For a while now, I haven’t been shy about broadcasting my weight here for all to see (I’m 229.0 pounds this morning, if you’re curious). And, if I’m being totally honest, there has been some backlash over the years about me being so open with my weight. I’ve been told I’m a bad example because I’m scale-obsessed. I’ve been told I need to focus instead on the measuring tape. I’ve been told that I shouldn’t care what my weight is.
Well, the truth is, I don’t care what the number is. Care is an emotion, and there are no emotions tied to what pops up on the scale for me anymore. That number is just another measurement of my body (like my height–5’9″—or my shoe size–11–or my ring size–6 1/2). But what I don’t get is why other people care so much about that specific number of mine. What is it about being so open and honest about my weight (and maybe wanting to change it) that makes a few folks get all up in a tizzy?
Yesterday, when I was all pretzel-like while doing Bikram, I had a breakthrough. I think I figured it out. The reason our weight—the specific number—is so controversial is because we let it be! We give that number emotional power over us—both positive and, more often than not, negative. And more specifically, I think we give it power by being so secretive and protective of the actual number.
There are so many women out there (and men, too) who are so afraid to share their weight with the world. Listen, I totally get it. It can feel like it’s something to be ashamed of—especially if you feel like you’ve “let yourself go”. But I’m a big believer that shame is one of the least constructive emotions on the planet. And by letting ourselves be ashamed of our number, we’re letting our weight have the upper hand. We’re treating those three numbers (or more, or less, or with decimal points, whatever!) like our collective dirty little secret. If we don’t tell someone what we weigh, maybe they’ll think we’re smaller than we are. Maybe we can shave off 10 pounds or so with these black pants. Maybe they can’t really “see” how fat or skinny or perfectly normal we are just as long as there isn’t a number to quantify our size.
But of course, that’s not how it actually works. You don’t have to tell someone you are overweight for them to know it. Just like you don’t have to tell someone you’re a brunette for them to know it. Quantifying it or not quantifying it does not change the fact that it is what it is. And, if anything, maybe you’re doing yourself a disservice. Maybe by not telling folks what you weigh, you are filling your own emotional bucket with denial and a touch of dependence on the scale. If you don’t talk about your weight, then that might make it okay, even if it really isn’t. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
Before BTHR, I used to hold my number really close to the vest, too. I lied on my driver’s license because I was afraid of what people would think of me who saw my I.D. with my “real” weight on it. I was afraid people would love and respect me less if they knew the truth of my weight—even the total stranger checking my I.D. at the liquor store. And that fear gave so much power to the number on the scale.
But a crazy thing happened. I decided to “come clean” here and, guess what, the people I love and respect and care for didn’t even bat an eyelash. They didn’t care. It didn’t matter. Knowing the number that quantified my bigness didn’t change how they felt about me. It wasn’t like they found out I was 200+ pounds and were suddenly like, “Wow, I never realized you were fat before, but now that you mention it…you are. YOU ARE TOTALLY FAT. I don’t like you anymore.” Nothing changed. My husband still loved me (although, he knew the number way before y’all did). My family still loved me. My co-workers still respected me. My readers kept reading (hi, guys!). The person at the liquor store didn’t even seem to mind that I was so chub-tastic.
While there were no changes with the folks I loved, it did create some changes within me. Releasing that number into the wild returned the balance of power solely into my hands. By broadcasting what I weighed to everyone, suddenly that number was just that—a number—and nothing more. My weight was no longer my dirty little secret. It was no longer something to be ashamed of. It was no longer an embarrassing trophy of my fall from grace. It was just what it is—a number that had little impact on my life, my relationships or my health. My weight was suddenly totally powerless in the battle to control my emotions. By letting everyone know what my number was, I simultaneously stripped away all the self-imposed negative and positive connotations of that number.
I know going public isn’t right for everyone. And I’m not saying you need to wear a t-shirt with your weight printed on it. But I do think everyone could use a dose of reflection to figure out why they are holding their number so tightly inside. True, it could be that you like to keep your weight to yourself just because you’re a private person. But then again, it could be something else. Is it because you are ashamed? Is it because you are embarrassed? Is it because you’re afraid someone will judge you? For me, all of those fears were erased the moment I published my weight for the world to see. And now, there is no fear when I step on the scale at the doctor’s office or show my driver’s license. Try it, you might like having a powerless number pop up on that scale in the morning.
What do you think? Do you share your weight openly? Do you think by hiding the number on the scale we’re giving our weight power over us? Do you think I’m insane? Do you think I need to stop thinking during Bikram?
Thank you all so much for entertaining me while I ducked away for the past week. I don’t think I quite realized how much I needed to unplug. Of course, Sandy Hook was the tipping point, but I think maybe my need to disconnect and reflect has been building since way before the events of December 14th. Maybe it’s par for the course leading up to the Big 3-0, but something in me lately has been interested—obsessed really—with living a meaningful life. I know how cheesy and inauthentic that sounds, but everyday I find myself questioning why I matter (and, on a micro level, why my everyday actions matter). I’m assuming it has something to do with the fact that as you get older, you are increasingly aware of your mortality, and with that awareness comes a deep-seated desire to make your time here mean something. Whatever it is, I’ve been feeling anxious about my life and my work.
Of course, “meaning something” is a totally subjective concept. What I think is important might not be important to you, and vice versa. If I’m being totally honest, I’ve struggled a lot over the past few months about writing this blog. This, combined with my day job, seem so inconsequential in the grand scheme of the big world problems. This is not at all a commentary on all the wonderful bloggers out there, but I’ve often felt like if I devoted half the amount of time I do to this blog to some “bigger” cause, maybe I could make a difference. Regardless of how much I loved writing about food or complaining about how I have to workout or talking with friends I met through blogging. I’ve constantly struggled with it not mattering. And when Sandy Hook happened, the weight of that pressure hit a critical mass. We were all so overwhelmed with emotion (and still are) and I think, for me, that translated into a desperate need to reevaluate my priorities. I found myself feeling so…selfish. I spent hours and hours doing this relatively shallow work (both on BTHR and in my day job) when, as an intelligent, philanthropic-minded person, I could have been doing something more worthwhile, couldn’t I? Maybe I could have made a difference if I wouldn’t have spent so much time in the kitchen playing with butter and garlic.
Taking this past week off from blogging gave me a chance to really think about who I am as a blogger and what I want to accomplish. And, maybe more importantly, talk with friends, family and co-workers about what it means to them for me to be a blogger. The reaction I got from those closest to me was exactly what I needed to hear—they told me I was making a difference. Maybe I wasn’t curing cancer or figuring out how to end hunger or stopping a shooter from entering a school, but I did help some people understand that healthy eating can be fun. And you don’t have to beat yourself up if you don’t like exercise. And it’s okay to be happy at a size 16. And it’s possible to love cookies, butter and kale. Logically, I knew this. I read your comments and I pore over your emails, but hearing it in that way from those closest to me really helped put my work here into perspective.
No, a healthy version of coconut cream pie won’t bring those kids back, but it might help someone (even just one someone) have a little bit easier of a time living a healthy life. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of. If anything, maybe that coconut cream pie is something to proud of? Go figure.
Can you tell I’m working on that whole accepting compliments/tooting my own horn/not being so self-deprecating thing? It’s not easy. I think there is something romantic about the classic Midwestern Modesty, but, just like with…anything…too much of it is a bad thing. I’m pretty bad about giving myself credit when credit is due. And sometimes I’m so bad at it that I can’t even see when I have a great thing going.
And gosh, writing this blog is such a freaking great thing. I literally start tearing up when I think about the people I’ve met, the opportunities I’ve had and the stories I’ve heard. I am so fortunate. My life is absolutely blissed out, and quite possibly the best way I can try to counteract a small portion of all the suffering this world (in Newtown and beyond) is to live the best, happiest and most full life I can. And along the way, try to do what I can to help out. Maybe I’m not on the path to cure cancer, but I can do my best to help out those organizations and people who are. And that combined with living with as much joy and optimism and hope and love and happiness as possible is going to have to be enough. And maybe living that kind of life is contagious and it’ll inspire others to live the same kind of positive, healthy life. That’s meaningful, isn’t it?
This post has turned into a navel-gazing, awkward, rambling mess. So, long story short: I’m a work in progress (aren’t we all?). And you aren’t getting rid of me just yet.
Merry Christmas Eve, my friends. I’ll be back later today to share with you a not-so-healthy, but totally delicious holiday cocktail recipe that has absolutely nothing to do with the meaning of life or any other existential questions, I promise. We seriously need a dose of light-heartedness up in this joint, don’t we?
I think what happened on Friday morning shook an entire nation (maybe even the whole globe) to its core—me included. I was fortunate enough to have a pre-scheduled family gathering this weekend where I got to spend time doing perfectly normal things like teaching my nieces to sew, laughing over goofy trivia questions and drinking cocktails with names like, “Ho-Ho-Holiday Martini”. But even with all that joy, there was this big, dark, ominous cloud hanging over us all.
Because there were 15 people running around my house, I unintentionally took the whole weekend off from my standard hyperconnectedness. I didn’t have time to check Twitter. I didn’t reply to comments. I didn’t even play a single game of Bejeweled Blitz. I admit, probably some of that disconnection came, on a subconscious level, because of an absolute selfish need to turn away. I couldn’t handle seeing one more tweet about grieving parents or curly red hair or heroic teachers or gun control or the mental health care system.
And it was exactly what I needed. Maybe it was cowardly to not stay glued to CNN all weekend long, but I’d like to think that those kids and teachers and administrators and their families and that whole dang town in Connecticut would much rather have us out there living life and hugging our families than reading article after article replaying that horrific act of evil.
I hadn’t planned on it when I started writing this post, but I think I’m going to take a break from blogging this week. In fact, I had a whole series of fun posts leading into Christmas ready to go, but I think instead, I’m going to step away for a bit. I just can’t bring myself to be cheerful or excited about eggnog martinis or what I ate on Wednesday. There are a lot of bloggers out there that are strong and powering on, and I think that’s wonderful, but my heart just can’t handle it this week.
So instead, I’m going to focus on the stuff that really matters for a few days. I love writing this blog. I love connecting with my friends on social media. And I love reading your emails. But as much fun as it is to show you guys how to make handmade Christmas gifts, it just doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I need a few days to process and absorb and heal and be grateful. I need a few days to remind myself of all the good that exists in this world. Not to be all cheesy, but I need to get back to my roots for a few days. I need to strip all the extraneous goo away and focus on the love I have in my life.
I’ll be back next week. Hopefully healed up a little bit and ready to ramble on excitedly about my eggnog martini recipe.
Here is a list of ways your dollars can help. I’ll be donating all my ad revenue for this week to the United Way’s Sandy Hook School Support Fund.
Sometimes, I do the most self-centric, narcassistic and egotistical thing any blogger can do—I go back and read my old posts. Why? Well, part of the cool thing about having a blog is that I have this digital scrapbook of my life accessible 24/7, and it’s fun to reminisce. But the biggest reason is because this digital scrapbook also gives me a perfect picture of my evolution as a person. And sometimes, it’s so fascinating to go back and read what I wrote and see how much I’ve changed.
Evolution is a funny thing.
I’d say, with the exception of a small percentage of the population, everyone evolves. At some point, in almost everyone’s lives, they look back at who they used to be and think, “Gosh, I’m so different.” And for some of us, that internal dialogue happens more than once.
I, for one, am a big fan of evolution. We’ve all seen those people who are trapped eternally in their Senior year of high school. The people who retell the story of their game-winning touchdown pass for the state championships on their deathbed. The people who never grew up (either because of biological or environmental reasons, or, sometimes, by choice). And I don’t want to be one of those people.
I’m not saying you can’t be young at heart. Or that you can’t wear glitter and blast One Direction in the car at any age (guilty), but there is something so incredibly positive about maturing into yourself. There is so much pride, power and confidence in that feeling. I’ve always heard that self-assurance comes with age—and I believe that—but I think the biggest contributor to being self-assured is evolution (and we happen to evolve more the older we get). Maybe, I’ll look back at this post in 10 years and think, “Gosh, you had no freaking clue.” But I can safely say, right now, I feel great.
But none of this is the funny part.
The funny part of evolving is how it affects other folks. Maybe not the people immediately around you (because those people are right there with you through each step of your evolution), but the people in your outer circle. Maybe your best friend from college that you only see once a year. Or that family friend who held you as a baby. Maybe even an estranged family member. Those are the people who are affected the most. Those are the people that can’t seem to accept—or understand—why you’ve changed. They feel abandoned and alienated.
What I think is funny? That something that feels so positive and feels so right to you is so often seen as a negative by someone on the outside. I mean, when’s the last time you heard someone say, “You’ve changed.” and it was a positive statement? Almost never. Change can be so intimidating for folks. And I think to deal with it a lot of people (me included, although not intentionally) spin it as a negative. Oh, you changed your mind on a decision you made three years ago? Well, then you’re a flip-flopper. You’re flaky. You’re wishy-washy. You aren’t the person I thought you were. You’ve changed.
I really want to reclaim that phrase—you’ve changed. I want someone to say it and the appropriate response be “Thank you!” because it is the sincerest of compliments. I’m thankful that I’ve changed. When I think of all the things I’d miss out on if I hadn’t evolved to be where I am? Gosh, that’s sad. I’m proud that I’m growing and morphing and adjusting and becoming a new person with every new experience.
Anyway, back to the whole reading my blog posts thing—I’m definitely not the same girl who started this blog over two years ago. If I’m being totally honest, I was a follower back then. I was lost. I was writing a blog to latch onto the only picture of health I thought I knew—other healthy living bloggers. I thought their lives were perfect and shiny and amazing. They were skinny and jobless and healthy and well-loved. Going back and reading now I see so much desperation in I wrote and how I acted. I was desperate for validation.
Right now, I feel myself in the midst of a huge shift in my life. A shift toward self-validation and self-confidence and self-assurance. Maybe this is totally normal during the approach to the big 3-0, but regardless, it feels totally awesome. I’m finally getting my validation, but it isn’t coming from other bloggers. As much as I love you guys, it isn’t coming from my readers, either. It has nothing to do with my co-workers, my boss or my job. And it isn’t coming from my amazing husband, my supportive family or my caring friends. It isn’t coming from anyone else, it’s coming from within. From me feeling good about me. What a novel concept! I validate myself!
And I hope you can see (or read) that shift in the words and content here in BTHR, too. I’ve been having so much fun lately generating the content that I like and enjoy and feel good about and worrying so much less about what would make other people happy. I’m sure that will alienate some folks and make me lose readers, but honestly? If I’m not happy doing this gig, then what’s the point?
I 100% look at writing BTHR as a career. And I want to do my best at it and believe in my work, just like I do at my day job. I’m not just fishing for clicks and ad revenue (although, I’d be lying if I said the checks didn’t help out our budget), but I want people to feel good about the “value” of coming to this site. I want my readers to look at the ads on my site and think, “Hey, that’s okay, she’s working really hard to provide us with good content.” And I feel like I do that better when I’m in love with my content and I’m loving what I’m writing. Amazingly enough, it’s taken me over two years to realize that.
Sometimes I can be pretty dense.
This all being said, I’m not at all ashamed of the girl I was when I started this blog (or the person I’ve been at anytime during my 29 years). Just because I don’t believe in those things now doesn’t negate how strongly I believed in them then. It just means that’s no longer who I am. And I’m so glad that evidence of my evolution is there for me to always go back to and relive whenever I’d like.
But it does mean that sometimes, you might hear one thing from me and the might see it change a short time later. I’m still changing. I’m still evolving And I hope I always will be. Thanks for sticking around.
How have you evolved in the past few years?
P.S. Also noted when going through my old posts: I take an obnoxiously large number of photos of my feet. Apparently I’m all about giving you guys my point of view. OR I’m just too introverted to ask people to take a picture of me.
I hate it when bloggers apologize for being away. It’s like they assume there is some mass of people on the other side of the computer screen waiting with bated breath for the next dose of prose. Bloggers, in general, are a navel-grazing bunch, but I’m not conceited enough to believe that you guys even notice when I’m not around. You have lives. And they sure as hell don’t revolve around me and my verbose recipe anecdotes.
That being said, sorry for the disappearing act.
The truth is, something had to give this week and as much as I love my little slice of internet, it was first on the chopping block. Actually, that’s a lie. It’s second. Right behind sweating on the treadmill. As unhealthy as it is, exercise is always goes first.
As women, we are often expected to do it all and not complain. Suck it up and be super human. Bake the most beautiful cupcakes on the planet and change a flat tire while wearing the heels that everyone covets and finishing our PhD in awesomeness.
Sorry. I can’t do it. I’m overwhelmed.
And by feeling that way it doesn’t make me weak, lazy or unambitious. It doesn’t make me less amazing, beautiful or strong. It just means that life got all up in my bidness, and I need some time to wrap my brain around it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with stepping back, holding up the proverbial stop sign and getting everything in order before moving onward and upward.
I’m not going to list out the details of my current overwhelmed state, because, after all, it’s all relative. Chances are my to do list looks like a walk in the park to some people and like a terrifying burden to others. It’s counterproductive, anyway, because that kind of comparison is what leads us to, as a society, shame one another for not performing at an impossible level. Just because my to do list is smaller (or longer) than yours, it doesn’t invalidate my feelings.
I’m giving myself permission to be overwhelmed. And own it. (Hi! This is me. Owning it!) Because it’s totally okay to feel this way. In fact, it’s healthy. We’re expected to push past this feeling and do more, be more, accomplish more, but we feel overwhelmed for a reason. It’s a big, honkin’ red flag that says, “Hey you! Yeah you! Put down the frosting and get your shit in order.”
So, I’m putting down the frosting for a few days. And I give you permission to do the same the next time you need it. It doesn’t make you any less amazing. It just makes you real, imperfect and human.
See you in a few days. With the recipe for this ridiculousness.
How do you deal with feeling overwhelmed?
PSSSSSST. Don’t forget, the Sweat for the Cure Raffle is still going on. Donations are low, low, low this time. Which is terrible for the cause (bah!) but awesome for anyone who wants great odds at winning awesome prizes. Go win something!
We were incredibly fortunate this past May.
At the end of a terrible day of thunderstorms, our apartment building was hit by a very weak tornado. No one in our complex was injured. The last of the repairs and inspections were finished up last week. If you drove around now, you’d never know something so destructive tore through here six months ago.
I remember my heart pounding so loud and so hard that I legitimately was worried that I was going to have a heart attack. I remember Babyface wrapping his arms around me and Puppyface as tight as he could while our roof ripped off. I remember hyperventilating when we stepped out onto the street and realized just how extensive the damage was. I remember walking through the flooded streets in the pitch black, hoping there were no live power lines in the flood waters.
There are a lot of things I remember from that night and the days after. But one thing I wish I didn’t remember? The fear.
Growing up, I was always afraid of storms. I grew up in a mobile home, and there are few things more terrifying than weathering a Midwestern severe storm in a wooden box on cinder blocks. The fear was so paralyzing that I became embarrassingly hysterical even when storms hit while I was at school. Even after we moved into a new house with a sturdy basement, it took years to feel safe. By the time I got to college, I was vigilant, but not fearful, but it took a long time to get there.
In college, a tornado hit my home town. It ravaged my college roommate’s parents’ house back home (we were best friends in high school, hence the college roomies thing). After we found out that their house had been hit, I tried desperately for an hour to get in touch with my parents (who live just down the road) and by the time we could finally get connected, I had worked myself into a hysterical mess. I was determined they were trapped under the house and I was 90 minutes away at college.
All turned out okay (except for, you know, the destroyed house) and amazingly enough, my childhood fear of storms stayed in check. Sure, it was a scary event, but not enough to spiral me into a fit of paralyzing fear. I felt recovered. I felt matured. I was so proud of how I handled it.
Understandably, I expected to come through the other side of “my” tornado with the same poise. The twister that hit my hometown did a lot more damage than the one that hit us this May. Logically, you’d think that it’d make less of an emotional dent.
Emotions are, by their very nature, illogical.
When severe thunderstorms came through last night, I found myself worked up into a vintage Cass panic attack. I regressed. As soon as the tornado watch was announced, my heart started pounding. I wanted to call my Mama. I wanted to spend the evening in the bathroom. I wanted to call up my friends and find someone with a basement. I checked and re-checked our jump kit. I wanted Babyface and Puppyface within arms reach at all times. I all but begged Babyface to come home from work early. Most of all, I just so desperately desired for it to be over.
So maybe I’m not as recovered as I thought.
Does time really heal all wounds? Will I feel better about this in a month or a year? At what point is it no longer normal? Could it be that there are certain wounds that don’t heal, even after the longest time?
I don’t know. But I do know I’d be nice to figure out what is going on by spring, or it’s going to be one very long storm season.
What are you afraid of?