The Thief of Joy

one size fits none
That’s not fair. You are trying to take the easy way when there is no easy way. You’re cheating. You don’t have to work half as hard at this as I do. Why does she have it so easy while I have it so hard?  Jealousy, despondency, spitefulness, hopelessness, indignation, self-righteousness: these are all things I feel when I compare myself to others, when I compare my weight-loss journey to someone else’s. What is it that they say comparison is? The thief of joy.

It doesn’t stop there. Comparing myself to other people has an adverse effect on both my emotional state and my physical progress. Comparison steals a lot more than my joy. It robs me of motivation, self-confidence and empathy. In comparing my journey, my success (or lack thereof), my methods or beliefs to those of other people I become judgmental and resentful, subsequently making me feel ashamed of my thoughts and angered at myself for being anything short of supportive of people trying to change their lives and find their own happiness. It shifts my focus off of the only thing that really matters in this process: me.

I have my fitness journey. I have my own unique starting point. I have my ideas regarding the best way to lose weight., I have my own values as to the right way to do it, I have my own goals. I am proud of what I’ve achieved and, as I work hard to lose the weight I’ve regained, I re-embrace those methods and values and I focus on today’s starting point.  So why do I care about someone else’s journey? Why do I compare myself with them when, ultimately, there is no comparison. Why do I allow myself to be so petty as to be anything but elated for someone’s accomplishments or so disheartened that I allow it to deflate and discourage me?

In trying to answer these questions, I come back over and over to my own insecurities. Losing weight is hard. Losing as much weight as I have to lose and losing it the way I chose to lose it is hard. Maybe there are easier ways, maybe there are faster ways, maybe there are ways that require less commitment or sacrifice. The insecure child in me rails against the perceived unfairness of it all as if that somehow changes reality.  As my confidence in myself wanes when I don’t achieve my goals, I compare myself more to others resulting in self-sabotage and shame. It feels much easier to focus on someone else than take responsibility for my struggles.

I cannot be distracted or derailed by someone else’s journey. I must have the confidence in knowing my way is the right way for me – both in terms of health and values – and that there is no right way for everyone. I am responsible for my own body as it is now and I will be responsible for it when I hit my goal weight and I will have pride in that achievement. Supporting people in their attempts to lose weight and get healthy should never be restricted to those whose paths follow my own. This is not a one-size-fits-all venture. There are a myriad of methods and we all must find what works best for each of us as individuals, the method that makes us proud and helps us to achieve the goals we set for ourselves.

To Shop, Or Not To Shop


To shop, or not to shop, that is the question: whether ‘tis nobler in the closet to suffer snug garments mocking you or to take the mall and replace them. Maybe that’s a no-brainer. I mean, duh, shopping can be fun! When I have a closet full of clothes; however, which are either stretching within an inch or their lives each time I put them on or are collecting dust, untouched in the “someday this will fit again” section, what do I do?

I find I am torn, my mind and emotions a swirling torrent of conflicting thoughts and feelings, leading me to a confusing midland between shame and acceptance of my body, my self.

Will buying new clothes mean I’ve given up?

Is buying new clothes rewarding weight gain?

Is condemning myself to having nothing to wear cruel punishment for weight gain?

Will buying new clothes make me feel better about myself?

Will feeling good about myself again help me to get back on track?

Do I need to get back on track or should I accept this body?

Is that complacency?

Is it reality?

Am I listening to The Cure too much?

Is the shame I feel perpetuating my depression; is depression perpetuating my shame?

Nine years ago I bought my first two non-plus sized blouses at Dress Barn and I’d felt like I’d climbed Mt. Everest. No longer relegated to the frumpy, tent-like garments passed off as extended-size clothing at that time, I swore I would do what it took to never have to shop outside the ladies department again. Yesterday I faced the reality that I needed plus-sized pants. Knowing I would walk through those doors again was crushing and humiliating, stinging of defeat.

Yet, yesterday, I walked out of Torrid with dress pants and blouses that made me feel pretty, made me feel good about myself, made me feel comfortable. Maybe even made me go home and pack my gym bag for the week. As I flounce around the office today I feel more confident, feel put-together and stylish. I feel like I have a new lease on life, a bit like this rain cloud hovering overhead is dissipating.

I don’t know how to answer all the questions I have but I do know I don’t want to punish myself. I don’t want to feel ashamed. I know there is no such thing as listening to The Cure too much. I know that, no matter what, shame and self-hatred won’t ever serve me – they won’t provoke positive change nor positive feelings. But I don’t know if this is my new reality and I need to find a way to accept it. I don’t know if this is a lull and that I will get back on track with weight loss and drop back out of the plus sizes again. I don’t know if I am complacent or frustrated. I don’t know if these new clothes are transitional or permanent. I know I still have some fight left in me, still have a desire for healthful change. I know I feel really good today and maybe feeling good is, in the end, all that matters. I guess we all just need to stay tuned.

A Love Letter to my Body

Red envelopes with hearts and LOVE on wood background

My Dearest Body,

Too long it has taken me to see the wonder that you are and to love you as you truly deserve. You, the very home where my spirit resides… you, who have sheltered, protected, endured me for these 44 years… you, who have suffered in near silence and will suffer no more at my hand. I was ungrateful. I put you through hell. I blamed you for my problems. I deemed you unlovable because boys didn’t like me. I called you names – fat, ugly, disgusting, wretched, broken, worthless – so I could say it before someone else had the chance. I let people’s words change the way I felt about you. I humiliated you, degraded you. I was embarrassed to call you mine. I rid my homes of mirrors as much as possible, for in my madness I could no longer stand the sight of you. I starved you, I overfed you, I forced you throw half of what I gave you back up. I pinched you, poked you with pins, burnt you. I hated you, loathed you, was utterly disgusted in you in a way I would never feel about another human being and yet feeling that way about you, treating you in such a way came blisteringly easy. I hurt you because I was hurt. I was so wrapped up in the constant, nagging turmoil in my poor, damaged soul I never stopped to see it wasn’t your fault, never saw you for what you really are.

You have allowed me to do so many amazing things and for so long I have chosen not to see that. Please do not think I am not grateful now. Thank you for letting me swim under the stars at midnight. Thank you for letting me make angels in the snow, for letting me burry myself in piles of crisp autumn leaves, for letting me walk along the beach, the cool ocean water ebbing and flowing and swirling about my ankles. Thank you for letting me embrace the people I love. Thank you for letting me run from the ones bent on harming me. Thank you for letting me dance with wild abandon in my private moments alone at home. Thank you for the million little things you make possible every moment of the day. You are a miracle. You have endured my constant mistreatment with grace. Despite my secret wishes that you would fail me, that you would send my spirit spiraling to some other world I imagined would somehow be better than this one, you never wavered. You drew breath into my lungs, pumped blood through my veins, converted food to energy, functioned in the countless miraculous ways natured designed you to function. You did the very best you could with what I gave you.

I am so sorry it took me so long to see how blessed I am to have you, to see how beautiful you are, to love you. You could have held a grudge. You could have punished me for all the punishment I’ve heaped on you; I would have deserved that. And yet your love for me is unconditional, boundless. Your forgiveness of me automatic. I changed my ways, I choose now to treat you with care and you have responded with joy. You have given me what I always wanted but was too afraid to want it aloud, too afraid to ask. You are giving me health, you are giving me wellness, you are giving me infinite energy. You are letting me glow from the inside out. I finally see you now for all that you are, for all that you do, and my love for you is as endless as yours for me. Never again will I treat you the way I have, never again will I let others treat you the way they have. You are my body, you the greatest gift I ever received, you are the most precious and valuable thing I will ever own, you are my beloved.


Holiday Survival Guide: Cookies and Candies and Pies, Oh My!


It’s that time of year again – the time of year many of us fear (but also really love). Fresh baked cookies, homemade pies, mountains of mom’s fudge, plates overflowing with fatty foods and smothered with gravy, gallons of hot cocoa by the fire, scores and scores of boxed candy in the office…the Winter holidays are coming! We hit mid-November with the best of intentions but, by the end of December, we’re eating all the foods and hibernating on the couch. Many of us make the mistake of having an all-or-nothing attitude about the holidays and wind up careening off track a few weeks in. I find the key to success during this time of year is to be realistic and prepared. To help keep you from freaking out as you navigate the holidays, here are my tips for getting through the season in a healthy way :

1. Get ahead of the holidays. Now is the time to start (or restart) healthy habits. Commit to eating healthy and an exercise plan in the weeks prior to the big holidays; it will help you to build up some momentum before all the temptations arise. It is much easier to avoid over indulging when you have a pattern of healthy choices on your side.

2. Set yourself up for success. Are you going to a potluck dinner this holiday season? Sign up to bring something healthy, nutritious and delicious. This gives you something to enjoy during the meal that won’t negate all your hard work. You might be surprised to see how many others will enjoy the respite from the heavy, fatty and calorie-laden dishes, too. Going to a party that will be catered? Have a healthy snack prior to attending to curb your appetite and ensure you aren’t ravenous when the plates start coming out.

3. Know what you want most versus what you want now. Holiday cookies, pies, cakes and candies are delicious and tempting. Before indulging, ask yourself what you want more: a treat or to meet your goals. A treat may be pleasurable for the few moments you are eating it, but that might not compare to the lasting pleasure of smashing your goals.

4. Indulge in moderation. You’re going to enjoy a few treats during the holidays. How could you not? You may be spending time with family and loved ones, celebrating the season, and you’re going to find yourself in situations which make it very easy to indulge. That doesn’t mean you have to over-indulge. You can have a small piece of pie, a few bites of dessert, without eating the whole thing. Have a taste, savor it, but know when you’ve had enough and stop. I promise you, you’ll thank yourself later.

5. Keep things in perspective. One meal cannot undo a week’s worth of hard work – don’t let one day of overeating or skipping a workout turn into a weekend, then a week, then a month of overeating and skipping workouts. If you over-indulge at a holiday party, just get back on track the next day (if not the next meal). I guarantee that getting yourself back on track after a bad day is going to be a lot easier than getting back on track after a bad month.

Don’t let holiday indulgences set back your fitness and weight loss progress. Enjoy festivities, in moderation, as they arise but keep to your healthy diet and exercise plans the rest of the week. Make up for missed gym days on weekends or scheduled rest days, follow up a heavy meal with a day of light, healthy eating. Set realistic goals – maintenance during the holiday season is absolutely a realistic goal – and keep things in perspective. Don’t beat yourself up but don’t let yourself off the hook. You have a plan, you have goals, and the holidays are no excuse to cast those aside.

My Friend, Karol

I have thinking about my friend Karol all night. She was the inspiration for me to give weight loss one last try back in 2010, to join the gym and eat healthy. She had been losing weight and watching her transform gave me new hope. Soon, we were losing weight together. We ate lunch together every day at work, we went grocery shopping and exercised together on the weekends, we checked in with each other, supporting each other and holding each other accountable. Now, in a way I’d never have wished our paths to run parallel, she, too, has been struggling with regaining weight. She, too, has been bouncing between being motivated and being complicit, comfortable. We have been commiserating as of late, trying to recapture that lightening we’d both had bottled together all those years ago, heartbroken at where we find ourselves now and desperate for lasting change.


I can’t speak for Karol, but I had always thought if I lost all the weight I could just have a “normal” life like everyone else. I could and would be like all the fit, healthy, normal-sized women I saw dining out on weekends, drinking with friends. I could follow the advice of fitness magazines and work out for an hour two to three days a week, indulge on the weekends and still enjoy my new fit figure. I don’t think that’s the case – not for me, not for Karol, not for anyone who has lost a significant and transformative amount of weight. I think, because we had gained so much weight at one time, we are always going to be fighting to keep it off. As hard as we worked, as much as we sacrificed to lose the weight, well, that’s how hard we’re going to have to work, how much we’re going to sacrifice to maintain our weight loss. Otherwise, the moment we let our feet off the gas, we’re going to start rolling backwards. I think maintaining that kind of weight loss is going to be every bit as challenging and take every bit as much dedication as losing weight.

We will never be those “normal” people who can go to the gym a couple times a week, indulge without guilt on the weekends and holidays. We sealed our fates when we lived without exercise and restraint for years. This is our path. Our bodies will always strive to return to that state of obesity. The way I see it, we have two choices. We can make peace with being overweight, be comfortable with those bodies, and ease up on the diet and exercise. Or we can dedicate ourselves like we had seven years ago; never missing a workout, meal prepping every day, boring our friends and families and coworkers with talk of workouts and calories, making our fitness and health our priority.

I heard once – and I don’t know if it’s true, but that really doesn’t matter in this context – that the word sacrifice comes from a Greek work that means “to make sacred.” If you think of it that way, sacrifice isn’t surrender, it isn’t punishment, it isn’t suffering – it’s an exaltation of something to the level of holiness or sanctity. If we believe your bodies, our health, our physical and mental well-beings are worthy of being treated as if they are sacred, then we make the sacrifices. We quit all the pity-party self-talk about how we’re giving up so much for this journey, we quit focusing on the things we don’t do (binge eating and couch sitting) and start focusing on the things which make us feel healthy, strong and accomplished.

Living 2,000 miles apart, we can’t eat lunch together anymore. We can’t go grocery shopping or work out together during the weekends. But we can support each other, we can hold each other accountable, we can inspire and motivate each other. We can fight for this together, sacrifice for this together. What do you say, Karol? Are you ready?

Lost… again.

I once walked into my hair salon for an appointment, dressed in slim dress slacks and sky-high heels, and my stylist told me I looked like a super model walking in. I once walked across the floor of a casino and a friend told me later that he’d seen me from a distance and thought I was Gwyneth Paltrow. Those were good days – it felt good to hear things like that. Those were the days when I most vehemently believed I would never go back to being overweight.

This morning, I spent a full minute tugging and adjusting the top of my pants and the bottom of my shirt in the bathroom mirror at work, trying desperately to mask or camouflage my ballooning body. I never wanted to be here again. In my arrogance, I never thought it was possible. It’s really convenient to tout the idea of focusing on health and dismissing calorie-counting; it’s really enticing to shirk off the responsibility of making a concentrated effort to lose weight. All that I wrote two months ago wasn’t written from a place of acceptance or celebration or joy. It was written from a place of fatigue, a place of debilitating depression, a place of cowardly surrender.

I never wanted to be here again, but here I am. Most of my clothes are too tight (except for the larger stretch pants I practically live in), I am popping Pepcid like Smarties to combat near-constant acid reflux, I have plantar fasciitis in my left foot and my tailbone throbs from sitting with the extra weight. I never again wanted to be picking out clothes based on what best hides by body ­– clothes that made me feel dumpy. I never again wanted to wish I could be invisible most of the waking hours of my day. I never again wanted to feel subjugated by food and my addiction to it. I never again wanted to be the big girl with the pretty face. I never again wanted to try to figure out how to take pictures of myself, stretching my neck to hide my chin, adjusting angles and layering on the filters, all to look less like myself. I never again wanted to feel tired and cranky, lazy and uninspired. I never again wanted to be ashamed of myself.

I want to be proud of myself again. I want to pick out clothes that accentuate my body, show off all my hard work – clothes that made me feel confident. I want to be in control of my eating, seeing food as the fuel it is and nothing more. I want that feeling of fighting and sweating and sacrificing all week then getting that compliment – the one that comes without the insulting qualifications (for a fat girl, you’re kind of cute). I want my energy and my drive back, my focus and determination. I want to eat healthy and work out like it’s my damned job. I want to respond to invitations the phrase, “sure… right after I go to the gym.”

I can’t stay here. I can’t go back any further than I already have. Somehow, whatever it takes, I have to fight this woman I fought so hard to escape before. She’s breathing down my neck, she’s picking out my clothes and feeding me ice cream and dragging me to the couch and telling me how disgusting I am every god damned morning in the mirror. I have to find myself again.


Mistakes & Lessons

There are no mistakes in life, only lessons. A lesson will be repeated until it is learned.

I have two kinds of pants. Maybe you can relate. I have pants that are slightly too large and pants that fit correctly. The latter are what I wear most days; the former are for really just there for days I need to wear something a little more loose, a little more comfy, a little confidence-building when I look down and see them sagging a bit. I put a pair of these slightly too large pants on Monday morning and was distressed to see them cinching the cellulite on my upper thighs, too snug for the first time since I purchased them. I was distraught.

As I wrote in my last post, I need to move on from a place of strict calorie counting and obsessive weigh-ins for my mental health. I struggle with finding balance between my weight loss efforts and being able to enjoy life and this struggle always culminates with weight gain, depression and despair.  While my mental state lately has been vastly improved, my physical one has deteriorated in-kind. Balance simply doesn’t seem to exist, rather, I careen wildly between two extremes.

Yesterday, still reeling a bit from Monday’s big, tight pants, I was talking with a coworker and I remembered a phrase I’d learned years ago while undergoing treatment for my eating disorder. The quote originated in Robin S. Sharma’s book “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” and was expanded upon by my therapist. She said, “There are no mistakes in life, only lessons. A lesson will be repeated until it is learned.” Remembering this phrase, speaking it to my coworker, I suddenly felt awash with nervous energy – the quote was resonating with me like it never had before.

Is that why I lose and regain weight this way? Is that why I feel doomed to repeat myself, to start over time and time again? Is that why I get on a roll, get so close to my goal only to start sabotaging myself an backtracking? Is it because I haven’t learned whatever lesson lies within my obesity? I’m not writing this entry because I’ve had some epiphany, I’ve stumbled across long-elusive, profound answers to my questions. Quite the contrary – all I have found are questions. And, yet, I feel that finding these questions may be a beginning. My questions go something like this:

Did I learn the lessons at some point? Did I forget the knowledge gleaned?

Did I never learn the lesson at all?

I feel, on one hand, that I may know what the lessons to be learned from my weight gain are: lessons in empathy for others, lessons in loving oneself and caring for oneself, lessons in making yourself happy above all others. Then again, I don’t know that I have ever actually learned those lessons or if I have just faked it – like when you know the answer a teacher is looking for, regardless of whether or not you truly understand the material. Was I winging it, bull-shitting my way through life?  When I think to the moments of self-righteousness I have felt amidst my weight loss success; the judgement I’ve felt when I saw someone who was in exactly the same situation that I was once in and I thinking about slapping the Venti Caramel Frappuccino with extra Whip out of their hands “for their own good”; when I have regained 30 pounds but still find that voice in my head being preachy to others on what they should eat, how they should exercise; when I internally smugly relish in the weight gain of someone I don’t particularly like  … when I think of all these things, I think it is quite impossible that I have actually learned a damned thing other than how to be a conceited, holy-than-thou bitch.

Then again, maybe the lesson is something completely different from the one I’ve assumed it to be. Maybe it is more about finding the balance I so blatantly lack. Maybe it’s something I haven’t yet thought of. Maybe it’s all of the above. I don’t know. I feel like I don’t know anything – but I suspect that I am repeating this lesson once again, like having to take college math for the third time after dropping and failing twice in the past. A lesson will be repeated until it is learned.


I am not a numbers person. I have been doing a lot of soul searching lately and realizing that my obsession with numbers was sending me into a deep depression – numbers like my weight, the numbers on my clothing labels, the numbers of calories in every single morsel of food that passed my lips, the number of calories burned during the number of days I went to the gym. Being obsessed with these numbers helped to change my life at one point but, brought me back from the brink of potential chronic illness or death. Now; however, that same obsession is robbing me of happiness. So screw the numbers, it’s time to try something new. While I have regained a little of the weight I’d lost, I can not let that determine my happiness or self-worth and I can no longer see that as a failure.

It’s time to focus on my well-being. It’s time to eat healthfully because it’s good for me; not because it’s going to change a number somewhere. Screw the calorie counting, I already KNOW how to meet my body’s nutritional needs – after all these years, I can plan a 1300-calorie day without reading a single nutritional label. It’s time to exercise because it makes me feel good and enables me to participate in the activities I love; not because it’s going to change a number somewhere. Rather than “killing myself” in the gym, I should come alive there. It’s time to accept the body I have and celebrate it for what it is, not for what I wish it could be when staring at pictures of fitness models. It is time to treat myself well because this is the only self I am ever going to have, not because I think it isn’t good enough and needs to be something else. I have never (well, rarely) tried to change who I am in my heart to meet someone else’s expectations; why would I try to change my body for that reason?

This is where I am now in my journey… a place of acceptance, of celebration, of joy.

Blueberry-Coconut Oatmeal

When I logged on to GoodEggs (my latest obsession: gorgeous, local organic produce and groceries delivered to your door) last week for my weekly shopping, they had featured fresh blueberries and I knew I wanted to do something with them. From that was born this delicious and creamy oatmeal recipe. It’s so rich and decadent, you’ll think you’re misbehaving but this clean, healthy breakfast is a perfect way to start your day guilt-free.


Blueberry-Coconut Oatmeal

Blueberry-Coconut Oatmeal
1/3 cup Quick Cooking Oats
1/3 cup Light Coconut Milk
1/3 cup Water
1/2 cup fresh Blueberries
1 Tbsp Unsweetened Coconut (Flaked or Shredded), Toasted
1 Tbsp Sliced Almonds, Toasted
1 tsp Black Chia Seeds

Heat coconut milk and water in a small sauce pan over medium heat until boiling. Stir in oats and let cook two minutes. Cover and remove from heat, letting stand for a few minutes until thickened. Serve topped with fresh blueberries, toasted coconut, almonds and chia seeds.

Nutritional Information:
Servings: 1
Calories: 225; Total Fat: 11g; Saturated Fat: 9g; Cholesterol: 0g; Sodium: 36g; Total Carbohydrate: 29g; Fiber: 5g; Sugar: 6g; Protein: 4g

*Nutritional information based on recipe as written with designated ingredients, calculated using MyFitnessPal recipe calculator.

The Words We Use


You are fat. You’re ugly. You’re stupid. Your eyelashes are too short. Your nose is too large. Your teeth aren’t white enough. Your hair is dull. Your skin is splotchy. You’re a failure. You never do anything right. You aren’t good enough. Does any of this sound familiar? So many of us talk to ourselves like this every single day. But why? Why do we think this is ok?

If you met a child on the street, how would you talk to her? Would you say those things to her? Would you look at that child and say “you are fat, ugly, stupid, worthless?” How do you think that child would feel if you were to say these things to her? How would it impact the way she saw herself, the way she behaved, her ability to love herself?

I want you to find a picture of yourself as a child – a child who should be cherished, who should be encouraged, who should be treated sweetly and gently. Put that photo on your phone or print it out and put it on your fridge –  look at her every time you want to say something terrible about yourself; think about whether or not you would say those things to that little girl. Talk to yourself as you would talk to the little girl in that picture. Treat her sweetly and gently, encourage her, lift her up, tell her how perfect she is and how much you love her. Do that every single day.