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.

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.


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

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Dear Internet,

For the last couple of days I’ve been on a big digital cleaning kick, partially because I needed something fairly mindless to do as to not think about a few future Kalendae Januariae posts I had started writing. One is on attaining a healthy body and the other on obtaining a healthy soul. I struggle with how much I want to discuss, how much I want to reveal, and how much even just thinking these things is giving me false fear and shame for things I have yet to publish. While I shouldn’t give any fucks about what the world cares about weight or body image, it does and therefore I end up feeling cagey about discussing it. The same goes for anything spiritual, for if you talk openly about how you truly feel, a lot of dynamics shift in relationships because of the splintering of beliefs.

Also, people tend to be assholes.

In a couple of small digital communities I’ve helped build in the last year, one of the main themes I strongly advocated was for safe space. This had to be a place you can dump out your soul and you will not be judged, blamed, or threatened for how you feel. Trying to maintain that kind of safety in an open space, such this blog, is much, much harder. And it’s funny for I have no problems discussing ANYTHING except when it comes to body image and spirit. Sometimes the wounds of abuse are much shallower than I lead you to believe for it takes but the wrong slight word to bruise me these days.

So instead I wander aimlessly around the internwebs, reading about my Scottish forefathers and mothers.

A problem with this mindlessness it doesn’t really push the fear away to a safer distance, it instead bottles it in another place to be accessed at another time when I’m least suspecting it. Fear and shame are so integral to our lives, on so many levels, I sometimes want to punch the bubble that seems to be keeping me trapped here in this place. Write everything, write nothing, look like this, don’t look like this, be this kind of professional, don’t be this kind of professional: the conflicting messages are driving me insane!  Sometimes even the Zen minimalists piss me off for they are like here, have a few easy steps to let everything go, and then you will be free. And oh, have a cookie (if it’s whole food, gluten, dairy, sugar, and egg free).

Friday I call Dr. H. to give him my update on how lithium and Concerta have been working and see if he needs to adjust my meds. Tonight, over dinner, I grilled TheHusband on how I was with this new combination. “Insufferable as always,” he says. On further reflection, he said I was significantly less moody. I have also seen that in myself as well, I’m not getting all riled up as easily anymore when people irritate the fuck out of me. Rather, I remove myself from the situation in some fashion, whether it is unfollowing, unfriending, or just choosing to not respond when a comment is directed at me.

Lithium has a tendency to make people feel warm. Lucky me: I’m still freezing all the time. My hands are so cold, I’m knitting a pair of fingerless mittens in the next few days. I layer like the dickens, and started wearing long pants and socks to bed. My right hand feels like ice is flowing through it even though when TheHusband touches me he feels warmth.

The Concerta/lithium is supposed to do two things: Stabilize my mood and then get me focused. As I’ve been off caffeine for nearly three weeks now (?!?!), in theory since lithium acts as a downer, I should be falling asleep earlier. This is not happening. One day last week, I made the mistake of  Concerta after 11AM, did not go to bed until nearly 5AM and woke up at nearly noon the next day. I skipped that day’s dose and righted my body, somewhat, but I still cannot seem to get to sleep before midnight. Even now, TheHusband and I have been getting up at 6AM and working out, and I’ve been taking my Concerta when I wake up so in theory, I still shouldn’t feel like I’m on fire and yet I do.

My sexual libido is also still lacking.

Sometimes I feel like this huge disconnect in my life is because I see the world as it is being perceived and when I hold it up to my own, as it doesn’t match that image, my life than is not enough. Or it’s a sham. Or it’s falling apart. If my husband and I are not out hob nobbing it every night, does that mean we’re not living life? If I’m not out donating everything I own to every worthy cause, does that mean I’m incredibly selfish? If I’m not consoling everyone who comes to me with a sob story, or is in pain, or hurt, does that mean I’m a terrible person? Where and when does it end?

The question I then need to ask is: Is it me or is it the drugs?


size does matter

in the whole spirit of this whole spring cleaning ideal, i decided to wear the new Victoria Secret bra/pantie/tshirt combo that i had purchased yesterday to work. And along with this, i decided to wear the new velvet maryjanes i had bought (with paul and derrick glaring at me and jen at the shoe store when i had ran my credit card through with a sly grin). i was thinking about this today as i schelpped around in my new shoes, which were 1/2 a size too big and making my feet hurt. i kept getting these funny looks from people as i walked because due to the humidity, my feet were making squishy sounds in the shoes with every step i took. after a few trips up and down to the smoking area and making general pit stops to the bathroom, my feet literally began to feel like small boats.

for some reason this reminded me of my aunt jackie — who loved to initialize everything she owned. i remember when i was about 6 or 7 (and of course being the favorite niece), that for some occasion she had taken me down to People’s Jewelers (high falutin in Port Huron Michigan, right across the street from the chic Winklemans) to get me a gold initial ring. The ring was a size 7 1/4, and I remember that we made it such a special day to go get this stupid ring. I don’t remember how much it cost, but I do remember it being 14kt gold and that she had it made for my ring finger. in a small oval had my simple initials “lmr”.

i was thinking about this today as i shuffled around work. My shoes were a size 11 and I’m more like a true 10.5 (which you can never find — so i opt for one larger size). I’ve been “tall” as long as I can remember. I remember being measured at 5’10” in the 8th grade and wearing size 10 shoes in the fourth. I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t tall, didn’t have big feet and fat fingers.

And I found it just odd, that here I am, barreling down towards 30, and I still wear the same size shoes and my ring finger is now an 8, when I was 7 it was 7 1/4. That while I’ve held down my own image of still being young, in many ways, i’m still 7 looking at the pretty ring on my finger.