A Shift in Perspective

Happy Monday, folks!

Hopefully you all had rockin’ weekends — mine was pretty busy with not one, but two different events that I worked on Saturday. First up was the Taste of Falls Church, where Intern Sean (heh) and I manned the Yelp booth and challenged many a folk to some rousing rounds of Rock, Paper, Scissors in exchange for rockin’ swag.

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I know it doesn’t seem like rock, paper, scissors would be that fun at first glance, but people got really into it! Full credit goes to my beautiful coworker (and fellow blogger!) Kimberly for thinking it up. Plus it’s always a huge hit at family friendly events like this one, because it’s A) free and B) kids know how to play it. Really well, actually. Most of them kicked my butt.

The second event of the day was an Elite Event at Glynn Jones hair salon in Old Town Alexandria. It was my very first salon event so I was admittedly a wee bit nervous, but it turned out so fabulously! Elites got to nosh, sip, and watch (and if they were lucky, get selected for!) demonstrations on blow dry technique, updos, airbrush makeup, and more.

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So Saturday was a tiring day for sure, but a lot of fun at the same time. And I got to make up for it yesterday with just about the laziest Sunday I’ve had in a loooooong time. All I did yesterday was sleep, cuddle with schnauzers, cook, sleep some more, and then give all my money to Target. In my defense, I think I’m a little bit under the weather — Mia was sick pretty much the whole time I was visiting her in Macon, and given her penchant for sharing food (aww!) and my penchant for being a sucker and letting her shove said food into my mouth, I think it’d be more surprising if I didn’t catch whatever she had.

Sickness be damned, though! I’m not feeling too terrible (thanks to the probably 15 hours of collective sleep I got yesterday), so this week I’m determined to continue the good gym habits that my sister helped me start to establish on what shall henceforth be known as the Healthiest Vacation Ever. I’ve marked some classes at my gym that looks interesting and have booked time in my actual calendar to make sure I don’t book any calls or meetings during those times. So now it’s just a matter of actually, well, going!

Now, if any of you are skeptical as to my ability to keep my enthusiasm for working out up, well… I don’t blame you. After all, I don’t exactly have the best track record. I’ve never been shy to admit my utter hatred of working out, getting sweaty (ironic, because I’m probably the sweatiest person on the planet even just standing still and breathing), and just generally exerting myself. I wasn’t a particularly active kid — I played basketball in middle school because I was tall. And I wasn’t very good at it. Growing up, my family never put a real focus on fitness or being active, so I never thought of it as an important thing to incorporate into my daily routine. (This, I have to say, is somewhat funny to me now given that my sister is a marathoner who teaches fitness classes and my dad bikes like 20 miles every single day.)

So I never learned to find the joy in being active, and, obviously, that translated into my adult life. It wasn’t for lack of trying, though. When I first started out on my weight loss journey and found myself immersed in the world of healthy living blogging, I definitely tried. Everyone tells you that you just have to find an activity you like doing, and then you’ll want to that thing and, by default, you’ll want to be active. So I really did try to find something I liked.

I went to the gym. I walked. I ran. I swam. I did yoga. I did hot yoga. I did Zumba. I did CrossFit. Nothing stuck. I never got myself into a regular routine, and when I did go, I still found I was forcing myself to, and only because I knew that it would help me burn XX amount of calories.

Of course, as I discussed in my last post, I’ve also only ever thought of fitness being a means to an end for weight loss.

But hey, it did work for a while! I mean, even if it was unwilling and forced, I still did get myself into gear long enough to help me shed some weight, tone up, and be fit enough to accomplish quite a few fitness milestones. I was running 5Ks and 5 milers and 200-mile team relays, after all. It’s just that even when I was doing those things, even when I was legitimately in shape (well, in shape for me, at least), weight loss was still my primary focus.

But, obviously, using weight loss as a motivator for fitness can only last as long as you are losing weight. So when I stopped actively losing weight, I stopped feeling a need to dedicate time to fitness, and that, amongst other things, meant I ended up gaining back a lot of the weight I had lost.

Which is why I can say, even with my track record of failing at maintaining a regular fitness routine, I’m actually feeling fairly confident about seeing this through this time around. Because I really do feel like my motivation, and my perspective, has shifted. Do I still find myself thinking about my weight, thinking about how I look, comparing myself against the standards that the media has set forth? Of course I do. I’m only human, and I’ve got over twenty years of negative body image and weight obsession to fight against.

That being said, it takes up only a minimal, miniscule amount of my thoughtspace now. And without all those negative thoughts weighing me down, without the constant, continual focus on how any activity, any food, any choice will ultimately affect my weight loss…well, who knows if all the things I thought I felt about working out and being active and being fit weren’t wrong all along?

I sometimes feel that within the body positive/fat acceptance culture, there’s almost an expectation that you shouldn’t want to work out or eat healthily or whatever, because doing so means you must still want to change yourself. And, more specifically, you must still want to be thin. You must still secretly be working towards conforming to society’s standards or whatever. And I know that most people don’t think that way, and it’s not indicative of the entire movement in any way, but I do believe it is a sentiment that exists.

And so I have struggled with the idea of whether or not I’m really, truly, honestly rededicating myself to fitness because I want to, or because I still feel like I need to. Am I honestly doing this because it helps me sleep better and it boosts my energy and it is healthy? Or is it just because it will help me look better?

I guess only time will truly tell since, based on past precedence, we already know that if it’s the latter, this current burst of motivation won’t stick for long. But I do know that it does feel different. I’m not weighing myself. I’m not counting calories. I’m not using food as a reward system. I’m not limiting myself to not buying clothing because I want to wait until I’m smaller, or purposely buying clothes in a smaller size to “motivate” myself.

I’m just loving myself. And as much as I used to only think of it in relation to my weight and size, I know that being active in some form or another is just one more way to love myself. So that my body — curves and flesh and fat and muscles and stomach rolls and ligaments and stretch marks and all — will be around for me to love as long as possible.

The Power of Words

I like words.

I mean, I must, right? I wrote an entire book that consists of over 80,000 of them, and I’m working on another. (Slowly, slowly, hahahaha.)

I don’t know if it’s because of the whole Shakespearean pen being mightier than the sword thing, or if it’s just because I love to hear myself talk (which, of course, I do), but I just really like words.

There are quite a fair few words that I have a particular affinity for. I don’t just like them, I really like them. Words like:

  • Effervescence
  • Proclivity
  • Defenestrate (literal meaning: to throw out a window)
  • Irrevocable
  • Kerfuffle
  • Ineffable

But then, conversely, there are a handful of words that I really, really, really hate.

And I don’t just mean the bad words, you silly goose, I mean that there are a few words out there that incite nails-on-a-chalkboard-esque cringing from me. Maybe it’s because of the sound it makes when you say it aloud, maybe it’s because of the way it looks when it’s spelled out, maybe it’s because of its meaning (or the fact that nobody seems to know how to actually use the word correctly — I’m looking at you, irony), maybe it’s because OH MY GOD THAT IS NOT ACTUALLY A REAL WORD. A-hem. But for whatever reason, some words are just the worst.

And because I love you guys oh, so very much, I’m going to go ahead and, potentially causing myself (and other word-sensitive folks) irreparable harm, list some of them:

  • Moist
  • Irregardless
  • Squirt
  • Viscous
  • Phlegm
  • Sanguine (most confusing word ever — it’s derived from the Latin word for blood and yet means optimistic?!)

So, yes, I guess I should refine my original statement to say that I like most words. But I think I should note that the word I hate most in my entire earthly existence isn’t even on this list. It’s a word that I hate so very, very much that I don’t know if I want to write it again here now.

And what is this awful, terrible, no good, very bad word, you ask?

  • Fat

hate the word “fat.” I hate it so much that sometimes I get angry just thinking about it. And do you know why I hate this word so much? It’s not because of its meaning, or because of how it sounds, how it’s spelled, or any of that.

It’s because I honestly think that I could trace almost every bad feeling I’ve ever had about myself, every ounce of self-loathing I’ve ever felt for my body, every time I binge ate, every time I forced myself to throw up, and even now, the self-worth I feel as a (sort-of) adult, to that word. So many of my thoughts and actions throughout my life have gone into attempting to avoid being called that word. 

I hate that any word in any vocabulary of any language has ever had that kind of power over me.

My first memory of being called fat is still vivid. “Aiyah, you’re getting fat,” was precisely how it was phrased, a few words from an aunt who I’m sure had no idea the impact those words already had on me. She didn’t really mean anything by it, I’m sure. I couldn’t even tell you exactly how old I was — 8, 9 maybe? — but that comment marked the exact moment I consciously realized that getting fat was bad. (I don’t know if it’s important to note or not, but I was not a heavy kid. My struggle with my weight really began when I hit puberty.)

Of course, I’d soon come to realize that it wasn’t just bad to be fat, it was the worst possible thing you could do as a girl. By most of modern society’s thinking, that is. Forget being cruel, bigoted, jobless, uneducated, selfish… no, no, being fat was, of course, much worse. I like to think that the tide is beginning to turn on that particular train of thought, but then I make the grievous mistake of reading the comments on certain posts on Facebook and, well… whether it’s under the guise of concern-trolling or it’s actual hatred for non-standard body types, people are pretty damn nasty.

I know that for me, even with the strides I’ve taken and how far I’ve come in my journey of self-acceptance, I still fear being called fat. Lately my emphasis and goals have been in accepting and loving my body as-is, and so I try to exude an aura of self-confidence and body love despite of — or rather, because of — my size. But in reality, I am still so affected by the words and opinions of others, and I’m still afraid of other people calling me “fat.”

There are a lot of awesome folks out there working hard to redefine the word “fat,” and regardless of your feelings about the merits of being fat vs. thin, or of your opinions about what it means to be at a healthy weight, I think that’s something we should all support. This isn’t a post about fat acceptance or the obesity epidemic, it’s about taking away the power from a word that can, at least in my experience, cause immeasurable harm to one’s ability to love oneself.

This is about taking one more small step towards being able to take back the word “fat,” to reclaim it, to return it to its roots. Roots that most definitely did not include making someone feel like they are less worthy, less beautiful, or less deserving of love just because of their size. For all the nine-year-old girls out there who are barely on the cusp of learning what it means to own their body at all, I think it’s so important that we do start to turn that tide.

“Fat” is just a word. It’s a word that, in this context, is used to describe appearance — the same as “thin” or “fit” or “tall” or “short” or “brunette” or “blonde.” But we have injected so much significance and negativity into those particular three letters, that it has the power to affect us more than any of those other words ever could. (Well, I guess you could argue that the word “thin” has as much of an affect, just in a different, much more positively accepted way.) So in attempt to take one small step towards changing that, if for nobody else but myself, here I am, embracing it. This is my personal attempt to redefine that no good, very bad word in my life:

I am fat. I have fat on my body, just like every other human being on this planet. I have more than some, and less than others, and the particular amount of fat that anyone has does not define their worth as a person.

Of course, I’m sure I’d still feel less than amazing than if someone else were to call me fat, since my natural inclination is to assume everyone else does so with the implication of judgment and insult attached, but hey, it’s a step, right? And while I do hope one day that, as a society, we can help de-awful-fy my least favorite word, for now, I’ll just work on making these words more of a fixture in my vernacular:

  • Worthy
  • Beautiful
  • Honest
  • Significant
  • Memorable
  • Wonderful

Reflection

First, and foremost:

Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You have no idea how much your kind words of support and encouragement in response to my bare all (literally!) progress pics page mean to me. You guys really are the best, and I am so grateful to have your continued enthusiasm and support as I continue this journey (and hello? So wouldn’t have made it this far without you!)

Secondly, you shall observe:

A little Mulan love, please? I promise that this will be relevant…ish. Yesterday was a big day of self-reflection for me, for obvious reasons. Celebrating my blogiversary was (is?) a really exciting thing, and a milestone I’m thrilled to achieve, but I spent most of the day freaking out about the other page that went up in conjunction and didn’t really get to enjoy it.

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Guess it really is a good thing we had a preemptive family celebration on Sunday, eh?

I mean, it’s understandable, right? I did post pictures of myself at my most vulnerable. I was 246 lbs, forcing myself to take a photo of myself in a bikini for posterity. You probably can’t tell in the picture itself, but I was bawling mere moments before taking it. And probably for several hours after.

Don’t get me wrong! I am glad I took the photos, and have this physical record of the changes that I’ve made over the past year. Even though I know I look different — I see pictures, and I do hear what people say, sometimes it’s still hard to see. Living in my body, seeing myself in the mirror every day, it’s not as easy for me to accept that I don’t look like that anymore. That I’m not really even that person anymore. But I have changed. I am changed.

Chillin
December 2009

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The family with my cousin Christine this past Saturday

Logically, I know this: I see the numbers on the scale and I am cognizant of the fact that they are lower than they used to be. This is a fact.

Mentally, I know this: I feel the fit of my pants. I witness the piles of clothes stacking up outside my bedroom door that are too big to wear. I see the number on the tag and I realize it is lower than it used to be. These are facts.

But emotionally? It’s still hard to really see myself. As I am. All that I am. Here, now. To see my new reflection: as the girl I’ve always been inside, hiding behind the wall and under the fat.

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Oh, Caribbean cruise… so wise. I think I need to go back. Stat.

See? I told you it’d end up being relevant, hehe. You gotta have a little faith in me, folks — I always bring it full circle!

So yes, Mulan is obviously my favorite Disney princess because, uh, duh? She’s A…wesome. C’mon, what did you think I was gonna say? Bahaha.

Okay, seriously. Disney movies will always be loved and adored because they remind us of the things we most want to see in ourselves. The ability to stand up for what’s right. To stand up for ourselves. For good to always, always conquer evil.

So taking a tip from my homegirl from my homeland (well, half of it anyway), I’m going to try harder to really see myself. As vain as that may sound, heh.

Before I let you go, can we please just acknowledge that the best song in that movie is obviously this one:

As you’ve gone along in your weight loss or fitness journey, have you ever found it hard to accept or recognize the progress you’ve made for yourself?

Don’t worry if you have, Mister. I’ll make a man out of you.

Feelgood Friday: It’s my blog and I’ll post what I want to

Naturally, today’s blog title is meant to be sung to the tune of one particularly famous Cyndi Lauper song (in your head if you’re a normal person, out loud as you type it if you’re me.) Heh.

So I could spend this post detailing out the nutritional black hole that was my day yesterday (bagel & cream cheese for breakky, chicken wrap & chips for lunch, food court Japanese bento box for dins if you were wondering) and how Harry Potter really was just as good the fourth time around. Or I could spend this post talking about how I clearly had forgotten what it is like to have a puppy in your home (though I maintain that Daxter was never this much work. My brother disagrees.) All I know is that you owe me big time, sister dearest.

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So cute. So. Much. Energy.

Instead, I’m going to do this 5 Things post that Laura tagged me in. Yes, I realize that I literally just did one of these kinda things with my 7 Links post, but hey, it seemed to get a good response from you guys! Plus, it’s Friday and maybe someone out there could use a pick-me-up on this incredibly humid morning (seriously. It’s like walking into a swamp. WTF DC?) And lastly, and you may have already caught onto this because you are so very clever and that’s why I love you, it’s my blog. I get to post what I want to. Heehee.

Five source

So the idea is that I post five things that I love about myself (it’s hard to narrow it down that much, I know. HA!) They can be physical (toned arms!), mental (brilliant at math), emotional (supportive), totally random (makes perfectly symmetrical pankcakes) or anything else. Then I tag five other bloggers to do the same. Then you all reflect and comment on something that you love about yourself! And then we all bask in the glow of self-confidence and mutual acceptance (hence the whole “Feelgood Friday” thing.) And we kick off the weekend the right way. Sounds good? I think it sounds good.

Gretchen’s 5:

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photo by ben powell

1. I love my sense of humor. I know that some of you might not agree (what sense of humor?) but I think I’m funny, dammit! After all, “if you can’t laugh at yourself, life’s going to seem a whole lot longer than you’d like.” (Garden State)

2. I actually kind of love that I’m such an emotional person. I mean, I know that most people wouldn’t really consider this to be a great trait, considering that I cry at the drop of a hat and have the thinnest skin ever (never be mean to me, k guys? Hahaha.) but it’s really something I’m trying to embrace. I’m a sensitive person. As much as I’ve tried in the past, this is something that I am never going to be able to change. And I’m finally realizing that I might not want to. Being this way is how I’ve gotten a lot of my strengths: empathy, honesty, and fiercely caring for my friends & family. But it also forces me to try to overcome some of my weaknesses, like being overly sensitive, defensive, and inappropriately emotional (hello crying at work!) I’m a work in progress, what can I say?

3. Let’s get vain: I love my eyes. They’re the most Asian part of me (perhaps the only Asian part of me — thanks DAD.) and so sue me, I think they’re pretty. Almond-shaped, deep-brown, small and evenly set.

 photo by ben powell

4. Let’s get vainer (is that a word?): I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been kinda digging my legs lately. This is NEVER something I would have been able to say a year ago. I used to avoid shorts like the plague, but I’m definitely coming around to them. Okay, so maybe what I lack in Asianness, I get to make up for in long leggedness (thanks Dad!)

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5. What else could this end with? I love that I’ve lost 56 pounds! I know I talk a lot about how I still have a ways to go, that I’m not at my goal yet, blahblahblah. While that is still true, I’m not done losing weight and I’m not at my “happy weight” or “healthy weight” or whatever-you-want-to-call-it weight yet, I think that sometimes I fixate so much on losing more than I forget to celebrate how much I’ve already lost, and how far I’ve already come.

So there you have it! So time for me to tag some others:

Jennifer @ A Knack for Nutrition
Erin @ The Part-Time Writer
Casey @ Hippie Health Nut
Bailey @ Bailey’s Belly Battle
Melissa @ The Journey to Marvelous

What do you love about yourself?