This blog is no longer updated

All, this blog is no longer updated. I have always loved having places to talk about about what is going on with me, but unfortunately my boyfriend’s ex-wife is obsessed with me and stalks me online. Given that, I can’t feel comfortable expressing myself and my feelings in a public forum. I also need to be more private due to the nature of my career, I’ve decided to close this blog. I’m back-dating this due to the fact that it hasn’t been updated in over a year anyway. Lots of love, Lady Lamia xxxooo.

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Dear stranger: I am not a bitch

Long before someone coined the phrase “bitchy resting face” I developed a habit of softening my face and wearing a pasted on slight smile whenever I’m in public. Not because I suffer from BRF, I don’t, but because I wanted to convey that I’m a nice person even though I don’t seek out polite conversation with strangers. I can’t even remember when I started doing it, when all the articles and blog posts about BRF started getting popular it dawned on me what I do.

You see, I’m not like most of you. Whatever it is that makes you excited to say hello to a stranger passing on the street, or engage in conversation about the weather with someone in the elevator? I don’t have it. Every stranger is not a friend I just haven’t met yet to me. It’s not that I’m a bitch, I’m not.

If you’re a close neighbor, I will wave hello. If you speak to me, I will speak back. If I pass you every day walking my dog, I will nod hello or wave if you are friendlier. If you’re a facebook friend, I will say hello to you in a store and maybe even have a conversation. I just don’t enjoy talking to strangers, and I never have. You see, I’m an introvert. I know even more articles and blog posts have surfaced lately about introversion. Perhaps to the point that you get tired of seeing them shared on facebook with comments like “Yeah!” or “This is SO ME.” Articles with names like “How to love an introvert” or “20 great things about being an introvert.” The internet provides a great soapbox for us, because we are able to put our energy out there without having people grab at it and take it.

I’m not just an introvert though. I also have an emotional sensitivity disorder. If I were more “new-agey” maybe I would say I’m an empath. I have an anxiety disorder, and I also wasn’t socialized like you were. I was home schooled and spent the majority of my childhood in a house interacting with two other people. I probably would have adapted out of necessity if I had been out in the world like most people, but I wasn’t. I am my own unique cocktail of weirdness that makes it unpleasurable for me to interact with each and every person I pass, even in a small way.

To connect with me, you need to be in a small group or one on one. We need to have something in common that we both like to talk about, so that we aren’t just chatting about nothing. When there’s a give and take of energy in a small group of like-minded people, that is where I am at my best. When you and I are chatting over coffee, getting to know each other, I am filled with the positive energy of getting to know a new person. When I’m in a room full of tumbling conversation and loud voices and there are seven or eight of us a standing in a circle having multiple conversations, I will probably be silent. You might think that I’m aloof, or uninterested, but I’m overwhelmed. Large crowds don’t enthuse me the way they would an extrovert, they take a lot out of me. I don’t know where to focus and I feel pulled in too many different directions. You won’t get the best of me in a large crowd, and I’ll probably have had a glass of wine or two to calm my nerves because while I love events, the chaos can go from pleasant to more than I can handle very quickly. I also do not hear well. I spent much time in my 20s listening to loud music in small clubs, that’s the drawback to loving hard rock and marrying the lead singer of a metal band. So sometimes in situations like these, I can’t really hear what you’re saying to me. I promise you that I want to be able to have a conversation with you, but rather than ask you to repeat yourself I will just nod in a way that makes it impossible for us to truly engage.

I have a physical illness that causes me to be fatigued to some extent on all but my very best days. When I interact with you in passing, it takes some of my energy away and that is energy I need for things like studying and doing my dishes. If I don’t know you, speaking to you makes me anxious. In fact, I get anxious about NOT speaking to you too. Wondering if I should have said hello when we passed on the street, and if you think I’m some horrible person because I didn’t acknowledge you. While I manage my anxiety pretty well, it’s not something I can control, I can’t decide not to be anxious about if you think I’m a bitch. It’s not even that I care in an active way, but my body and brain have a reaction like “fight or flight” where normal everyday situations are stressful for me in the way that a crisis might be for you. When we can focus on each other and exchange energy, our interaction will make me happy and enrich my life but if we can’t then our interaction takes energy from me while likely doing nothing to you. You’re “normal” so none of this has probably ever even occurred to you. Feel lucky. I envy you.

I wish I could just hand a post-it note to everyone that I encounter that says “I am not a bitch.”
It’s not you – it’s me.

Likely, no one I pass on the street while walking my dog is ever going to read this. So if you are reading this, and you have someone that you see that isn’t seeking out an exchange with you, even if it’s just a friendly hello, don’t immediately decide that they’re rude or mean or think they are better than you. It could be that, like me, the world around them effects them differently than most other people. If you smile at them, they will probably smile back.

just me

Keep going

Thought of the day!

keep going

The only thing standing between you and success is you. Failure is only where we choose to stop, if we keep going, even slowly, we will meet our goals. Don’t let your preconceived notions of what “should” be stop you from what can be. All any success takes is time and not giving up.

The tale of the faux leather leggings

Last Tuesday, I noticed a post on The Militant Baker’s facebook where she shared a photo of herself with a google autocomplete pop-down over her face. It linked to a post on her website called “What Autocomplete Will Tell You About Fat Hate and Why it Needs to Stop”.

Jes the militant baker

I thought, in quick succession, “how awful is that?” and “how cool is that?” Awful that these things are what people search google for most often (why are you googling looking for someone to back-up your opinion that fat girls shouldn’t wear leggings btw? I feel like the only people googling are fifteen year old girls…) and how cool is it that she’s combating it in such a bold and fierce way.

After a little while, I noticed that in my feed there were images popping up that were obviously not professional photos, like the first few. Jes, the Militant Baker, was asking people to make their own posters to share, so I did.

me in the leggings Here I am, in my faux leather leggings.

The story of the leggings actually begins four days earlier, the Saturday after thanksgiving. I’ve re-lost about 15 pounds, weight that I’ve lost before, gained back, and lost again, so I call it re-lost. I’ve worked hard and I’m still working. I’m proud of the weight I lost, and re-lost, and of my body. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I will be. My clothes are too big, and I feel good. I’ve blogged about my struggles with eating disorders and body hatred before, so I won’t get into that, but running is the only thing that has made me look at food in a somewhat healthy way. As my clothes have gotten baggy, buying some new things has been fun.

I don’t know why, maybe it’s because I follow the 2 least annoying Kardashians on instagram (and one Jenner, shhh.) but I started really wanting some of those faux leather leggings like the ones in the Kardashian Kollection. I make no apologies for it. There’s not a Sears in my area, but luckily they are fairly trendy so I tried on a pair of Vera by Vera Wang leggings at Kohls, liked how my ass looked, and said – why the hell not.

The plan was to wear them out bar-hopping, but when bar-hopping was postponed because of my sister’s possibly fractured foot I decided to wear them out to dinner instead. I spent about a week picturing them with different items from my wardrobe, and finally decided to dress them down a little with an AC/DC t-shirt and the flowy jacket I bought to wear with them. The outfit exactly as I pictured it, is above. I got dressed for dinner, and I have to admit, I felt hot. It was a very “tell me about it, stud” kind of moment. No matter how I looked to anyone else, I felt amazing. And then I got body shamed.

I happened to have a houseguest over Thanksgiving, a good friend of many years. As I took my bound-for-facebook selfies, she asked “Is that what you’re wearing?”
And the world came crashing down.
Suddenly I was catapulted back to when I was about twelve or fourteen years old and I would get dressed for church. I would feel like I looked nice, but then I would come out of my bedroom and my mom would say “Is THAT what you’re wearing?”
It happened enough times as a kid that the simple phrase now throws me into a spiral of self-loathing and despair.

So I started changing tops. Long tops, tunics, longer tunics with the flowy top over them. I chose one and asked “Does this look ok?”
The response was “Well if YOU think it looks good…”
but I didn’t. Nothing could look good on me. I was fat and shamed. I should never have bought those faux leather leggings. I’m still fifty pounds heavier than someone who should wear those kinds of leggings.

I hated myself, I hated my body. I hated her for knocking me back to childhood emotions that she had no way of knowing one simple question would evoke in me. See I’ve always been fat – in my mind I was fat at 115 and I was fat at 215 and I’m still fat at 190. There isn’t a number where I get to be not-fat. Whether or not other people viewed me that way, even with 100 pounds between my heaviest and my lightest weight I always saw myself as “pretty, but too big.” it didn’t matter if I was restricting food or binging on ice cream.

Finally I left for dinner in a longer shirt underneath the flowy jacket. “Cameltoe” hidden. 45 minutes late, I arrived at my parents’ house, with a bag full of other outfits. I had longer tops, a thigh-grazing sweater, and if all else failed a pair of jeans. They told me I looked cute, so I didn’t change. I didn’t feel cute though. I felt a little naked, but I think I probably would’ve felt that way even if I had never been questioned on my outfit.
me in the leggings

When I saw the post from The Militant Baker, I wanted to contribute a photo. I tried to think of what photo to use, what phrase to google, and then I realized – my faux leather leggings. I knew that by googling “fat girls shouldn’t wear” that “leggings” would come up. I had a choice. I hadn’t posted this particular photo to facebook, because I was too self-conscious about the pants. Even though when I took the photo I felt hot as hell. So I had a choice – would I be brave enough to send this photo to a blog that has 27,000 fans on facebook? It only took a minute to decide. I slapped those google searches on there and I sent it. Now the whole world got to see my fat thighs smushing together in faux leather leggings. Even if I had wanted to take it back, I couldn’t.

The silly thing is? I don’t think I look fat in that photo. Maybe you do or some stranger on reddit, or whomever, but I don’t look fat to my own eyes. That’s a pretty rare and recent thing. I feel better at 190 than I felt at 115 – more confident, more sexy, more fabulous. It hurts me how quickly I can go back to that place of shame, but no one said you have to love your body 100% of the time, without wavering, in order to truly love your body. I will probably never love my body 24/7/365. But I worked really hard to be where I am today in all aspects – in body love, in self-acceptance, in weight, in healthy eating… Should I not celebrate the 15 pounds I lost because I have 25 pounds more to go (and 50 pounds if I want a “healthy” BMI?).

Fuck. That.

This is me. Almost 33, and for the first time in my life, I actually really like myself. So the next time I’m going out, I’m putting on those leggings. And if you have a problem with my fat thighs, keep it to yourself.

The most expensive “free” book I’ve ever bought

I think Jillian Michaels is hot. I don’t watch “The Biggest Loser” because I have problems with a lot of the things they do. You don’t have to be an expert to understand that it’s dangerous for someone who is completely sedentary and 400+ pounds to start running on a treadmill for an hour. There’s a reason “Couch to 5K” programs have you work your way up to things. It’s common knowledge that the trainers on the show tell the contestants to do things that the doctors say are dangerous. I had the opportunity to hear Patrick House, the winner of season 10, speak and he mentioned things like “standing up from the table and passing out.” That might get you thin, but it sure as hell ain’t healthy. I watched a couple episodes of TBL but I stopped after one of the “cupcake challenges.”

That being said, I’ve always liked Jillian Michaels. I watched her short-lived show “Losing it with Jillian Michaels” where she helped families lose weight, usually one person had already lost weight and had hit a plateau and wanted to lose those “last 10 pounds.” I liked she seemed tough but gentle, and how she really seemed to care about the families. That show aired in 2010 and that was about the time I signed up for her free newsletter. For 3 years I have gotten emails that I sometimes read and sometimes delete, until about two weeks ago when I received this one:

email

I love books, and I’ve been just getting into working out again so I thought “Hey, for $5 that’s a pretty good deal.” Nowhere in the email does it say anything about signing up for a “free trial” of JillianMichaels.com! I followed the link and I saw that in addition to the $5 book, I had to sign up for a “free trial” of JilliamMichaels.com I wasn’t really interested in that, I’ve been using SparkPeople.com on and off for years and I like it. I have the app on my phone, when I’m doing what I should I use it to log my food, and it’s linked to my FitBit account so all and all I’m really happy with SparkPeople. I put a reminder in my phone’s calendar to cancel prior to the “free trial” ending, and went to take the first little quiz on the JillianMichaels site. It said I have a pretty normal metabolism and I should eat 30/40/30 carb/fat/protein. I wasn’t impressed. I breezed through the rest of the site, saw that the meal plans didn’t offer a 100% vegetarian plan (for some reason none of these places ever do) and promptly left the site and didn’t go back. Until the day before my “free trial” was supposed to end. My phone’s calendar popped up and reminded me to cancel. I also had a free trial of Hulu Plus that I needed to cancel, so I went to their website, clicked on “My Account” and then where it said “Cancel my Hulu Plus account.” I was never charged.

When I went back to JillianMichaels.com I did the same thing, but oddly – there was no place on the website to cancel the account! I looked throughout the whole “My Account” section and while there was a place to update a credit card there was nothing about canceling. Annoyed, I clicked on “Contact Us” and was redirected to a 404 error page asking me what I was looking for. Now, I was even more annoyed. I found an email address and sent them an email stating that my free trial was about to end and that I wanted to cancel and could not find a place to do it on their website. I almost immediately received an email saying they’d get back to me within 24 hours.

The next day, my paypal account was charged for $52 and then I received an email saying they had “canceled my reoccurring billing as requested” and I would have access to the website until October. Now I was angry.
I emailed them again and said that I wanted my $52 refunded because I did not subscribe, I signed up for a free trial because it was required if I wanted the book and I had attempted to cancel before the free trial was over but they made that impossible.
I was really starting to feel like this was a big scam. I gave my paypal account to pay for shipping on a book. I attempted to cancel during a supposedly free trial, but obviously you can’t cancel on the website because they want to make it difficult for you. Hulu Plus let me click a button. Apparently JillianMichaels.com excepted me to call them. I don’t feel like I should have to take my time to pick up the phone and call a place when I responded to an email and it’s an online subscription to a website; everything about it was web-based except canceling.

After I received the identical email in response to my asking for a refund. “As you requested, I have turned off the automatic renewal for your Jillian Michaels Online account. You will have access to the website until 10/31/2013, but you will not be billed to continue. As explained in the terms of service, when you cancel, billing stops and no new charges will be billed to you. This plan is non-refundable. (If you have been receiving daily emails from us, emails will continue free of charge.)” I picked up the phone and called them this morning. I was not happy, but given that I worked in customer service for almost a decade, I tried very hard not to be rude to the woman on the other end of the phone who was just doing her job. Obviously, this is all set up to make it as difficult as possible to cancel because they want to keep taking your money.

In the end, I am getting a $48 refund. I figure that’s a success. This whole thing has left me pretty disgruntled with “Everyday Health” the service that runs JillianMichaels.com. It has also really affected my opinion of Jillian Michaels. Even though she pays this company to run her website, her name and photo is all over it. When I called the 800#, a recording of her plays; this is her brand and it reflects really poorly on her. This isn’t an isolated incident, sadly. When I first complained on facebook, a friend posted a link to a MyFitnessPal message board where someone had a similar experience a year ago. The main difference is, the people complaining there didn’t do a free trial, they expected to pay something and then cancel if they didn’t like it. I never even wanted the damn website, I just wanted to book!

I guess the silver lining is that I really like the book. I’ve never read a Jillian Michaels book before, although I do have one of her DVDs that I bought in January and haven’t opened yet. If I had known what an ordeal this would be, I would’ve just bought the book on amazon. It ended up costing me $9 and I could’ve bought it new from an amazon seller for $5 + shipping so it would’ve been just about the same price. I don’t know that I will buy another Jillian Michaels product after this. I know she’s not directly involved in things like how you cancel your subscription, but it’s her name, her photo and her brand, and frankly her responsibility who she chooses to run such a huge portion of her brand. I will keep on using SparkPeople, like I have for years. I like that it’s free, although I would pay for it. I like that it’s linked to my fitbit account, and it’s silly but I like that it’s brighter colors and prettier/perkier than the grays and blacks of the Jillian Michaels site. I don’t use SparkPeople’s meal plans, for the same reason I wasn’t interested in Jillian Michaels – I’m a pescatarian, I only eat fish and seafood, no chicken or pork or beef. I know what I need to do anyway. Logging calories helps me stay on track, but I can keep myself in my calorie range without using meal plans. My problem has always been motivation, not that I don’t know what to do. I already eat clean, I know what I need to do.

In case you’re interested, here’s the disclaimer I accepted when purchasing the book:
*Jillian’s book, Master Your Metabolism, is yours FREE! All you pay is $4.95 shipping and handling. You will also gain free access to Jillian Michaels’ customized Web site and online advice for 14 days. Your online access will continue uninterrupted, and you will be enrolled under our standard membership agreement. Online membership is just $4 a week, billed quarterly (every 13 weeks). The charge will be applied to the same account you provide at sign-up. You may cancel before your free trial ends at no charge. If you choose to continue, your quarterly membership will be automatically renewed after each term. You may cancel your membership at any time. When you cancel, billing stops immediately and no new charges will be billed to you. You will continue to have access to your account for the remainder of your term.

email

Emotional eating and food addiction

Yesterday I read a great piece over on the Huffington Post: Eating Disorders Were Created Equal — So Why Don’t We Treat Them That Way? by Margaret Wheeler Johnson. This is something I’ve often pondered but have rarely – if ever – seen discussed, let alone at a place with as high a readership as HuffPo. Wheeler Johnson references a piece in The Daily Beast, So, Are You Recovered? by Emma Woolf: “What Woolf hits on in her piece is that we tend to see the three phenomena — eating disorders, a general cultural anxiety about food and weight and skyrocketing obesity rates– as separate problems with separate solutions. Instead, we need to recognize that they all stem from the same root. Obesity isn’t the opposite of anorexia (or bulimia or disordered eating or just distorted thinking about food). It’s its twin.

I’m sure if you haven’t already clicked over to read the article that you will after that quote. Go ahead, read it, I will wait. 😉

I think about weight, food, health, and subjects like that a lot – probably in part because I am a former anorexic in a 200 pound woman’s body. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I think “Wow, what would your 20 year old self think about this?” She would probably think that I got lazy, and to some extent she’d be right. You can read more about my struggles with food and getting/staying healthy here. My 32 year old self isn’t a fan of it but for different reasons. I no longer have an all-consuming desire to be thin; I no longer feel like I am in control when I don’t eat; but I have noticed that in some ways, my relationship with food has just flipped to the opposite extreme.

The HuffPo article mentions a CDC statistic that nearly 70% of American adults are overweight. A sizeable (no pun intended) bit over half! You can blame anything and everything for this: laziness, lack of personal responsibility, mcdonalds and other fast food restaurants, our “on the go” society, desk jobs, the internet or video games, processed food and its marketing, lack of understanding/education about eating healthfully, but no one cause is fully to blame. It stands to reason that if the majority of Americans are overweight something is wrong with our relationship with food. Whether we restrict or binge, obesity really can be an eating disorder that is vastly more dangerous than any eating disorder where food is restricted.

When I look around, I see virtually no one who has a healthy relationship with food. I follow many health/wellness accounts on instagram, but while fitness enthusiasts and body builders may eat healthily, many of them don’t seem to have a particularly healthy relationship with food. One in particular pops into my mind, who puts Quest nutrition bars into the oven and bakes them for an “indulgent” snack. A world where one never eats a cookie or just opts for another, more healthy sweet processed food isn’t a relationship with food that I want to hold up as a guideline for how we should eat. The problem, is that whether we are eating healthy or unhealthy, food can become too big a part of our lives.

Food in our culture is many things – an indulgence, a comfort, a social activity, a pastime, an escape, but rarely is it seen as just fuel for our bodies. When I was at my healthiest when I was running regularly, my relationship with food shifted and became the healthiest it has ever been in my life. I started thinking about food as what made me go; I started paying attention to protein and how often I ate it (as a pescatarian – vegetarian except for seafood – it had until that point been very easy for me to have little or no protein in a day), carbs stopped being scary and started being a necessary part of a balanced diet. I ate a lot of egg whites, salmon, protein shakes, and I concentrated on getting the recommended number of fruit and vegetable servings each day. It was probably the only time in my life that food was not my comfort, either in its restriction or in its indulgence.

My current problem came when I discovered sugar. Sugar is a staple of a processed American diet, but up until two years ago I had never been that big of a fan of sweets. I’d almost always choose pretzels over cookies, preferring something salty as a snack. When I quit drinking alcohol something in my body changed, I started craving sweets. It was new and extremely different for me, I didn’t even eat a piece of the cake that I bought for my graduation party. Suddenly I wanted ice cream and candy and cake! Then, when I went through a bad breakup, I realized that ice cream and candy and cake tasted really really good. There were days when I didn’t stop feeling hungry, when no matter how much I ate I didn’t feel satisfied. Never one to keep sweets in the house (once there was an open package of oreos in my pantry for 3 years. They just sat there untouched!) I found myself driving through Sonic and Dairy Queen for their blended ice cream treats. I’d pick up a two-slice package of freshly baked cake as I did my grocery shopping. I had four scoops of ice cream for dessert at a local Chinese food buffet when normally I just ate fresh fruit as dessert.

Sweets weren’t just my indulgence or comfort, they started to take on an almost sensual quality. The way the cold ice cream melts against your tongue on a warm, summer day; the rich, fluffy texture of a slice of cake; the way my mouth seemed to come alive as I bit into a piece of Ghirardelli dark chocolate; a kitkat’s perfect combination of sweetened chocolate and light, crunchy wafers; before I knew it I was eating in a way I had never eaten in my life. Not so long ago I did things like microwaving mini cinnamon rolls and putting vanilla ice cream atop them just because it sounded good. I started thinking about sweets the way I had thought about all food back when I was restricting, like a forbidden lover. I thought about when we could be together again, how good it would feel, how I would get a satisfaction that nothing else gave me… It should really be of no surprise to me that disordered eating translated so utterly and perfectly from restriction to indulgence. I stopped finding joy in denying myself but I found it again in comforting myself with food, either way I was controlled by food.

Wheeler Johnson’s piece goes on to ask: “What if we started reading our eating issues as part of the same story, of a culture’s broken relationship with food and a resulting body image crisis? What if we viewed all people who use food and weight to cope with challenges in their lives as worthy of compassion, whether they are fat or thin?” If we were able to do that, I think the story would begin to change. I’m still in the middle of mine. I’m beginning to control my sugar addiction with extreme portion control, just a little indulgence. I’m also starting to fight all the things inside me that seem to make it impossible for me to sustain good health. I know it’s possible because I did it before, it’s just that my fear, loneliness, sadness, all of that disappears for a moment when I take a bite of cake or put a spoonful of oreo blizzard in my mouth. I realize that food cannot make me feel whole, and that until I deal with the things that have driven me to try to fill that void with alcohol, relationships, attention, and now food that nothing will be able to satisfy me. That has got to be the first step, at least.

chocolate pie

Postscript to Abusing my body with food

I wanted to make one more point that I didn’t make on my original post “Abusing My Body With Food”. I think it’s also important that when we do choose to indulge, we choose high quality foods made with fresh ingredients to indulge in. For example, instead of eating the fifty cent, couple days old cake that I bought from Kroger, I could have chosen to buy a freshly made slice of cake at Campbells, a local bakery that I love. That would’ve been a much better choice for a less than healthy “treat”.

So if you do indulge, choose something that’s good quality – don’t get the frozen pizza (even the “diet” one) instead make it yourself or buy it from a local place that uses fresh ingredients. Don’t drive-through McDonalds for a burger, go to a restaurant that uses good quality beef and will cook it to order, etc etc etc.

oysters by visualnewbie