Posted in Deep deepness, Humor, Life Musings, Life's A Trip., New But Not Improved, This is real life.

27 lessons I learned at 27

Happy birthday to me!

I’m 28. Which means that there’s no longer any pretending, at all, that I’m not in my late 20s.

Without further ado, here’s the list of the 27 most important (debatable) things I learned this year:

27. Everything is better when it’s dyed purple.
10304638_10102355702669920_7018318408632320615_n 26. How to use a floor sander. No, really, I did.
25. Never use a toaster if you’re even a little bit distracted.
24. Any shirt I ever thought was awful and tacky can be easily surpassed by searching “Harry Potter” or “Star Wars” on lookhuman.com, and I want to own them all anyway.
horrifyingness 23. How old Pharrell actually is.
22. When it comes to chicken biscuits, or lack thereof, people are quite unforgiving.
21. The best way to intrigue people is to let all your eccentricities show – wear them proudly!
Photo May 04, 5 12 36 PM (1) 20. I have the sense of humor of a high schooler – which, by the way, I didn’t have when I actually attended high school. (reference #24)
19. The best way to ruin a bar is to add a DJ.
18. I own CDs that are older than most of my current students.
old albums 17. Much like celebrity deaths, coworker pregnancies can also come in threes, making for an interesting last six weeks at your new job. #loveyouguys #butreallythough
16. I am not above ordering and then using a selfie stick, though I desperately want to be.
15. Remodeling your bathroom is really effing expensive but totally worth it, if you like daily indulgences. And I do.
Photo May 09, 4 59 34 PM 14. I can easily relate to 90% of male hispanics by casually dropping the phrase, “I mean, he’s no Messi, but…” into a conversation.
13. There are some things that even dads can’t fix…like when a tree falls on your house.
12. People who say “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” are either lying or just plain wrong (probably both). If that were true, we wouldn’t need willpower.

Did I eat a piece of this made-from-scratch coffee cake at 12:15am today? Yep. Do I regret it? Not even a little.
Did I eat a piece of this made-from-scratch coffee cake at 12:15am today? Yep. Do I regret it? Not even a little.

11. The definition of “thot,” according to today’s youths.
10. There is, in fact, a limit to my generosity.
9. Even though they’re horrible people, the Underwoods are actually the ideal couple. #houseofcards
 8. Vodka is not now, nor has it ever been my friend. I need to accept that and move on.
7. Getting a third dog pretty much guarantees that you’re going to be vacuuming your house every other day. Accept it and get one anyway.
Photo Feb 27, 9 47 09 PM6. Some friendships deserve second chances.
5. Some don’t deserve the third, fourth, and fifth chances you gave them.
4. How to operate a real-life popcorn machine (highlight of my teaching career, ladies and gents).
hUw2gw 3. I’m the ultimate female sidekickGet in line, ladies.
2. Believing that you have value is a lot easier if there are others who believe it, too, but it’s not impossible if there aren’t.
and
1. The older I get, the younger I feel.
1969160_10102877040090550_2545704298991365085_nHappy Friday, y’all.

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Posted in Life Musings, New But Not Improved, This is real life.

The Problem with Losing Weight…

Don’t worry, this post is not going to be a woe-is-me, I’m skinny now and need to buy new clothes post.

Though, uh, none of my summer clothes fit, you guys, for real. And can we just stop for a minute and say that now I look tired all the damn time? And it made me look my age (which is 4+ years older than I appeared before).

No, this post is going to be about the biggest problem I’ve encountered with losing weight. It took me a while to get here, but thanks to my fantastic, EMDR-trained therapist (who I’m never, ever going to be able to stop paying, I’m such an onion of problems), I know what the real problem is.

It didn’t fix anything.

I know, this sounds like a totally unrealistic expectation to have for weight loss results, but give me five seconds to explain.

You see, I’d be willing to bet, based on zero scientific studies, that 75% of people who say they’re losing weight just to get healthy think they hate their body a little bit. Because you can go for your yearly check up once a year and be told, “You need to lose weight,” and carry on with your life as normal the rest of the 364 days a year if you like your body. There needs to be something else there to motivate you, as Scrubs clearly points out.

Now, there’s still that 25% who didn’t hate their bodies in my estimations, so don’t jump all over me just yet. But that 75% of people probably blame their bodies for other problems in their lives, too. I know I did.

Months ago, I posted about how I was sending away my too-large clothes and the insecurities attached to them. Those insecurities? I thought that once I lost weight, they would all go away. People would stop judging me and I would be more confident and, pathetic as it is to say, I thought I’d have more luck in my friendships and romances.

Don’t get me wrong, how much I allow other peoples’ opinions to matter is all on me – and it’s something I’ve been working on. I mentioned this particular weakness in my ‘Three Little Words‘ post. But before I lost weight, I spent so much energy being nice, letting people walk all over me – whatever – to make up for the fact that I wasn’t attractive. I thought that once was thinner, I would be able to stop doing all that, and people would value me more as a friend, relative, what have you.

GOD, was I wrong. If anything, it made things more complicated. Any time a major dynamic changes in any type of relationship – friendship, relative, truest of soulmates – there’s an adjustment that has to take place. The way you see the person changes, and how you act around each other. For some of my friends, it was smooth and flawless. For others? Well, let’s just say they liked me when I wasn’t a social threat due to my size, but now they’re not so sure.

So yeah, I can say with certainty that these body image issues are not a problem related exclusively to people with extreme body shapes. Everyone, regardless of shape or size, faces criticism based on their eating habits or looks. It’s almost enough to make me think that Liz has the right idea here…

Food doesn’t interrupt. Food understands. But that’s not so much healthy, so we’re forced to have actual human interaction instead, which unfortunately leads to the judging and insecurities.

Why do we do this to each other? I don’t understand! The toll it takes on the people in our society is shocking. On April 9, Dove posted a new one of their ad campaigns that made me cry at my desk. I encourage you to watch the full thing, even if you don’t use Dove products – it’s not so much an ad as it is a public service announcement (though as a J-school grad, I understand how it’s the best kind of ad).

The women in this video all have something that they don’t like about themselves – their arms, their noses, their age…and I bet most of them have parts of themselves that they try to compensate for, in one way or another.

After I reached my goal weight, I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t feel magically more confident. I expected my personal relationships to get easier – they didn’t. I expected the mean comments and critical looks to vanish – they didn’t. They just…changed. They still happen, they just come from different people for different reasons.

Eating dessert at a restaurant:
Before: Judgmental looks from average people because I clearly didn’t need the sweet stuff and/or had no self control.
After: Envious/angry looks from people with weight issues because clearly I couldn’t understand their struggle.

Jogging/walking my dog around the neighborhood:
Before: Disgusted looks from average people because I wasn’t a stick.
After: “Oh, God, I didn’t know I lived next door to one of those people who flaunt their workouts to make the rest of us feel bad.” (Sidenote: WHO DOES THAT?)

Using the 3-way dressing room mirror:
Before: “Oh, honey, that looks…nice on you. Maybe wear a cami underneath to make it lie smoother?”
After: “Oh, everything looks good on someone as young as you – you can wear whatever you want, why are you even bothering looking in the mirror?”

Turns out, people can be awful to you no matter what you look like. Huh.

The good news is that people can also be wonderful to you, no matter what you look like, too. That’s the real blessing of life – the truly good people in this world, who make me remember that it’s not at all about what’s on the outside.

I’m so lucky to have so many of the best type in my corner.

Posted in Life Musings, New But Not Improved, This is real life.

Three Little Words

Earlier this week, I was surfing the boards of Pinterest and I found this phenomenal quote by Melissa McCarthy.

And I really do love this quote. Honestly. Because that “someone” she’s talking about? That’s me. I mean, I can tell myself all day that I’m on the low-end of my acceptable weight range, I’m wearing a 6 – 8 in pants and dresses (which I haven’t done since I WAS 6-8 age-wise), and that I’m maintaining within a span of 5 pounds pretty damn well.

But.

Then, I look in the mirror and I think to myself, Okay, but now I look older, and there’s still plenty of fat that could go away, and let’s not even talk about the extra skin and other physical factors leftover from my weight loss…plus there’s the fact that I wish my hair was as thick as it was when I was 10 and that I didn’t have migraines that kept me from wearing my retainer, and on and on and on…

It’s toxic and awful and mean and I can’t seem to stop doing it.

Why?

It’s simple – because for years and years and years, I heard the meanest 3 words anyone can say to a woman:

“You look nice.”

I know, it sounds really complimentary, and people usually mean well when they say it, but it’s actually three little words with great potential to hurt you.

You see, beauty is a lot of things. It’s in the eye of the beholder, it’s from the inside, it’s God’s creation, it’s in the imperfections, and it’s confidence. And, upsettingly enough, it’s a euphemism for makeup products and the like.

The truth is, somewhere along the line (and yes, I’m being vague on purpose), people stopped telling me I looked beautiful or even pretty and told me that I “looked nice.” All of a sudden, it was like those three little words were the unwanted perfume samples that you try to avoid, but inevitably stick to you for the rest of your visit to the mall.

“Oh, Erin, your hair looks so nice today!”
“Oh, you look so nice in your formal dress!”
“That jacket looks really nice on you!”

You get the idea. Maybe I was just overly sensitive, it’s possible, probable even, I’m a really sensitive girl. Ask anyone who knows me. Like, really knows me. They’ll tell you I’m like a Cadbury creme egg – rigid and hard on the outside but easy to crack to get to the soft, gooey center.

BTW, is it Easter yet? Can I eat those?

Back to the point: It hurt, not to be told that I was pretty, or beautiful, or whatever teenage girls are supposed to hear. Especially when, 30 seconds later, I would hear the words I so desperately craved leave that person’s lips when they saw one of my friends.

And I know, guys, I know that no one meant it that way. They really were trying to pay me a compliment. It’s like the time in high school that one of my friends was told, “You look really nice today, very un-you-like.” For real, dude? Guys are idiots. He really did mean well, he was just…you know, a teenage guy. But the intention in that case, as well as in my overly-sensitive case makes it even worse.

I mean, they’re trying to be nice, but you’re so far from pretty that it doesn’t even occur to them to tell you that you are? Then how hideous must you be? Really? And yeah, I know that not everyone thinks the same things are pretty, but I also have to point out that as a terrifyingly straight woman, even I can look at another woman and admit when they’re gorgeous. So no excuses there, friends.

My weight change has thrown into sharp relief some of the negative self-talk that I did because of that missing compliment, things I truly believed about myself without realizing it because I just shoved it all to the back of my mind and ignored it. Well, that and the fact that last year I was talking to a guy friend of mine about my dating life and I may or may not have made him irate with my comments. It went something like this:

<Guy awkwardly checks me out at a bar, I blush and shake my head when my friend points it out.>
“I’m just not used to this whole thing now that I’m actually pretty – it just feels weird, you know?”
“What?”
“Well, you know, I’m not used to getting hit on as much so-”
“No, no – what did you say about not being pretty? You’ve always been pretty.”
“Okay, sure, thanks, but seriously-”
“I am serious. Do you really think you’re not pretty? Because you’ve always been beautiful. Why would you say that about yourself?”

The conversation didn’t end well, so I’ll cut it off there. My friend talked to me the way I talk to anyone who doubts my intelligence due to my gender. It was not pleasant. And so, after this occurrence, I started testing this out on people and found that almost everyone else reacted the same way – people I had always assumed didn’t think I was pretty always had, and were shocked to hear anything different come out of my mouth. I’m not laying the blame at the feet of my friends and family, I’m just as guilty – I knew better than to do that to myself.

So why did I worry so much about it? Because I let everything else in – things I shouldn’t have worried about, that I advised everyone else to ignore – the ads, the models, the jokes on TV, the articles bemoaning our nation’s obesity crisis. I absorbed it all indiscriminately and without notice, and in the end, it affected me far more than I realized.

Maybe, just maybe, if I cut myself a break, I’ll be happier and I actually believe it when people tell me I’m beautiful. Until then, I’m going to work on building other people up by giving them real compliments. My students, my friends, my coworkers – if they look beautiful, I’m going to tell them. Because apparently, that’s something that we don’t say enough anymore.

Posted in Life Musings, New But Not Improved, This is real life.

The New, Non-improved Me!

Really, this is more of a heads-up to let you all know that I’m going to be doing a small series of blog posts about one of my more recent struggles.

Why the heads-up?

Oh, because I like writing about what I’m going to be writing about…and because this particular topic is one that a lot of people aren’t necessarily comfortable with – and that list of uncomfortable people includes yours truly.

My new posts over the spring season – maybe even continuing on in to summer and fall, who knows? – are going to address one specific change that has taken place in my life over the past two years: my weight loss.

Yikes, I know.

No one wants to talk about that, like, ever. But therein lies the problem, guys. No one normal ever wants to talk about their weight. It’s just crazy health nuts, gym rats, and people with disorders (past or present). Not to mention the holier-than-thou people who just happen to be blessed with awesome genes.

And do you know where reading all of that crap gets you as a busy person with a 9-5+ job and a legit social life? Nowhere. Because the truth is that what works for one person’s body isn’t going to work the same way for another person. Not a diet, not a workout, not even a way of tracking what you’re putting in and working out.

It’s like, the difference between Globo Gym thinking and Average Joe’s thinking.

We’re snowflakes, not Barbies. We all need something a little bit different to get what we want. And at different points in our lives, we need different plans, too! Nothing ever actually stays the exact same.

I didn’t lose 70 pounds in a year and a half by following someone else’s formula. I started with one, adapted it to fit me, kept changing it as I went along, and here’s the approximate difference, digitally rendered by the magic of technology.

Screen shot 2014-02-02 at 7.29.50 AM

Yeah, I’m never going to wear a bikini, but you get the idea, right? It makes my point.

A standardized formula isn’t going to work the same way for different people. But so many believe that it will! I’m even guilty of judging my friends’ health choices, even though I tend to judge by saying, “Don’t you think that’s a little extreme?”

Sure, for me it might be, but for them, maybe it works! But because I assume that I know what’s good or bad for people just because I know what’s good or bad for me, I’m always going to doubt their choices. And that, my friends, is only a small sliver of what’s wrong with the way that we look at body types, body image, and personal health in our country.

If only it were just the judging, we could take of it, but there’s so much more. It’s a million little things that I’ll be talking about with these posts that need to change for our society to have a truly healthy attitude toward our bodies and health. All those little things lead to misconceptions and false perspectives that just bring people down, no matter what they look like or who they are.

That’s why I don’t actually believe the title I’ve stuck up on today’s post. I don’t believe that this “new me” isn’t an improvement. And I’m not talking about the health aspect, I’m talking about aesthetics. People can tell me all day that I was always pretty and I won’t believe it, because in the end, I look at my old photos and flinch. Add to that all the people telling me how much better I look or treating me so, so differently that it’s clear they have a problem with fat people. Or the fact that no matter how much work I do, I’ll never look like people on TV or in the ads.

A million little things, guys. Just like everyone else, I’m still a work in progress, which is kind of the point of these posts – to document my journey. There’s so much to talk about, I just hope that in some of my posts, you’ll find something that clicks with you.