain pills while I write this. It is seven thirty on a Saturday night and I have been playing the couch potato game today. Let me tell you how I got into this mess.

Last Sunday I was taking a leisurely bath, enjoying the bubble bath Mom got me for Christmas. It is the pink stuff from Avon which they sometimes discontinue so I have been using it sparingly. I was really enjoying this when all of a sudden our outrageously insane fire alarm went off. I have never heard a fire alarm like this. It alternately speaks to you and blares. So it is something like this “BONK BONK PLEASE EXIT THE BUILDING….THIS IS AN EMERGENCY…PLEASE LEAVE THE BUILDING>>>BONK BONK BONK BONK…and it repeats so loud you can’t think. I thought we were at war.

Have you ever been in such a hurry that you just jumped out of the bathtub? Yeah, me neither. I jumped out of the tub and grabbed a towel and proceeded to skid across the tile floor. I quickly righted myself. It was just a second. I have fallen extremely worse in my life. I didn’t even hit the floor! I didn’t feel anything wrong. I had to then get dressed quickly and bundle up and climb down five flights of stairs before the brain crushing alarm finally quit. My husband really can’t stand loud noises so his nerves were shot as we waited with my older neighbor on the third landing because she couldn’t walk up the five flights up.

The next morning I woke up and my ankle was swollen, and I couldn’t walk on it. For the first couple hours I thought I had sprained it in my sleep.  It takes me a while to wake up.

It has been sore and angry all week. Off and on I have had to stay off my foot. On Friday, it was feeling a little better so I decided to get out. I had to take a package to UPS and to pick up some packages from the building across the street, and for whatever reason I couldn’t help myself I had to wear my boots. I came back and changed out of them and into my sneakers and walked about five blocks away to the coffee shop. On the way there, I changed the way my laptop bag was sitting across my chest. When I did it swung the wrong way and swooped down my neck. It must have jarred my back. It didn’t hurt then, but this morning when I woke up It hurt so bad that for hours I was icing and heating it alternatively and finally it was so bad I took a pain pill.

I have to go get the tampons in this??
I have to go get the tampons in this??

I also started my period. So these aches and pain have probably been exacerbated by this. Having PCOS means that most of my body is swollen and achy anyways if and when I have my period.  I don’t know if anyone else who has Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome feels this way, but I feel like all the premenstrual stuff are ten times worse than they used to be. I have been having breast pain every day,  all day all week, cramps that are bend over and yelp painful, and I actually cried during the recent episode of Big Bang Theory.  I get kind of depressed over the state of my body, but I have to remember-hopefully-it is temporary.

Last time I had my period it lasted over six months. That was 2011.

The good part is, I walked anyways. Today I went down to the local Walgreens a couple of blocks away. Last time I had my period, I could barely go to work. I spent about an hour from the time I left to the time I got home. I walked all around the Walgreens and through the snow gleefully to get there. I did have pain killers in my system but I am just impressed that I left the house when I really didn’t have to. I am very happy. It is small victories I have to be glad of when my body is going through this. Someday I am hoping I won’t have these problems but in the mean time, I will do what I can to not let it get me down.

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At first I was afraid, I was petrified…

Treats for Me!

I bought the one in the upper right hand corner. I took this picture from their facebook. I hope they don’t mind.

My emotional attachment to food sometimes hits me in the smallest and most rare ways sometimes. I live only about three blocks from Reading Terminal Market. It is filled with delicacies and some of the best food in Philadelphia. If I stayed there a week- eating all day- I couldn’t eat all of the deliciousness there. It is number four on trip advisors best restaurants, and one of the restaurants – a donut shop – is number one. That shop, Beiler’s Bakery, is the first place I went Thursday.

“Oh, no Danielle! Don’t eat donuts,” you say.

I give you a discerning look.

“Donut’s are fattening and you are trying to lose weight,” you gently remind me.

If anyone said that to me a year ago, I would have said, “Whatever.” Then I would have gone back to Beiler’s and eaten a box of twelve in self deluded retaliation. However, I understand certain things about myself that I didn’t before. Losing weight can’t be about deprivation for me, more like allocation. I need to be able to eat a donut if I want, especially the apparent best donuts on the planet. In other words, if I say no donuts to myself eventually I will be down at that counter ordering up as many as I can afford. Last time I bought donuts a couple of months ago, I bought at least three for myself. Thursday I went to Beiler’s and ordered one, only one. I took it and a coffee and sat down at a metal table and took about thirty minutes enjoying it. Bite by bite I savored it and my surroundings. The fact that I didn’t go back and order two more is the success. I also remember it’s richness as well, and don’t believe I will need another one any time soon.

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The Magic Elixer

Small decadent treats I believe are going to be my secret weapon in the battle of the bulge. In this spirit I bought another treat on my shopping trip. Along with the wise vegetables and meats in my cooler, a very special honey rolled home with me. When I was little, my Grandma used to serve this type of honey with breakfast. It is the raw light honey that you can spread over toast. I have bought it since, and time and time again it has turned out not to be the honey I remembered. Either it wasn’t sweet in the right way or it was so hard I couldn’t spread it. Finally at the market I found it. This morning for breakfast I tried it finally. I had made a frittata and cut up fruit (very healthy.) Then to add the finishing touches on our leisurely Saturday morning, we had a nice whole wheat toast with the holy grail of honey. As I bit into the pale golden elixir, I was transported back to the round hard table in my grandma’s kitchen, looking at her sweet rosy face and kind blue eyes. The electric coffee pot is gurgling in the corner, when I remember watching my Grandpa break up his poached eggs with his fork. Each bite solidified those memories down to the smell of the bacon left over on the stove.

This honey, while not great for my waist line, has brought me back to one of the most pleasant memories I have. While not probably the most scientific of theories, I believe a small treat now and again will really go a long way towards not feeling like I am depriving myself. I also believe it will provide normalcy to this new life where I am eating differently and overhauling my entire life. A spoon full of sugar…

Indelicate Information

Bathroom

Something has come to my attention about exercise and it is indelicate but I believe I should talk about it, if only because I have never read anyone else talking about it. There is something they leave out of all the exercise pr…the poops…literally.  No one says that when they try to get you into exercising. I read Self, Shape, Health and Women’s Health. I don’t recall ever reading in any of those magazines how to deal with getting the shits on the track, or almost pooping your pants while jumping in aerobics class.

The other day I had an appointment with my Edward Jones representative. To get to the appointment, I took the wrong bus, and ended up five or so blocks out of the way. I had to run to the appointment and showed up to the fancy Pyramid Club my hair flat and listless. After my appointment, it started raining. I was walking home and had to immediately duck into Starbucks because nature wasn’t just calling; it was screaming. Then I had to buy something. I couldn’t just leave after bombing their bathroom.

After that I went to the Reading Terminal Market, it was brimming with people, the different stores are amazing and they even had a singer that day. I decided to get lunch. It was super busy but I finally got a table across from some really nice ladies: Chris and Kate. They were lovely and told me all the great stores in the market and sent me to the best bakery. Kate was interested in creative writing and I have my Bachelor’s degree in that. I had the greatest time talking about stuff with her. Then I started to sweat again. I almost asked her for her phone number to be friends but had to cut it short…again I had to go to the bathroom. I was worried I wouldn’t find one but luckily the Market has a great bathroom, which is good because I spent about a half hour in there. As soon as I was done, I went to the butcher and the baker and then I had to run home for another round.

When I got home my door woman, Eula, asked me if it was still raining. Frustrated, I pointed at my hair and said, “No, that’s sweat.”

About this time, I had walked over eight thousand steps, and I had carried my luggage with the groceries home. When I got into the apartment I threw everything down on the floor, including my coat. I was so exhausted after that, I put my groceries away but left everything else and took a bath. When my husband got home he thought I had evaporated in thin air. He finally found me in the bathtub.

This day is an example of what happens whenever I walk long distances. I am told that my bowels will get used to the exercise. I really can’t wait. I hope it happens soon.

I like some of the good aspects of walking so much. My feet actually feel better at night because the nerve pain is decidedly less. That fact alone is amazing. I also have been having less fibromyalgia pain. These things are blessings and I guess that outweighs the fact that most of the time when I am out walking, I desperately search for a bathroom.

 

I have some good news.

These are my non-skinny jeans.
These are my non-skinny jeans.
  1. Things are going slow but they are going in the right direction. I bought a size down in pants about six months ago and they were tight but now I am able to wear them loose. Brad and I accidently left our scale in Boise so I haven’t been able to weigh myself, but this tells me I am losing inches. Also, I went down two inches in my bra size which reaffirms that. I practically skipped out of Lane Bryant after finding that out!
  2. I am walking up to two miles without having to do nothing the next day.
  3. I bought boots!!! I finally got my calves small enough to buy a two pair of knee high boots! This has been a lifelong goal. I know it sounds shallow to have a goal for a pair of boots, but I have always had large calves. Even when I was in the single digit sizes my calves were abnormally huge. I am built like a tree and I have shied away from shorts, boots, or ankle bracelets. Moving to Philly was like the last straw. I have been living in Boise, Idaho and, while some people wear boots there, sneakers, Tevas, and Birkenstocks are common place. It is a land of exclusiveness and mountain people. Here I have only run into one person on the street wearing tennis shoes. It only intensified my need for boots. I felt like the only one who didn’t have them. So I finally had the guts to measure my calves and they finally allowed me to order boots from Torrid! Thank you Torrid!
  4. With that ballsy move, I also order a pair of “skinny” jeans. I confessed to my long time best friend Brandi, who is also plus size, how nervous I was to try them on. I didn’t want to look like humpty dumpty. She didn’t know if they would look good. She too had never bought any because she figured they would look bad on her. So we both thought skinny jeans were only for skinny people. If you look me in my regular boot cut and my new skinny jeans I think that I look just as good in them. I would go even further to say that I look slimmer in the skinny jeans.
  5. I am getting back into my yoga practice which is good for my muscles. I have been having headaches and when I wake up my right arm has been going numb when I wake up. These things I am hoping to fix these problems with the yoga practice. I am just proud to keep it up, even though I am not feeling so well.
Me, in my skinny jeans.
Me, in my skinny jeans.

Because I met some of these goals I have to set new ones now.

  1. Get down to the next size at Lane Bryant and Torrid.
  2. Cook at least all our weeknight meals. Brad and I have been eating out too much due to the excitement of being in a new city with new tastes.
  3. Double my yoga practice, right now I am only doing it about twice a week. Slow and steady is the way I am choosing to go.
  4. Get up to three miles of walking.
  5. Eat more consistently during the day, with protein and carbohydrates. I have had a couple of close calls with low blood sugar, which means I need to be testing more.

Reaching a few of my short term goals has made me feel more confident. When I think about losing inches in my bra size I get giddy with pride. Things don’t work that way normally for me. This is the first time I have ever lost a size. I hope this sense of accomplishment will push me forward into more accomplishments and more weight loss.

We Need A Different Way Of Seeing Things

These two pictures were taken within two weeks of each other, neither photo shopped.  I was the same weight in both.
These two pictures were taken within two weeks of each other, neither photo shopped. I was the same weight in both.

I started this blog because I got tired of hearing how easy losing weight is. I got sick of hearing, “I lost weight like this and you can too!” This is typically accompanied by a picture of the happy smaller person in some sort of tight clothing, next to one when they weighed their worst. The worst picture is always of the person wearing something unfortunate and usually sitting down so their rolls are perfectly blatant or chin down, double chin emphasized. A picture like that could bring one to their senses and start a weight loss journey.

However, what really upsets me is the myth that is perpetrated by the media that weight loss is easy. If I did it this way– you can too. This is not true. In the most basic sense, yes, it is possible to lose weight a myriad of ways. It’s possible, but highly unlikely. It is even more unlikely that I will lose the weight the exact way anyone else has lost it. Everything I do, from waking up in the morning, to talking to my husband is different from anyone else. The most essential and basic relationship is the one with sustenance, and it’s a personal one. Not even my siblings like the same things or eat the same things I do and we are essentially genetically as close to one another as can be. We each have different emotional responses to food, exercise and will power. My own mother approaches food differently than I do, yet, the one stop shop method of weight loss is peddled from every media outlet possible.

One thing sadly missing from most weight loss programs or ideas is the emotional component. It seems blatantly ignored. If you look at other programs for addiction they deal with the emotional component. They ask questions like: How do you deal with stress, how can you get support, why do you use this addiction to cope, and how does your addiction affect the ones you love?

Here is the support food addicts get, jewels like: calories in/ calories out, eat less / exercise more, and nothing tastes better than skinny feels. The simplicity galls me.

What is worse is that over simplification can make failure all the more disappointing. By making weight loss seem easy then it makes it even harder not to internalize self hatred and pain. The fallacy perpetrated by most weight loss companies, that anyone can do their programs, does more harm than good.

For me, I didn’t realize how hard it could be until I had failed many times.  Each time I failed at a diet attempt or exercise venture, I would go into a deep guilt and binge for days. I am sure I am not the only one who didn’t realize that weight loss is a lifelong goal, and a very difficult one. No one admits they were deluded into believing that they could lose weight easily. I would say we are all patsy’s of the weight loss community. If you look at the statistics, you can see two thirds of Americans are overweight, I think that something is wrong with the system. There is a multimillion dollar industry out there, and it isn’t helping as much as we’d think. I believe the problem is the misconception that it is easy.

I want to show that losing weight and getting healthy is not easy. To weight loss professionals and to companies who provide weight loss assistance, I would like to offer this advice: don’t trivialize weight loss. If you want to be helpful, acknowledge the struggle it takes to change an entire lifestyle. Let those people, who do accomplish this great thing for their bodies, be even more proud because society could finally realize the difficulty. Even more, allow people who are having trouble losing weight be kinder to themselves so that it is easier to get back on a healthier path. Studies I’ve read show confidence and self esteem is an important factor in weight loss. It is time that as a society we started to work towards that goal instead of against it.

What to do about Sneaky Negativity

I turned this...
I turned this…

I am going through a renaissance of sorts, a life change, and it is exciting. The passion of my life is writing. I have written poems and stories ever since I could. I am so happy that I get this opportunity to write with abandon but have had so many stumbling blocks it has been a little disheartening.  Before this I could only write before or after work, between any personal engagements and while other people have done written a successful novel on the side I have not. Now I have a chance to go full on into my writing. I have the freedom to write most of the day, it is the exhilarating idea I have been dreaming about for years. When I first start things there is so much doubt, and sometimes it can come from external sources which doesn’t help. Quitting smoking, losing weight, and changing careers are all difficult endeavors and I have or am embarking on all of them.

I have uncertainty that I can accomplish my goals. I am sure I am not the only one. I ask myself is this a case that I am just scared or am I really not cut out for “working from home.” I guess this comes down to the fact that I really don’t know exactly what I want to do with my life and at almost forty it seems like a desperate and horrible position to be in. The uncertainty is damaging, but what is worse is the pressure. I want to write and be healthy now that I have the time to do anything I want. What if I fail? All this time I have been humbugging the fact that I didn’t have the opportunity to write full time. What if now that I have the opportunity and the time to do what I have dreamed of, I don’t succeed, which would be shameful, right?

Could fear hold me back? Certainly.

It doesn’t help that many of my friends and family don’t believe this move is right for me. People that know my heart and soul don’t think leaving a full time job is for me. When I think about change as a concept I believe it makes everyone uncomfortable. The concept of security is definitely safer. As a woman the idea of being financially reliant on my husband of eleven years even makes me uncomfortable and my husband is amazing, reliable, and the most trustworthy person I know. Everything in my being and how I was raised tells me I am supposed to be self reliant. Not only that, but I have never been good at the domestic stuff either. I sucked at quitting smoking, until I quit smoking. The thing is, when you try to quit thirty times, your family and friends both know you are going to fail on the thirty first and are kind of sick of you talking about it. They don’t understand that this new resolve is going to be the ticket. I remember once I told someone I loved I was going to quit smoking and they rolled their eyes. I don’t blame them. I mean it is hard to believe after the umpteenth time.

My total lack of domestic abilities my entire life is why some of my best friends and close family don’t think this is going to work, but seriously what is a little laundry when I have the chance to write the rest of the day. I know I will never be Martha Stewart. Although I do love making my house look beautiful, and what my friends and family don’t know is I daydreamed about having time to cook delicious elegant meals.

Sometimes I think I need a fresh perspective, with friends who don’t know that I have been domestically incompetent, less than graceful, and physically fitness challenged. (The last one you could probably tell by looking at me, but that doesn’t matter.) New friendships are usually pretty hopeful and there is a bonus if self improvement is the focus of the friendship.

My other friends and family, the ones who know me really well, and know I am not very good at the domestic duties; I will be gently reminding them that I can change and grow. Sometimes they don’t realize they are being discouraging, and sometimes I don’t know they are doing it. It could be a joke or a suggestion for a job I don’t want. When I realize the words have affected me later, it’s usually when my own doubts are plaguing my mind. So I have to remind myself and my loved ones: I may have been clumsy in the past but I get better sleep now and haven’t fallen in years. I may have smoked in the past but I haven’t had a cigarette in a year. I am fat now but I will lose the weight. I stink at laundry but some day I may come to love taking care of my home, and I have the tenacity. I have not always accomplished things quickly, but I roll the large stones uphill. I can do it; it will just take time and energy.

...into this.
…into this. I can do plenty!!!!