A journey in words...

Welcome to my journey in words! A story about health, exercise, weight loss, food addiction, humor, size discrimination, sarcasm, social commentary and all the rest that’s rattling around inside my head...

I now twit, er... or tweet. Anyway, you can follow me on twitter @Aeon1202

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Thanks Under Armor

Disclaimer: I don’t work for Under Armor nor do I receive any sort of reward for promoting them. These are just my opinions based on companies I like to promote because they make me happy.

So I work out a lot. Or, at least more than the average American. I’ve learned over the past few years of upping my workout game that proper gear is extremely important, particularly with my physique. Compression leggings and sports bras with proper support make the difference between feeling good while jumping up and down and feeling as though parts of my body are moving in totally different directions in a distinctly uncomfortable fashion. “Sweat wicking” fabric is a MUST. I used to do cardio in ordinary cotton shirts. As I sweat, these shirts would become wetter, bigger, and heavier, until I was working out in a shirt that felt as though I’d jumped into a pool wearing it. Not comfy. I don’t know what the technology is that keeps certain fabrics dry despite copious amounts of sweating, but I’m grateful to whoever invented it.

Under Armor makes really great (and great looking) stuff both for staying warm in the cold and staying comfortable during a workout. I have a long sleeved thermal shirt from them and it’s made from a snuggly, remarkably thin material considering its purpose and how well it keeps me warm.

Their stuff doesn’t come cheap, but it does go on sale. I got the entire outfit pictured below for about $38.00 – which is not bad at all for quality workout gear.

Best of all? Size XS through size 2XL cost the exact same price. They have no fat fees!

So cheers to Under Armor, both for making quality workout and cold weather gear that fits a wide range of sizes and for treating me exactly the same as my slimmer athletic counterparts – you give me what I want, so I give you my thanks!

Post-workout RHAR!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Holiday Disordered Eating

On Halloween night I went out trick or treating with my friend’s daughter. Since she’s ten, she’s still young enough to want to do a stiff-limbed Frankenstein run up and down the street with me and would dutifully holler out, “Exterminate!” when I called after her to remember her catch phrase (she was dressed as a Dalek).

Ten year olds these days are hard to scare though. One house had gone all out with a full cemetery in the front yard, strobe lights, and creeping ghouls one had to dodge past in order to earn candy. She calmly explained to the ghoul that after playing Five Nights at Freddy’s nothing much scared her anymore. The ghoul just looked at me and shrugged.

It was a great time, and my Halloween loving neighborhood did not disappoint.

The next morning, I perused this article over my morning coffee. It details the cost (in jumping jacks) of each piece of “fun sized” candy consumed with the expectation that repentant post-Halloween dieters will be killing ourselves over the next few days frantically trying to burn off the extra chocolate. God forbid we all enjoy a silly holiday without feeling extreme guilt over the consumption of treat food.

I shrugged and made myself a bowl of oatmeal.

I ate candy on Halloween night, dipping into my stash for the visiting kids enough times that I probably need to do jumping jacks straight through the rest of the week non-stop as supposed penance, but I really don’t care. I’ll go back to the gym as usual, and go about my normal non-chocolate consuming life. I'm not interested in using physical activity as punishment for enjoying tasty food. My Zumba and Yoga classes are for physical fitness, relaxation and fun.

I remember being in weight loss support groups and garnering applause for suffering through Halloween without eating a single piece of candy, but I’m done with that all or nothing thinking now. I don’t consume candy most days, having it perhaps once every couple of months. Neither am I going to self-flagellate for my supposed ‘badness’ on days that I do. I will enjoy Halloween, and Christmas, and Thanksgiving, and Easter, and not spend those days stressing over whether I’ve managed to create a calorie deficit while celebrating. Nor am I plotting and planning a week in advance for how to at least break calorically even.

In our calorie dense environment restraint is necessary to think about, but holidays come only a few times a year, and they are to be enjoyed. Life is too precious to do otherwise.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Autumn Equinox Yoga Practice

So today is the Autumn Equinox – meaning there will be equal hours of light and darkness today. Last night I had my weekly Yoga class. My teacher told us that it’s traditional to observe the equinox by performing 108 sun salutations, and asked us as a class if we would like to do so.

When she looked to me for my opinion what I said was, “I can’t say I’ll succeed but I’ll always try.” I didn’t mean to sound quite that Zen, it’s just what came out, but it’s the truth. After nearly half a year of yoga I’m still quite poor at it, the only thing I have going for me is my stubborn will not to give up.

Sun salutations aren’t easy for me because from downward dog position you’re supposed to step or jump your feet to where your hands are on the floor, and the interaction of my erm… abundant thighs vs. abundant stomach prevents this. So in order to get back to standing position I sort of awkwardly kneel and then scramble upright again rather than making a smooth transition. Additionally, when I go to plank position then lower myself in a controlled manner to the floor, I’m reverse bench pressing over 200 lbs. No easy thing to do over a hundred times.

Still, I was game to try. My teacher often suggests that we dedicate our practice to someone who needs our “energy” more than we do that night. I figure that’s the same idea as dedicating a fast or prayers to someone, so last night I focused on a friend of mine who is going through a tough time medically and decided to do my best for her.

We did the sun salutations in sets, and I can honestly say that during the first set of twelve, I actually did twelve. After that, things diverged from the plan. During the second set I did about ten, during the third set probably seven, and so on. In total I would estimate I did around 50 sun salutations, and for a beginner like me I’m proud of that.

I would have done more but somewhere around the sixth or seventh set I felt like I was stepping on something, which is weird because I was barefoot on my yoga mat – there was nothing to step on. Finally checking things out I realized that the skin on the underside of the big toe of my right foot had quite simply slid off and was hanging by a strip (yes, it was as gross as it sounds). Since nobody else had this problem I’m guessing it’s another issue related to being so heavy on completely flat feet. My flat feet were an amusing novelty as a child but now at middle age my total lack of an arch is a more serious problem.

I hustled out to the front desk for a band aid, put it on, and continued, but things got a bit trickier after that. The studio floor is not the cleanest and most of what I was thinking after it happened was that I really needed to get my foot clean. Thankfully, the actual pain didn’t set in until this morning.

Overall I’m glad I gave it a try, and I hope to do much better next time. I can tell that I’m much stronger than I was when I began (downward dog doesn’t quite feel like a resting position yet, but nor is it as difficult as it was at first). My goal now is to develop a habit of practicing at least a little bit of yoga every day.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Head Wound

I took an online wellness evaluation today because my health insurance has changed again and the new company offers a lot of different resources for preventative care. The eval is a way of getting started and introducing yourself in the system. Of course, it gives you a score at the end.

My score, which had no doubt been climbing steadily as I input my stats about never smoking and infrequently drinking alcohol, my dedication to ingesting five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, my daily workouts (at least three per week being strenuous) – abruptly fell like a stone of course when I input my weight.

At the end it gave me an action plan for health improvements on which I am to begin immediate work: lose weight!

“Ah,” I said quietly to myself, “That course of action had never occurred to me before.” My old friends: disappointment, discouragement, frustration, and even despair settled right in. Why? Because being told yet again to lose weight by the healthcare industry feels like being told to do something that isn’t even remotely in my control. If it was, I’d have done it by now. I’ve been on a diet for 27 years.

My frustration is this: the evaluation never asked me why I was fat, and made no attempt to discover the cause of my problem. When I clicked on the link to find out ways to accomplish the desired thinness I was of course directed to a page about healthy eating and exercise. That old mantra: eat less, move more. The default assumption being that fat people are fat because we’re all unaware that a bag of Oreo cookies eaten while never leaving our sofa shouldn’t be dinner.

Contrary to popular belief, fat people aren’t actually dumb.

At no point was I asked: have you been tested for any diseases that might effect your metabolism? Or more appropriately for me: do you think you might have an eating disorder? The only nods this evaluation made to mental health at all were to ask me if I felt depressed (no) and to rate how much I like my job.

If obesity is a symptom of a problem, then why is no effort being made to discovering that problem’s cause? And why is so little help available? If someone were anemic blood tests would be performed to discover why, but the cause of someone’s fatness is like an elephant in the room. Being fat is often like having a massive head wound and the health care industry is a person standing next to you screaming, “Stop bleeding! Stop bleeding this instant or you’ll die!”

I don’t know how to stop bleeding. If I did, I’d have stopped gushing blood all over the world by now.

It just feels like more useless hoop jumping while I continue to yoyo up and down the same twenty or thirty pounds for the rest of my life, a life which is no doubt being shortened by the physical stress of aforementioned yoyo-ing.

Ah well, time to head back to the gym for another workout.

Monday, August 29, 2016


So it’s official: I’ve been going to Zumba class about three times per week for a whole year!

I have two teachers with very different styles: one class is like dancing in the basement with all your friends in a party of youthful enthusiasm and the other is a bit more like participating in a Pitbull music video. Both of them use completely awesome music, and both of them probably get tired of me asking, “Oooo – what song was that?” so that I can go home and download it. The positivity, patience, and enthusiasm of the people who teach Zumba is infectious and something I’m eternally grateful for.

I’ve also made friends in class and met other Zumba instructors for outside events such as the two Master Classes I’ve attended, and soon I’ll be going to a special “Glow Zumba” event which takes place in the dark with black lights. I may crash into somebody, but it’s going to be awesome.

My gym is very judgment free and I’m so grateful for that as well. I’ve never felt out of place or looked down upon for being the biggest/slowest/clumsiest/weakest person around (which I frequently was during this first year and often still am).

That being said, here are some health improvements I’ve enjoyed over this past Zumba year:

Greatly Improved Stamina – I have always loved to dance, and for a non-dancer person I’ve got pretty good rhythm. When I was in my twenties I used to go clubbing a lot, not every weekend but a few times per month, and I would spend hours on the dance floor. At some point in my thirties (I don’t recall exactly when) I found myself sedentary, weighing around 300 pounds and in a situation to dance again. I found to my horror that I couldn’t dance any longer; one song in I was exhausted, sweaty, in pain, and done, and it was a heartbreak. I started Zumba after losing seventy pounds, but it was still an uphill battle to get my stamina back. When I first started I did none of the high impact movements (things that take both of your feet off the ground simultaneously). Now? I do all of them. All the jumping, all the hopping, all the lunges (and I used to really hate lunges). Also, I went to a wedding a few months ago and danced for three hours. Nonstop.

Resting Heart Rate – My resting heart rate is 60 beats per minute. I know this because I wear a Fitbit and it reports to me each day what my resting heart rate was over the past 24 hour period. 60 beats per minute for a 41 year old is fantastic, when I began Zumba I believe it was around 75 beats per minute.

Coordination and Balance – I’m naturally clumsy with poor balance due to a combination of fluid in my inner ear from persistent allergies and completely flat feet. Although I’m still clumsier than an average person (there’s no cure for flat feet) I’ve improved noticeably over the past year. Within the first few months of starting Zumba I fell in class twice, one time spraining an ankle badly enough to keep me home for the next week. That hasn’t happened in about six months now.

Confidence – Zumba forces you to get over a lot of your inhibitions. When I first started there was no booty shaking for me, just a sort of embarrassed little wiggling shimmy. Now? Yeah, I shake what God gave me like nobody’s watching. I don’t care who’s watching or what they think because I’m enjoying myself. That physical confidence actually carries out of the classroom and into everyday life as well.

What hasn’t happened this past year? Well, I’m still not thin. This is no fault of Zumba and entirely the fault of continued binge eating episodes in my life. I’ve said it a hundred times and I will again now: you cannot outrun your fork. But if I didn’t have Zumba in my life? Who knows, I may have skyrocketed back up to 300 pounds by now and beyond. My body is prepped from a lifetime of destructive eating patterns to gain weight almost effortlessly, and Zumba has been a big part of keeping my weight stable for the past year. That’s something to be extremely grateful for.

The best piece of advice I have ever received about health and fitness came courtesy of James Fell who writes the fabulous Body for Wife blog and it is this:

“Find something physical to do that you love, and then eat to perform better at it.” Truly words to live by.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Kitchen Sink Salads: A How-To Guide

I’m not a fan of the traditional Woman-On-A-Diet salad. I see them being eaten for lunch often enough: iceberg lettuce leaves, a few cucumber slices, a few grape tomatoes, and fat-free vinaigrette dressing, probably with the word “balsamic” in the name. A lunch like that for me would mean a sure trip to the vending machine an hour later looking for pretzels or chips, or more likely lead to a binge episode once I got home from work feeling half starved. A salad like that isn’t satisfying either physically or mentally and doesn’t have much to offer in the way of nutritious fuel either.

Lately, I’ve been making something I call a “Kitchen Sink Salad”. Because it’s got everything in it but… well, you get the idea.

To make a Kitchen Sink Salad you begin with a grain. Recently I made one using wheat berries which led to a lot of speculation on my family’s part as to what exactly a wheat berry is (they’re whole, unprocessed wheat kernels). Other good grains include quinoa, farro, rice, barley and millet. Pick whichever you like best, or one you simply want to try. Cook the grain according to package directions. I like to cook mine in low sodium vegetable, chicken, or beef broth as this imparts more flavor.

When the cooked grain has been relocated to a big mixing bowl but is still hot, add one to two bags of greenery. I like a mix of spring greens, baby spinach, and baby arugula – but again, it’s your salad so add what you like. The hot grain will wilt the greens down and make them take up less space.

Then as things are cooling, chop and add whatever vegetables looked appealing to you when you were most recently wandering a farmer’s market or the produce section of your local grocery store. I like grape tomatoes of all colors, bell peppers, cucumbers, Brussels sprouts, red onion, carrot, scallion, jalapeno, zucchini, and squash. (I don’t really recommend mushrooms because if you store your salad for more than 24 hours they can get weird).

Chop and add a fresh herb; basil, dill and cilantro are my favorites.

Add a sparing amount of fatty, delicious, indulgent extras; like avocado, kalamata olives (or whatever olive you like), Muenster cheese, Havarti, or creamy mozzarella. I like mild cheeses but if you like sharp, add sharp. I’ve never added nuts to a Kitchen Sink Salad, but nuts would be awesome too.

For dressing I use an acid and a base. This usually means squeezing the juice of a fresh lime over the whole thing and then drizzling on good olive oil. Any acid will do though (lemon, orange, vinegar… whatever you like).

Salt and pepper to taste, and that’s it!

The grains provide protein, the vegetables provide nutrients, there’s healthy fats involved (and some fats that are simply satisfying). This salad obviously has more calories than a traditional Woman-On-A-Diet salad, but it’s also a lot more physically and psychologically appealing, at least to me.

This is what was in the Kitchen Sink salad I made for my Dad’s birthday over the weekend:

  • 2 cups of wheat berries boiled in low sodium vegetable broth (takes an hour, they’re hard)
  • 1 bag of baby spinach and arugula
  • 1 bag of mixed spring greens
  • 1 gigantic, delicious, monster heirloom tomato that my friend grew in her backyard
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 small block of Havarti cheese with dill
  • The juice of one lime
  • Several tablespoons of good olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Feeds: many! With leftovers to spare.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Happy Birthday


I wish I could write poetry. You make me want to. I want to create beautiful things for you on this the anniversary of your birth.

The past fifteen years have flown past us, and I wish for fifteen hundred more. If there is one thing with which I've truly been blessed in this life, I know it to be love.

I love you, I'm so grateful for you, I will always always always be with you.

Happy Birthday, Bee.



If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me ye women if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay;        
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let’s so persever,
That when we live no more we may live ever.

-Anne Bradstreet "To my Dear and Loving Husband"

Friday, July 22, 2016

Beetnik Frozen Food Review

Beetnik products have a lot of variables going on that I really don’t care about, such as being certified USDA Organic, Gluten Free, and Paleo approved. I chose them simply because their sodium content is phenomenally low for frozen food (below 300 mg. each) and I am trying to get my sodium intake below 1,500 mg. per day without totally giving up the convenience of a frozen lunch. As a result my first comment on a lot of these is probably going to be, “tastes bland”, because my overly salted American palate is not used to foods that aren’t pickled in salt.

The store I purchased them from sells them for around $6.00 / entrée.

Organic Moroccan Seasoned Chicken Stew (Ingredients: chicken, sweet potato, carrot, bell pepper, lemon juice, olive oil & spices-garlic, cumin, turmeric, ginger).
280 calories
160 mg. sodium
9 g. fat
4 g. fiber
25 g. protein
Taste: It smelled really good and the chicken had fantastic texture, also the portion was generously sized for less than three hundred calories. That’s where the good news ends because the flavor was bland (of course), and unpleasantly sour. The ingredients listed are all tasty ones so I have no idea where the weirdly sour flavor was coming from. Maybe too much lemon juice? I won’t be buying this one again. Bleh.

Looked tasty, but no.

Organic Peruvian Seasoned Chicken Stew (Ingredients: chicken, tomatoes, bell pepper, onion & spices – garlic, cumin, basil, pepper, cayenne).
130 calories
240 mg. sodium
1 g. fat
2 g. fiber
23 g. protein
Taste: Rich with tomato flavor and hot! Probably not so spicy to someone who eats hot food a lot, but as I am a casual consumer of spicy food it was enough to make my nose run. The taste was complex and good though, not bland and not sour like the other stew I tried. A very thin consistency, really more like a soup, and it looked absolutely nothing like the picture on the package. This one would be better with a chunk of Italian bread and a dollop of sour cream or some rice mixed in, and I will probably purchase it again.

This one seriously did not look like the picture on the box.

Organic Sesame Ginger Chicken (Ingredients: rice, chicken, onion, bell pepper, carrot, zucchini, broccoli, honey, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, green onion, sesame oil, grapeseed oil, pepper, tamari, salt).
270 calories
280 mg. sodium
3 g. fat
2 g. fiber
18 g. protein
Taste: This was easily the best of the three I tried, and also the most satisfying (probably due to the presence of rice). It wasn’t spicy, but seasoned just enough to be flavorful and not bland at all, yet still very low in salt for a prepackaged food item. Their chicken remained good and fresh tasting throughout, and the vegetables were still bright and perky despite being through the freeze/thaw process. I will absolutely get this one again! Yum!

We have a winner!

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Age and Size Paradox

We were celebrating a birthday at work today, which got me thinking about how incorrect our attitude toward age is in the society I live in.

In my mind, the more years of experience a person has the more valuable they should be. Younger people are certainly lovable and interesting and creative and intelligent – but they haven’t yet had time to ripen and season, to earn the wisdom or experience or learning that their elders have achieved.

Since our society is obsessed with beauty, and youth indicators like bigger eyes and fuller lips are currently considered more beautiful, that seems to be what primarily matters to us. As such it’s hard to grow older because people feel as though they lose something every year instead of seeing what they gain with each passing year in the value of what they know and have seen. I’ve felt it myself as I stare into the mirror and notice my thinning lips, the network of laugh lines road mapping their way across my forehead, and the way the skin on my chest is taking on the consistency of crepe paper.

I find our whole attitude toward aging to be pretty messed up. Just as I find it messed up that the largest in physical stature among us are paradoxically seen as the least in social stature. What if humans were like lions or other apex predators, with the biggest standing de facto at the top of the pecking order?

Maybe it’s easier for me, being married to Ted who is turning 57 this month and aside from being annoyed with the occasional ache in his back and lessening ability to tolerate heat and humidity, couldn’t really care less about the number of birthdays he’s had. He likes his birthday and to celebrate it, but the number of candles on his cake is irrelevant (so long as there’s cake).

And maybe it’s easier for him than most people too, since if he bothered to dye his hair darker he would look as young as or younger than me – his face is boyish and unlined, his hair full and soft, and his body is firm and tall.

But what if a lined face, a softening figure, and a receding hairline were considered breathtakingly gorgeous as markers of the worth of a person’s experience in life? What if we gained value with each passing year instead of feeling as though our social currency is slowly running out? What if we waited hopefully as young people for the day we would become beautifully mature? What a world that would be.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Pasta Conundrum

I’ve made it pretty clear at this point that I’m not a fan of fad/crash diets like Paleo or Atkins, and I absolutely think that HMR is a bad idea. That being said, I acknowledge that every body works in a unique way and if something works for you in a way that makes you feel great and is sustainable long term without causing dangerous weight yo-yo’s, then cool. Listening to your body is key.

I’m not an anti-carb or even low-carb eater. I think carbs are part of my balanced diet, and I like them. They do need to be limited somewhat because they tend to be very calorie dense, but outside of that I think carbs are yummy and great.  However, something weird is going on with me and pasta.

I make pasta about once a week for dinner, and then portion out the leftovers for lunch at work for the next couple of days. At dinnertime I’ll prepare myself a bowl, eat it too quickly and feel as though I’ve eaten nothing at all, then go fetch myself an entire second bowl. It’s like when I eat pasta the mechanism that tells me I’m full just completely shuts down. Afterward, I feel uncomfortably bloated, bubbling, and sick.

At first I thought it was just because I was eating too much, but I came to realize I was bloated, bubbly, and sick even after eating my carefully measured portions of pasta at lunch.

Thankfully this can’t be celiac disease, true celiac is still fairly rare and I do not suffer from it or any other kind of food allergy. I eat bread and plenty of other gluten containing products daily with no problem whatsoever, but pasta apparently does not agree with me so I’m thinking I’ll have to eliminate it from my diet.

This makes me sad as I love pasta, it’s a quick easy dinner that provides plenty of lunch leftovers, but it’s just not worth the cost – it causes binge behavior and makes me feel awful afterwards. In keeping with my own advice to listen to my body, it’s got to go.

Now to come up with some tasty pasta alternatives that the guys I live with will actually eat...

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Irony of David Wolfe & the Avocado

Recently I was discussing my favorite food, the avocado, with a friend – and he pointed out that the avocado does not actually make sense in the human diet.

Curious, I asked why, and he explained that as a fruit it doesn’t work with us the way it biologically should. It has a seed that is far too large for a human animal to swallow and later deposit with a convenient pile of fertilizer to grow elsewhere. In fact, the avocado’s golf ball sized seed is actually poisonous to human beings.

I then inquired as to what type of animal was supposed to be eating the avocado, and he replied with ground sloths, an extremely large, now extinct type of land mammal also known as megatherium. I did a bit more research and turned up this interesting article.

That's a big sloth...

After the disaster that caused the ground sloths and other megafauna to die off, avocados survived against all odds probably getting spread about by smaller animals like big cats for a while until being discovered by us primates who began deliberately spreading their seeds and farming them for their deliciousness.

Not only did we farm them, we genetically modified the heck out of them. The avocados that megafauna used to eat were much more seed than flesh and we’d likely barely recognize them from our gator pears of today. We’ve manipulated the avocado to make it produce a much smaller seed with much more delicious green stuff for us to feast upon.

This led me to thinking about David Wolfe...

One of my least favorite modern snake oil salesmen is named David “Avocado” Wolfe. I’m not going to link to his site because I don’t want to send him any traffic, but feel free to peruse this article about him. In short, he’s a food scaremongerer who sells an unhealthy dose of orthorexia along with sham products on his website like “David Wolfe Nutrition Certifications” that help you convince people that genetic modification of food is evil and bad for you despite their being no hard scientific evidence of this (and yes, I have looked for it), vaccinations are deadly, and chocolate is “an octave of sun energy that lines up planetarily with the sun”… or something. He’s right up there with the Food Babe when it comes to anti-science hokum. And this stuff can be deadly, particularly the anti-vaccines part.

It always annoyed me that he calls himself David “Avocado” Wolfe, because I love the avocado but I do not like him very much. One of the only things he and I agree on is that the avocado is both delicious and healthy to eat, but he pollutes its goodness by attaching it to his name.

The gorgeously ironic part is this:

David Wolfe has named himself after a food that has a poisonous seed, which should have become extinct along with the creatures that ate it thousands of years ago, and he is apparently ignorant of the fact that it was artificially preserved through exactly the kind of genetic modification and deliberate human food tinkering that he espouses to be “toxic.”

I find this absolutely hilarious.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Thank You, Target!

On the occasions when a retailer happens to give me exactly what I’ve been asking them for, I make a point of rewarding them with my business. This is why last weekend I went shopping at Target.

Lately I’ve been seeing Target swimsuit ads on TV that feature a bunch of people of different shapes and sizes having fun by the pool while wearing cute swimsuits.

These folks:

No big fuss is made over their variety of body types, they’re just a bunch of people who enjoy the beach and want to swim. Some of them are wearing a one piece, some two pieces. The cuteness of the suit is not limited by the smallness of its wearer. A bikini body appears to be a body with a bikini on it. And that’s it. To be honest the first time I noticed one of these ads I felt happy tears welling up in the back of my throat.

The larger sized ladies in these ads are just normal people who need a bathing suit to swim in, and that is precisely what I’ve been asking for from clothiers: to just feel normal. Not to have to special order everything online where I cannot try it on first, not to search in vain for my size only to find the only things in my size are made from cheap, horrifyingly ugly fabric, not to pay five or ten or twelve dollars more for a size 18 because OMG IT’S A SIZE 18 YOU HEIFER!!

To be fair, Target has failed miserably in the past. They are the retailers responsible for this Photoshop fail where they were so eager to give their slim, teenage model an impossibly narrow rib cage and enormous thigh gap that they literally mangled her:

This debacle occurred back in 2014 and I think it’s safe to say that they’ve learned from their mistakes moving forward.

So yes, last weekend Target got my business, and my sincere thanks.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

You Just Can't Win

Last weekend I went to see the new Disney movie, Finding Dory, with a friend of mine. It was cute and funny and touching and exactly what one might expect from the sequel to Finding Nemo. Dory was the standout character from the first movie and it was a wise move to feature her in a sequel.

One of the previews we saw was for Disney’s new film Moana, the story of a Polynesian Princess. My friend and I both thought it looked cute and worth watching, and I was pleased to hear Dwayne Johnson voicing one of the characters, a demigod named Maui.

I was later dismayed to find out that a wall of complaints is already hitting the internet about this movie and it isn’t even out yet, due to Maui’s non-standard body shape.

One camp is offended that Disney is “fat shaming” all Polynesians for depicting them as looking like Maui. To be honest, I didn’t actually think Maui looked fat – just extremely dense and powerful in a cuddly sort of way. It’s true that he doesn’t particularly look like Dwayne Johnson, but it’s a voice acting part – he doesn’t need to. And why does one Polynesian character looking a certain way mean all are supposed to be seen that way? The title character Moana, also Polynesian, is a very petite size.



The other camp of complainers is whining at Disney for promoting “unhealthy lifestyles”. This always crops up and never fails to make me want to scream. Of course any glimpse of a character with a bigger body in media doing anything but focusing solely on becoming smaller is going to cause permanent damage to children. Said children will no doubt proceed immediately to their kitchens and inhale mass quantities of food if they get the slightest inkling that it’s in any way, shape, or form okay to be anything but whippet-thin. Makes perfect sense. We mustn’t allow that.

I find both of these camps of complainers to be thoroughly exhausting.

If the general public continues to be so quick to scream a multitude of complaints at every depiction of a human being that differs from cookie cutter standard then I think animators are likely to say, “to hell with it” and just go back to drawing all their characters with a waist circumference that matches that of their neck. Because that’s totally realistic and healthy.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Quest for Maximum Support

Women have complicated relationships with their bras. Well, some of us do. Some of us feel no need for them at all and to those women I say: I sincerely envy you.

I don’t feel comfortable without one, and many times I don’t feel comfortable with one either. My eternal quest seems to be to locate the perfect sports bra that both halts all movement and doesn’t cost a fortune. This is roughly about as simple as locating the mystical rainbow-farting unicorn.

This past weekend my husband needed to pick some stuff up at a store and I tagged along with him. As he swiftly and effectively located the items on his list, I lingered in the women’s sportswear section – noticing that they had Champion sports bras on sale for a remarkably low $25.00 price tag. They also had my size in two different styles, both labeled as “Maximum Support”.

Part of me just wanted to buy them and go home, but the wiser part of my brain knew better, so I ducked into a fitting room with my potential prizes.

In both cases the size was, in fact, spot on correct. They fit well. That’s where the good part of this story ends.

One of them had a zip-front closure. This seems like a quick and easy solution for a sports bra which you need to get out of easily after it’s been soaked through from sweat, however getting it on in the first place proved nigh impossible. In order to close it I had to hold the zipper in a closed position with two hands, then use two other hands to actually pull the zipper up. In other words, to properly operate this bra you need four hands. As I am a standard model two-handed human, that wasn’t working for me.

The other one featured a pull-on-over-the-head configuration. While these seem simple, I’ve learned from past experience that the slightest moisture on one’s skin can cause that to go very bad very quickly. Also, I feel as though yanking bras on over my head stretches them out of shape a lot faster. Additionally, it was a pull-on-over-the-head bra that for some silly reason also had hook and eye closures in the back. So after pulling it on you had to blindly grope behind you to get them closed.

Who designs these things?

Sadly, Champion’s idea of “maximum” hold in either case was an outright laugh riot. If I tried to do Zumba in either of these bras I’d have suffered a knockout blow when one or both halves of my frontal landscape swung upward mid-jump and socked me in the head.

Sigh. The quest continues.

Looks deceptively simple, doesn't it?

If you think it's nigh impossible to get one of these closed while blindly groping behind you, you would be correct.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Failure is Always an Option

So I haven’t been blogging of late. I haven’t, to be honest, been doing anything creative.

Some artists thrive on a tortured spirit. When life is not going so well, they are at their brilliant best. This is not the case with me. In order to be at my best, I must be happy, warm, safe, loved, and well fed. I am a cat when it comes to creative juice: it flows under happy conditions, or not at all.

As such the events of the past few months have stopped up the waters of my muse, and only very recently have they begun to flow again.

Most people close to me have heard this story already, but for those who have not – I took a new job. I did this because changing jobs occasionally throughout one’s career is good for growth, both professionally and personally. Also my new job was situated a mile from my home, and after driving over fifty miles every workday for the past thirteen years that was extremely appealing to me. Lastly, it was a social media and marketing position, which I thought would be both an interesting creative challenge and in line with the degree I’ve been pursuing.

So I took the job. I gave proper notice and there was a farewell celebration at my old job, and I showed up on day one ready to begin a new adventure.

I was promptly shown to the reception desk at the front and told, “this is where you will sit.” I was puzzled by this, as I had met the receptionist at my interview. She had greeted me warmly and offered to fetch me coffee.

So I asked, “If I’m sitting here, where will your receptionist sit?”

I then discovered that the receptionist was retiring in a few weeks, and I was her ‘replacement’.

As you might imagine I experienced some foreboding at this point, but I attempted to shake it off. It was, after all, just a desk to sit at.

Unfortunately over the next three days I was taught how to answer the phones, how to prepare coffee to order and bring it to guests, and I discovered that ‘Marketing’ at my new job involved simply ordering marketing materials from the home office.

In short, I had made a mistake.

Attempting to remain undaunted, I let my new boss know that the position wasn’t what I had been expecting and that I would be pursuing other opportunities. I wanted to be honest and it wasn’t fair for her to continue using resources on me since I didn’t intend to stay. She opted to let me go at that point, which was okay with me.

I then contacted three separate employment agencies to see where they could place me quickly – figuring that meeting new people and trying new challenges might be a good experience.

Where they could place me was answering phones in a call center for $13.00/hour.

So, after collapsing into a nearly non-functional ball of anxiety for the better part of a week, I called my old boss, and returned to my old job.

Basically I tried and I failed.

So now I’m back where I started. I’d like to insert a heroic and inspirational piece of prose here about what I learned from the experience – but unfortunately all I learned is what I suspected to be true before: taking a new job is a risk, and sometimes it’s a risk that doesn’t work out. I experienced exactly what people are afraid will happen to them when they take a new job.

Of course, having lived through that, what are the chances it will happen again? Eh, probably about the same as they were before.

But I'm getting my equilibrium back, slowly and surely.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Ammunition to Fight Concern Trolling

Below is my current weekly workout schedule:

Monday: One mile walk on my lunch break, followed by one hour of Zumba (high-low impact cardio) in the evening.
Tuesday: One mile walk on my lunch break, followed by one hour of Zumba (high-low impact cardio) in the evening.
Wednesday: One mile walk on my lunch break, followed by a two mile walk in the evening.
Thursday: One mile walk on my lunch break, followed by one hour of Zumba (high-low impact cardio) and then another hour of Yoga in the evening.
Friday: 20-30 minutes on a cardio machine (elliptical cross trainer or treadmill) followed by 45 minutes lifting free weights. When possible, I attend fun special events at my gym on Friday evenings such as Zumba Step or Glow Yoga or take a two mile walk.
Saturday: One hour of Yoga in the morning, two to three mile walk in the afternoon.
Sunday: Two to three mile walk.

This is my training schedule under ideal circumstances. I do not always do all of it every week (for example, if it’s cold, raining, or snowing, that impacts my taking a walk outside). However I do most of it on most weeks, so about 80% of what you see up there gets done on an average week. Also, you don’t see me taking a “rest day” because at my current fitness level walks don’t really count as “workouts” per say, they’re just my body performing its normal form of locomotion. So Wednesday and Sunday where all I do is walk – those are technically rest days.

So why am I sharing this?

For one thing, I’m sharing it because I’m proud of the level of physical activity I have worked up to. Judging by every statistic I’ve ever read I get far more exercise than the average American, and that is something to be proud of. I didn’t suddenly start doing all of this on a whim, I used to just walk five or six days a week and that was it. I’ve been working up to this level for the past eight months so as to include a good variety of cardiovascular training, endurance work, balance, and strength improvement. Even so, every single day, some part of my body is always sore. I don’t consider that a bad thing.

I am not doing this to make you feel bad if you don’t do this much. I have several things going for me that allow this schedule: such as not having to care for small children, not being impeded by a physical injury or disability, not working several jobs simultaneously, or simply not wanting to. It’s a human’s perfectly natural state to want to conserve calories – before our environment became so obesogenic that trait actually kept us alive. If you don’t want to get up and do cardio every day that actually makes you perfectly normal.

And even though I have the luxury of time to do all this, things suffer as a result. My family doesn’t usually get dinner cooked for them on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays – which means I eat a lot of quick sandwiches before running to the gym and my family winds up grabbing fast food burgers way too often. Left to their own devices the two skinny dudes I live with will tend to do that.

So I work out a lot more than the average American and have been doing so for the past eight months, and this is what I currently look like:

I am not thin. I may get thinner, I’m certainly trying to, but I don’t actually know what I weigh right now because I haven’t checked in over a month. My clothes fit, so I suppose I weigh whatever I did a month ago – which I think was 230 lbs. Believe it or not, 230 lbs. when you have the eating disorder that I do is not too bad. After all, I used to weigh 295 lbs. However for the moment I don’t seem to be losing weight to any large degree, and it is what it is.

So as you go about your life, you may encounter someone who snorts derisively at a person my size and says something to the effect of, “if they’d just workout now and then they wouldn’t be fat like that”, or “if they would just get their fat butt off the sofa and take a walk every day they’d lose all that extra weight”, or “they probably have diabetes, look at the size of them!”

If you encounter someone like that (often referred to as a “concern troll” because they exhaust a great deal of mental energy being overly concerned for the health of other people based on the use of physical appearances they think are ugly as a diagnostic tool), feel free to send them to this page so I can say, “hello”.

I realize they might shrug me off as a liar – but why would I do that? I’m not claiming that I defy physics by eating barely 1,000 calories per day and working out this much and still not being thin. True my metabolism is slower than average, but I still weigh this much because I still eat enough calories to support my 230 lb. body weight. I eat very healthfully overall but I struggle against binge episodes on a daily basis and I enjoy dessert now and again. That being said the concern-troll battle cry of, “put the fast food down, fatty!” does not apply to me either. I eat a fast food meal about once every three months or so – or about three times a year, which is not enough for it to account for my weight.

In fact, according to quantifiable physical metrics such as blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides, etc. I am “healthy” – but I’d still like to take 60 more pounds off because I want my joints to last and those numbers may not stay so good as I continue to age. It’s not about appearance. An appearance that is physically attractive in the socially acceptable way would be nice, but it’s not happening. Sixty pounds down from here I’m going to look even more like a sag-bag than I do right now, and that is what it is, I’ve got to accept it. I can be healthy though, I can be strong, and I can have amazing endurance – those are attainable goals. Heck, I’ve already attained them I just want even more of them. I also have binge eating disorder and it’s not going away, so it could be a whole lot worse than it is right now and I’m genuinely proud of how far I’ve come.

Concern-trolls simply may be enlightened to know that sometimes the work a person puts in at the gym doesn’t show like they expect it to on the outside for a myriad number of complex reasons they surely cannot understand at a glance. And as always, it is impossible to judge a person’s health or even activity level by looking at them.

Friday, April 1, 2016

How I got Trapped in my Bra at the YMCA

My sister has a membership at our local YMCA, so she can go swimming. We both love to swim. As kids, we were both on swim team for years, and she eventually became one of those teen lifeguards who hang out at the pool all summer long.

I would love a YMCA membership, but since it costs $60 / month and my Retro Fitness membership is only $20 / month with plenty of Zumba and Yoga included – the cheap Scotswoman in me wins out there.

Still, my sister gets occasional guest passes to the Y, so this week I went with her to swim laps and check out all the improvements they’ve been making over the last year.

Some things are new, like a lazy river, a little water slide, and lots of water-dumping buckets and fountains to fling H2O all over the place. Some things are just the same, like when you walk out of the pool area into the hallway that leads to the locker room. It may have seemed like a perfectly reasonable temperature when you went through there dry a half hour ago but has morphed with the presence of pool water into sub-arctic temperatures. Always refreshing.

Behold the new pool!

The other thing that hasn’t changed is how much faster than me my sister is. In about 30 minutes I did nine laps while she did… I don’t know – about fifteen? It’s hard to count when somebody is winging by you underwater like a swim cap-clad bullet. This is why she became swim team captain and a lifeguard and I became that kid who goes to art camp and learns how to decoupage.

Not that I’m competitive or anything.

When we got out I saw that I only had a half hour to get back home for an appointment, so while my sister headed into the showers I returned to the lockers to throw on my clothes so I could leave.

I had brought one of my simple sports bras – one that Champion calls, “The Great Divide” because it supposedly doesn’t cause uni-boob (please note this claim on their part is FALSE, at least for a user as gifted as I am). It looks like so:

On this particular day when I went to pull it on over my head as is its sole mode of entry, I neglected to take into account that though my skin had been briefly swiped with a towel to remove excess water droplets I was still wholly and entirely damp both from pool water and a light layer of post-lap swimming perspiration. This dampness caused the fabric of my sports bra to drag heavily against the skin, which as I yanked it over my head caused the back of it to roll several times over until it had turned into more of a spandex-y rope across my back than the Y shaped racerback configuration it’s supposed to have. Since I had also simultaneously shoved my arms through the armholes, my arms were suspended over my head in a rather useless fashion and the front was stretched so tight that it was sitting above my chest instead of properly covering it – meaning my boobs were out. Way out.

Before swimming we had used the weight machines, then did a solid half hour of crawling and backstroking and breaststroking. My arms were tired like limp noodles, and my bra had become a skin tight rope of rolled colorful fabric jammed just beneath my armpits.

I was trapped. Completely and totally trapped. With my boobs out.

Granted, the YMCA locker room is a naked place, no big deal, but I’m one of those shy people who tries to minimize the nakedness, even in naked-appropriate situations. This was not good.

I glanced to my left, where the showers were, pondering having to hustle across the locker room to obtain my sister’s help in my current state, with my arms trapped over my head and my chest just kind of swinging free. Eventually, once she’d stopped laughing, I was pretty sure she would help me.

As I pondered this, and continued to uselessly wiggle, while simultaneously starting to panic, I heard a very quiet, accented voice from behind me that said, “excuse me.” And then with a sharp, efficient yank, I was free! A total stranger had come up behind me and yanked flat the back of my sports bra, allowing me to pull the front into its proper place as well.

I turned around to thank the small, middle-aged Asian woman who had come to my rescue, and she merely gave me an efficient nod before going about her own business. Mentally I could picture her a minute before pondering my struggle from behind with a quiet, resigned sigh.

People helping other people out of nowhere, even in small, crazy, totally embarrassing ways – it reminds you that sometimes the world is an okay place to be.

Also, the new pool at North Penn YMCA is really spiffy.