Category Archives: fat

How My Life Turned into The Gift of The Magi

Obviously, I’ve read the Gift of The Magi. I mean, my man Willie Porter was born in Greensboro, so I’ve been learning about him since I was a baby thumbsucker. I understand the story’s significance. I just didn’t think the significance would make such a profound appearance in my personal life.

Remember when my wallet was stolen? Well, my camera was stolen as well. Even though I secretly wanted a new camera, I couldn’t actually afford to buy one. Thereby making the theft of my only photographic device a pretty big bummer. There are so many events in my life which desperately need to be photographed and, as of the present moment, I can’t Sad smile. I’ve been wanting to write the story of Jessamyn’s First DSLR, but I couldn’t see where the money was going to come from. All in all, the last few weeks in my personal blogging and camera land have been a modern adaptation of  an Edgar Allen Poe story.

Until O.Henry decided to get in the mix.

You see, I’ve been planning an April trip to NYC since February. And it’s not just any old trip- this upcoming weekend is Fat Girl Flea Market, a veritable mecca for fashionable fat girls. I’m tearing up just thinking about it- Saturday is the market, but the weekend will be filled with fun and frolicking around the city with my Fat sisterhood. I’ve been pumped about this for months. Literally, MONTHS. However, when my camera went missing, so did some of my excitement- what if I couldn’t film Fat Girl Flea Market? Thus began my two week long existential crisis.

Until I was offered a choice: I could own the camera of dreams, made for capturing the unstoppable memories of Fat Girl Flea Market (like meeting some of my Fat idols- Gabi of Young Fat and Fabulous, or Marianne and Lesley, my Two Whole Cakes mamas). But, in order to purchase the (VERYEXPENSIVE-OMG-MYHEADJUSTEXPLODED) camera, I would not be able to afford a spring trip to Jay-Z’s hometown.

Well, Jay-Z, you know me- I’m a rebel.

canon rebel

Hello, lover.

Yes, I’m definitely sad about not being able to go to Fat Girl Flea Market. Really sad. I mean, I’m going to miss A LIVE RECORDING OF MARIANNE AND LESLEY’S FATCAST! But I’ll be in the city this summer, so it’s not like I’ll be gone forever. And this purchase was actually a necessity, unlike the clothes I would have had trouble schlepping home from NYC. Anyway, I can’t wait for my camera (and new lens) to arrive. In the mean time, I’ll just waste hours of my life on ups.com, tracking the hell out of my purchases.

On an unrelated note, if anyone would like to donate money to the cause of Jessamyn Can No Longer Pay Her Rent, please e-mail me (jessamyneatspraysloves@gmail.com) for more information Winking smile.

(Yeah, I used a winky face, buttttttt…the rent sitch is kind of real life.)

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Filed under blogging, body issues, camera, fat

Fat Girl Running- A Letter To My Fellow Gym Patrons and Looking Toward My Future as a Runner

Dear Person Running Next To Me On The Treadmill,

I see you staring at me. You’re not very discreet. I might not be looking directly at you, but my peripheral vision has yet to fail me.

I get it. You’re competitive. You like the thrill of racing next to someone. Trying to run faster than them. It gets your blood pumping, your energy racing. You know what gets my blood pumping?

Running at this pace. Consistently. For several minutes. Without stopping. It makes me feel unstoppable. Even when my breath is waning and sweat is pouring down my back and I’m swearing that I will never step back on a treadmill again. Even when my side starts to cramp. Even when my calves burn like the Fourth of July. You know what doesn’t get my blood pumping?

Competing with you. Just because we’re next to each other doesn’t mean we’re in a running club. And if we were in a running club, I wouldn’t be competing against you: I’m competing against myself. I’m beating my own records, I’m out-timing myself. I’m not tempted to creep my pace up to meet your neck breaking pace (which you can’t seem to maintain for more than a few seconds, but that’s neither here nor there.)

You see, a couple of months ago, running for one minute felt like it would be the end of me. This week, I’m mentally preparing myself to run 20 minutes without walking. That mental preparation is more important to me than any mini-race you want the two of us to engage in.

So keep your eyes to the front, listen to your own breathing, and stop looking at me- I’m not your competition. You are your competition.

(By the way, for the sake of your personal safety, I’m going to assume you’re staring at me for the fun of competition and not because you can’t believe a fat girl can run for so long. If that’s the case, your real concern should be whether or not I’m going to yank out your treadmill power cord when you’re mid-sprint.)

Love,

Jessamyn

Since we’re on the topic of running:

I’ve learned quite a few things about running in the past couple of months. Since I haven’t been doing this my whole life, my learning curve is pretty intense. However, since my personal racing season is about to begin, I’m thinking about a number of things I need to do in order to maintain this hobby after I finish the Couch to 5K Challenge.

running shoe fitting guides1. New Shoes- I’ll admit it, I never thought shoes made that much of a difference. I’ve read countless articles and blog entries where people swear by the importance of proper shoe fittings. I’ve rolled my eyes and thought, “ I can run in these kicks, so what’s the problem? Yeah, it hurts a little, but I can’t afford to buy news ones and certainly not from a running store.”

sneakers 1162011 002

Don’t get me wrong- I am very grateful for these shoes. Without them, I would be running in old converses or even older kangeroo sneakers. But after a few months of running, I’ve started to think that I need shoes which actively accommodate for my foot arch. Also, the backs of these shoes rub against my heels in a way that is not very pleasant. And every time I start to think my calves are feeling the burn more than any other part of my body? That could be directly related to my shoe choice. Basically, new running shoes are fairly high on my list of priorities. They might not happen before summer, but I need to meet up with a running shoe specialist ASAP.


go belt2. Road Running Accessories- Another confession: I am scared to run outdoors. As in, I’m truly afraid. I love walking- I could walk to California and back. But running  outdoors freaks me out. I’ve developed an unhealthy dependency to the treadmill. I know it probably sounds weird, but the treadmill comforts me. It might be really boring, but I find comfort in the fact that as long as it is moving, I can’t stop moving. I’m scared to run outdoors because I can just stop running whenever I “feel tired”. If I stopped running every time I “felt tired” on the treadmill, I would never accomplish any of my daily goals. I don’t have a problem participating in outdoor races (probably because there other people present to motivate me), but running alone makes me nervous. In short, I haven’t conquered the mental aspect of running at all. However, I know that the time for me to focus on road running is near- the weather is brightening up, and I can’t stay indoors forever. Plus, if I really want to take my running seriously, I need to take it outside and try out different types of terrain. Therefore, I need to get a couple of accessories to make things easier. For instance, I am always saddled with too many handheld objects– cell phone, keys, etc. I’ve been eyeballing the go-belt for some time now (pictured above), because it’s an obtrusive way to carry all my stuff without causing problems.

running shorts3. New Clothes- I’m pretty happy with my sports bras, and I own about 308710821 tops which are appropriate for most running weather (though I should probably find a good under armour long sleeved top). However, I need to invest in new running bottoms (pants/shorts). Since I’m losing weight and my butt is (and probably always will be) larger than my stomach, I’m constantly dealing with droopy pants waistbands. Further more, I ( like most people who are blessed with hefty inner thighs) have a problem running in shorts because they always rise up into my crotch and I spend the entire run thinking about readjusting the crotch of my shorts. Therefore, I primarily enjoy running in capri pants.

capri pants

But it would be nice to have a solid pair of running shorts, especially since it’s getting warmer. But if I’m going to run in capri pants, I need pants that don’t droop down under my belly. Actually, part of the problem (probably) is that the shorts I run in are the same shorts I use for biking– but they’re not even really tight enough to be great biking shorts. However, when I’m biking I don’t have to deal with them riding up in my crotch. Hmm. Maybe I should get some shorts that are already short enough to be in my crotch so I don’t have to think about pulling them down? I know a lot of people think Fat girls can’t/shouldn’t wear shorty shorts, but I’ve never really cared what other people think about my wardrobe- why start now?

Bottom line? If I’m going to get serious about running, I need to get serious about my gear. Any ideas?

Also, speaking of suggestions, I think this is the week I’ll work on transitioning to my self-hosted domain. Basially, any and all words of wisdom are greatly appreciated. Smile

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Filed under blogging, couch to 5k challenge, exercise, fat, goals, races, running, walking

The Bathing Suit Blues: A Word On Weight-Loss

(TRIGGER WARNING: There’s a lot of FAT talk in this entry. If you are not comfortable reading about bad self-esteem and weight-loss, please don’t read any further.)

(STOP: By reading below this disclaimer, you are allowing yourself to read a stream of conscious and potentially nonsensical rant. You were warned.)

I’m sure some of you have noticed that I don’t spend a lot of time talking about my weight-loss journey on this blog. This is unusual for a healthy living blogger- typically, if one is aiming to lose weight and they blog, progress photos and pound for pound weight-loss entries are the norm. I respect those who choose this method of chronicling. I admire it. But that’s not the point of my journey.

Yes, I’m on Weight Watchers. I must admit, I am a true convert to the Weight Watchers philosophies- I have definitely consumed my fair share of the Weight Watchers kool-aid. Since starting up again, I’ve steadily lost weight every week. In fact, this week I lost nearly 3 pounds.

I don’t want my weight to start dictating my progress. In the words of the great French philosophers Daft Punk, I want to be Harder, Better, Faster, and Stronger. Being Harder, Better, Faster, and Stronger does not always mean being thinner. Yes, I want to lose weight so I can move faster. So I can run better. So I will be stronger than I’ve ever thought I could be.

But I like my body. I think I’m hot. I think (nay, KNOW) other people think I’m hot. Yes, I have days where I can’t reach this conclusion (just like any other person in the world). But I’m afraid of the media. I’m afraid of models. I’m afraid of what they do to the minds of everyday people who look beautiful just the way are.

Why am I thinking about this now? Well, it’s finally spring break and I’m absolutely thrilled to be away from school for a few days. I have the opportunity to head to the beach for a short vacation, and I’m now contemplating the idea of wearing my bathing suit.

I don’t have a problem wearing a bathing suit. I’ll wear it all day long. The trouble is, I haven’t purchased a new bathing suit in over five years. This may seem especially odd for a girl who loves shopping and practically lives in Forever 21. My old bathing suits are too large- I grew out of them quite some time ago. They are stretched out, and in desperate need of a trade-in. So why haven’t I bought a new suit?

Because of this:

black polka dot monokini

This may just look like a scant piece of nylon to you, but this swimsuit has become my kryptonite.

You see, when I began my first Weight Watchers journey, I told myself I would be wearing a swimsuit similar to this one once I was within 20 pounds of my goal weight. I had extraordinary willpower. I could do it. I made the swimsuit photo my desktop background, I pasted it on my door, and I prepared my body for the time when it would be “ready” to wear this suit. And in the mean time, I refused to buy a new swimsuit. Why buy a bathing suit I’d be too small to wear by the end of my journey? This was my dream suit. And I was going to wear my dream bathing suit.

Since that initial proclamation (a little over two years ago), my vision of the world has shifted. My understanding of the concept of Fat has morphed dramatically from where it was at the beginning of 2009. I’ve shifted my goals to non-scale victories only, achievable through physical perseverance and mental training. However, somehow my vision of myself and the bathing suit has not changed at all. For all my self-confidence, I still feel too Fat to wear this bathing suit. To be honest, I don’t know what amount of shame is more mortifying- my shame over actually feeling too Fat, or the shame I imagine I will feel upon donning this suit before reaching my goal?

Recently, this conundrum was put in even sharper focus. I have been lucky enough to begin a friendship with someone whose weight-loss journey is unbelievably inspirational to me. This person has battled the odds of losing weight while in college- she has achieved an astounding weight-loss (through weight watchers) in a fairly short period of time. Her current weight is significantly less than my goal weight, and I think she looks wonderful (for the record, she looked fly as hell BEFORE she lost weight, but that’ s neither here nor there Smile). Basically, this person is my personal weight-loss hero.

However, she is still ten pounds heavier than her goal weight. And, in her mind, those ten pounds make all the difference. Recently, we discussed how those ten pounds have kept her from purchasing a bikini. Yes, she’s always wanted to wear one. But she’s felt that a bikini was out of her reach until she reaches her goal weight. Do you know what I did when she told me about her internal struggle?

I judged her.

I judged her because she didn’t have the ‘wear anything, do anything’ resolve I’ve acquired. I rolled my eyes at her body issues.

I am such a hypocrite. Here I am, rolling my eyes at her body issues because of my own fat positivity, and I can’t bring myself to buy a new ONE PIECE BATHING SUIT.

I’d love to say that I had an epiphany at that moment. I’d love to say that I immediately went out in search of a polka dot monokini to wear at my first swimming opportunity.

I didn’t. Even at this moment as I live, breathe, and type, I can not convince myself to wear this swimsuit. It’s not all about weight- part of me just wants to complete my goal and reward myself properly. But there’s a substantial part of me that’s embarrassed to wear this bathing suit at my current weight.

To be honest, I’m actually overcome by my self-disappointment. I don’t have a resolution to this problem, but I think it helps to actually admit that I’m not as bulletproof as I may appear. In spite of my best efforts, I must show solidarity with every person who fears a certain clothing item- whether its jeans, bras, or any other dreaded piece of cloth.

For every fat girl who rocks a bikini regardless of society norms, I applaud you. YOU are my superhero. But as much as I want to be, I’m not there yet.

And as much as I hate to admit it, even confident, fat-positive girls get the bathing suit blues.

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Filed under body issues, fat, Uncategorized, Weight Watchers

FAT Attack: Being Fat in the Gym

(STOP: By reading below this disclaimer, you are allowing yourself to read a stream of conscious and potentially nonsensical rant. You were warned.)

So I planned to do a whole post about days 2 and 3 of the Couch to 5k  Challenge– I was also going to give updates on me and Gabriel’s joint venture to complete the 200 sit-ups training program. However, though I am a truly shameless narcissist, I need to put my self-indulgent updates on hold to talk about something which involves more than just me and my exercise demons.

(Ok, I can’t help myself: 200 sit-ups is going surprisingly well, and Couch to 5k Challenge…well, I’m still hammering through it.)

Part of why I think I need to broach this topic has to do with one of my favorite podcasts. Two Whole Cakes Fatcast features two Fat Acceptance Titans (Marianne Kirby and Lesley Kinzel) discussing a multitude of issues which affect fat people on a daily basis. As a life-long fatty who has quietly chugged away in a fat-hating world, listening to Fatcast is basically like listening to Potterwatch (just as a warning, that’s probably the least nerdy Harry Potter reference I’ll ever make, so prepare yourself).

By the way (just for the record) I am a serious Two Whole Cakes fangirl. Having a fat body has reached the point of true political activism, and I salute anyone who is willing to use their body as a vessel for change.

Anyway, one of the first Fatcasts is about being fat and exercising- more specifically, every underlying issue related to physical activity in a fat body. Since I’m on the smaller scale of fat, I won’t pretend to speak for those who experience a level of discrimination which is fairly foreign to me. However, I am very familiar with how shitty it feels to be the largest person on the row of treadmills. This was made even more relevant to me in my spin class earlier this weekend.

First of all, excuse my French, but I fucking love to spin. It can be very physically exhausting, but the emotional rewards transcend words. However, this particular spin class whipped my ass. Maybe it was because I wasn’t engaged with the music (I’m sorry, but THE EAGLES? Who wants to spin to that?!). Maybe it was because I couldn’t seem to get my bike set up properly, therefore making it impossible for me to hop out of the saddle properly (and trust me, 60 minutes in the saddle is enough to make even a seasoned spinner contemplate death). For whatever reason, Thursday’s class made me want to punch someone and I’m sure my negative ‘tude was written all over my sweaty face. However, the instructor (and every other 50+ year old Lance Armstrong wannabe in the class) looked at me like I was the baby rhino trying to make its way through the Jumanji stampede- it’s this “look at the fat girl try to do what we’re doing” expression that makes me (ME, ANGRY PASSIONATE JESSAMYN) feel both angry and defeated.

That feeling of judgment and defeat is why my fellow fats have been taught to fear the gym, or any other form of organized exercise. Because it’s nearly impossible to forget the traumatizing grade school physical fitness tests, and the mortifying waits to be picked last for kickball.

And while I implore all those who judge to get the fuck over themselves, I really want to tell my fellow fats that it’s not all bad. In general, as much as we like to think everyone is staring at us, the gym is one of the major places where narcissism is not only accepted, but widely encouraged. Therefore, it’s highly likely that no one is watching you lift weights or run or bike. No one gives a toss, because your gym buddies-to-be are too busy worrying that everyone is looking at THEM. That’s issue #1.

Issue #2 is that your life and well-being should not be compromised because of widely accepted insecurities. Exercise can be really freaking fun. Judgement sucks out all the fun. Find a source of happiness and pleasure that has nothing to do with the judgement of others. It would be ridiculous for me to ask anyone to stop thinking about the opinions of others- it sucks to have people think mean thoughts in relation to your life choices, and the judgement of others affects us all.

However, if you can find a source of happiness in the gym which involves only you (and not your exercise demons), the pay-off will be more than worth the effort.

Also, RIGHT AFTER I BLOGGED ABOUT HIM, Jack Lalanne died today (1/23/2011). RIP, Papa Jack- I’ll enjoy a juice in your honor.

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A FAT Girl’s Manifesto: Why FAT Should Be a Description, Not an Insult

(STOP: By reading below this disclaimer, you are allowing yourself to read a stream of conscious and potentially nonsensical rant. You were warned.)

Like I’ve mentioned before, FAT is not a word I’ve ever associated with myself. In fact, I’ve had a standing policy to judge people who use FAT as a verbal weapon. However, I’ve recently begun to rethink my policy on the word FAT and its implications.

You see, FAT is a word which has shifted from being a physical description (like ‘pink’, ‘slimy’, or ‘colorful’), to being used as an opportunity for abuse and pain. Nowadays, when the average person says FAT, they are not saying it as a harmless descriptive word. They are using it to shame and humiliate any person who could potentially fit the word’s original descriptive meaning.

This humiliation has become widespread and generally accepted because it hides under the cloak of health consciousness. Ergo, when describing someone as FAT, the abuser is ‘really’ saying,

“That person is so unhealthy. I’m hurting their feelings because I care about them. I don’t want them to be horrible and FAT anymore.”

Actually, what the abuser is REALLY saying is,

“I hate the way that person looks because it makes me evaluate my personal decisions. Maybe if I hurt their feelings, I can mask my own paralyzing self-doubt.”

However, what we need to learn is that you should not have to shame and hurt others to “care” about them. The dialogue about health consciousness and beauty ideals is supported by a media-centric world which makes a profit by belittling consumers and preying on their insecurities. In reality, it has very little to do with actual good health guidelines, or self-love initiatives. By using the word FAT, humans have created a derogatory word which transcends any other F-bomb because its strength is garnered by deeply set emotional boundaries.

That being said, it is crucial that we reclaim the word FAT. Just like, as a woman who is attracted to other women, I must reclaim the word “DYKE”.

Words are just that: WORDS. The concentrated power within the word FAT will cease to exist as soon as we stop hurling it like a verbal shot put event.

Yes, I’ve never associated the word FAT with my physical description. However, it is absolutely necessary for me to start calling myself FAT so those who bully will lose their ammunition. By calling myself FAT, I’m not trying to shame myself or abuse my own feelings. I’m simply describing my physical description- I’m also BLACK.

FAT and BLACK should inhabit the same space- they are descriptions, not insults.

I’ve said all this to make it clear that my diet changes have absolutely nothing to do with being FAT. My confidence level is high, and it won’t be affected by whether or not I’m FAT. I like my body. I find it to be very beautiful and (if I may be so bold) quite sexy.

I’m changing my diet and my exercise levels because I want to be at my optimum level of physical fitness.

I want to run a marathon.

I want to bike across America.

I can’t achieve these goals if I don’t rethink my life choices. This is not to say that all FAT people are unhealthy- on the contrary, some of the more health conscious people I know are FAT. And, on the other hand, I know THIN people who think Bojangles is the saving grace of the food industry.

I can only speak for myself. I can only know my own goals, and I will not dictate the health ideals of any other person.

In truth, I hope that all people will want what is best for their body. I hope we will all learn to take of ourselves, and strive for optimum physical health. But we must understand that being healthy does not always mean being THIN. Being unhealthy does not always mean being FAT.

And by defining HEALTHY as THIN, we’re not creating body consciousness- we’re creating a civil war between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’.

I hope that one day health consciousness will be seen as a normal life choice, and not as a way to step behind the velvet rope of “acceptable beauty”.

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The “F” Word: A Blogger’s Declaration

FAT

My parents never verbally abused my brother and me. For those of you out there in the blogosphere, “verbal abuse” can take many forms. Most people think it just lives in the first realm of mean words: ‘stupid’, ‘dumb’, ‘idiot’, etc. However, the kind of “verbal abuse” to which I am specifically referring has to do more with descriptive words which are, for all intents and purposes, socially acceptable. People, I’m talking about the word

FAT.

It’s the word everyone dreads to hear in reference to themselves. I’d be hard pressed to think of another word which so accurately sums up hate, ignorance, and discrimination in a way which has so exquisitely seeped into our society. In my opinion, FAT is (historically) one of the most hurtful words which can ever be used to describe another person.

And, to be honest, it’s a word which has fairly accurately described me for the vast majority of my life. And in spite of numerous other minorities which can be used to discriminate against me (Afro-American, Genetically female, Bahai, Lesbian), the only one which truly stung me on the proverbial playground was/is

FAT.

However, because my parents are beautiful and upstanding individuals, FAT is never a word I’ve associated with myself.

Sure, kids shouted it in the hallway of my junior high school. Yes, it was/is written in imaginary sharpie over the mouths of sales clerks in my favorite stores. But when I was at home, FAT was not part of my life.

As I’ve aged, my identity has evolved past the world of teen magazines and adolescent angst. However, the word

FAT

still hovers in the wings of my life. At this point, I’m beginning to accept FAT as a word which I can reclaim- it does not need to encompass the hateful emotions of the people and images which have taunted me my entire life. However, a key element of fat acceptance is the need for a shift in dialogue on the issue of health consciousness.

Let’s be clear- I don’t endorse dieting.

Dieting implies that there is something about the ‘dieter’ that needs to be fixed in order for the ‘dieter’ to be a socially acceptable human being. To be frank, this is a disgraceful idea. What’s more, dieting does not typically result in long term life changes.

Instead, we should strive for better health guidelines.

(And while we’re on the subject, calling someone FAT does not make them want to have better health guidelines. It just makes them want to curl up in a ball, and pray for the earth to open up.)

So yes, better health guidelines. What’s my idea of better health guidelines? Drinking water, primarily buying unprocessed food, sticking to a vastly whole foods diet, not smoking, and limiting or eliminating beer and alcohol.

SODA

Really, my path begins with a simple soda. I was not raised drinking this particular beverage- as a general rule, I’m pretty sure my mom considers soda to be the work of evil forces in our universe. Sure, I’ll enjoy one or two if I’m out with friends. But what would ever possess me to purchase a two liter when doing my grocery shopping?

However, a couple of weeks ago, I caught myself actually PURCHASING a bottle of ginger ale at the super market. This little act may seem silly and inconsequential to you, but it was a truly scary and bizarre experience- I felt as though another woman had been ambling through my life, and I’d just returned from some chaotic vacation.

Something needs to change.

However (and I doubt I’m alone in this struggle), I am unlikely to accomplish my goals without some form of accountability. I am the worst self-police woman in the history of self-‘policing’.  But I need to start somewhere.

Understand This Distinction:

In general, I’ve come to terms with my FAT-ness. Like every human with feelings, I have off days. But for all intents and purposes, I don’t believe my size holds me back socially or emotionally. I don’t think a person’s size is an indicator of their physical ability or eating habits.

However, I have a number of life goals which I want to complete. I think these goals are being held back by a lack of personal discipline. I‘m not going to blame my lack of discipline on my

FAT.

But no matter what the true cause, this blog will track my progress toward a life of self-discipline- one where I  can achieve the goals which have seemed vaguely ludicrous only because I’ve lacked the courage to believe in myself.

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