2

fat.

Fat.

I don’t remember the first time the word was said to me. I don’t know if I overheard someone saying it, using it to describe me, or if it was a self-directed jab.

I wish I knew.
I wish I knew where that feeling came from.
I wish I knew so that I could make it stop.

With the exception of when I was born and the few months after, I was never a small person. I was taller, I was bigger, I was faster, I was stronger. When I was younger, and sometimes still, I just wanted to fit in, to swim with the rest of the fish and not stick out. I wanted to wear the same clothes, to not feel like a fish out of water constantly.. and to not be in the middle of every class or team picture because I was the tallest. I just wanted to be in the front row and play shortstop, not in the middle of the back row and stuck out in the outfield because no one could hit that far, you know?

I was made fun of a lot growing up, but I never considered myself bullied, and I think that’s partly because people were just talk, they never put their words into actions because I was a head taller. There were some mean kids, and they said mean things, and I’m extremely lucky that I don’t remember a lot of it. I don’t know if I just pushed it from accessible memory, or if it was more self-imposed than anything.

In our culture, the word “fat” carries so many things. It carries strife and anxiety. It carries fear and self-hatred. It carries a feeling of inadequacy and self-loathing. I really don’t like it. In Spanish, when you’re called “Gordit@” as a kid, it’s more of a factual statement. Sometimes its even a term of endearment from your grandma, but in English… nope, not so much.

Being called fat did a lot of subtle damage, I’m finding. I’m still trying to get over and through my own struggles with my body and how it does, or doesn’t, work, and it’s hard. Very hard, actually. The one thing I have learned is that no matter how hard it is, taking even a tiny step forward and out of the shadow of a word is breathtaking in all the right ways.

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1

OMG We’re back again….

Yes, I really did just name this post after a Backstreet Boys song. Hate all you want.

Thanks to a lucky new friend who’s also a budding writer, I’m back in the writing groove. I’ve decided to start a bit of writing challenge, so you’ll see some clumps of posts go up over the next couple days, and then hopefully just daily after that.

This writing challenge is mostly about the body and body image and I couldn’t be more grateful that it came around now. Here’s the link if you want to join.. Brittany, herself: August Write Your Face Off

First few posts are going up tomorrow.. And they’ll most definitely be out of the order they’re listed in, so enjoy :)

2

Be nicer.

Friends come and go, some relationships are in and out like the tide and others are just perfect all the time.

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve had a lot of different interactions with different friends, and it’s been good for my soul. Some I see often, and others not so much. There’s something about being able to call/text someone you haven’t seen in months, figure out a time to visit and realize that although time has passed, that friendship is still strong.

Not many people know, but I was asked to be in a wedding this summer, and then about a month or so after I lost my job, was “un-asked” to be in the wedding. I did my best to take it in stride, wedding parties are hard to nail down, and things do change, but when you’re told that “you just aren’t a good enough friend” after helping pick out the bridesmaid dresses and help with other things, it just kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I’ve come to terms with it, and while it sucks, I really don’t want to have people who push me out around. It was an eye-opening moment, even though I was terribly upset and irritated for a week or so. I hadn’t had something like that happen since high school when my friends said I wasn’t living enough of a “peaceful existence” to be friends with them. Basically, it was that I didn’t listen to the same music they did. (I know, right!?)

I felt like I was kicked while I was down, and I didn’t appreciate it. I didn’t get angry, well… I did, but not in the way I expected. I figured I’d get all huffy and puffy, cuss a lot and throw things like I used to, but I didn’t. I was calm, I was sad, I was hurt more than anything, and most of all, I was disappointed. I’m not sure if I was disappointed in the actions of the other person, or in myself for “not being a better friend.” Looking back, I was just fine. I went out of my way to hang out, and help, and be around for happy hour and whatnot. I was there and I was present. The only things I couldn’t control were the feelings and mindset of the other person in the situation.

Nevertheless, that good ol’ comforting feeling of inadequacy crept in and started to degrade every part of me. Was I not wealthy enough? Was I too tall? Too large? Too unemployed? Too everything? I realized I was beating myself up left and right for reasons that I can’t really explain. None of this was my fault, but I made sure that I felt like it was, which made me more angry. This time, at myself. I shouldn’t be forcing myself to feel this way. I need to stop. Soon.

That inadequacy hung around until I went to Europe. Not while I was in New York, but the minute I landed in Europe. I’ve never been greeted with such sincerity, such compassion and lack of judgement. I was afraid that I’d be seen as a typical American, and that was my biggest fear. Luckily, I wasn’t. I was accepted, I was comfortable and I felt better about myself. Some friends of mine think I’m crazy when I say that I’ve never been complimented so much while I was in Europe, but it’s so true. Compliments here are usually a bit backhanded, “even though you’re so tall, I love your calves.” or, the best one ever, “you know, for a bigger girl, you dress really well.” I’m sorry, what? I can’t just have a nice style or something? I don’t know, I guess I don’t get it, but I don’t understand why we can’t just say a nice thing without cutting each other down at the same time. In Spain, I was told I was beautiful and intriguing by many people, friends and strangers alike (mostly at the wedding I was at so it wasn’t totally creepy). As soon as I landed at JFK before my connection home, I had to remind myself that I wouldn’t hear those things anymore. That I wasn’t the same person here, that I wouldn’t be received the same. So, sorry if I’m a little cautious when someone compliments me… I just don’t really believe it.

This post is kind of a whirlwind, but it all kind of came from this post by Everyday Feminism that seriously had me in tears while I read it. The idea that I’m a horrible person because I’m not tiny is ridiculous. I do my best to eat right and exercise, but no matter what I do, I don’t actually lose weight. My body starts to look different, but the scale doesn’t change. I can’t really help this, so I’m doing my best. I’m smart, I’m educated, I’m funny, I’m limitless and I’m loyal, but to a lot of people, I’m lazy, ugly, careless, undisciplined and whatever else you want to add to the list. Deep down, I know I’m not those things, but after years of hearing them, it’s hard to break a habit like that.

I’m not quite sure how to close this entry, other than downright begging people to be kinder and genuinely nicer to someone. If you compliment someone, do it with authenticity. Be genuine. Tell them why, not just “you look nice,” but why they caught your eye. It’s important, and we need to start doing it more. To each other and to ourselves… because, as Alexis Jones of I Am That Girl put it at Fourth Estate, if people knew the way we all talked to ourselves, they’d be appalled. Be nicer.

0

too many things

There are quite a lot of things I want to write about, but each time I start, I’m not really sure if I should be writing about it.. so backspace it is. Every time.

I’m not sure if it’s just because it’s too personal and stings too much or that I’m afraid that I’ll hurt people’s feelings or that I’m too scared to admit these things out loud.

I’m not really sure what to do.

2

I’m lumpy. Part 2

I wasn’t exactly “devastated” after getting the diagnosis, there was a sense of relief in finally knowing what was wrong, but also a quest to find a way to fix, or find ways to cope, with the side effects because there’s no real way to cure PCOS.

Here’s a list of the normal symptoms/side affects of PCOS (according to womenshealth.gov):

– Infertility (not able to get pregnant) because of not ovulating. In fact, PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility.
 – Infrequent, absent, and/or irregular menstrual periods
 – Hirsutism (HER-suh-tiz-um) — increased hair growth on the face, chest, stomach, back, thumbs, or toes
 – Cysts on the ovaries
 – Acne, oily skin, or dandruff
 – Weight gain or obesity, usually with extra weight around the waist
 – Male-pattern baldness or thinning hair
 – Patches of skin on the neck, arms, breasts, or thighs that are thick and dark brown or black
 – Skin tags — excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area
 – Pelvic pain
 – Anxiety or depression

The ones in bold are the ones that I have/had to deal with. Some are easier to control than others, but it’s still weird. Additionally, it’s now thought that the easy weight gain is caused by an insulin resistance, and have a hand in high blood pressure, high cholesterol and/or diabetes mellitus (high blood sugar).. two of which I have. The most common treatment is to start a birth control regimen, as that regulates your hormones and for a lot of people, to start taking Metformin, which is a diabetes drug that helps regulate your body’s insulin.

Here’s more good news:

 – More than 50 percent of women with PCOS will have diabetes or pre-diabetes (impaired glucose tolerance) before the age of 40.
 – The risk of heart attack is 4 to 7 times higher in women with PCOS than  – women of the same age without PCOS.
 – Women with PCOS are at greater risk of having high blood pressure.
 – Women with PCOS have high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.
 – Women with PCOS can develop sleep apnea. This is when breathing stops for short periods of time during sleep.

Insane right? This isn’t even all of it. There’s not enough research done, but I’ve found a few different sources that say that PCOS could be linked to regular ovarian cysts and in untreated cases, endometrial (uterine) cancer. Guess who has a history of both of these things in her family!? Yeah, this girl. My aunts and cousins have had cysts (all benign so far) and my grandma had endometrial cancer. (This is also why I have such an issue with the whole pink ribbon business.)

Insulin resistance is turds, let me tell you. For anyone who knows people who have taken Metformin, you know it does a number on your body. According to the Mayo Clinic, “if you have insulin resistance, your ability to use insulin effectively is impaired, and your pancreas has to secrete more insulin to make glucose available to cells. The excess insulin might boost androgen production by your ovaries.” Either way, your body isn’t doing what it’s supposed to, and a lot of times, you have INSANE cravings (cake, cookies, chili cheese fries and pizza for me). I take Metformin twice a day (if I remember), after I eat lunch and dinner. When you’re first getting used to taking it, for at least the first 2 weeks, don’t eat fibery veggies or a big salad after about 6pm because you’ll be up all night. You’ll be nauseous, you’re mouth will taste like metal, you’ll have hot flashes, you’ll have night sweats, you’ll smell weird, and you’ll just be uncomfortable… but after that, it evens out and you (usually, and not everyone) start feeling a little better.

It’s one of the least painful things that my body has gone through, but it’ll probably be the longest lasting one. I don’t really tell people I have it, and when they see me take the Metformin at a restaurant, I just say that “it’s because I don’t work right,” which is mostly true. I’ve forever been self-conscious and weird about my self-image, a lot of it coming from weight issues. I’ve never seen myself as “pretty” because no matter how hard I worked, it was never enough to garner results. Never. Imagine yourself at 19. You’re eating annoyingly healthy, you’re running about 20 miles a week, you don’t drink or smoke, you walk a ton (because you’re in college) and you’re an athlete who has 4-6 hour practices EVERY SINGLE DAY. But when you weigh yourself, you’ve maybe lost half a pound or maybe nothing at all. There’s never a significant change no matter what you do. You start to tell yourself that it’s “muscle mass” and that, in fact, it weights much more than fat does. Okay, but your body shape isn’t changing at all. Well, that’s because unknowingly, you’re prone to abdominal weight. Just fat, chillin all up in your midsection and thighs. I’ve never liked wearing shorts, you’ll rarely see me do it. I’m so good at layering that you’ll rarely know how self conscious I am about my torso. You find ways to hide it.

All in all, it comes down to one thing. Your body, is doing it wrong and there isn’t much you can do about it.

Being more prone to anxiety and depression makes a hell of a lot more sense now than ever before. I get down really easily, convincing myself that, yet again, whatever I do is never enough and I’m too good at convincing myself NOT to do something because it’s terrifying. I’ve just gotten to the point where I can drive down a street with one or two other cars on it nine years after I was in a car accident that flipped me across the 91 freeway. NINE YEARS. Every part of being in a car still bothers me. There’s about 100 other things I could list that give me anxiety for no reason, but that would take too long. In short, I’ve slowly decided to start dealing with some of these fears. I’ve come closer to being able to drive in the last year than I have at any point before then. I’ve traveled across one of the largest bodies of water and made it home in one piece. Most importantly, I’ve stopped trying to stay disconnected from people and I’ve started to be nicer to myself on a more consistent basis.

Slowly but surely, right?

——
Yoga update:
I haven’t gone yet, but it was mostly because I had to wait til payday. It worked out though, the studio posted a groupon in the mean time for an unlimited month. YES.

1

I’m lumpy. Part 1

What we see in the mirror isn’t always what other people see.
Most people know this.
Some people are vocal about the varying degrees of body issues, how it affects them and how they see themselves.
Others are not.

I’ve had varying views of myself, each of which have become more and more ingrained as I’ve gotten older.

Remember this? It was blue for boys and pink for girls and it was so nicely marked up by your pediatrician when you were younger… most people fit in all of these ranges just fine, some are on the smaller end, and some, like me, are literally off the charts. I’ve always known that I was taller and bigger than most people my age, but when I was younger, it was much more measurable. That top set of lines regards height. That top line is the 95th percentile. I never remember a time when I wasn’t about an inch above that. A head taller than the chart… and my classes until about 7th grade when the guys started catching up. 
Because of this, I was made fun of a lot and never really knew how to handle it. Sorry I was tall? It’s not like I could really control how fast I grew. By the time I was 9, I was 5’2″ the same height as my aunt (although she’ll say she’s 5’2.75″) and taller than my 4th grade teacher. At this point, I just wished I could blend in and be unseen. I was growing so fast that I ended up breaking a bone in my foot after I did a cartwheel because the connective tissue in my feet was so stretched out. In other words, my body couldn’t keep up with itself.  
Here’s an example.

1989. I was three. My cousin Catherine is 3 years older than me and we were practically the same size. We were/are still incredibly cute.

Anyway, I never really understood why I had to be the one to grow insanely tall. By 5th grade, I wore the same size clothes and shoes as my mom and was nearly the same height. Getting teased about my height has always been something I’ve encountered, even now at 27. “Wow you’re so tall.” is something I get more often than I’d like to admit. It’s one of those comments that you don’t really know how to react to because it’s not like you don’t know how tall you are, but you don’t want to be rude.

I still don’t really know why I grew so fast. I guess my body knew it was meant for big things? Growing that fast hurts, literally. Growth spurts, growing pains, all those things people talk about are real things. My joints ached, my body hurt so bad I could barely walk at times and there were many years of just general discomfort. I still have a lot of those same pains, partly due to so many injuries, which can come from growing so fast. My limbs are extra bendy and like to sprain themselves or dislocate for fun. Luckily not as often as when I was still playing sports, but often enough that it’s annoying. Either way, I have always had an issue with my height. Sometimes I feel like I’m too tall, sometimes like I’m not tall enough. No matter, it’s always been a struggle. In addition to my height, I have shoulders like a lineman, calves for DAYS that never fit in pants or boots and big feet. I don’t like it, I still struggle with how I look a lot, and like most, have good and bad days. A lot of how I view(ed) myself comes from a feeling of inadequacy, something that haunts me even still. I’ve never felt good enough. I used those feelings to drive myself deeper into sports, practicing longer and harder than my teammates, measuring success anyway I could until I would get hurt. Without that to identify with any more, I don’t feel whole, and that inadequacy comes sneaking back in. I beat myself up for a lot that I shouldn’t, but I’ll never really say what or when. Just know that it’s a lot. Like, a lot a lot.

——–

Fast forward through puberty when things didn’t seem to be going like other girls I knew, if you get my drift. Everything odd with my body was blamed on the fact that I “was an athlete” and the constant practice and exercise was affecting how my body was developing and cycling away. Okay, that’s fine, no 15 year old wants to have her period anyway. As I got older, especially after I stopped competing when I was 21, I knew something was up. My body was not doing what it should, what it should self-regulate to do after a decrease in strenuous activity, something wasn’t right.
Go to the doctor, right?
CANT.
I was 24 and no longer covered under my mom’s insurance. HOORAY. So let’s fast forward again, after college when I was employed at a (terrible) place that offered insurance. As soon as my insurance papers were turned in, I started researching local doctors because I had to find out what was wrong. During that last fast forwarding, I researched different things that could be wrong with me, scaring the bejesus out of myself in the process. I scheduled my physical and waited what seemed like forever until the appointment.

My doctor is amazing, and upon hearing the details of how things had never really be consistent and what I had been told (the athlete comment), she wanted to run a wider scope on my blood panel and see if that would tell us what was going on. Well, it didn’t. Along with the fact that I’ve never really been able to lose weight, she was tipped off by my slightly off cholesterol levels and high triglycerides. She explained what she thought it might be, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I had seen this diagnosis thrown around when I was looking things up, but steered away from it because I didn’t have a lot of the outward symptoms (Mayo Clinic description). She requested that I get a pelvic ultrasound (ugh) to see if that could tell us anything about the state of my ovaries.

It did. When I got up from the chair, the screen was still up and I saw a version of this:

I knew exactly what that meant.

Here’s some reference for you healthy ovary folks or the ovary-less:

This post is getting insanely long, so I’m going to stop here, because I think it’s a good stopping point, and I need to get back to work. I’ll add to this soon, probably in a second post, because there was a lot that came with finally being diagnosed.

xx

2

Fearing Fear

I’ve always been a little timid, nervous and reluctant to take a chance on things. It’s only really been lately that I’ve realized how detrimental this is and how much I have come to resent that side of me.

I’m to scared to __________________.
Just fill in the blank with nearly anything and it’s quite possible it applies.

A recent blog post by a friend of mine, Meg, really got me thinking about how much fear plays a roll in my daily life. How scared am I to walk the talk that I talk? The more I thought about it, the more irritated I became. I’ve traveled to Europe by myself, navigated through countries where I didn’t speak the native tongue, yet somehow managed to find my way back home just fine… why was I still afraid? What was their to fear?

Failure
Embarrassment
Anxiety
Rejection

They actually spell out FEAR. How annoying, but really, how important are these things?

I’ve said that I’ve wanted to start a business for a couple years, but why haven’t I taken the leap?
Fear of failure.

I’ve said that I know how to drive, but it’s the anxiety that stops me.

I don’t put myself out there to find new friends or people to date… rejection, embarrassment, anxiety, you name it… but a lot of this comes with a skewed view of self, which I’ll get to in my next post.

I can go on and on about everything that I’m afraid of, but I’d rather not because that just seems awful. I’d rather go about explaining myself, and trying to sort out what’s going on in my head, and why.

Back to Meg. After reading her most recent post, I sat there crying. I realized that I fear so much for no real reason and that most people do the same thing. I’m scared to open myself for fear of being hurt.. so I did something I dreaded. I sent Meg a message on Facebook, telling her that I could relate to wanting to go about things on my own, that trusting other people was too difficult and how, like her, I needed to change this thought process.

First troublesome thing to overcome, I decided, was small to some, but meant a hell of a lot to me. I started going to Bikram Yoga in July and LOVED it. Loved is really an understatement as I hadn’t felt the adrenaline and endorphin rush that each class provided in nearly 7 years… since before I’d hurt my back. I realized that I became reluctant to go because I was enjoying it too much. I was scared. Scared that I would get too connected. Scared that I would lose this outlet just like I’d lost basketball and throwing. My pain tolerance is too high, my body too broken. I kept finding excuses… too tired, too crampy, too anything. After reading Meg’s post, I realized that I had to go back. Not only to overcome this ridiculous fear, but for my own sanity again. I included that in my message to her (she’s a hot yoga teacher) and she empathized with the feeling, telling me that surprisingly, it’s normal.

I’m going back in on Sunday morning. Back into the heat, to sweat out the toxins, the toxic thoughts and to find my way through the fear.
Here goes.