The Fine Line Between Compliment and Judgement

In all the years I’ve written about weight issues, I’ve never addressed the “compliment.” I thought I had, but I checked the archives and, nope, not a word. I know I’ve had that conversation with all of you before, but it was a conversation only in my head, apparently.

It’s been a while since I’ve written about weight issues, mostly because weight lives more in the periphery than the forefront of my life these days. It’s still there. I can see it. But lately I’m more concerned about crossing my legs before I sneeze than what I weigh.

I’m bringing weight back into the conversation here, though, for a few blogs, maybe more, and it is sparked by a recent meeting with a friend I haven’t seen in many months. When she got out of her car, she was notably thinner. I didn’t say anything about it. Instead, I complimented the necklace she was wearing, a lovely triple circle diamond pendant. She said she bought it for herself as a reward for losing weight. She explained that at her last doctor’s visit, her blood pressure was up and she wanted to try to control it through diet and exercise. Considering she is 59 and post-menopausal, that’s no small feat, so extra kudos to her for her success.

I didn’t want to say anything about her obvious weight loss for a few reasons, one being that if she lost weight because she’s sick, that is her story to tell and not my business to neb. The other reason is that I’m careful offering “compliments” regarding any changes I notice about someone’s physical appearance, particularly when it’s clear(ish) that they’ve lost weight. It’s usually without malicious intent that someone says, “You look great! Have you lost weight?” But often what the recipient hears (or at least internalizes) is, “You weren’t good enough before.”

In recent years, people like Lizzo, Kelly Clarkson, Chrissy Metz, and Rebel Wilson have shut down weight critics, but they also admit that the comments still hurt sometimes. And their body acceptance doesn’t mean that everyone’s lovin’ on their own bodies all of a sudden, either. How someone looks still equals approval. Everything we wear (or don’t wear), what we put on our face, all that we weigh and the way we age… what we look like, and especially what we weigh, is important to someone other than ourselves, often people closest to us, even though it’s none of their business.

One example I will remember forever happened while planning my daughter’s wedding back in the days when I was actively losing weight. I was looking for someone to make cupcakes and a small wedding cake. Several friends recommended a woman who baked cakes out of her home. I made an appointment and went to talk to her.

She’d never met me and so of course had no idea I once weighed more than 300 pounds. At the time, I weighed about 170, and if it was the first time you had ever seen me, the thought might cross your mind that I was overweight. We sat down at her dining room table – the woman, me, and the woman’s 20-something daughter, whose leg was in a large metal brace.

After some brief chit-chat, and apropos of absolutely nothing, the woman outright apologized to me for her daughter’s weight. I was speechless, and the poor girl looked mortified. But she seemed used to her mother’s behavior and launched into an explanation (read: she was apologizing, too) about how she used to be on some high school sports team when she was in a horrific accident that crushed her leg. Subsequently, she spent months in rehab, and, apparently, gaining weight. Her mother then said…and I’m sure you can guess what’s coming…“She has such a pretty face, doesn’t she? If only…” and at that moment, I thought I was going to lose my sh*t all over her unforgivable parenting a@@, but I didn’t. I just smiled at the girl and told her how sorry I was. I didn’t get specific.

So what does this have to do with complimenting someone who has lost weight? Everything. Anytime we comment on someone’s weight, we’re making a judgement, even if we mean it in the most sincere, kind way. I know some of you might think it would be rude to ignore the obvious, and really, who doesn’t want to compliment a friend? I get that, and I’ve learned to frame a comment in a way that starts a conversation. Saying something like, “I notice you’ve lost weight. What made you decide to do that?” allows the person to talk about their feelings about their weight rather than us interjecting our feelings (as sincere as they might be) about their weight first.

Just know, if you lose weight because you want to, I support you. But also know this: you look great, you are great, just the way you are right now. Don’t let anyone (especially someone who’s supposed to love you) tell you otherwise. Trust me. As an ex-member of the Pretty Face Club, I know what I’m talking about.


Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes. Turn and Face…What’s Changed. It’s OK.

Many of you “met” me years ago through my Lynn’s Weigh blog, the space where I wrote about (mostly) weight and all the issues surrounding it (the good, the bad, the recipes, the exercise). I believed then, as I do now, that there is no easy fix for the physical and emotional complexities of weight, both gaining and losing.

I also believed, and I don’t anymore, that I would always be in control of my physical and emotional world if I regularly (obsessively?) did ABC. In doing so, I would maintain the results I’d worked so hard for: a (too) thin body and the (faux) happiness that it brings. I believed I had to be a certain way – the Lynn’s Weigh – in order to have a voice in the subject of weight, and when the physical changes and the weight gain started about four years ago, I felt I’d let everyone down – my readers, my children, my boyfriend, my doctors (some of whom kept the People magazine in my folder to inspire other patients). But mostly I’d let myself down.

And so these last 2½ years since absorbing Lynn’s Weigh into Zen Bag Lady and not writing, I’ve been quietly trying to make peace with my physical and emotional changes without laying blame, feeling guilty, or being angry and frustrated.

And the results? I fail miserably sometimes on all points. But I don’t fail all the time. In fact, I fail less today than I did a month ago, and less a month ago than six months ago, and less six months ago than a year ago. In widening my field of vision, I was supported by and found comfort in the words of former weight loss bloggers Jeannette Fulda and Shauna Reid, both of whom wrote pieces in 2017 that spoke directly to me.

In April, Jeannette wrote: “These days the internet seems like a much more misogynistic, judgmental place, like a flood of tourists have swarmed the local bar and you never know what asshole is going to show up, start a fight and then breeze off, never to be seen again.”

We see this all the time everywhere these days, way more than when we all started blogging in the 2000s. Some people have no filter, no compassion, and no common sense. Words hurt, especially mean and hurtful words that come from some anonymous little puke hiding behind a computer screen. People say to ignore it, but I’m not emotionally built that way. I never have been and I never will be. I’m fine with constructive criticism that comes from a place of love and concern, but it takes me an inordinate amount of time to unfeel the pain of hurtful and untrue words. While I didn’t have many trolls on Lynn’s Weigh and none on Zen Bag Lady, “coming out” like this, with the (not so surprising) revelation that I’m not the same person I was 2, 5 or 12 years ago, might cause some people to gloat or to throw my past words in my face. But I’m going to take that risk because speaking up for change rather than staying silent and hidden is worth it. As Jeannette reminded me and everyone else, “people have the right to change”.


In September, Shauna wrote: “What I struggle with is contradictory. First there are the feelings of failure for not remaining the After photo, like that invalidates any value of the book (The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl) entirely. I wrote about the After photo struggles on my blog for awhile, then slinked away from the topic. I avoided people and places. There’s been so much shame and fraudy feels… Then there is the part of me that is so bloody done hiding and ready to make peace with it all.”


Sometimes I look at my After photos with a bit of regret, but I don’t regret the journey one bit. Like Shauna and Jeannette, I hope my words helped people on their own journeys. Gaining weight after my journey has been humbling, especially given the myriad physical shitstorm that’s been my life the last several years. But looking at the Afters also reminds me that nothing is permanent.

I don’t owe the Internet an apology. However, I would like to continue the conversation with all of you in this different chapter of my (and your!) life. You’re not the same folks you were 2, 5, 12 years ago, either, right?

So what’s new with you? What has changed? What have you held on to? Leave a comment, and please don’t be bothered by the fact that I have to “approve” (or not) all comments. While I’ve learned I am not in complete control of my physical or emotional life, I can definitely control what gets said on my blog 🙂

Also, I dusted off my old Twitter account. I’m @TrixieB1963 (after my beloved childhood book heroine, Trixie Belden), if any of you want to stalk me and I you.

Thanks for being here again. And welcome if this is your first trip here! Namaste.

Love Always Trumps Weight

Today is my 31st Mother’s Day, and it’s also 31 years since I first weighed 200 pounds. Kind of a strange two things to put together, but if you’re like me, you remember what you weighed at momentous points in your life.

I made my formal debut in the 200-pound zone when I stepped on a scale in the labor and delivery ward of Sioux Valley Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on March 10, 1983. I made my husband Bruce stay in the labor room. Anyone who didn’t wear scrubs to work didn’t need to know how much I weighed. Bruce was a hair over six feet tall, weighed 170 pounds, and had no clue that when we were married a year earlier, I weighed just 10 pounds less than he did.

As I walked to the scale, I felt the air on my bare back since my stomach took up most of the gown. The nurse held my hand as I stepped up. I looked down at the round monitor that brushed against my lower belly. 205.

“Please don’t tell my husband,” I begged.

Not that Bruce would have cared that I weighed over 200 pounds. I was the one with scale issues. When I looked at myself I saw a double chin. When Bruce looked at me, he called me beautiful. I told him he was just being nice. He told me he never lied.

I’d gained 45 pounds in nine months, 15 more than my obstetrician recommended. It’s not that I didn’t care about my health; I’d just never been told by a doctor to gain weight, only to lose. So when chubby, self-conscious, 19-year-old me was given permission to gain 30 pounds, I went a little food crazy for the first seven months.

I was free to “eat for two.” I didn’t have to “suck it in.” I made grilled Spam and Velveeta sandwiches on white bread, doused salads in full-fat salad dressing, ate ice cream late at night, and put half-and-half and brown sugar on my cream of wheat every morning.

When I developed high blood pressure in my fourth month, I watched my sodium intake and cut out cheddar cheese, ketchup, canned soup and TV dinners. But there isn’t much sodium in baked potatoes with sour cream, prime rib, fried eggs, Hershey Kisses or zucchini bread.

We were farmers. Bruce and I had moved back to the family farm when his parents retired. We had a couple hundred cows, three sows, a bore, and a couple dozen feeder pigs. Bruce and his brother also farmed several hundred acres of corn and soybeans. There were endless chores every day.

When I blew out of my maternity coat late in my eighth month, I dressed in layers and wore Bruce’s coveralls when I went outside. My fur-lined boots were heavy, but twice a day I trudged through knee-deep snow to the silo, then the pig shed, and then the water trough. I even cleaned out the silo room a week before my due date, thinking I could “help things along.” I burned dozens of empty pellet bags that had accumulated over the winter. It took 10 trips back and forth between the silo and the area where we burned trash – easily a 100-yard hike one way – and for my efforts, I was rewarded with eight hours of Braxton Hicks contractions.

At week 40, the baby was still a few weeks from coming out on her own. The doctor predicted she weighed more than eight pounds and measured longer than 20 inches so, certain she was “done,” he decided to induce labor.

Returning from scale, Bruce helped me into bed and the nurses hooked up a Pitocin drip and fetal monitor. After the first contraction, I didn’t think any more about my weight. Scale shock gave way to labor, and for 13 hours, my body cramped and pushed until Carlene was born, all 9 pounds and 22 inches of her.

In the recovery room, a nurse brought Carlene to us and offered to take our picture. My hair was matted to my forehead, I had IVs in both my hands, my face was swollen, my breast was exposed, and Bruce was still wearing scrubs. Normally I’d have protested, but this was not a normal night. Bruce and I were smiling and gazing at Carlene as the nurse took our first and only family photo.

The next morning, the water weight bloat from the drugs was mostly gone and my blood pressure was normal. As I waited for the nurse to bring Carlene to me, I laid in bed and touched my stomach. I gathered its soft folds of deflated skin in my hands. I’d heard it was called an “apron,” the skin that folds over the top of your pelvic bone and rests on the crease where your thighs meet your torso. I followed the rivulets of squishy stretch marks with my fingers and remembered how upset I was when I noticed the first one – a small, light purple line just to the right of my belly button. My mother birthed five children and never had a stretch mark. After one baby, I was littered with them.

I kneaded my skin gently and smiled. I still weighed around 200 pounds, but I had a perfect little girl and an awesome husband.

I’ll lose the extra weight, I thought.

Until his death 10 days later, Bruce and I spent our time figuring out how to be parents. He got up with me for every feeding, especially the ones at 2 a.m. when a Sioux Falls TV station aired “Rocky & Bullwinkle.” In the evenings, he rocked Carlene and sang to her while I slept. In the mornings, Carlene sat in her infant seat on the kitchen table while we ate breakfast. While I moved gingerly and leaked profusely, it was…to this day…the most contented I’ve ever been. A lesson in love, which always trumps weight.

Own It!

Jim and I had coffee at Starbucks a few weeks ago with our friends Dave and Peg. The manager came around with samples of Starbucks’ new bakery items…chocolate croissants, berry something or others, coffee cake…you know what I mean. The guys dug in, but Peg and I refused them. I said to Peg that I’ve gained a few pounds since meeting Jim, to which Jim said, “I may have had a hand in that.”

While I appreciate Jim’s willingness to shoulder some of the responsibility, absolutely no one but me decides what I eat. He’s off the hook.

I introduced Jim as “Steve” in my blog post, “Food is Like Brylcreem: A Little Dab Will Do Ya,” in February 2013. Jim is a capital “F” Foodie. He’s a great cook and loves to go out for dinner. He understands my desire to eat clean and doesn’t push food on me. But his way of life has influenced me, and what I’ve seen happen in 15 months is exactly what Shelley described yesterday in her post, “Getting Back to Basics”: “I have slowly let other things become more of the norm instead of the exception…”

While writing this post, I noticed how often I wanted to use the words “blame” and “fault.” I’d originally written, “Jim was willing to take part of the blame, but it was my fault.” Ew! Where’s the loving kindness in that? Nowhere, that’s where.  Losing and maintaining weight takes determination and vigilance. Absolutely. But it also takes a kind approach to disappointment. Not blaming, shaming and faulting.

Have I let more food exceptions become the norm? Yes. Am I disappointed with some of my choices? Yes. But I’ve been disappointed in some choices my children have made over the years and I still love them. If I’ve learned nothing else in my 50 years it’s that I respond more positively to identifying a feeling as disappointment than I do blame and fault. Blaming someone else takes the responsibility off of me, and blaming myself is punishment. I cannot grow or learn from either of those reactions. Disappointment, on the other hand, allows for self-examination and spurs me to do better, to make amends.

Our friends’ and family’s food behaviors can have sway in our lives. But our friends and family are not responsible for our choices.

Jim is an adventurous foodie, and if I choose to eat something he offers, that’s solely my decision. Now, whether I’m listening to my inner voice at the time…that, too, is up to me. Like last night’s pound cake incident (while watching the Pens game…Go Pens!):

Jim: “Want some?”
Inner Voice: “You’ve been on track all day! Atta girl! Keep it up!”
Me: “No, thank you!”
Jim: “Oh, man! Did you see that shot?”

My decision to not eat pound cake had no impact on Jim’s life.

I’ve been at this online weight-loss blogging thing for almost nine years. One of the things I hear the most from people who read my blog is the angst they feel about other people’s food behaviors, either in the form of “pushing” food on them or not accepting their decision to improve their food choices. Food as a form of psychological pressure. I know much has been written about this issue, but really…it comes down to individual choice. My food choices are not responsible for someone else’s happiness. Nor is any resulting weight gain or weight loss or weight neutrality a result of something someone else has done, said, made or offered.

Yikes! I sound so militant. But then…losing weight and maintaining weight takes a bit of militancy. Militancy based in loving kindness for one’s own body. It’s yours! The only one you’ll ever have! Own it.

Disappointment happens. Let go of the blame and shame and fault.

And don’t let anyone tell you what you should eat.

The More Things Change…

As I write this, I am working on hour four of insomnia. I woke up at 1 a.m. It is now 4:15.

Before I gave up trying to sleep and got out of bed, I thought about what I ate yesterday and got mad at myself for eating one of the peanut blossom cookies I’d made for an upcoming party (I had to test them, right?), and I berated myself for having not gone to the gym for a week. This induced an anxiety attack as I thought about how much weight I’d gain if I didn’t stop eating cookies and didn’t work out. Then I remembered it takes 500 extra calories a week to gain a pound and I bargained with myself that if I ate nothing but salad for the next three days, there would be no ill effects from the cookie (or the extra bites of cheesy pasta or the port wine cheese on a Triscuit or the …).

I reached down and touched my thighs and took hold of the flesh along their sides and thought about self-acceptance and how, at my thinnest, I thought I had made peace with my body at all its weights when the truth is, that was only true when I weighed 132 pounds or less. I’ve been self-critical since leaving that weight two years ago.

I’ve spent most of my life surrounded by this feeling of not-good-enough because my body wasn’t what I thought it should be. It was easy at 128 pounds to say that I appreciated the person I was at any weight, but in fact, I was glad I wasn’t heavier, ecstatic that I’d finally shed that skin of self-consciousness. I felt sorry for the me who was 300 pounds, 215 pounds, 150 pounds. I pitied her. And for god’s sake, I never wanted to be her again.

But I am, and a few hours ago I was touching my thighs and wondering if I could ever just say yes to the body I have and, more importantly, the person I am. To not allow one to define the other. To separate them but love them equally.

It is now 5 a.m. The cat is playing with his toy mouse in the kitchen. Jim will be up soon to go to work. He will kiss me good morning and offer sympathy for my insomnia. He will feed the cat, drink some orange juice, maybe eat one of the cookies I made, and tell me to go back to bed. I’ll assure him I will and then he’ll kiss me goodbye. But instead of sleep, I’ll crawl back into bed and start reading the book I bought last week, “The Need to Please: Mindfulness Skills to Gain Freedom from People Pleasing and Approval Seeking.” Perhaps I will find in there more pieces to the puzzle of self-acceptance. And after I’ve read a bit, I will end the night and begin my day with perhaps a bit more appreciation for who I am, right now.

Lessons Learned From A 3-Legged Cat

Three weeks ago, Irish adopted a cat.

Not just any cat.

A three-legged cat.

Cat was the pet of a man who recently passed away. His daughter already owned three cats, two dogs, several mice, a couple of birds, and a ferret. She loved the cat, but simply didn’t have room for another pet. A vet tech, who knew of her situation and was familiar with Irish’s soft spot for all cats, feral and domesticated, called him to ask if he’d consider adopting the 4-year-old.

When I met Irish in January, his cat Boo Boo was still alive and very old. Boo Boo was Himalayan, and because I have a mild allergy to cats, being around him caused me a few issues. But I’ve been around cats for most of my adult life, and because God invented Kleenex and eye drops, I dealt with it. After Boo Boo passed away in May, Irish started feeding two feral cats who found a way inside his barn to bed down every night. When he got the call from the vet tech about Cat, he asked how I felt about him owning another house cat, given my allergy. There was no way I could (and no reason for me to) say no.

Cat was NOT a happy camper in the carrier. When the daughter brought him into Irish’s house and released him from his prison, he ran under the bed. Nothing Irish or I did could convince him to come out. He stayed there for three days, venturing out only in the middle of the night to eat and use the litter box.

The details of Cat’s life prior to living with the man who’d passed away are sketchy. Cat lost his leg, the daughter told us, due to a fight with a wild animal. Cat’s ears are also chewed up a bit. She also said that prior to living with her father, he was teased and possibly tortured by a group of young men who lived in a dorm.

On the afternoon of Day Three, Cat came out of the bedroom. I was in the office and Irish was watching football in the living room. Cat sat down and stared at me from the doorway. I said hello. A few more minutes passed. When I slowly got up from my chair, he bolted back under the bed.

The next night, I walked out of the bathroom after brushing my teeth and Cat was sitting in the hallway. He didn’t run away. I slowly sat down on the floor and talked softly to him. He cautiously walked over to me, purring, clearly craving attention. I reached out my hand. He cowered, but held his ground. I touched the top of his head and he moved to rub his neck against my hand. When I stood up to go to bed, he walked – not bolted – to his rug under the bed.

That Cat allowed me to touch him at all was courageous.

Fast forward three weeks. Tres, as he’s been named, is still a little skittish, but is all about being around Irish and me, walking between our legs when we’re getting dressed, playing with his mouse toy in the living room while we’re watching TV, and eating his food when we’re in the kitchen. It’s clear that Tres loves love. He thrives on attention. No wild animal, no cruel humans could squelch his hope or his desire to be cared for.

We all need to feel safe; to be acknowledged for the unique individuals we are. But it’s often what’s unique about us that keeps us hiding under the bed.

I’ve felt a nagging fear in the back of my mind ever since I wrote my last AIM post about my imaginary encounter with Santa. I’d written that I was worried that I wouldn’t complete tomorrow’s Jingle Bell 5K walk in the time that I could have completed a 5K a few years ago. Santa, of course, told me that time didn’t matter, that commitment to the cause of raising money for arthritis research was what was really important. But it’s hard to take advice from Santa when you’re the one playing Santa, you know?

Driving home from Irish’s today, I turned off the radio and concentrated on the nagging, the dread, the fear. What was I afraid of? It took several miles, but I identified the fear as fear of pain and fear of not being able to keep up with people who walked without a limp, especially the people who would be walking with me: my daughter Carlene, Irish, and my granddaughter Claire. Daughter Cassie will run the 5k, and I also realized that I’ve been comparing myself to her, too. I was feeling like Tres when he first moved into Irish’s: skittish, hiding under the bed, out of my element.

Then I thought about the trust Tres has built for Irish and me these last few weeks. Tres doesn’t intellectually understand the concept of trust and love, but clearly it’s innate. He doesn’t feel he has anything to prove to us. He doesn’t care that he has three legs.

I, too, have nothing to prove to the people who love me. I have to do nothing more than be myself. Walk what I can in the time that I can. Pain will ensue, but it’s nothing I can’t handle. Limp? Yup. It’s how I walk. Jingle Bell is a walk for arthritis research, for cryin’ out loud! There will be people there with far more disability than me. People who will no doubt humble and inspire me.

My fear is in my head, created on the premise of “What if?”

I can do this tomorrow, whatever “this” turns out to be. And on Sunday when I see Tres again, I will give him a few extra neck rubs and thank him for showing me a side of trust and love I haven’t recognized in awhile.

Irish and me

Vulnerable Much?

I’ve been listening to the audio version of Brene Brown’s book, “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead,” for the last few weeks. Halfway through the 7-disc book, I knew I had to have a hard copy. “Daring Greatly” is a book that screams, “Write in my margins, people! Highlight! Underline! Reread!”

Embracing vulnerability is a new concept for me. While I credit my training in mindfulness for helping me to not fall completely over my feet as I stumble my way through this new way of thinking and living, embracing what I usually ignore/avoid/run away from (fill in your own coping mechanism) is like stopping a freight train and then putting it in reverse.

When I look back at the times I’ve felt most vulnerable, many of them were appearance focused. When I was obese, I felt most vulnerable in a crowd of people who could – and sometimes probably did – judge me.

I can recall only a few times I didn’t let the vulnerability of obesity win. One was on a May day in 2001 when I gave out the Tony Fabri Memorial Scholarships at the Clarion High School auditorium in front of hundreds of teenagers – in my imagination, the worst audience of all when you’re feeling vulnerable. But Tony was a best friend to both of my daughters, and I loved him like a son. When he died, an entire community went into mourning, and my daughters’ lives changed forever.

When Tony’s parents asked me to present the scholarship awards, I was both honored and scared to death. But I kept in perspective what they were asking me to do: honor their son. They also asked if it would be OK if someone videotaped my presentation because they couldn’t bring themselves to attend. I didn’t hesitate to consent. I have a Ph.D. in grief. I know how caring for yourself while grieving means sometimes not touching the hot spots. Wait til they cool a bit, then lay your hands on them.

Fortunately for me, my weight was pretty much the only reason I felt vulnerable that day. I really don’t mind public speaking, at least when I’m prepared. Throw me out in front of a crowd with little or no warning and ask me to say something intelligent? I’m pretty sure I’d rather pass kidney stones. But that day, I was more than prepared. I was eager to talk about Tony and the legacy of his short-lived life. Only a few times did I worry about what people thought of my size, hidden as best as it could beneath a flowing top and long skirt.

What I’m seeing as I read “Daring Greatly” is that vulnerability is there, up front or in the background, from the moment I wake up until the moment I fall asleep. Sometimes it visits my dreams. Last night I dreamed Eddie Vedder was sitting on my kitchen counter. I asked him if he liked sautéed mushrooms and he said he loved them. I remember feeling tense. I used all my best lines trying to be cool and then I hyperventilated when I realized I only had vegetable oil and no butter in which to sauté the mushrooms. That’s when I woke up.

What the hell did I eat before going to bed?

Anyway, after waking from the Eddie Vedder dream, my vulnerability went straight to the morning activity on my mind: going to my first-ever aqua aerobics class. Not only would I be trying something new, I would be wearing a bathing suit in front of a dozen or more people. Yikes!

As I should have predicted, but didn’t trust, was that the outcome of my first excursion into aqua aerobics was the same as when I plow through most of my other vulnerable moments. It was worth it. I had fun, and I met people who wear bathing suits in public and don’t seem to mind. I also changed my attitude about aqua aerobics being easy (my arms are talking to me this morning about this) and I walked from the pool to the locker room with a little more belief in myself and with a little more love in my heart for who I am – vulnerable and imperfect, but usually hopeful.

I’m learning that being my own best friend is about opening up and being receptive to vulnerability, rather than caving in to my nemesis self who, in the face of a challenge, yells in my ear, “Oh please, please, PLEASE can we not think about this? Can we just pop popcorn and eat Hershey Kisses and watch the first season of ‘Mad Men’ for the third time? Please!?”

Every day we’re “out there,” whether we leave our homes or not. (The Internet is a breeding ground for vulnerability!) Vulnerability is present when we start a new job, go out on a first date, break up with someone, get fired, go to the doctor…. Heck, vulnerability’s present in a restaurant! I always feel bothersome when I ask a server, “Can you please hold the capers and bacon and add a few more tomatoes instead? Oh, and can I get the dressing on the side?”

Online or in person, our faces, our bodies, our personalities, our cars, our houses, our coffee order at Starbucks, our sandwich order at Sheetz, and even the books our children and grandchildren want to check out from the library (“Ummm…OK… ‘Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People’ is fine! Yes! Just fine…ugh!”) make a statement about who we are, and in those moments, we’re open to judgment by the outside and the inside. That’s right. We judge our own vulnerabilities!

I know this isn’t rocket science and that many of you have already figured this out, but wow…. Clarity is creeping up on me like the spider that walked up my calf on Saturday while I scrubbed floors. Not wanting to kill it, I let it creep while I walked outside and set it free, all the while fighting the urge to sweep him away like he wasn’t real and move on with what I was doing. Sort of like the times when I feel most vulnerable and I want to crawl in a hole and shut my eyes and hope no one wants anything from me.

My audio copy of “Daring Greatly” is due back at my library on Friday. While I now own a hard copy, I was hoping to finish the book on CD. When I tried to renew it, I was told I couldn’t because someone else has reserved it. That’s OK. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one trying to stop the freight train and throw it in reverse.

My new anthem: Sara Bareilles “Brave”

Pulling Back The Sheets: Intimacy and Body Image

It’s not easy to talk about, this most intimate of subjects, but I know sex and body image is something many of us deal with on some level, despite our body size. We can wear clothes that flatter, cover, disguise, hide, tuck in, suck in, boost and separate. But stripped down, bare and naked, the truth is beheld by a beholder, someone who isn’t us, and the myriad emotions associated with that most intimate moment is the topic of today’s blog. It’s rated PG, I assure you, but I thought I owed you all a note of warning.

Two-year-old grandbaby Mae loves to be naked. She’ll strip down whenever the mood strikes and run around the house yelling, “Nakee! Nakee!”
“Nakee” and alone, I’m better than I used to be. For the most part, I accept (or at least live with or just ignore) the sags, bags, wrinkles, and rolls (as I wrote about in last year’s post, “How Blake Shelton Helped Me Take My Clothes Off.”)
“Nakee” and not alone? Well…let’s just say I’m not as comfortable as Mae.
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, how does that translate for us – as people of varying weights and body issues – when we are the beheld and the beholder is our beloved or beloved-wannabe? Because at the heart of that “beauty…” sentiment is trust. Trust that when we are told that our bodies are beautiful just as they are, the person saying it believes it.
I remember when I reached goal six years ago, I was at a picnic with my then-husband, Larry. A male neighbor asked him what it was like to be with a “completely different woman” in bed. Without missing a beat, Larry said, “She’s the same beautiful woman I’ve always known.”
I was disgusted by the man’s question, but I was more surprised by my reaction to my husband’s response. Larry had always told me I was beautiful, no matter what I weighed. He loved me, literally, through thick and thin. But it was at that moment that I realized I never trusted Larry’s, or any man’s, words of beauty and admiration in the realm of intimacy. Why? Because to me, I was not beautiful, not in bed anyway. And if my truth was that my body was not beautiful, then – in my mind – that was every man’s truth, despite what they said to the contrary.
My sexual repertoire – at all my weights – has included remaining semi-clothed or having sheets or blankets strategically wrapped around me, and employing carefully choreographed maneuvers to keep body parts from being exposed or displayed in unflattering ways. The reasoning behind this routine comes from years of negative self-dialogue and a subconscious buy-in to the impossible societal definitions of beauty. That I believe that my body, in its natural state, is better enjoyed covered up and not in the naked open is so deeply ingrained in my head that it’s become as much my truth as the fact that I have blue eyes.
Since starting my meditation practice several years ago, my mind has been on a journey of truth. Emotions I thought I had under wraps sometimes swim to the surface and demand to be felt at seemingly inopportune moments, and trying to stop them is like telling a swimmer to keep holding her breathe when she comes up for air. They need to breathe. NOW.
The most powerful NOW moment to-date happened a few months ago when I was dating The Irishman. All he did was whisper, “You’re beautiful,” and in that moment, what I thought and felt down to my very core was, ‘Wow, he has really bad taste in women. I’m so gross, can’t he SEE that?’
It was such an overwhelmingly sad and empty feeling, it made me cry. It was like someone unearthed my 500-thread-count-sheet-wrapped body and put it on display in a museum next to a placard that read, “A 21st-century example of a woman who never liked her naked body.”
Words tumbled out my mouth as I bawled and told him about my life-long struggle to accept my body. He kept stroking my hair and, when I calmed down, said, simply, “I know. I see you struggle with it every time we’re together. But I think you’re beautiful.”
And here I thought no one ever noticed my strategic maneuvers. Hmmm….
So how do you hear, believe, trust and accept another’s truth about your body when your own view of your body is less than stellar or even polar opposite of our beholder’s? How do you pull back the sheet, even a little, and welcome their truth and meet intimacy with no body image barriers?
Weight loss and weight maintenance envelop our entire lives, including our sex lives. I just don’t see it discussed much in the blog-o-sphere. I know it’s because this isn’t an easy subject to discuss in public, and anyone who reveals they have sex at all is subject to criticism from any number of ideological bents. But if you struggle with this, too, or if you’ve figured it out (or if it’s never been an issue….and bravo to you for that!!) and you’d like to share, leave a comment. No judgment from me, but I do ask that you keep it PG. Thanks!

The One About My Ass

I’ve been on this incredible weight-loss/weight-maintenance journey for more than seven years, and I continue learning more about myself than I thought possible. I’ve met inspiring people – virtually and in real life – who motivate me to think positively, to accept myself where I am in every moment, and to see myself through a different lens, one that’s not focused on weight all the time. I’ve listened. I’ve implemented. And although I no longer weigh 125 pounds, which was insane for me, I remain committed to being physically active and mindful of my food intake. I can stand in front of the bathroom mirror and say, “You look nice, Lynn.”

Then I walk out the door and sometimes it’s like the last seven years didn’t exist.  
The more things change, the more the past comes and bites me in the ass. And I mean, literally, my ass (the biting part is figurative).
I’ve never been comfortable with the shape of my ass. When I’m thin, it’s flat. When I’m overweight, it’s flat. I have absolutely no bootie. Paired with long, gangly legs and a thick waist, I’ve never found the perfect pair of form-fitting jeans.
This is a first-world problem, I know. White Whine. It’s like complaining I can’t get cell service in the Squirrel Hill Tunnel. I get it. But still…this self-perception is real and I want to work toward ass self-esteem and move on.
I found this on KnowYourMeme. Blogger Jessica Hagy drew it.
It started in high school. I remember climbing the stairs behind a cheerleader and her boyfriend. The cheerleader was a petite blond with large breasts and a small round butt. Her boyfriend was a football player who often picked her up in the lunchroom and threw her over his shoulders. I was behind the boyfriend who was behind the cheerleader when the boyfriend said loudly, “I’m making a sign for your ass that says, ‘Wide load.’” He laughed and laughed. The cheerleader turned around and playfully hit his arm, but I was horrified for her. Then I was horrified for me. If he thought his girlfriend’s ass was fat, there was no hope for mine.
I became the master of backing out of rooms, or walking sideways when I was in front of someone. After awhile, I did it without thinking. And the times when I had no choice but stand directly in front of someone, I obsessed over how awful my ass must look to whomever was behind me. Self-centered? Yes, kind of. But with a psychological bent that told me I wasn’t good enough because I had created in my head this belief that my ass made other people uncomfortable. Like people woke up that morning and prayed, ‘God, I hope I don’t see a flat ass today.’ Crazy thinking, I know, but seriously, don’t we all have some insecurity that makes us nervous? Cautious of? Hell bent on hiding?
You recall my last blog was about getting back into the dating scene after losing a lot of weight. I had the good fortune of meeting “Steve” a few weeks ago. Yesterday, he invited me to a 30-year anniversary party at a restaurant he’s been going to since it opened. I chose to wear a pair of jeans and a black knit shirt and a cotton jacket that would cover my ass. Only I accidently left the jacket at home because I couldn’t wear it under my winter coat. As you can imagine, and I knew, a lot of his friends and neighbors were there. Steve led me to the opposite side of the bar from the juke box and rest room, introducing me along the way. If I wanted to use the bathroom or play the juke box, it meant I’d have to walk away from Steve and past his friends and other bar patrons.
This is not me being egotistical. This is me responding to years of programming, advertising, and comments from people I thought cared about me that nothing short of a perfect body is good enough. Ergo, I’m not good enough. I’ve worked on those demons for many years and I’ve exorcised a good deal of them, but my 16-year-old insecure self still lives inside and she was all up in my head yesterday.
I fidgeted a bit in my chair, thinking about this first-world quandary, as Steve talked to a few of his friends. They were having a juke box challenge – who could play the worst song from the 60s and early 70s – and I knew exactly what I wanted to play: Tom Jones’ “She’s a Lady.” I’m competitive and I wanted to play that song more than I wanted to hide my ass. So I grabbed a dollar out of my purse and I walked around the bar, perhaps a little red-faced, but I held my head high and kept my ass in perspective. I plugged the song in the juke box and when it played, got a great big laugh from the crowd. I didn’t win the challenge, but I rose above the ass-hating, if only for a few minutes.
I logged online this morning and read Tippy Toe Diet Cammy’s blog and I thought, ‘Man…she’s in my head again.’ This graphic was at the top of her entry:
Reality check!
There are a lot of things about me that I’ve learned to love and accept. There are a lot of other things that need work. And I will work. Giving up, while it might linger in my head some days, is not an option.
I had a therapy appointment this afternoon. I’ve been seeing Julie on and off for two years. As I was making an appointment for our next session, she said her schedule was tight next week, so could I be flexible. I said my schedule is usually flexible. “That’s the beauty of me!” I said.
“That’s what you need to tell yourself in all aspects of your life,” she replied.
She definitely got me on that one. And we hadn’t even discussed my low ass self-esteem in our session!
I suspect we all believe things about ourselves that are either simply not true or that might be true, but we view them through a magnifying glass and not in their proper dimension. It can get in the way of our happiness, our goals, our hopes for whatever outcome we want to strive for.
I want a bootie and that ain’t gonna happen without major medical intervention. But more than that, I want to accept my bootie and every other part of what makes up the real me. And as I said before, I’m not giving up. I am who I am. And that’s the beauty of me.

Throwing Out The 300-Pound Pitch

In an interview in 2008, Neal Conan asked Carrie Fisher on “Talk of the Nation” why she wrote “Wishful Drinking,” a memoir about her experience with manic depression, addiction and ECT, particularly given its stigma. She answered: “The thing about telling it is, if I make it a secret, it has enormous power. Then I have to be scared. ‘Will they find out?’ And I’m, like, ‘If you find it out about me, I’ve already got there first, so you’re gonna hear my version.’”

Google my name and it’s easy to find me and my 300-pound truth. I put it out there willingly in 2005, hoping to find kindred spirits, people who were on a path to embracing their own truth about weight. With more than 1.5 million page hits since 2005, clearly there are more than a few of us out there seeking that truth.
I don’t mind telling you I was 300 pounds. You get it. It’s not so easy telling someone with whom you’re out on a first date and you’re ordering a salad and he’s ordering wings with blue cheese dressing and he jokingly says, “New Year’s resolution?” and I say, “Well, kinda.”
The story of me isn’t an easy story to digest, so to speak. It’s one thing to say, “I weighed 300 pounds seven years ago.” It’s quite another to say, “My weight impacts my life every day.” Some women seek tall, dark and handsome. Me? I seek someone who won’t eat Doritos in front of me.
In Pittsburgh, we call it “nebbing.” When you want to find out about someone, you neb. I have one of the nebbiest neighbors ever. He’s forever watching my house. There isn’t a light that goes on or goes off that he doesn’t know about. He’s harmless enough, but it’s a little unnerving having your every move observed.
That’s kind of how it feels when I meet someone new and they find out my name. They’re gonna neb. Heck, I do it, too! But I prefer he hear my weighty truth from my lips and not from a photo of 300-pound me in a purple dress contrasted with the me he has just met. Yes, my blog is my truth and my voice, but for someone who isn’t accustomed to reading weight loss blogs, my blog can be a lot of truth to take in without some prior warning.
While I don’t consider obesity a character flaw, many in this world do, especially the judgy mcjudgers who tease, roll their eyes, and all out hate fat people. So there’s an added chance of judgment I have to take when the “So tell me about yourself” convo starts.
A few years ago, I met someone who, after a few dates, asked me straight up about loose skin. “Do you have any?” was his exact question. My response? “You’ll never find out,” and I kicked him out.
Now while that sounds all bold and Go Me, in truth it was embarrassing and it made me wonder how many other men would wonder the same thing.
It wasn’t long after that that I met C and we dated for about 18 months. My truth became a part of our relationship, an almost non-entity except that he didn’t eat Doritos in front of me. Now that I’m single once more, I’m wondering if I have it in me to, as I wrote in 2011, “…roll my eyes back and throw it out there again,” a reference to that the scene in Bull Durham when Nuke is on the mound wearing Annie Savoy’s garter and he rolls his eyes back and pitches the ball.
My choices are either stay in and hide or get out there and try. I choose to try. After all, I was who I was and I am who I am and the guy up to bat has a number of options of what to do with that curve ball. If it’s to inquire about loose skin, then he isn’t worthy. If it’s to stick around, then I’ll explain the part about the Doritos.