The weight of the matter

Lisa, 1989
Me, at 17, in 1989

Dear Internet,

The image to your left is of me in 1989, when I was all of 17. I stood the height at what I am now, 5’10, and weighed nearly (sans 20lbs) half my current body weight. The later is hard to admit publicly without the immediate feelings of shame and the questioning and statements that swirls around that shame: “How did I get so fat?” “Why did I think I was so fat then?” “I wouldn’t shag me now so I can’t expect anyone else to shag me — hell, even want to be with me.” “I am just as unhappy now as I was then regardless of my size.”

I always have answers on the ready. “I have had no problems getting lovers so it doesn’t matter how much I weigh.” “I’m okay as long as my belly doesn’t outdistance my tits.” “My metabolic health (blood pressure, cholesterol, and so on) levels are perfect and I’m not pre-diabetic, so there is no need for me to lose weight.” “I’m predispositioned in being bigger and I have poly-cystic ovarian disease (PCOD) so it’s not my fault.” “I’m fairly active so I’m okay.” “I’m working on things A, B, C and it’s hard to work on all the things without something having to give.” “I’ll deal with this another time.” “I have an hourglass figure and my weight is proportionate.” “Everyone thinks I’m 50-75lbs less than what I really weigh so I’m okay.” “It’s the cut of the item” or “The manufacture short sizes everything.”

And you ignore the constant realities: The bottoms (pants, skirts, shorts, and underwear) that fold over at the waist (like my shorts are doing right now) because of the extra rolls. The inability to buckle up in plane seats and needing to ask for an extender. (But the counter argument is the seats are too small for just about anyone.) The sometimes difficulty of masturbating or having a lover masturbate you because your belly is in the way. (Sex as a whole is easy for me to do since I have some flexibility but certain positions, such as doggy, when I want to masturbate while my partner inside me is nearly impossible. (The interesting about me and sex is that I’m confident as hell in the bedroom despite aforementioned statements.)) The constant hiding in pictures and the quickly bypassing mirrors so I don’t see how much of a fat cow I am. Clothes don’t really fit but you’ve been wearing them for so long they have stretched out. The worry that no matter what you eat, be it a salad or a burger, people are staring and judging (I thought this even when I was 17). The worry that if you buy something with a weight limit, an office chair as an example, it will break when you sit on it.

This is why we are here today.


Silly week 2 - February 9, 2016
Lisa, at 43, 2016

This post has been languishing in drafts since 2014. Its original goal is blurred but I know the overall thought was to track my weight as it fell off, replete with images starting with my heaviest. I would then publish the post with those images of the Lisa melt-away with a TADA! How fabulous is my body?

But I will not post those images, at least for now, because I’m too ashamed to show the world what the world already knows: I am fat. Not abundant, not chubby, not rubenesque, but fat.

And please don’t tell me I’m not fat or I am beautiful just the way I am because while my face may be beautiful, my body is not and at this point in the conversation there is nothing you can tell me to convince me otherwise


Friend A, whom I met a few years ago, nanny’s for Friend B. Friend A and B were weighing themselves one day and Friend B.’s daughter, the Empress, jumped on the scale after them. Friend A noted the Empress was thrilled with her weight — it meant she was growing up to be big and strong. Friend A said she wished she had that same kind of attitude as the Empress and silently I thought that about me too.

(I’m paraphrasing A and B here as this was months ago and I didn’t save a link to the post to reference later. Sorry dudes if I got the situation not quite right but I know the ending to be true.)


I reference days lately when I find my body to be beautiful and all the amazing things it can do and those days are growing closer together but what I really mean is my face and nothing from the neck down. I can think of only two instances in the last year when I looked at my body without revulsion.


I know the drill psychologically about the origin of why I carry this weight: The bullying from my family I was too tall and too big. To illustrate: I was 5’4-5’6 when I was 11 or 12 and weighed around 120lbs but was always put on diets by my family. I’ve been dieting on and off since I was nine. (Cottage cheese was always involved which is probably the reason why I hate cottage cheese.) The case of the boy in my third grade class, Roger, who threw me down on the ground in the playground area and dry humped me while my classmates stood around and laughed; the near gang rape from the high school swim team when I was 14; the multiple date rapes over the years from various lovers.

The fat protected me and it isolated me from the attention, just like my growing tattoo collection. But in reality, that is wholly untrue. I’ve been single since October 2015 and this is the first time, in at least 15 years, I’ve gone this long without having a lover. While it’s by choice, the point is I have clearly found men who found me attractive while I always privately thought their affections were horribly misplaced. No matter what I believe, there really is love at any size.


The irony is in my early 20s I lamented I wanted someone to like me for me and not as a fuck doll. Now in my early 40s, men like me for me AND also find me attractive so I think they must be some kind of desperation in their acts.

I just can’t win.


lisa2005
Me, at 32, 2005

You’ll be hard pressed to find a full head to toe image of me, regardless of time or weight, either in physical or digital media. As the need to connect with others on the internet has grown, so too it has come the sharing of personal images and videos. Almost every image of me is from tits up and carefully posed so you don’t see the sagging jaw line and the bigness of my belly.


There is not a day that hasn’t gone by in the last 2 years that either TheBassist or TheExHusband haven’t plied me with compliments on how gorgeous is my face, body, or personality. That I’m a kind person. That I have a big heart.

It has been allegedly confirmed via science the constant private affirmations from either yourself or someone close to you helps build up your destroyed self-esteem because if you continue to hear it, you may eventually believe it. Two years on and all I can do is continue not to believe it and say “Thank you” because to deny these “truths” ends up bringing on a fight on my reluctance to take compliments.


I’ve been staring at this post for about a week now, writing and rewriting it and today I decided to be brave and finish. What prompted this push was this morning I was horrified putting on my shorts and while I’ve stayed the same weight for the last couple of years, I could barely do up the snaps, the waistband immediately folded over, and I had a muffin top like woah. (I do not remember it being this bad last year, which probably added to the alarm.) It’s currently 82F here in L-ville and I was not going to wear jeans taking Thursday on a jaunt along a park that buttresses up against the Ohio river. Naturally, as the shorts have some stretch, the ass and thigh areas stretched to comfort while I walked but the waist remained tight. I have de-shorted and I am now wearing a stretch waistband terrycloth shorts as is my fat girl right.


Something needs to change and that something starts today.


I’ve been doing beyond awesome with the small changes I’ve been making in my life (the exercise, quitting smoking, journaling, meditation, etc) since November and keeping at them too. Deciding I needed to do something about my weight in November, I started chronicling my weight every week at the same time and the same day with notes on what was happening that week that could throw my weight off (period, holidays, etc) and to track patterns. Adding in cardio, I started slowly losing weight, about .5lb a week. When the cardio gave over to only yoga, and I stopped paying attention to what I was eating, the weight slowly creeped back up.

47 days ago, according to MyFitnessPal, I started keeping track of everything that goes into my mouth. I set a sensible goal of 1.5lbs weight loss a week and watched as my weight has stubbornly stayed the same. I assumed, incorrectly, I was not going over, that much, my allotted daily calories or that the lack of cardio was bringing me down. If I was over a bit, I was not going to beat myself up because it was only a few calories.

I was going over. Not by 50 or 75 calories but by 200 – 400 calories putting me close to the daily amount I needed to maintain my current weight. Out of the last 47 days, over half had overages. On days when I was under the caloric amount, my daily intake was processed food and sugar. Mainly lots and lots of Coke. My daily sugar levels were almost always double or triple the recommended daily max amount. There was barely any protein or fresh fruit/veg in my diet.

It wasn’t the attempt to eat better wasn’t working, it was that I was self-sabotaging myself with these ideas I was keeping to my healthy eating plan when I was so obviously not. A Coke maybe be drunk under my calorie allotment for the day but the sugar was fucking me up.

if I had learned anything from the reports I’m generating from MyFitnessPal, the eating better part is false. I need to track exactly what I’m putting in my mouth and doing exercise more than yoga. I’m starting the couch to 5k program this week, with an intent of speed walking over running because I hate running. I’ll still do yoga everyday to stretch the body. I’m allergic to dairy but I cheat as a motherfucker. Who can turn down pizza? It also doesn’t help whey/lactose/milk products come under a variety of different names and are found in everything from breads to fancy waters. I bloat up and get rosacea on my face when I eat diary in any form, so that’s a good reason to completely cut it out. I’m also going to be more diligent on ditching processed sugars and adding more protein and fresh fruit and veg.

Step in the King Dancer sequence
Step in the King Dancer sequence

For the few month or so I’ve been doing yoga five times a week and at least once weekly since November. I know between 20 – 30 poses from memory and my routine every day is different. As far as I know, I have never been able to do the first stance in the King Dancer sequence (see image to the right). Never ever even when I was thinner. In between movies I was watching this morning, I walked to the kitchen to make coffee and for some reason thought about attempting that pose.

I did it. Both sides. Without any kind of help. I may shake for the few seconds I am standing in that position, but the fact I can do it is a victory. A small victory, but nevertheless a victory.

(I hopped around punching the air when I was done.)


Even with the fits and starts, I have five months worth of data and patterns to analyze.  I do, however, have a couple of reasons why I need to make this a top priority:

  • If I don’t start shedding off some weight soon, I’m going to not be able to buy clothes in stores. It will be online only and by a tent maker. I am not joking. I’m straddling between a size 22 and a 24 and most stores stop carrying clothes in at a size 26/28.
  • My mother checked out of her life when she was in her early 60s and now spends most of her days chowing down on sugar laced (she’s a diabetic) and high sodium foods while watching Turner Broadcast Network or Fox News. She has no energy, no will to change, and claims she is happy. I don’t want to be 74 and like my mother. Ever. I want to run a 5K when I’m in my 70s and climb mountains — I want to be super active in my advanced age..
  • I am exhausted of feeling miserable about my body. It takes a lot of energy to hate yourself and it’s not getting me anywhere.
  • I am not concerned with numbers or clothing sizes but with general health and activity. Okay, I am fibbing a bit — I do need to drop a few sizes or else the tent maker is going to become my best friend but that isn’t the main point.
  • I don’t want to end up on my 600lb life. (I’m no where even close to that but you catch my drift.)

I want to be one of those women who are, “Fuck you beauty standards!” But I can’t. I just can’t. This is the part where it’s not so much self-loathing but as I stated above the realities of living in a normal sized world and there is a lot of activity I want to do that requires a healthier diet and fit. It really is just that simple.


I’m aware I may be giving off a confusing message in this piece. The more mentally healthy I get, the more of my confidence and sassiness shine through. I am confident and satiated with my face, my brain, and the paths I have chosen in life. I like me. I think I’m pretty fabulous not in a egotistical way but in I’ve done a lot to contribute to the world way.

You know, all of this is true except how I feel about my body.

xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2016, 2011, 2004, 2004, 2000

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Gratitudes: April 11 – April 17, 2016

epbab-baseheader-racingstripes-gratitude

Dear Internet,

Gratitudes and things that make me happy are a part of my carding coursework, and I track them everyday and I’ll post them here every Sunday. (And I also acknowledge this is going to take me a few weeks to go beyond “I have killer hair.”) You can also find the a list of all my gratitudes here.

This marks the 11th consecutive week these lists have been and thus far I’ve posted a total of 99 things I am grateful for and 100 things that make me happy. Click here if you want inspiration or want to see the lists in full.

gratitude

  1. For looking for inspiration in everything for anything
  2. Falling in love with everything and everyone I meet (Yes, even you.)
  3. For my organizational skills and making lists. Without those skills, this list wouldn’t exist
  4. For the opportunities as they become available
  5. For keeping track of my life story via journals and memories
  6. For people who I’ve forgiven and those who have forgiven me
  7. For stories that have influenced or changed my life
  8. The things I love about myself, and the things I am not so fond of, as they make me, well, me
  9. Everything that I have yet to learn
  10. I am grateful for the sun, moon, and stars that are there when when I want to dream about all the possible (and impossible) things

happy

  1. Pushing Daisies
  2. Luna and Larry’s vegan ice cream
  3. Meditating
  4. Elephants
  5. Shoes — specifically Mary Janes
  6. Tattoos
  7. Swimming
  8. Swinging on swings
  9. Music
  10. Beaches

xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2000

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shut the fuck up and be happy

Shut the fuck up and be happy

Dear Internet,

When you’ve been friends for a fairly long time with someone, you organically create your own schticks. As TheExHusband and I have known each other for 20 years (!), we have many schticks of which one is where we create songs and dances using melodies from popular songs except with our own lyrics. I have, for example, a dance and song routine when I get ready to shower.

Recently I created a song while waiting for my breakfast to heat up, TEH chimes in with his own lyrics and I start, as one does during these instances, laughing. It was, however, not the canned laughter we typically do when we find something to be funny, which comes and goes as if it was never there in the first place. No, this was genuine laughter that came from my belly and it felt authentic (as much as I fucking hate that fucking word, it applies here). My peripheral vision, my face mirrored on the microwave door, reflected a broad smile.

The days when I found my body beautiful are getting closer together. The return of myself in the mirror showed a face not so much glowing but perhaps calmer. More relaxed. (Except for the greys that are creeping up again (TIme for a new dye job!), I’m pretty satiated with my looks.)

Is this happiness?

The more I yoga, I find my day feels more complete. There is a hop to my step and a harmony to my life, even if  I am working from home. Days away from doing yoga don’t feel right. Something is missing. I have a routine in the morning and that routine I must stick to. I like knowing my body can now do some flexible things. When I started back a few months ago, I could only lean half way down in bound angle pose but this week I’ve been able to almost get the girls to touch the floor. Slight change, sure, but it is still something.

Is this what joy feels like?


“Happiness,” “mindfulness,” “gratitude,” “self-care,” “humility,” and another 44 descriptors1 I could come up with in a short amount of time are the hot trends in our lives. A reporter recently asked, When ‘mindful’ is a mayo, a diet, a mantra, does it actually mean anything? and I found myself asking that very same question of my own practice. Is what I’m doing — the meditation, the yoga, the journaling, the being mindful as much as possible — really working or is it some kind of placebo thin band-aid covering up my real (chemically imbalanced) ills? Perhaps it is the drugs and I’m just placing woo-woo around it to make it more palatable to others and myself?

But the real question we should asking ourselves, no matter where it comes from, is doing these things make us happy regardless of what other people think? I can certainly answer with a resounding yes. DBT, which is the science backed set of techniques to make one mindful, works. Yoga keeps me centered and lets me push my body into ways I didn’t think it could — see the aforementioned getting the girls to the floor. The little changes in my life that keep me going strong: the continual exercise (no matter how minute), the quitting smoking, the journaling, the meditation, and for the everything else that is important to me continues to push forward. I have a proven track record of making these things work in the past and I am determined to make them continue on that path. So for me, whether or not someone “gets it” is not important. It’s not important what others think. What is important is how and what I feel as I move my life forward in my own beautiful and fucked up way.

Is this being blissful?


A good friend, C., flashed a comment on Twitter recently about her gentleman caller. Piqued, I wrote her a note2 with only the words, “Who is this gentleman caller??” A week or so later, we gossiped online, though privately, about her new love life. He was a local to her boy. He had pursued her for some time, they met, fireworks occurred, and now they are a couple.

I was thrilled for her. C. is one of those people you KNOW is going to get snapped up by some lucky person and it finally happened. I am a nosey wench so I poked and prodded about their love life, how they were doing, any future plans, that kind of thing. C. and I may both be in our 40s, but it is never too old to gossip about lovers like we did in high school. (There are a lot of things we never grow out or tired of.)

Form C.’s side, there was a lot of swoony hearts emoji when the gentleman caller did something to win her affections. I loved and still love talking to her about him because her happiness is so infectious. C. never struck me as a person who needed others to make her happy but with a new lover, I needed sunglasses from her thousands of miles away glow.

But this is not about that story.

What struck me, and got me thinking the most about these new developments, was C.’s discussion of at least one of her local friends seemed to be getting tired of C.’s delight in talking about C.’s gentleman caller. We’ve all been there – we meet someone we think is the bee’s knees, everything they do is perfection personified, and all we want to do is talk about them. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, everyone who has ever been romantically involved has done it.3 And we all know of that one person or maybe several who get tired of our nattering and want us to quietly shut the fuck up. The reasons for our friend’s behaviour can range from general annoyance or bitterness at their own life.

Just like gushing about our new lovers when we meet them, we are bitter cynics when the relationship ends. We are done for; relationships are terrible; love is a joke and so on. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, everyone who has ever been romantically involved has done it. (See 3 below.)

I totally got where this friend was coming from — hell, I’ve been in that position recently myself and one could argue I’m still there. The last 18 months have been both the most wonderful and the worst in my life. I can still taste the heady high when TheBassist and I found each other again and I can still feel the deepening well of pain when we split. I’ve seen both sides of the coin in such a short amount of time, I could commiserate.

As C. and I talked about her gentleman caller, I mulled over the info she dropped about her cynical friend. I cannot lie and say I didn’t feel these feelings myself at that very moment — I fucking totally did. But a new thought came into my head as we talked: Was C. happy? Yes. Was her happiness important to me? Also yes. Why was I letting my own bitter heart take away her moment? I was being selfish and laying my own heartache to dampen C.’s excitement for gentlemen lover. Was that fair? Fuck no. So then I stopped.

Seriously, I just stopped thinking bitter and cynical things about my own life in comparison to hers. It wasn’t getting me anywhere. Was I bitter and angry at my own les amours? Yep. Was regret hanging out somewhere there too? Probably.

But this wasn’t about me, it was about C. Making it about me was one of the worst things I could do for her and it needed to be about her. I was also mindful this was not some kind of manipulation on my own part about the situation. I didn’t tell her what was running through my head, I didn’t give her lip service about her dating life, I just let her be and encouraged her to tell me more about her gentleman caller because it made her happy.

Is this humility?


Back to the posited statement and also a question: How does one just shut the fuck up and be happy? As you’ve probably get the gist of my thoughts on these topics lately, I hate, HATE, websites and authors and etc who slap on a one size fits all balm on what makes someone happy, grateful, or whatever. We’re told over and over again happiness and the 48 other terms are ours for a short step away. Do this thing. Buy that thing. Wear that thing. But our happiness is not one size fits all. What makes C. happy doesn’t necessarily make me happy and vice versa. We can be supportive of that person’s happiness but we are under no obligation to replicate what makes them happy in our own lives.

What these gurus also fail to tell you is happiness is hard work. It’s fucking really hard work and it will never fucking end. It will be painful and you’re going to want to smack people in the head. There will be times when jealousy reigns supreme or envy takes over your heart. You’re going to be spitting nails at your lover or willing your boss into a cave deep in the mountains.

And you know what? This is normal. Happiness is not a 24/7 thing. We’re human. We’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to fall down. A lot. You’re going to have days of glory. A lot. But what you do with what you learned, like me figuring out C.’s happiness in that moment was number one thing, is what’s going to make all the difference in the world.

And remember we are not perfect.

No matter what that guru tells you, we are not perfect. But do look for the times when small joys, no matter how  silly they may seem, make you smile. That is happiness. Whether it’s the smile of the stranger, the look of a lover, or the smell of freshly cut grass. The goal is to bridge more of these small things into larger and longer things. Look for those moments because they are everywhere.

And that right there, is the big fucking key.

And if you need a reminder, just learn to:

let that shit go


When TheBassist and I began again, he kept talking about coming to fetch me from Michigan to East Coast because that is what he does. I thought it charming and enduring but as the time moved forward, I could see his frustration. I kept leaving and he kept fetching me. The cycle was never ending.

I kept leaving and he kept fetching.

When the relationship ended, I remember he commented he needed to advocate for himself. Now, six months later, I understand what he meant. In that time since then, I held strong to the belief that it was I who needed to fetch him. Even if he kept leaving, I would always fetch him.

Today as I was running errands, a thought occurred to me that it was not one fetching the other. No, it was me fetching myself. He couldn’t do it. My therapists couldn’t do it. I had to do it on my own.

In that second I smiled and I was happy.

xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2013, 2000, 1997


1. I am not joking. I have a piece of paper with 49 descriptors in that same vein on those related topics. And I’m sure there is more.
2. By “wrote her a note” I mean I put pen to a notecard, put the notecard into an envelope, added a stamp, and tossed it into a mailbox to wing its way to her. Not only is she an online BFF, she’s also one of my penpals.
3. If someone has taken a lover at some point in their life and has not bragged near and far about their partner, they are lying through their fucking teeth.
4. While I have been diagnosed by at least four separate doctors over 25 years I am bipolar, ADHD, borderline, and have general anxiety, what sets me apart from others with my gifts is I don’t exhibit traditional destructive behaviours. I don’t drink, do drugs, have wontan sex partners, or anything construed to dangerous. This is why I am a science experiment.

 

Want to be the first in the know when a new entry posts?
Subscribe to the mailing list, Bloglovin’, or
follow via RSS. Want Lisa goodness but less
frequently? Subscribe to A Most Unreliable Narrator.
Want to start at the beginning?
Buy my book, The Lisa Chronicles: Vol 1: 1998