Body acceptance isn’t just for big girls

“You’re so skinny.”

“What’s your secret?”

“Why can’t my weight just fall off like that?”

“You’ve lost too much weight.”

“What are you trying to accomplish?”

“You don’t understand what it’s like to not be happy with your weight.”

And that the one thing I’ve heard no matter what size I am, “You need to get on this scale because I don’t believe that you weigh that much.”

At my heaviest, I probably wore a size 18 or 20. I say probably because I didn’t want to buy clothing larger than the one pair of size 16 pants that I owned. At home I lived in two different pairs of 2XL fleece pants purchased off a discount rack at our local drug store, along with-shirts and over sized sweatshirts that were promo items from a friend’s business.

I wasn’t happy with my limited options, so I cut out soda and started to walk daily. Most days I floated between 185 to 200 pounds depending on where I was in my cycle and how many snacks I consumed while my husband worked second shift and the girls were in bed. I was able to fit into a size 14 and while not great, my options at the thrift store opened up a bit more, especially when I realized maternity clothing fit me well, since I carried most of my weight in my core section.

When someone would find out how much I weighed they would tell me that they didn’t believe me and that they were surprised that I weighed that much. My tall frame and dressing to flatter my body type helped to hide the belly that people often confused for pregnancy. Years later I can still feel the phantom burn of hands on my belly from a particular instance where a woman argued with me about whether or not I was expecting, especially when she claimed that she felt a kick. I had Mexican for lunch, so she felt something.

Because of my weight and my Baptist faith I didn’t wear shorts; I found that dresses and skirts were easier to find at the thrift stores, so one hot summer day I decided that I would start the “Year Without Pants.” What started as an experiment became my signature look and I finally started to feel comfortable in my skin.

When I started working out of the house full time, I lost a little weight and now floated in between a size 12-16 depending on the time of the month and season. I accepted myself and was genuinely happy in the skin I was in and had amassed quite the wardrobe from thrifting and sale shopping. I often got compliments on how I looked and no longer took ‘you look so fancy’ as an insult.

This was taken on vacation in spring of 2014. My hands are resting on my thighs to keep the flowy dress from blowing up and flashing the world I felt very uncomfortable in this dress as it exposed my upper arms and with the breeze highlighted my larger core and legs since I had to hold my dress down on the breezy day.

This was taken on vacation in spring of 2014. My hands are resting on my thighs to keep the flowy dress from blowing up and flashing the world I felt very uncomfortable in this dress as it exposed my upper arms and with the breeze highlighted my larger core and legs since I had to hold my dress down on the breezy day.

About 18 months ago, more weight started dropping off. It didn’t really bother me at first because after a knee injury and the limited mobility it caused me during recovery, some of my favorite pieces of clothing were getting a bit tight.

First twenty pounds, then 30, and then during a routine physical, my doctor asked what I was doing to get rid the 45 pounds I had lost since my last physical. I told her I wasn’t trying to lose weight. We chalked it up to a changes in life and hormones with hitting middle age and agreed we would keep an eye on it. When I hit 75 pounds of unintentional weight loss in a little over a year, I earned myself a referral to the GI doctor and a full body CT scan.

People noticed that I was losing weight and would tell me how great I looked, but they often looked disappointed when I told them that I had no idea how the weight was coming off and that my doctors and I were looking into the cause.

My standard answer to inquiries about my weight became “undiagnosed medical condition” because it would normally stop the tirade of trying to convince me to divulge my secret. Surprisingly, on more than one occasion, I had someone tell me that they didn’t care what the cause of my weight loss was but they wished it would fall off them as effortlessly as it had for me.

There were others who were concerned I had lost too much weight and confronted me about eating disorders, trying to feed me every chance they had. When I would politely decline their food advances I was met with hostility, because clearly I wanted to be this way.

Yes, I wanted to have to carry a stadium chair around with me wherever I went because sitting on any surface caused great amounts of pain in my hips. I wanted to have to go out and buy all new clothes and shoes because everything I owned no longer fit me. Yes I said shoes, I lost a half of a size and buying a 10.5 shoe is next to impossible.

I especially wanted to see the annoyed look on people’s faces when I complained about my plight with losing all of this weight. Women think it’s okay to complain about clothes getting too tight, but the moment that you complain that yours are falling off, you get eye rolls and exasperated sighs.

“Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, Heather.”

I find myself struggling to accept this new version of me. I had accepted size 14 Heather. Size 14 Heather was pretty, she loved being in pictures and had accepted the skin she was in. I am working on loving the smaller version of myself. I am trying not to look at myself and think how gaunt and unhealthy I look. I’m not unhealthy, all of the numbers in my labs and on the scale point to a healthy weight.

Body acceptance isn’t just about accepting those bodies that are bigger, they are accepting all bodies. Each day I work on accepting this new smaller version of myself a little more and mourn size 14 Heather a little less. But man oh man, do I miss her boobs.

Meet Vivien

I know I know, I don’t write for years and I come back with hey world I have this tattoo because I didn’t kill myself.

When I jump in, I jump in the deep end. If you have been around for a while you know that about me and if you haven’t we should probably get properly acquainted.

Hi there, my name is Heather and I am a chronic over-sharer. Well only on the internet, in real life I probably won’t say much to you because meeting new people makes me all kinds of anxious. Unless I have my camera in my hand and am taking photos, because then I have a job to do. It’s complicated, I’m complicated or as I like to call it quirky. It’s taken me nearly 40 years to be comfortable with my quirkiness and some days I still struggle.

Nearly 40.

I can’t believe that in 30 days I will be forty years old. It feels like just yesterday I was graduating high school with a baby on my hip. Now that baby is old enough buy booze and has a baby of her own. Its crazy how time flies.

Giggles and The Chicken have both grown up and flew the coop. I remember when just pondering the thought of living without them here gave me such anxiety and now I have to remind them when it is late at night that they need to go home because they don’t live here anymore. It’s kind of funny how life works that way.

Who would have thought we would be empty-nesters before I was 40? It’s really not that bad except for the whole, I can’t force the children to do tasks in exchange for punishment. Written as I look at the Christmas trees still adorning my house the end of April. I know I said I was quirky, but I don’t want to be that quirky.

So where were we? Ah yes, we were getting properly acquainted.

If you follow me on Instagram you have seen our family grow.

If you haven’t been following me on Instagram, you may see my family like I do from 2010.

Our little family of four

But the reality is that this is our family now, well as of Thanksgiving 2016.

Thanksgiving 2016

Here we have The Husband, Giggles holding the baby, my floating head, The Chicken holding the selfie stick, The Chicken’s fiance and Giggles’ partner.

Not only did the girls grow up, they went and found themselves some pretty fantastic guys and we even added a baby to the mix. I guess I should be clear Giggles and her partner added a baby to the mix. The husband and I get to enjoy being grandparents.

Vivien

Grandma.

I never thought I would be a grandmother before I was 40, but here I am and I love it. It is true what they say being a grandparent is so much better than being a parent. I know I am pretty biased but she is one beautiful baby, I know at nearly 17 months old she isn’t a baby anymore and I should start calling her a toddler but I am not ready for that.

She is one of the most determined babies you will ever meet. You can see the gears turning in her head when she is trying to figure out a problem. I see a lot of my father in law in her and I am sure that he would be proud to know that she has the fierceness that his family is known for.

Are you new here? Are you a returning friend? Let me know what’s going on in your life as I would love to get to know you!

Breathe

Breathe.

Such a simple word with such an impactful meaning for me that is forever inscribed on my inner wrist.

People comment and ask why I need a reminder to do what my body should be able to do on its own.

Breathe.

People wonder if I have it there because of my severe persistent asthma.

Breathe.

People ask me if I was drunk when I got the tattoo done.

Breathe.

breathe

I have dealt with suicidal thoughts most of my life. There are always reasons why I shouldn’t do it and most of my reasoning for staying is because I don’t want to inconvenience anyone else. I don’t talk about it much because who wants to hear that I have a plan in place and some days I am annoyed that I have items on my mental ‘To Stay’ list.

One day, some time ago, all of the stars aligned and everything was pointing to this being the day. My husband was gone, as were the girls, and he would be the one to find me. Not that it will be easy to find me, but he knows where to look as we have had frank and honest conversations about these feelings swirling in my head. As I drove home from getting gas in the car, because the last thing you want your loved one to have to worry about when they are driving around making funeral arrangements is getting gas in the car, my phone rang. At first I decided I wasn’t going to take the call, but then I felt guilt that this friend might think that if she had only come over to my house that she could have saved me. No one should ever have to live with that kind of guilt, so I answered.

I remember listening to myself on the phone, my voice was flat and when she asked me if I wanted to come over for a glass of wine, I refused, telling her that I had plans. She knew I was alone for the weekend and wouldn’t take no for answer, so I decided that I could wait a few more hours since no one would be home at my house for days. As we sat in her basement sipping on our wine, she told me I didn’t seem like myself and asked what plans were so important that I was trying to blow her off. I don’t remember what I answered but I told her I was doing something permanent.

I remember the look of panic in her eyes as she finished off her glass of wine and tried to lighten the mood by asking if I meant getting a tattoo. Before I knew it I was being whisked off to one of our local tattoo parlors that were open at 10 o’clock on a Saturday night. And when I say whisked I mean I drove, because my friend had had a bit too much wine, couldn’t drive, and doesn’t realize that she saved my life.

As I pondered what I was going to get tattooed on my body, I realized that the moment had passed. That if I went through with my plan, my friend would feel guilty because she didn’t see the signs. I chose breathe to be tattooed on my wrist as a reminder that spur of the moment decisions have permanent consequences and cannot be undone. When life seems too hard, when the voices get too loud, when I have all of the items checked off of my list I need to take a moment and just breathe.

Often times when I am struggling or stressed, you will find me rubbing my wrist and just trying to breathe.

I have tried to talk to doctors about my issues and they all seem surprised because I look happy and well adjusted. They don’t want to hear about my anxiety or the sleepless nights. They don’t want to hear about how I can have a rational conversation with them about the horrible things I want to do to myself while I’m dressed nicely and functioning as an adult. They have given me multiple choice tests that I second guess being truly honest with them on because I don’t want to seem that crazy. Because when things you think or do are staring back at you in that generic black and white font, they seem worse. Maybe they are right, maybe it’s not that bad. I mean everyone has stress in their life, right?

My husband has asked me if I am afraid that one day I will run out of reasons to not follow through with my plan. My answer changes based on my mood and mental state at the time. But afraid, not really.

I don’t share this to make you uncomfortable. I don’t share it for you to be concerned. I share it because more people need to be talking about it and not just during the month of September.

September is Suicide Prevention Month.