The plus-size community

How I Failed Myself with Food and What I Learned

My name is Annie, and I like food.

I also do Weight Watchers.

Just the other day, I went waaaaay over my points limit on food. Without going into gory details, I consumed enough calories for three days in about 18 hours.

I messed up, big time.

While it wasn’t during the recent Thanksgiving holiday, I wanted to talk about it because it is very topical. There are so many events revolving around food this time of year—office parties, family get-togethers, seeing friends, bowl games, cocktails…and on and on.

So if you’re like me and are trying to eat sensibly for your health, how do you get back on track? Let me tell you a little about my situation and what I have done to grow from the experience.

I must preface this by saying I am losing weight and that is my choice for my health. I advocate healthy eating for everyone, but not weight loss to conform to society’s standards. And not “dieting” to the point you forsake all the foods you love. So if you think I’m hypocritical for being body positive and wanting to lose weight at the same time, please stop reading.

OK, now that I made the disclaimer, back to the story.

After a day of overindulging, I woke up and calculated how much I ate and drank. And I was appalled at what I had done.

You had been doing so well and now you’ve really effed it up, I told myself. Great job, Annie!

Well, I poured myself a cup of coffee and assessed how I felt.

  • I acknowledged that I ate. A lot. No sense in denying it happened. There is no one to blame but myself. No excuses. But also no beating myself up about what already happened.
  • I determined what caused me to overeat. I thought about how I was feeling at the time—depressed and bored. Depression will especially drive me to eat more than I should. Again, I’m not excusing myself, but recognizing what pushes me to turn to food.
  • I developed a strategy. I created a menu for my weekly grocery-shopping trip, which mostly consisted of fruits, veggies, healthy TV dinners, and low-sodium soups.
  • I put some guardrails in place. I blocked the websites from my two favorite pizzerias on my computer so I wouldn’t be tempted to order online. I also left my debit card in my sock drawer for the following week so I couldn’t go out for happy hour or get fast food after work.
  • I talked it out. I called one of my best friends and texted the other while I cleaned house. It reminded me that there is more to life than food and the guilt associated with it. And it also reminded me there are a lot of people who love me no matter what my size and no matter how badly I screw up.
  • I went for a two-mile walk. Enjoying the unseasonably mild fall, I walked around the neighborhood and listened to some positive, uplifting podcasts which I always have programmed into my phone. Spending time out in cool weather never fails to lift my spirits.

So I stuck carefully to the food plan I laid out. I tracked my points on my Weight Watchers app, and I stayed on the bandwagon. I called my friends or went out for a walk when I was tempted to order takeout or get a bottle of wine. I know what I need to do to overcome my depression, and I focused on me and my feelings instead of the food.

I was rewarded the next time I went to Weight Watchers—I had lost five pounds in the span of a week. That’s a drop in the bucket for me, but it is a testament to what I can do when I put my mind to it. It’s hard to say no to food or wine in the short-term, but I kept my eye on the long game. Losing weight is my goal, and acting like an adult woman in charge of her feelings resulted in real progress.

Everyone has different ways how they treat themselves after they overindulge on whatever their vice is. But please look over what I have laid out and adapt it to a plan that works for you. How can you forgive yourself when you make a mistake, but still be gentle with yourself?

Maybe you go for a bike ride. Maybe you cook a healthy dish. You talk it over with a loved one, journal, write poetry, or you have another outlet for your feelings.

Whatever it is, my hope is that you will acknowledge when you make a mistake, love yourself anyway, and come up with positive strategies for future success.

What are healthy ways you deal with depression, negative emotions, boredom, or stress? Comment below!

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An Interview with Canadian Blogger Ena Dumais

Plus One Woman is going north of the border this week to interview Ontario-based fashion and body positivity blogger, activist, and speaker Ena Dumais.

Ena is the creative for behind Pretty, Plus, and Proud, where she chronicles her journey to self-love and –acceptance, provides makeup tips, stresses the importance of loving yourself, teaches how to cultivate a positive mindset, and shares her shopping scores (frequently at Torrid).

She is also honest about her daily life, her family, and living with MS. I just love her blog because it radiates positivity, strength, and finding joy in your everyday life.

Please enjoy the following interview and make sure to check Ena out on social media at the links below—she is especially active on her YouTube channel. Her videos are a blast to watch—especially her shopping hauls and her body positive talks. Be sure you subscribe so you can snag her giveaways!

  1. One of the strongest messages on your blog that resonates with me is learning to love who you are, where you are right now. How did you learn that yourself, and what do you say to the woman who really struggles with accepting herself as she is?

 I guess for me, wisdom came with age. I turned 50 and was tired of fighting with my body. I thought to myself I don’t want to waste any more time trying to be something I’m not. I didn’t want to spend any more time counting calories, weighing food, and hiding in clothes too big for me. For women still struggling, I would say that life is short and spending it hating yourself is a battle that there is no winner. You don’t want to miss any more special moments with loved ones that you can’t get back.

  1. I really loved your “Inspiring Women” series you did earlier this year. You highlighted some of your heroes from social media, and how they are beautiful inside and out. What inspires you as a woman?

Women who have fought the battle with themselves and have come out loving their curves. Women who see their lumps, bumps, scars, and stretch marks as signs of a life well lived are my heroes. They are the women little girls should be admiring—not what they typically see in social media, TV, movies, or print media.

  1. What are some of your favorite fashion and/or makeup combinations you have worn lately?

Recently I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried on a skirt/t-shirt combination that I didn’t think I’d like, but I loved it and I bought it. I plan to rock it at a Body Positive event I’m attending Thanksgiving weekend!

 

How to follow Ena:

Her blog

Facebook

YouTube

Instagram

Twitterv

A Powerful Book for Body Positivity—Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Confident

Don’t read this book if you want to feel good about yourself.

With so much ugliness and negativity floating around the news and online, good news is sometimes hard to come by, but thankfully there’s a book that will make you laugh, cry, cheer for the authors, and help you love your body as it is.

I am referring to Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Confident.

This is one of the most powerful (and easy-to-read!) body positivity books I have read in a long time. Each chapter is four pages tops, and reveals little slices of life from 90+ authors who all experience body positivity in their own ways.

The following are summaries of my favorite chapters (other than my own…Chapter 67 if you are interested!) and the lessons learned in each:

  1. Shape Shifting Editor and trailblazing supermodel Emme had her first big photo shoot in the 1980s. The well-known photographer took one look at her and gasped, “I’m not shooting this fatty!” Aghast by his unprofessional behavior, Emme managed to hold her head high and finish the session. Five years later, when she was at the peak of her career, she got a certain sort of revenge on him. And she reflected on how she grew from the experience. “Despite one man’s limitations, we can all expand our horizons and change our attitudes toward each other,” she muses.
  2. Exposed – In this short essay, author Kathrine Conroy is very, very hot in yoga class. She wants to take off her tank top, but would she dare to do an entire class wearing a sports bra? She does. And as class progresses, she marvels at her body’s imperfections and how it has allowed her to travel through life. And how it allows her to do the yoga that she loves so much.
  3. SweetestRedHead – This story really punched me in the gut. After another divorce, author Patrick Michael McIntyre decided to try online dating and met SweetestRedHead. It was her first real relationship and his deepest love. Patrick had to break through the walls that SRH’s low self-esteem had built up around her. But his patience was rewarded with love and joy beyond all telling. Though they loved intensely, the relationship only lasted 2.5 years. I’m not giving away the ending, but this book made me ugly cry. In a beautiful way. It is a story of love beyond weight, and love beyond time. And if you don’t cry just a little, there is something seriously wrong with you.
  4. Mother of the Groom – I thought this one was the funniest. Writer Anne Merrigan is desperately trying to find a dress to her son’s wedding. At a tiny dress shop owned by two fearless and hands-y Italian sisters, Anne finds a beautiful dress. And despite her flaws, the Italian shopkeeps acknowledge them but point out the best parts of her “”Gooda arms!” “Gooda legs!” “We shorten gown. Showa leg.”). They give Anne the confidence to fly solo.

Packed with heart-warming quotes to introduce each chapter, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Confident is a wonderful read. The short chapters make it perfect to pick up and read a couple chapters before bed, or when you only have a couple minutes.

And, of course, the message is timeless and at the heart of all that is body positivity: Celebrate the skin you are in.

What story of your life would make the perfect addition to a Chicken Soup for the Soul book? Comment below!

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The Best Plus-Size Podcasts

Hello. My name is Annie, and I am a podcastaholic.

Serioulsy. I can’t get enough of them. Whether commuting to/from work, cleaning house, running errands, or walking around the neighborhood, they are like catnip for me. I have fourteen active podcasts in my Stitcher app that put out new episodes (usually weekly), and another eight that put out episodes on an irregular basis.

Truth be told, my interests vary greatly; most of them center around blogging, self-help, or business. But one is dedicated to antique phonograph music, and yet another deals with the politics of the European Union. True story.

Today I want to introduce the four best podcasts out there for plus-size women that I have found. While their publishing schedules are erratic (as of September 2017), their positive and joyful message merit a listen-to and you should definitely add them to your listening rotation:

  1. The Chenese Lewis Show—Founded in 2008, this began as PLUS Model Radio, the podcast for PLUS Model Magazine. Chenese Lewis began interviewing plus-size models, agents, make-up artists, etc. Then she rebranded and interviewed singers, designers, bloggers, athletes, comedians, actors, and other movers and shakers in the plus-size community. After 187 episodes, she took a 14-month hiatus before relaunching again in October 2017. Listening to all her episodes helped me learn a lot about the plus-size community and exposed me to a lot of names and brands I never would have learned about otherwise.
  2. Big Curvy Love: A Plus Size Podcast—Australian blogger Kelly Glover is perhaps best known for her spectacular “50 Fat Dates” series. Her fun podcast covers male and female fashion, fitness, Brazilian waxing, lingerie, fashion, etc. My personal favorite episode is her interview with plus-size burlesque dancer Lillian Bustle. It is outstandingly funny and you learn that burlesque is a lot harder than you’d actually think. Glover’s last podcast was published in September 2016. She is now a writer for the Australian site Mamamia.
  3. Healthy at Any Size—Melinda Parrish has a beautiful podcast that celebrates fitness, recovering from eating disorders, entrepreneurs, and really feeling healthy at any size. No matter what your size or your sport, plus-size model, athlete, and recovering-from-an-eating-disorder host Parrish has a podcast that celebrates curves and where you are right now as an athlete—not your ideal size, but where you are today. 
  4. Flaunt Performance—I absolutely love Aja Yasir’s podcast for plus-size runners and athletes. She interviews trainers who give running and triathlon tips, and she also interviews her 75+-year-old mother who got Aja hooked into running (by far my favorite show!). You don’t need to be a runner to enjoy the healthy-at-any-size movement. And Aja’s story is truly touching. What a wonderful show!

Whether you have lots of commute time to devote to these podcasts or can only check out the episodes I recommend, you will not regret adding these podcasts to your favorite listening app. They are a great way to learn more about the plus-size community, get inspired, or become introduced to new writers, bloggers, or fashion lines!

What is your all-time favorite podcast? Comment below!

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Three of Mainstream Retailers Are Now Offering Plus Sizes

If you’ve been plus-size like me since you were a teenager, you know how much going shopping sucks with your straight-size friends.

You patiently go to their stores and watch them try on super cute clothes you can’t wear. Then they accompany you to Lane Bryant or Torrid. The only stores you could both enjoy would be shoe stores or Sephora.

In other words, it’s no fun.

It’s no fun to not be able to shop the same places as your straight-size friends and enjoy pulling clothes off the same racks in the same store.

That is starting to change.

Thankfully more and more merchants realize plus-size women have money—after all, we spend over $20 billion a year on plus-size clothing. And we want cute clothes. Most of all, we just want the opportunity to shop where our friends do, and some of them are stepping up to the plate. While these retailers don’t carry their new plus collections in their stores, it is definitely a good sign.

New York & Company (If you are my age, New York & Company was a staple at many malls in the 90s. I loved their clean and simple silhouettes, durable fabrics, and timeless patterns. However, by the time I hit college, I grew out of their XL size range. Even their “extended sizes” (to XXL) were cut too slim for me. Boo.

Imagine my delight when I saw their new collaboration with actress Eva Mendes to carry a new line in sizes up to an American 3X. I hurried over to check out the site (it’s only available online), but I was quickly disappointed. While the thirty-eight-piece collection isn’t bad, it’s not my aesthetic. It relies heavily on cheap materials like itchy polyester, velvet (yes, I am weird and hate velvet), and wrinkly rayon. And there were other details I didn’t like such as bell sleeves, shapeless swing dresses, and maxi-dresses for a fall/winter collection.

Still, it doesn’t hurt to check it out. My opinions are my own, and you might find it really cute. Most of the collection is 50% off as of this writing.

White House Black Market I always felt a twinge of envy walking by their stores. Black and white. Chic, timeless designs. Sign me up!

I moseyed on over to their collection of fifty-nine pieces and was again disappointed. While it was a larger offering than NY&CO, there was still a lot of reliance on polyester in their fabrics and the website wouldn’t break down the fabric percentages. That said, the jeans look particularly cute, and the blazers look nice – I particularly like the cropped black blazer. It’s worth a look!

Ann Taylor Loft This is the one I really want to see. I’ve always loved their classic style. When Chrissy Metz from This Is Us announced Ann Taylor would be carrying plus sizes starting in February 2018, I was foaming at the mouth and ready to whip out my credit card.

But I will wait and see what they have to offer. NY&CO wasn’t all that great. WHBM is a “meh” at best, so I probably shouldn’t get my hopes up too high.

It is about time more mainstream designers realize our money is just as good as anyone else’s. And if they want to snooze and miss a multibillion dollar industry, that’s their loss. I will check out the new collections, but I still prefer to support indie designers, and you should too!

Want to know the secrets to cultivating a French wardrobe? Sign up for the Plus One Woman’s mailing list to get your free ebook with a capsule wardrobe checklist and places to shop!

An Interview with the Curvy Fashionista, Marie Denee

I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am to bring you this interview from Marie Denee, aka the Curvy Fashionista. With over 550,000 Facebook  and 64,000 Instagram followers, there is absolutely no doubt that she is the biggest plus-size fashion blogger in the United States.

Since she launched her blog in December 2008, Marie has been at the forefront of all trends curvy and fashionable. Her blog and vlog serve up fresh helpings of the newest and greatest in plus-sized fashion, and the Plus One Woman sat down with the Atlanta-based blogger to get her insights on classy and trendy pieces. Enjoy!

  1. Not counting nightwear/underwear/loungewear or accessories, what are three things every woman should have in her closet or her dresser drawer?

Ohhh this is fun! I think that she should have an amazing Little Black Dress that she can dress up or down, that allows her confidence to beam through! A kickass pair of jeans. Ones that make you booty feel and look amazing, that do not cut off circulation, and that can be worn in more than a few ways… versatility is key here. The last? A go to wow or hero piece. This can be an amazing blazer, unique blouse, or sexy skirt. Basically, something other than the staples that immediately brings life to an outfit, gives you that extra boost of confidence and attitude!

  1. If a woman usually sticks to the classics, how would you advise her to add some trendy items into her rotation?

Play with accessories! Bring color into your handbags, get a little daring with your shoes, layer on the bangles! Basically, it is all about accessorize to maximize! To take it up a notch, try a different or new blouse print or silhouette with your trusty skirt or slacks. Pair your favorite blazer with a bold printed or full skirt. Here, it is all about i moderation, and when you step out of your box, it is best to do so in baby steps or with items that still make you feel amazing!

  1. What are two pieces you believe in paying a little more for, and why? (For example, I will happily pay more than $100 for shoes because my feet are awful, and I usually buy expensive jeans because my Silvers last for YEARS!).

Ohhh I do love my Silver jeans and do agree on the quality and how long they last! For me, I would say a blazer and slacks. If these two items serve as a foundation for your wardrobe, you will wear them a bit more frequently than others. It is important that the integrity of the garment will hold up to your daily wear- armholes, buttons, thigh friction… you know what I mean! I have found if I spend a little more on these staples, they give my wardrobe a longer shelf life!

To find out more about the Curvy Fashionista, click here!

Photo credit: http://thecurvyfashionista.com/2016/11/christian-omeshun-holiday-collection/

Why Mae West Was a Trailblazer and a Badass

Many people have heard the name Mae West, but very few people know much about her outside of her blonde bombshell image and her classic one-liners like, “Come up and see me sometime.”

Beneath the platinum blonde hair and super-tweezed eyebrows, did you have any idea that Mae was a Hollywood pioneer, one of the first unconventional sex symbols, a shrewd businesswoman, an ex-con, and made movies clear up to the age of 85?

She was, and this week’s blog is dedicated to a strong, single, curvy Mae West, who was the highest-paid woman in the world and led a life few know about.

Not deemed a “classic beauty,” she knew how to work it. Only 5’0”, Mae wore six-to-nine-inch heels (depending on the source). That gave her her signature hip “wiggle.” While women like Claudette Colbert, Joan Crawford, and Greta Garbo had willowy figures and smoldering gazes, Mae West was curvy and brash. She sang, she danced, and her one-line zingers were full of double entendres that she used from her old vaudeville days. She knew what looked good on her, and she never complained when she was literally sewn into every costume she wore.

She was a convicted felon, and she used that to her advantage. In 1926, Mae was arrested for writing, producing, and starring in a play in New York simply called Sex. Censors called on her to stop. She refused and was convicted of producing an immoral theatrical performance. She was given the choice of a $500 fine (about $6,800 today) or 10 days in jail. Shocking her family and fans, she chose jail time. She wanted the publicity and she was genuinely curious about prison life.

She had an atypical experience – she insisted on wearing her own silk undergarments, claiming she was allergic to the prison-issued undies. She also dined with the warden every night and was given VIP treatment by her fellow inmates. She recounted the her jail time with fondness in later interviews, and despite being a felon, she left jail more popular than ever, and people lined up around the block to see the latest plays she wrote and produced.

She played the Hollywood game – a man’s world – on her terms. And won. Mae starred in her first movie at the relatively late age of 39. She negotiated her own contracts and had a lot of leverage in rewriting the scripts she was sent.

She didn’t flinch even when confronted with a scandal – her husband (who she married at age 18 and while they never lived together, they never divorced) tried to extort her for thousands of dollars. This was at the height of her career in 1937. Mae refused to give into his blackmail, since her husband had remarried, making him a bigamist. She finally divorced him in 1943.

Mae was sexually liberated at a time women were supposed to conform. Her easy, breezy sexiness was never crude, with no swearing, just lots of bawdy jokes to keep audiences wanting more and declaring sexual liberation before that was even a thing.

Despite having only a third-grade education, she was smart and savvy. Mae wrote many of her own plays she performed in New York before she moved to L.A. in 1932. She drew on her experience from vaudeville and stock theater, and she knew how to write plays audiences loved. It wasn’t Shakespeare, but it was about sexually liberated women who fought for them men they loved, or they knew when to cut their losses and run.

She also wanted to learn everything she could about the business of filmmaking. Mae spent countless hours learning about lighting, camera angles, editing, and other aspects of film production at a time few women did.

Mae mostly retired from acting in the early 1940s, but her money wasn’t idle. She was a real estate investor, and she knew exactly where to buy land in the booming southern California real estate market, and that made her more money than she ever earned at the box office.

She took care of everyone she loved. Mae’s beloved mother died before her Hollywood career, but she brought her father, brother, and sister out to California with her. Her father had retired from being a private investigator, and Mae ensured he was financially independent, which was a rarity during the Great Depression. She got bit acting parts for her brother, Jack. When that didn’t pan out, she bought a ranch so he could train horses. Their sister lived there, too.

Though she never drove, she bought herself a new limo every year. She gave the old ones anonymously to local convents.

She also remembered her staff very generously in her will when she died in 1980 at the age of 87. She had a very small inner circle, but she loved her peeps and ensured they were cared for.

So many memorable quotes.

“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.”

“To err is human, but it feels divine.”

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

“I’m no model lady. A model is just an imitation of the real thing.”

“Cultivate your curves – they may be dangerous, but they won’t be avoided.”

“I believe it is better to be looked over than it is to be overlooked.”

“I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.”

“I didn’t discover curves, I only uncovered them.”

“It’s not the men in my life that count, it’s the life in my men.”

“I’ve been things and seen places.”

I hope this short blog entry gives you an idea of what a badass Mae West was. She was so much more than diamonds and one-liners. She was a playwright, producer, unconventional sex symbol, screenwriter, and real estate investor. She shattered glass ceilings and her legacy is felt in Hollywood to this day.

Who is your favorite old-timey Hollywood actress, and why? Comment below!

Can We Talk about Ashley Graham Posing Nude?

OK, I’m going out on a limb here.

I don’t care when celebs take off their clothes.

For example, there was recently a kerfuffle when Emma Watson posed almost topless in a Vanity Fair article while she was doing press for Beauty & the Beast.

“She’s a feminist! How dare she pose in nothing but a (very) chunky knit sweater!”

Honestly, I don’t care. Posing for a national magazine not wearing much? Wouldn’t do it myself, but live and let live.

However, Ashley Graham posing nude in the latest issue of magazine actually got me pretty excited. (WARNING: Clicking on the link will take you to naked pics of her. You have been warned.)

The purpose of the interview was to plug her new book, A New Model: What Confident, Beauty and Power Really Look Like. The article, written by Diana Ross’ daughter Tracee Ellis Ross, is a little confusing, rambling, and a bit too focused on the interviewer (Ross), and not enough on Ashley. But Graham manages to hit it out of the park with her views on being a trailblazer and role model:

…[B]eing told, “You’re fat,” “You’re ugly” or “You’re just not good enough,” and trying to live in these model standards…I hit bottom around 18. I was disgusted with myself and told my mom I was coming home. And she told me, “No, you’re not, because you told me that this was what you wanted and I know you’re supposed to do this. It doesn’t matter what you think about your body, because your body is supposed to change somebody’s life.” To this day that sticks with me because I’m here today and I feel that it’s okay to have cellulite.

Think about all she has done and how her body has changed lives. Ever since she burst onto the scene as the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition cover model last year, Ashley has been modeling’s “it” girl, and has expanded her brand to include swimwear and a lingerie collection, just to name a couple ventures.

And I agree with her that her body has changed lives. Check her out here:

I admire the power, fierceness, and confidence with which she walks down the catwalk. Her butt jiggles, she has cellulite on the back of her legs, and she even has back fat. She knows she looks good, and she absolutely owns it. And she slays it.

If I had 1% of her confidence, I’d be doing all right. But Ashley speaks with a wisdom older than her 29 years would suggest:

If you say, “I’m fat,” that’s how you’re going to feel. If you say, “I’m stupid,” that’s how you’re going to start your day. I wake up sometimes and I feel like the fattest person alive, but I’m not going to let that affect the rest of my day. Say to yourself, “I like this day. I am bold, I am beautiful, and I am brilliant.” For me, that hits the interior, the exterior, and it makes me feel smart.

That’s where she gets her confidence. It all comes from within, and the power of being beautiful truly lies in your head. I am bold, I am beautiful, and I am brilliant.

Thank you, Ashley!

In looking at her V magazine photos, for me, it’s not that she’s nude in the photos, it’s that she’s nude and she looks like the rest of us. She has cellulite, fat rolls, and stretch marks. And if she embraces the way she looks, why can’t the rest of us do the same?

Oh, and I’m totally buying her book when it comes out which, as of this writing, comes out tomorrow. SQUEE!

What are your thoughts on Ashley Graham’s photoshoot? Comment below!

 

Photo Credit: Ashley Graham for day 13 of LOVE Magazine Advent 2014 by Daniel Jackson, accessed May 14, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashley_Graham_(model)#/media/File:Ashley_Graham_(model)_2014.png.

Video Credit: Lane Bryant, accessed May 14, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_eiNCCHv94.

Why This Plus-Sized Blogger Is Trying to Lose Weight

My name is Annie, I have been fat since I was a child.

At first glance, that title may sound like a total oxymoron. Why would a woman proud to be plus-sized want to lose weight? I want to share why I am on a weight loss journey, even if I may never get there.

The reasons people are overweight stem from very individual factors. In my case, my PCOS and eating as an emotional crutch are probably the two biggest factors in why it is so hard for me to lose weight. But I still want to lose it.

“Just put down the fork,” I hear over and over, usually from jackwagons with no medical training and who like to fat-shame. I already have two strikes against me: a hormonal imbalance that makes throws my metabolism out of whack, and clinical depression that leads me to overeat, and often. If it really were as easy as putting down a fork, everyone would be thin. But my hormones and depression are greater than my willpower. I wish there weren’t, but that’s the reality of my life.

“Wait…You’re a plus-size blogger. Why are you trying to lose weight?”

I’ve heard that one before, too. Usually from well-meaning friends and family. If I blog about issues as a fat person, why would I attempt to lose weight?

  1. Pain management. I have chronic back pain and can’t exercise like I want to. I do yoga and walk a little, but I really like running. Though I could take up swimming or biking, neither one excites me as much as lacing up my sneakers and going for a jog in the cold dawn. I can’t do that now because of my weight. And for the first time, my weight is affecting the quality of my life.
  2. Decrease the risk of heart disease and cancer. Though (knock on wood) I have great blood pressure and am relatively healthy, I have lousy cholesterol. I see people who are my size with health issues like irregular heartbeat, sleep apnea, diabetes, and respiratory issues. Quite frankly, it scares the crap out of me.
  3. I have never been this heavy in my life. As the scale has inched upward about 35 pounds in the last three years, my heart almost broke the last time I weighed myself. While I have stopped beating myself up for my size, there is something very real and very visceral about those numbers on the scale. I gained every pound myself. Me.
  4. A dream trip. I am planning a backpacking trip to Scotland – the trip of a lifetime. Ever since I was a little girl, I have wanted to walk the Highlands and stay in charming bed & breakfasts along the way. I can’t do that at the current weight I am at. Not with pain being a factor in my everyday life.
  5. A Chanel jacket. I bought a Chanel jacket and it really wouldn’t take losing a whole lot of weight for me to button it up. And this jacket is bomb. It is pink and the lining is as soft as a baby’s butt. I fully plan on wearing the shit out of it when I can fit into it.

Maybe some of these reasons – a blazer and a vacation – sound like frivolous reasons to lose weight. But they are my reasons. Just like everyone has their own demons in dealing with their weight, they need to embrace the why. The why of their weight loss motivation.

Or, more importantly, the why of why they love themselves. Because self-acceptance and inner peace can only come with keeping the why front and center. There’s no shame in working towards a goal.

What is your biggest goal, and what is your biggest motivation for that goal? Comment below!

How to Be a Daily Feminist

The news this week has just left me in a stupor.

Every time I open my laptop, get on Facebook or Twitter, turn on NPR, or watch TV, my blood starts to boil or I feel a little nauseous. As much as I try to filter the media I consume, it’s just everywhere.

But there is hope. There is so much hope.

As hundreds of thousands of people marched last weekend in cities all around the country in support of women and women’s rights, what’s the next step? The pussy beanies have been put away, the media attention is dying down. So now what?

I’ll tell you what. If you believe in feminism, it’s time to start thinking about practicing #DailyFeminism. It’s time to be stronger, louder, but more loving than ever before. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Donate or volunteer to causes you care about. Whether it’s the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, a political party, or any organization that serves women, put your money or your time where your heart is. Don’t think you make a difference? Think about helping one person. Then think about what your time or financial support means to one person. It’s a game-changer for them, and it makes a world of difference to them. You can’t save the entire planet, but you have influence in your town, in your neighborhood, and in your own family. Use it. Wield your power to do good!
  1. Get political. Write. Email. Tweet. No matter what your political affiliation is, if you don’t act or speak, nothing will ever change. A local politician here in Nebraska was caught retweeting a disgusting, misogynistic caption of women marching last weekend. I was sick of it. I called his office to (civilly) voice my disgust and called on him to step down. I then called my state senator to encourage her opposition. He resigned the next day. Not because of my two phone calls, but I hold my head high knowing hundreds of women in my state called for this politician to resign, and he did. There is power in numbers.
  1. Be respectful of other women. There are memes floating around Facebook “In a world of Kardashians, be an Audrey Hepburn/Lucille Ball/insert name of old-timey actress.” While I am certainly not a Kim’s fan, I don’t see the need to tear other women down based on their persona, brand, or how they choose to live their lives. It doesn’t move the feminist dialogue any further. And when our friends and relatives see us trashing other women – even really famous ones – they will think that woman-bashing is OK. But it’s not.
  1. Read books by feminist authors. From Mary Wollstonecraft to Erica Jong, there are hundreds of excellent writers to choose from. I will be the first to admit this is not my strong suit. But I do love Simone de Beauvoir, Virginia Woolf, and Kate Chopin. Find one book – even a short one (there are many free ones in the public domain you can download). Read it. Ask yourself what it means to you as a woman. Is there a lesson you can carry into your everyday life? Then celebrate. Because you just expanded your horizons, and no one can take that from you!
  1. Speak up. You have an opinion that matters. Don’t be afraid to share it, and don’t apologize for it. If your friends or family are unfairly criticizing a woman, speak up in her defense. If your co-workers are having a political discussion in the lunchroom, respectfully say what’s on your mind. If you want to attend a march, make a sign and go! The only thing I ask is to remember people have feelings, so getting up in someone’s face or belligerently arguing will not advance the dialogue.
  1. Consider the source. “Alternative facts” is now a thing. It’s up to us to question everything. Check the sources of your news, and consumer it wisely. I know the bias out in the conservative and liberal media, and I take all of it with a huge grain of salt. Don’t assume that article you read online is true or that interview you saw was unbiased. Be smart, but do be informed. An informed woman is a powerful woman.
  1. Call it out. When you see someone doing something good for other women – giving a seat up on a bus, defending a woman from verbal harassment, participating in a march – give some love. Post a thoughtful comment. Say a quiet “thank you.” Acknowledge the action that you just witnessed. Put some positivity out in the world – we need so much more of it!
  1. Love yourself. I really should have put this first. Because your ability to love, empower, and support other women stems from how you love, empower, and support yourself. I know it’s so much easier said than done, but be gentle with yourself. Do what makes you happy: a bubble bath, a walk, a manicure, a piece of cheesecake. Don’t spend all your time dwelling on the news if it makes you anxious (it makes me pretty queasy!). Read something that will make you happy. Whatever makes you the strongest and most content…do that, and be that.

Is there anything I left off the list? What do you do to practice daily feminism?

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