Selasa, 23 Februari 2016

Last week I was on Pinterest, indulging myself in a pinning frenzy, and I came across one of the best blog posts I have ever read. Seriously, its one I will never forget. The post was titled, "Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls...So I Will," from the Militant Baker. Jes wrote about falling in love with my body, she wrote about confidence. As I read the words, I couldnt help but desperately relate to everything she was saying. I needed to read all of those things. Yet for some reason when I got to the end I was craving more. I loved that Jes focused so much on accepting our bodies how they are. But right now in my life I am in the middle of a major transformation. Ive started losing weight, not because Im ashamed of being fat, but because my health was at risk.

 So while I want to learn to accept my body the way it is, I also want to treat it better than I have in the past. And maybe Jes and I dont see eye to eye on this idea, but I believe that with accepting ourselves comes the desire for self improvement. Im not talking about changing the way you look to fit in with what the world says a woman should look like. Im talking about changing the way way you feel. Im talking about improving quality of life, Im talking about being healthy no matter what you weigh or what section of the store you buy jeans in. So I decided to write a note about health to all the curvy women out there. Not to add to or correct anything Jes said, but to address a similar issue from a different perspective. And in the off chance that she sees this, I want to thank Jes for her blog, I deeply appreciate her perspective, and she is an inspiring woman. 

So to get started....

You Can be Healthy and Curvy
In junior high I was on dance company and in the best shape of my life, but somehow I was still a little chunky. My mom was puzzled about my weight. She didnt understand how I could be dancing 5-10 hours a week, eating well balanced meals at home, but still be overweight. She wasnt the only one who was confused, every time I went in for a check up with the doctor they tested my thyroid, my blood pressure, my cholesterol, blood glucose levels, and everything came back normal. While all my blood tests were fine, I was still classified as obese on the Body Mass Index. Through years and years of having the BMI chart pounded into my head I developed an extreme insecurity about my body. That stupid chart says I should be 125 pounds! I dont even think I weighed that in 6th grade! It seemed so frustrating and impossible to get to that point at the time that I eventually gave up on eating healthy and exercising. Thats how I ended up 285 pounds with high cholesterol. I gave up on being healthy because it was too overwhelming living up to a chart. 
At that time, heres what I didnt understand: the Body Mass Index does not figure in bone density, muscle mass or genetics. It only considers height and weight. It doesnt account for curves. It doesnt recognize that I inherited my aunts large boobs or my moms big hips and thighs. When I was in junior high and completely healthy by every standard but the Body Mass Index. I shouldnt have freaked out about that damn chart. I shouldnt have let it dictate how I felt about my body. But most importantly, I shouldnt have let it make me feel so overwhelmed that I turned to unhealthy habits. 
So when I finally recommitted myself to getting healthy, by the time I got down to 210 from 285 my cholesterol was normal, my blood pressure was fine, my blood glucose levels were of no concern, and I was still a long way off from being considered a healthy weight by the BMI. Thats when I realized that it is possible to be curvy and healthy. I have a hard time believing I will ever get down to 125 pounds. And Im O.K. with that as long as Im doing everything I can to ensure that my body is healthy and functioning properly. Im not at my goal weight, but losing weight now has turned into less of a focus on the number on the scale and more about getting my body to the point that I can do any physical activity I want with more comfort and confidence. 

You Dont Need a Thigh Gap to be Happy
When I first started working with social media in the health industry, I would spend hours searching through pins, posts and tweets to see what people were talking about. Thats when I came across"Thinspo."  Thinspo or Thinspiration is a culmination of meal plans, quotes, images and workouts to help girls get unrealistically thin. I spent time looking at profile after profile of women obsessed with Thinspo, fixated on the appearance of their bodies. I noticed a common trend in all the profiles: most of these women yearned for coveted thigh gap (you know the thigh gap, right? Where if you stand with your feet together, the top of your thighs dont touch). But that wasnt the only trend, most of them also had eating disorders or engaged in self mutilation.I looked at pictures of fast plans, self-hate notes, bottles of laxatives, shallow cuts, small puncture wounds, girls with ribs sticking out, and girls with yellowed teeth. I looked until I was in tears. I wondered how these girls got to that point, so lost and so deep in the haze of self hatred that they forget to care for their physical well being. 

Heres the thing, when we start obsessing about the way we look, we neglect the way we feel. We focus all of our energy on unrealistic physical goals and it makes us feel inadequate. Those emotions go unchecked and they build until we reach a breaking point. Weve all experienced self loathing or insecurity about our bodies on some level, but never let those insecurities dictate something as important as your health.These women are hurting and they have a hard time loving their bodies. They work and work to get that thigh gap and when they do its never good enough. What they dont realize is that skinny thighs dont bring happiness. You can be stick thin and still hate your body. You can be stick thin and completely unhealthy on a physical and emotional level. So heres my point: obsessing over your body will not bring you happiness, in fact it can do the exact opposite. I have thick thighs, it would take drastic measures to get a thigh gap, and Im not willing to do that to myself. My thighs will be as big or small as they are when Im eating healthy and exercising, theres nothing wrong with having a little meat on the bone, ladies, so long as youre focusing on improving your quality of life.

Youll Never Look Like a Model, and Thats Good
The fashion industry isnt necessarily kind to curvy girls. Most of the models used in magazines are a size 2-4.     Even models used in plus-size advertisements are on the smaller side of being plus size, some are even a size 8-10. Not only are these women pretty small to begin with, but they go through airbrushing and touch-ups in Photoshop to slim down legs, brighten skin, remove blemishes, and smooth out rolls. What you see in the magazines is not real life. I know youve heard it before. But seriously, its not real. I dont want to burst your bubble, but even if you buy what the ad is selling youre not going to look like the model selling it. And honestly, 99% of the time, the model in the photo doesnt even look like that in real life. When you look at someone in a magazine and aspire to have her flat stomach or pencil-thin legs, youre not looking at something real. Youre not looking at something realistic to aspire to. Youre looking at a distorted picture. Its fake, and you deserve better than fake. You are beautiful even if you dont look like you stepped out of a magazine. And I know at times thats easy to forget, you know, that theres more to life than looking like society wants you to, but its so important to make an effort to remind yourself of your personal worth. I find that the more I fall in love with my body, the more I want to spoil myself with eating healthy food and getting off the couch and doing something active.

Not All Skinny Girls are Bitches
You see a girl, shes gorgeous and thin, guys are flocking around her and while you dont know her, you secretly hate her. Shes a skinny bitch. Ever done this? Im not proud of it, but I have had this judgmental attitude before. Sometimes I just think, "She has no idea what its like to shop in the plus size section, she doesnt know what its like being me." True. She doesnt, but that doesnt mean that she doesnt have her own struggles. Maybe shes struggled with some of the same self-image issues you have but on a different level. Or maybe she spends hours in the gym sculpting that body that you assume comes so effortlessly. Just because someone hasnt had the exact same health struggles youve have had, doesnt mean they cant relate to the feelings associated with self improvement. Who knows, maybe that girl has done exactly what youre trying to do. Maybe she has some advice that could really help you out. Maybe shes looking for a workout buddy. When did it become OK to not like someone based on the fact that they are smaller than you? Honestly, its juvenile. As someone who is curvy, I am always hopeful that people give me the benefit of the doubt regardless of how I look. So its very hypocritical of me to not give someone the benefit of the doubt because their size makes me feel self conscious. Its hard to take care of your body when youre constantly comparing yourself and hating on others bodies. And the bottom line: Negativity isnt healthy. 

Curvy can be sexy, skinny can be sexy. Each is sexy in its own unique way and appreciated differently by different people, but whats even sexier than both of those physical characteristics is health. Healthy is sexy. The ability to enjoy life in whatever way you choose without being held captive by self-hate or insecurities is sexy. Health brings freedom. Life is much more enjoyable when you feel good inside and out. Ive learned that being healthy comes in all different shapes and sizes. Health is not a measure of how you look, its a measure of how you feel. 

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