Why I Love my Fat Body – And Why You Should, Too.

Whenever I see pictures of fat women (almost exclusively women) posted online, I inevitably see a bunch of comments about how sickening it is to glorify fat because it is so unhealthy. Bodies come in all degrees of health. There are skinny unhealthy people and fat healthy people and everything in between. If you are using the illogical fallacy of fat being unhealthy to fuel your hatred, you might as well go onto a page of people with heart disease and spout off about how ugly their chest scars are. At any rate, if you’re the kind of person who goes to the comments on posts like that just so you can talk about how unhealthy fat people are, please stop reading this post. You are too stupid to grasp any of what I have to say after this.

I’ve spent a lot of years overcoming the sad effects of a society that punishes people for being fat. There are those who think they mean well such as the “you have such a beautiful face” crowd and the well-meaning mother who struggles with her own self-esteem and pushed new diets on me from the age of twelve. There was the time my sister, also a victim of the bias against fat women, told me that I better lose weight before high school because if I wanted to be in the marching band, I was going to have to get changed in front of everyone else in the band. In fourth grade, we had class weigh ins right in front of the whole class and everyone tried to see what mine said. Throughout middle school and high school, other kids oinked or mooed at me on a regular basis. Once, when jogging, a man actually slowed down his pickup truck to yell, “Don’t break the pavement, fatty” as I ran by. I walked home and didn’t run again for many long years. I absorbed every comment, every snide remark, every well-meaning, but still cutting aside.

As an adult, I set about trying to comes to terms with my fat body, even while putting it through the hell of every diet I could find. I ate nothing but grapefruit. I did the cabbage soup diet. Once, I lost sixty pounds and bought clothes in the “normal” stores and still thought I was ridiculously fat. And ugly. I equated fat with ugly back then. I joined a group of women who purported to be about size acceptance but really consisted of a lot of sad women sitting around talking about how much it sucked to be fat.

I had relationships in my twenties, but I attributed that to people who just fell in love with my personality and put up with the fact that I was fat. In essence, I didn’t love myself, so it didn’t occur to me that someone else could love me just as I was. Of course, because of that, I drew people who didn’t love and embrace me the way that I was. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Fast forward to the age of 38 when I, though a positive and loving woman, was not doing well. I was in a long term relationship with someone who did not celebrate me. I was a two pack a day smoker. I was a daydreamer, but not a doer. I had moved to a beautiful Caribbean island and I loved a lot of things about my life there, but I wasn’t treating myself with respect and care.

One day, I decided that had to change. I was tired of hating my body. I was tired of being afraid of what people had to say about me. I was tired about not going to Zumba classes or refusing to go for a swim because of the way certain people looked at me.

It was a slow process. I started by quitting drinking. Then I quit smoking. I started hiking with my soul friend, Aj. We took huge hikes up the sides of gigantic hills that I thought might kill me. I knew it was the best way to keep from going back to smoking. I started meditating. I became a vegetarian. Eventually, I left that dead end relationship and moved back to the states.

And something amazing happened. I grew to love myself. I didn’t just love myself in spite of my fat body. I loved myself AND my fat body. I went to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival where I saw women of every shape and size and age and color and ability laughing and loving and dancing and celebrating themselves and me. I fell in love with my own breasts, the weight of them, the way they felt when I lifted them in my hands. I grew to love touching the soft skin of my stomach. I admired the strong and fat curves of my butt. I expressed gratitude for my big thighs that have carried me this far in my wonderful journey. I made love with womyn with the lights on. I refused to be with someone who didn’t love my body the way it was. I set my boundaries and my boundaries involved only being involved with womyn who celebrated and cherished me. And since I’m not a hypocrite, I applied that same rule to myself. I celebrated and cherished myself.

Then something even more amazing happened. I realized I wasn’t just talking about it. I was living it. I celebrated women of all shapes and sizes. I didn’t feel defensive around women with thin bodies or athletic bodies. I didn’t equate skinny with beautiful and I didn’t equate fat with ugly. I started to see through the patriarchal bullshit that insists women be in competition with each other. I started to call out instances of fat shaming, or any kind of shaming of women for their bodies. I stopped watching anything to do with celebrities and I refused to look at fashion magazines and I realized that I have gotten out of the Matrix. That all of those people who think that they have the right to tell women what they should do with their bodies are poisoned in their minds. They’re sick. They are the unhealthy ones. The people who yell “fatty” at a jogger or sneer at a fat person in an exercise class or peer into someone’s cart at the grocery store to see what kind of food they’re buying or purposely go to a page about fat acceptance to leave idiotic comments about fat being gross and unhealthy or lift their eyebrows when they see a woman with hairy legs or write off older women as useless or refuse to see any woman who falls outside of the standard societal expectation of pretty as just that. They are the sick ones. They’re what’s wrong with this society. Those people who feel they somehow have a right to hate someone based on the way they look.They’re hurting our society and they need help.

My journey continued until I was not only loving myself the way I am, but teaching other women how to do the same. Women who have felt too old, too skinny, too muscled, too fat, too wrinkled, too scarred. Women who, like me, have been told that they are not enough the way they are. Women who wore the negative opinions of this sick society.

I learned that I’m beautiful. More importantly, I learned that I am worthy of love and happiness and respect and desire. I learned that I am a woman in every true sense of the word and anyone who can’t understand that isn’t worth my time.

Finally, today was the culmination of all of my self love work. I’ve been telling women of every size and shape that they are beautiful for years. Today when I opened a link to look at the pictures of Leonard Nimoy’s fat nudes and I realized that I thought every single one of them was incredibly fucking beautiful. I felt it down to my very soul. These women were divine and miraculous and beautiful and worthy.I’m not sick anymore. I’m not warped by this sick society. I’ve won. I’m healed. You can be, too.

Finding Myself… Again.

It has been just over a year since I suddenly found myself single after an almost ten year relationship. Despite knowing that the relationship had stagnated and that we had gone on such divergent paths that there was absolutely no way we could stay together, it was still painful. I spent a couple of days in bed, I spent several hours on the phone with some dear friends, and then I picked myself up and went back about the business of figuring about this “Beth” person. It made sense that we were ending, because I had been changing a lot over the previous two years and I was, without a doubt, NOT the same person that I had been when my ex and I got together. So, it was a good ending, after all, and once the rubble was cleared, I was more relieved than unhappy.

It has been a crazy year since then. I self-published my first novel and then was picked up by Sapphire Books Publishing to take it to paperback. Sapphire is also publishing my second book, Andy’s Song, due out in May. I went to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. I gave a couple of book readings and did well! I made new friends. I drove A LOT. I wrote an article for Lightworker’s World. I continued to ace all of my classes. Through it all, I stayed on the spiritual path that has been changing me in so many ways. (And let’s face it, these changes were truly the cause of my breakup a year ago.)

Well, I fell in love again back in September and we kind of fell into each other. I still don’t think I was on the rebound, though it was certainly a very short time after the ending of my previous relationship. I’m not going to go into the details because I have written about this relationship before and I’m still sore. Unlike my previous relationship, I didn’t feel relief at this ending. I felt and continue to feel nothing but sadness that it’s over. Yet, underneath it all, there is that understanding that I can’t walk the path I am trying to walk and be in a relationship that takes so much of my love and energy.

And now I am back to facing some concentrated alone time and coming, yet again, to the realization that alone time is just what I need right now. I need to be Beth. I need to do what I had planned on doing back when my *ex* ex and I parted. I need to concentrate on my writing. I need to finish my degree. I need to continue to search for my own spirituality, find what works for me, learn the lessons I need to learn… on my own. I need to create my own life. I do believe that we can create our own reality, for the most part. I need to figure out exactly what reality I want so that I can go about creating it.

So, I have gotten back into eating vegetarian. I am concentrating on exercising every day. I am meditating. I’m playing my banjo. I’m finding like minded people almost daily. And I am continuing to get to know this woman named Beth. You know, she’s not bad. I kind of like her.

My Personal Year in Review

I’ve been seeing a lot of posts lately on Facebook that offer to show me my “2012 year in review.” Well, I have to admit that I tend to keep the Facebook world pretty well-informed as to what is going on in my life, so there’s probably a pretty thorough accounting there of my 2012. Yet, I have hesitated to click on the link.

The question is whether or not I really want to go back over everything that has happened this year. My grandmother died. My long-term relationship ended. I finished writing my novel. I found deep wells of strength and love within myself. I worked on throwing all of the truly negative people out of my world and embracing the positive and loving ones. I made the Dean’s list in school every semester. I self-published my book as a ebook. I got a job, then quit it a few months later when my novel’s royalties started coming in. I got a publisher and now, a printed book.

I went to an amazing womyn’s music festival. (There is another blog about that on this page.) After many years with a partner who didn’t like people, I was pretty used to being solitary. I was definitely anxious about spending a week in the woods with thousands of womyn. But it was one of the best things I have ever done in my life. The consequences of that festival are still guiding me every day. I went deeper into my own spiritual quest. I met several womyn who helped me to solidify what I was really searching for in my life. I started questioning God and managed to reconcile my own beliefs about spirituality with my own previous misconceptions about the term. I went to church. I wrote a blog about Christianity and Homosexuality that went viral and was actually read aloud in at least two different churches.

I absolutely embraced being single. I made a loud and very public announcement to all of my friends and family that I was not even going to consider dating until I had at least finished my degree. (Another couple of years.) Two months later, I realized that I had fallen in love. That figures. My love is a woman whose spiritual journey is a lot like mine in a lot of ways and very different in many ways. But we converge in several key areas and we are able to respectfully and lovingly disagree in others.

I drove with my friend Kim to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. I drove by myself to visit a friend in Michigan. I drove by myself to visit (visit? It was a six week stay) my love in Iowa. I drove back to Ohio in the snow. Oh, and snow! After ten years in Phoenix and seven in the Virgin Islands, I got to relearn about snow. Driving back to Ohio from Iowa in a small snow storm, I called my sister and said, “I just slid when I was changing lanes.” She said, “The rule of lane changing in the snow is to take your foot off of the gas and casually drift over. And at no time should you put your foot on the brake during the maneuver.” It’s important to note here that before this, I had always had driving anxiety. Or at least, I think I have had driving anxiety for the past several years. But I haven’t had a moment of anxiety behind the wheel this year, not even during that snow storm.

Is there more? There is so much more. I lost 45 pounds between May 29th and the present. I found several pairs of jeans in a drawer at my mom’s house that had been shoved away because I couldn’t fit into them. They now all fit and some of them are too big. I became a vegetarian, then started eating meat again and now I am going back to the veggie lifestyle again.

I started taking yoga while living in/visiting Iowa. I found the library. I quickly discovered which stores I preferred. I made some friends. I learned that six weeks is either way too long or way too short of a visit. I started building a life there and I miss it. Now I have been home for three weeks and I am rebuilding my life here again. In a few days, I am going back to Iowa. And I will miss Ohio again when I leave. I’m learning that it is okay to miss people and that I still carry their love when we are far away.

I learned that everything is within me. Everything. Success, failure, fear, love, sadness, happiness, disappointment. Everything that I feel is my choice. Everything that I do is my choice. I knew this, but I think I had suppressed it. I relearned that I can only do something because it is what I must do, not because other people expect it of me. I’ve embraced my own power. I’ve moved more into myself. Self-knowing. Not that I am perfect at it… at any of it. I just know its importance and I am mindful of it almost all of the time.

Is there more? Yes. I reveled in the joy of being around some of my biological family again. It was extremely expensive and very difficult to get back to Ohio from St. Croix, so I didn’t get to see them very often. I expressed my joy and gratitude for their presence often and unreservedly. I thanked the universe for the chance to live with my mother again as a grown up and realize how very much I love her. (And how much alike we are.)

What else? I entered a couple of short story contests and lost. (But at least I entered, which I had never done before.) I won a big LGBT literary award for my novel. Actually, I won two… and got an honorable mention in another. I went through the whole editing process.I made it to number 8 on the Amazon list of bestsellers in lesbian fiction. I went to speak to a transgendered support group about my book and they loved me!  I made the terrible realization *after* the novel had gone to print that the “about the author” was completely wrong. At the time that we were gathering the information, I was on my way to California… my epic road trip. So, the about the author has me living in California. However, stopping in Iowa became more than a stopover and other things converged that suddenly made the California trip seem better postponed. Of course, I didn’t think to change the “about the author page.” But that’s all right. I figure it will make an interesting topic of conversation when I go on Ellen.

Is there more? Yes.

But I’m done now. It was an amazing year of joy, love, self-discovery, and peace. There was some turmoil, but I found I recovered quickly. I do believe that we choose our own attitudes and I choose to be happy as often as possible.

And what’s next? I don’t really want to make New Year’s resolutions. I believe I should be striving for betterment throughout the year. But here is what is on my plate for 2013.

I want to learn to meditate. Confession: It makes me nervous when my heart rate starts changing while meditating. I want to learn to stop worrying about that and find a way into my own soul. I want to continue my yoga classes. I want to branch out into other yoga classes. I love the gentle yoga that I take, but I am ready to take a class that challenges me. My yoga teacher teaches other, more difficult classes, so I am going to check out one of those. I want to finish my second novel so I can move onto the third one that is consuming my brain. I want to collaborate with my friend Jenny on our idea of a book that reconciles and merges her God and my Creator. (We aren’t as far apart as you would think.) I want to continue with my weight loss journey. I want to complete P90X again. I want to take a zumba class. I want to get back to being fully vegetarian. I want to be a kind and mindful person as often as possible. I want to be a friend my friends can count on. I want to be a loving and respectful partner to my girlfriend. I want to continue to be the world’s most awesome dog mom.

I want to work at, or continue to work at, being healthy in my body, my mind, and my soul. I want to fuel my body with vitamin rich, natural foods. I want to fuel my mind with learning new things. I want to fuel my soul with love and empowerment and gratitude.

I want to learn sign language. I would like to learn to speak Italian. I want to become better at playing my banjo and when I have gotten more proficient at that, I want to learn to play the guitar.

I want to (and I will) go back to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. In my heart, I believe that it is one of the best ways in the world to reaffirm my desire to keep moving toward who I want to be. It is possible to find like minded womyn there, no matter which aspect of myself I am hoping to share. Banjo players, sure. Spiritual questers? Absolutely. Writers…. you know it. Fest is what you make of it, and what I made of it last year was a desire to meet soul sisters. I did. Next year, I want to do more workshops, meet more incredible womyn. I’ll do it.

I want to go to Arizona. I want to go to California. I want to go to Asheville, NC. I want to tour bookstores and sign books. I want to sign your book.

Is there more? Yes. But that’s enough for now. It seems ambitious. But it all boils down to one resolution after all. I want to live my life truly alive.

Or as Mr. Thoreau once said:   I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.

This year, I want to suck out all of the marrow of life.

Been a Bit Busy

Sorry I haven’t been blogging. I’m still a vegetarian. I’m still fighting to be fully vegan. But between work, school, and life lately, it seems I haven’t a spare moment. This may be because I have been absolutely obsessed lately with my novel, “Man Enough” by Beth Burnett. Yes, I wrote a novel. And I published it and it is available on Amazon for Kindle, Kindle for smartphones, or Kindle for the PC. I intend to have it up and running on Nook pretty soon. Wow.

So this has been taking over a large part of my mind… Between harassing my friends to buy it, emailing everyone I know, and trying to figure out where to market it, I have been busy. It is a good novel. It’s “Sweet and Endearing” as one reviewer called it. Yes, I read the review, yes, I grinned like a fiend over it, and yes, I read it out loud to my mother. Yeah, I’m a nerd.

Still, there it is. One more thing on my long list of things I want to do. Next up, stand up paddle boarding! 🙂

Going Vegan – Some simple tips

I really don’t like to cook. I mean, I really have no interest in gourmet meals. Spending hours chopping vegetables and sauteing stuff is not fun for me. I have far better things to do with my life. Part of the appeal of the PRE-vegan life is that if I wanted something to eat, I could just grab something and eat it. Never mind that it wasn’t healthy, or whatever, the fact remains that it was extremely easy to open the fridge and grab a piece of cheese or a slice of turkey, slap it on some bread and call it a sandwich.

I don’t have that option anymore. The closest I can come to is slicing an apple and eating it with some almond butter.

To keep things kind of simple, I like to go to the salad bar at work and just get a container full of pre-cut fruits. That way, if I have cereal with almond milk for breakfast, I can throw a handful of different fruits on it. Instant healthy breakfast. I usually try to make a huge salad and eat off it for a few days. Soups are my friend. Start with a good low-sodium veggie broth and then add whatever vegetables are left in the kitchen. Today, I have squash, cabbage, a tomato, and some cut up portabello mushroom. I always put in a bit of brown rice and some kind of bean, as well…. make sure you cook it long enough that your beans and rice get soft. Some combinations work well, others… not so much. But I have found that you really can’t go far wrong with veggie broth and vegetables, regardless of the veggie.

The recipe for black bean burgers in the Engine 2 Diet makes several… enough to last me through a bunch of meals. I can eat them on a whole wheat bun with lettuce, onion, etc or put one on top of some brown rice. They are good just eaten alone, as well.

I think the key to becoming vegan is to just jump in and do it. I researched vegetarianism for a long time before I decided to do it, and even then, if someone asked me what vegans eat, I would have been hard pressed to come up with a lot of options. But hunger is a strong motivator and as soon as I decided that from this point on, I no longer consume animal products, I started getting pretty creative in crafting meals for myself. And I find that I don’t miss meat or butter or mayonaise at all.

I have to admit, though, that I do miss the ease of picking up a Heinen’s cheese pizza after my shift at the grocery store.

Going Vegan – Navigating the holidays.

People want to help. I mean, in general, unless your friends and family are really unsupportive assholes, people do applaud your actions when it comes to trying to be healthier in life. They may not agree with what you are doing, but if they are cool people, they will support it. Case in point, my stepmother’s barbecue yesterday. When she sent out the email saying that there was going to be a party there, I agreed to go, while secretly thinking I would just stick to whatever side dishes and figure it out on my own. I didn’t want to be a problem, you know?

Well, my sister Dolly sent an email back telling Robbie that I am a vegetarian now. (I hadn’t yet gone full vegan then.) She obviously took it to heart, because she not only made several vegetarian side dishes, but got portabello mushrooms to grill, so I could have a “burger” when everyone else had one. How cool is that?

The thing is, nobody made any comments about what I was eating, nobody acted like it was a big pain to make something different… after all, they were grilling several kinds of meats, why not throw a couple of mushrooms in the mix?

The only bad part of the day is that I really over-indulged way more than I should have. I ate until I was stuffed, then went to the movies and ate popcorn *with* butter. (And yeah, I can kid myself that movie butter isn’t real butter, but whatever it is, it is definitely not the non-processed, plant based, whole food diet that I am trying to follow here.)

Still, all in all, it was a good holiday for a newbie. I didn’t crave any of the burgers or brats. And I started fresh this morning with a healthy breakfast, nice salad for lunch and another new soup. Small steps, right?

Going Vegan – I’m not dead yet.

Well, I woke up this morning feeling… less hellish.

That is to say, my headache was gone. I was exhausted. But let’s be fair, I have been exhausted for months, if not a year. Ever since I went back to processed food and not working out after last year’s breast cancer walk, I have been tired all of the time. And fat. And blobbish. And run down and sick. And my pants were getting tighter and tighter. And I can see the flab spilling out around my bra. Enough is enough.

So, I am not giving up. I came home at lunch and ate some of my cabbage, tomato, red and black bean soup. Only problem is that maybe I shouldn’t have eaten a cabbage and bean soup before having to go back to work for another four hours. I spent the first three clenching my butt to keep from having gas. I soaked the beans overnight, so I had kind of hoped that wouldn’t be a problem.

Way too much info, I know, but these are the things you have to be aware of! 🙂

Home from work now, just ate some raw cauliflower and an apple. I am going to steam some zucchini and cauliflower and make a salad of green leaf lettuce, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and carrots and put the steamed veggies over it.

I had a piece of sprouted grain bread with my soup at lunch. I don’t know that I am doing well with the grain situation, as the only grains I am getting are brown rice (in yesterday’s soup) and the bread. Getting some fat and protein from the almond milk and almond butter.

I’m sure a great deal of the exhaustion has to do with giving up coffee and that will pass. I figure I need to give myself at least a full week off of caffeine before I start trying to radically adjust my food. In the meantime, despite still being tired, I was able to come home, walk a couple of miles with my buddy, and then come home and dance with him in the kitchen to “Woodstock” by Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Short work day tomorrow, and then two days off… that will help.