Wednesday, August 13, 2014

On Being Fat

Let's talk about being fat for a minute.  Yep, you heard me right.

Being fat was no fun for me.  I hated the way I looked.  I felt uncomfortable in my own skin.  I was ashamed that I spent ten years of my life surviving my emotions by eating them.  All of them.  I didn't own a scale (and while I respect the right to the opinion that "the number on the scale doesn't matter," I feel that it most absolutely does--to me.)  I let myself get ONE HUNDRED POUNDS overweight.


Let that sink in for a minute.

One.  Hundred.  Pounds.  Overweight.

And do you know what people told me?  You're funny, kind, a real sweetheart, you have a pretty face, you're so creative and talented.  But no one ever told me the truth.  Even the doctors danced around it, afraid to offend me.  But what was maybe in the back of everyone's mind and should have been said was not.  I could have benefitted from an honest talk with friends.  But I was too busy hiding in a corner with a box of donuts to listen.

Since I was twelve years old I had made plans to get into a bikini before summer.  Every February, in the heart of winter, I would take a page out of my sketchbook, and I would write a monthly plan.  I--having no idea the reality--would set a goal of five pounds lost every week.  By summer, I'd finally fit in that bikini--and fit in with the cool kids.

But at twelve, I wasn't fat.  Not at all.  I was told I was getting fat, by people who loved me.   I'd go visit my Vietnamese grandma (my mom's step mom) and she'd say "Jessie!  You be so pretty if you not so fat!" and hand me a twenty dollar bill.  Which I'd inevitably spend on new colored pencils and candy.  I visited my dad's house every other weekend and for the summer, and it was a long drive.  At the gas station where my mom filled up the car, I'd pick out a pop and candy.  Then I'd get into my dad's car, and he'd by me a treat.  Everyone felt guilty about the situation, and I took advantage.  But I still wasn't fat.

I wasn't fat throughout middle and high school either.  I tried out for various sports teams, and would be rejected because I wasn't athletic enough.  I started to sing in choir, because it was something I was good at.  I painted pictures because it was something I was good at.  When my parents moved me to a teeny tiny school in a teeny tiny town at the beginning of my tenth grade year, I could join any sports team I wanted, because they needed all the help they could get, even in the form of a petite, non-athletic girl.  I became a cheerleader (a cheerleader in a teeny tiny school isn't as cool as you think.)  I got good grades and worked two jobs to save money for college.  I started Running Start, and went to college full time while still attending high school, but I was slowly eased out of the usual high school experiences.  Administration saw fit to exclude full-time Running Start students from cheerleading--oh wait, was I the only one that happened to?  Hm, I don't quite remember.

During my twelfth grade year (my second year of college, too) I was excluded from a lot of activities at the high school.  I "didn't make" the sports teams.  I was excused from my senior project (because I was getting a college degree.)  My wonderful music teacher was the only one who encouraged me to participate, so I still did the musicals, and sang a (horribly painful to hear) rendition of "Hands" at graduation.  But I never fit in with any group.  I was already engaged to my high school sweetheart (yep, we're still married, after being together for seventeen years) so I didn't see the need to get all dressed up and play the dating game with boys.  My parents were gone a lot.  My mom and step-dad were a long distance trucking team.  They'd leave on a Monday, be gone through the next weekend, and return the following Friday.  I worked, went to school, and did my own grocery shopping.  I was free to eat whatever I wanted.  I'd stock up on low fat yogurt, saltines, grapes, and Slim Fast powder.  And then I'd be so busy I'd run to the college and get a granola bar and juice for breakfast.  I'd stop at Taco Bell for a burrito for dinner.  When my parents were home, I'd cook the only things I'd ever had cooked for me: Hamburger Helper, spaghetti and noodles, mashed potatoes and hamburger gravy.

When I moved out for college, I was suddenly keeping a home for myself and my fiancee.  I had no clue how to cook anything, but it was liberating!  I loved going to the grocery store and trying new things.  I'd ask my step-mom for her recipes, like bread stuffed with pizza toppings, or white enchiladas made with cream of chicken soup, cheese, and sour cream.  I'd cook unhealthy foods, because I had no idea I was doing anything to harm myself.  I was so busy, I forgot to look at a mirror.  I started working in an office, and had no time to walk.  I joined a gym several times, but it was too expensive to be sustainable.  Besides, I couldn't keep up with the aerobics class I wanted to take anyway.  Yoga was more my speed, but only because it was slow.  I sweated my way up stairs and suffered through half mile walks.  And then I got pregnant, and moved across the country.  And with the hormonal shifts, depression, and lack of friends, I got fat.  Really fat.

Throughout all of this, I did not own a scale.  Looking back, I thoroughly believe that if I'd had a scale, I would have seen the numbers creeping up, and had the awareness to do something.  I don't for a minute believe that I would have let this happen had I seen it happening.

Two years ago, I jokingly joined a crossfit challenge at a local gym with a friend, and opened my eyes to a whole new world.  Since then, it's been hard.  I've shifted my entire view on food, and my husband's as well.  I've made slow and steady changes, and am currently focusing on whole foods in certain portions due to my hormonal and hereditary tendencies.  I am stronger and fitter and healthier.  I've lost 60 pounds.  I have 40 to go (possibly 50, depending on which doctor I'm talking to, ahem.)  I have lost 3 sizes.  I have lost five inches from my hips, 5 inches from my stomach, and 6 inches from my bust (rude.)  But I have not lost my perspective.  I look in the mirror and at my private, before pictures, and I do not always see a difference.  Most of the time, I still see a fat girl with a pretty face, who happens to be funny, creative, and talented.  And I've been terrified that that's all I'll ever see.  But occasionally, I look down at myself, in whatever outfit I've chosen for the day, and think fleetingly, "I look good."  It's rare, but it's there.

I still do not care to put on makeup or do my hair, something which I know bothers certain people.  I did dye my hair blue, which looks pretty cute.  I have taken a slight notice in the clothes I wear, since I can now fit into a size that manufacturers deem appropriate for cute, nicer fitting clothes.  But not much has changed with my outward appearance, aside from my size and possibly a tiny bit more self confidence.

And yet I'm noticing that people notice me more.  If I go out to the store, some men stop and talk to me (until they notice my wedding rings, haha.)  At the water park a week ago, a certain man continued to seek me out and was incredibly nice and flirtatious, no matter how many times I mentioned my husband.  A man at the grocery store had a five minute conversation about fruit and his favorite types of movies.  And I'm getting much more help with doors.

I don't sit in the dark of winter writing out a plan to lose weight, because it has become a part of my daily life.  I don't drink diet shakes and eat low fat yogurt; I choose whole, fresh foods and only eat when I'm hungry.  I'm not starving; I am doing just fine.

I appreciate that people have the right to be comfortable in their own skin.  Far be it from me to ever judge anyone based on their appearance, or by their number on the scale.  But for me, that number is important.  It told me I was risking my life.  Now, it tells me I am making progress.  Hopefully, someday it will tell me I am healthy.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

FO: Toddler Backpack

Since I am such an amazing auntie and big sister, I made my nephew a backpack!  Never mind that my sister asked me to make it oh, about two years ago.

(That's beside the point.)

Sometimes, I feel like I just shouldn't sew anymore.  That the act of choosing fabric, ironing said fabric, cutting it up, pinning it, sewing it together is so difficult.  Because I don't have a ton of time, and it's an *effort* to sit still at my machine and plug away at a project for two hours.  Or I'm randomly interrupted by two little munchkins who depend on me to, you know, eat and stuff, and I lose my train of thought, and why should I bother starting something if it's going to take me weeks (or months) to finish.

But I still enjoy it immensely when I get to it, which is why I still do it.  And I know that my kids won't be small forever and need me for everything.  And sometimes, when I set aside to make something that's been stewing on my to-do list for awhile (ahem, I don't think that's the correct word choice for two years, but I'm going to go with it.)  And when I see the face that the recipient makes when I tell them that this is indeed for them, well, that makes it all worth it.

And of course, there's the fact that I made a backpack.  That's pretty spectacular!

The pattern is by Melissa at All Buttoned Up, for Stitch Magazine (Autumn 2010.)  The vehicle fabric is from Bolt, but I don't know who the manufacturer is.  It's Japanese though. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Fort Nisqually: Living History Museum

We took advantage of the rare sunny spring Pacific Northwest weather last weekend to finally visit Fort Nisqually.  It's so close, I can't believe we haven't been before.  And it was seriously amazing.  Ever since I was a little girl I've been in love with all things colonial (no surprise, given the things I'm into as an adult!)  Sidenote: I'm currently reading through this series, and LOVING IT!  This is next on my list (I can't believe I haven't read it before!)

I keep telling Jes I was born in the wrong century--and I absolutely believe it.  I would have kicked ass as a colonial woman.  Keepin' house/chickens/garden/sewing all the things like a BOSS!  (Yes, I'm very aware of the risks and dangers, and of how hard it was, but I maintain that I would have been an amazing homesteader.)

From the website: "Located in Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park, Fort Nisqually Living History Museum is a restoration of the Hudson’s Bay Company outpost on Puget Sound. Visitors experience life in Washington Territory during the 1850s Fur Trade era. Nine buildings are open to the public, including the Granary and the Factors House, both National Historic Landmarks, and a Visitor Center with Museum Store."

If you haven't been before, it's totally worth a trip to Tacoma.  The fee to get in is nominal (I think it was $18 for our family of four.)  All the households are kept up, and the actors are actually there doing work: gardening, blacksmithing, building.  (Also, I dragged my family to YET ANOTHER fabric store--haha!  Too bad it's just a display!)  BONUS: April 19th is Sewing to Sowing!  This has my name written all over it!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Keepin' it Real

Slightly off-topic from my usual crafty-talk, but this has come up a lot lately.  And this is where I'm at in my life, so it's natural for me to want to talk about parenting my kids.  Also, it's my blog, and I'll do what I wanna do.

Growing up, sex, relationship, and drugs were awkward, embarrassing, and sometimes taboo subjects.  

I come from a split family.  I was given two sex talks: 1, my step-mom had me read the passage from the bible about who you should be with to my three younger siblings ('You shall not give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the LORD. 22'You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. 23'Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion.…Leviticus 18:22) and 2, my step-dad--while I was trapped in the camaro, trying to learn how to drive a stick shift--told me I needed to use protection, and should only have sex with someone if I loved them (good advice, but the delivery could have been a little less, uhm, embarrassing.)  My mom--TO THIS DAY--will not talk about sex in front of me.  She will, during an intimate moment in a movie, still tell me to cover my eyes.  She was there when my second baby was born.  I am 32 years old.  She knows that  I know what sex is.  But it's still awkward for her.

Needless to say, I was confused.

I find it very, very important to talk to my kids about sex, relationships, and drugs.  Yes, they're only 3 and 7 years old, but I'm laying the foundation for having healthy conversations when they're older.  There are good reasons to do so, like reducing the risk of teen pregnancies, or avoiding drug addictions as adults.  I encourage everyone to talk with their children about these topics NOW so that when the big conversations come up you are prepared--you will have gotten over the awkward stage, and your child will know that it's OK to talk about anything with you.

While I'm at it, let me also mention that everything we talk about is developmentally appropriate.  

So, this morning, during our drive to school, Fini (3) is telling me how much he loves his hat (the red one I made for him.)  He's decided he's never going to grow out of it, and he can wear it forever.  So Eamon (7) says that he will in fact grow out of it, because he eats fruit and vegetables, and those give you energy to grow.  So I interject (recognizing both an oncoming argument and a chance to talk about sex with my kids--look people, it's either that, or we talk about Skylanders, and frankly, I'm tired of Skylanders) that it's actually Fini's DNA that determines how big he'll grow.

Me: "Isn't it cool that our bodies know exactly how much to grow?  Our genes send messages to our bodies to tell us whether or not we're boys or girls, or short or tall, or have brown eyes or green.  And that happens at conception, when the sperm fertilizes the egg." (See what I did there?)

Eamon: "If it happens at conception, then why did Aunty just find out that she's having a girl?"

Me: "Because her baby hadn't formed her vagina on the outside yet.  So even though Aunty is about twenty weeks pregnant, there wasn't an ultrasound strong enough to show us what was on the inside of the baby's body.  But her DNA was decided when the sperm and egg got together (he still hasn't asked me HOW they get together--see, keeping it developmentally appropriate.)"

Eamon: "So that's why a giant squid is squishy!"

Me: ".....I'm going to need more information, kiddo."

Eamon (speaking slowly, as if I need help understanding): "Well, the daddy giant squid and the mommy giant squid made a baby.  And at the baby's conception, his DNA determined that he would be squishy."

Me: "....."

Fini: "Awkward!"

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

FO: Guernsey Wrap

I loved knitting my Guernsey Wrap (by Jared Flood.)  It was so fun and simple to make.  It's huge, so it'll be perfect to wear to Cyclocross races--when it's early morning in the fall, or just, you know, walking outside.  Or sitting on the couch.  Because I'm always cold.

I knit this with Cascade 220, which is not the softest, but it'll soften up every time I soak it.  (I use Soak--have you tried it??  It smells so good!  I use it on all my super delicate hand-washables, as well as all my hand-knits.  My favorite scent is celebration!)

I've worked on this everywhere--the coffee shop, the school pickup line, Cyclocross races...I finished it up Monday, while we were at the hospital waiting for Fini's surgery to be done.  Which is the most stressed I've been in awhile.  He had tubes placed in his ears, and a laryngoscopy to see if there was a physical reason he keeps getting croup (there's not.)  His surgery went well, and he's back to being a crazy little boy!

And now I've moved onto my Follow Your Arrow!  I'm only on the first clue, but it is so fun so far!!! And my yarn is SPARKLY!!!