Burning Man: Helping April get over her fears yet again.

Hello again, readers!

I apologize for my silence over the past two weeks but I have been busy preparing, attending, and recovering from Burning Man. I ended up staying just a few days at the monumental event of around 70,000 people, however, I came home with a bunch of stories and an even more magical embrace of my body image than I had shown up with. Last time I wrote here on the blog, I told my story about my first experience at Burning Man and how dropping my top helped me get over a lot of my self-shame about my body size.

This time at Burning Man, I tested myself even further. I had longed to separate the sexuality aspect away from the ability to just be comfortable in my own skin with no constrictions. My brother Tommy was going to be joining me for this adventure and, you may remember me saying, I was hesitant about getting fully topless in front of him. It just didn’t seem like something I could do. The general American view of women being bare-chested around other people in a non-sexual situation is just not accepted.  Women can barely whip out a boob in a private corner to breast feed her baby without someone gawking at her or making a rude comment about how she needs to “cover up.” As my time progressed on and the desert heat continued to beat down on me like Animal on a set of drums, I started to make small steps in finding my true level of comfort around a sea of strangers. I suggested to Tommy on the second night, “Hey, I have an idea. Why don’t you just walk about thirty feet in front of me? That way, you won’t see my boobs.” My brother would laugh and walk on as I fell behind to embrace nothingness upon my skin.

On Day 3, our final day there, I decided to just go for it. I had left to go to port-o-potty land and while walking, I decided to take off my uncomfortably itchy bikini top. Instantly, my body temperature dropped and I felt much better. Once back at our truck, my neighbors offered me some coffee and as I went over to talk to them, I covered up my chest and commented how I didn’t want my brother to see as he was a couple hundred feet away taking down our tent set-up. My neighbors, two lovely people from Montana named John and Sherri,  laughed at me and began what became a few hours of amazing conversation and insight on how to live life. They broke down for me so simply how silly I was being and that if I wanted to do something, I should just do it, and surely my brother would get over it. I also remarked how eventually my brother will probably see a kid attached to one of my boobs so I might as well get it over with now.

After talking to these Burning Man angels of wisdom, I decided to approach Tommy. I went up to him all confident and stated my claim, that I wasn’t going to be afraid today to just let it all hang out. As the amazing brother he is, he said something that gives me happy tears as I write this. He said, “April, I’m pretty sure the only one who cares about me seeing your boobs is you.” I instantly felt a million times more confident and for the rest of the afternoon, I paraded around not only topless but just in a bikini bottom and my hand-sewn white hooded cape. I even got noticeably checked-out so that made me feel great too until they would notice Tommy and IMMEDIATELY turn away.

Words of advice: If you don’t want any attention from the opposite sex at a large social event:  make sure you go with your sibling – everyone will think you’re married. This concept also works with friends as well.

Once I got home my ability to just be comfortable with my body didn’t leave. That night, as I laid in bed with Alyssa (who was in town hosting our honorary sister Katelyn’s bridal/bachelorette parties), I didn’t even pay attention to the fact that I was sans-shirt and totally talking to both girls with no shame at all. I didn’t even give it a thought until Alyssa  commented on the noticeable difference I was showing as she knows first hand my insecurity about my chest. Now that it’s been a week since I got home, I haven’t exactly been running around topless in the house, but I don’t seem to be as self-conscious about bits of skin showing. If my shirt accidentally comes up a bit and my love-handles show, I’m not so aggressive when it comes to getting my shirt pulled back down immediately. I went to the doctor the other day and as I sat there in my luxury giant drape of medical paper-towel, my bare ass totally exposed for the doctor to see, I quickly shushed my inner thoughts of body shame and had an epiphany. I realized, if anything, getting to see my lower parts was probably like visiting a princess’s palace in comparison to the hundred’s of different bodies she sees in a year. I may be overweight but I bet she would rather see my bare ass than that of a 85 year old man. So I got over it and left the doctor feeling proud of myself for putting myself in check so quickly.

How are all of you when it comes to nudity in a non-sexualized way? If you’ve breast fed, have you ever had feelings of insecurity about doing it in a public place? Have you been one of the women that has been ridiculed by an unpleasant human uncomfortable with the milk of life? Would you be able to be topless around your siblings?

Let me know, I would love to hear about the way other people view this topic!

Have a wonderful Thursday everyone and thanks for reading!

Love and bare chests for all,

AprilSignatur

 

 

 

 

PS – Here are a bunch of photos from Burning Man for your viewing pleasure <3

 

Two men – both impressive in their own ways – Random stranger, I’m sorry I didn’t get your permission to take this photo but you definitely add to the artistic integrity of this photo.

 

The Temple – A place where people can honor those who have passed on as well as a place to leave behind anything you are ready to release from

 

Our tent battling the wind. This is a wonderful place called “walk-in” camping… a chance to camp with a bit of peace – NOT quiet – sound travels way too far in the desert.

 

Tommy during one of the many quick dust storms.

Art shark.

Art shark.

This is me being VERY brave posting this online. The internet has never seen my stomach before but oh well, this will be a great picture to use as a "before" shot for my future weight loss success!

This is me being VERY brave posting this online. The internet has never seen my stomach before but oh well, this will be a great picture to use as a “before” shot for my future weight loss success!

My favorite art car – CHARLIE THE UNICORN! Click the picture to see the internet video this was inspired from.

 

My brother Tommy and I about fifty feet up on a giant climbing structure!

My brother Tommy and I about fifty feet up on a giant climbing structure!

A sweet art car in the desert.

A sweet art car in the desert.

Bone tree.

Bone tree.

 

And finally, that gorgeous Nevada sky.

 

How Burning Man helped me get over my body shame

Happy Friday, everybody!

I know it has been a quiet month over here in the Double Chin Diary land but I can assure you, it is all for wonderful reasons! Alyssa is away again in Minneapolis for her job at the second of seven Susan G. Komen walks happening. Last week she was in Detroit and in a few more weeks, she’ll be in Philadelphia. She still has quite a few more walks to get through before she gets to the final adventure of  the San Diego walk that we both will be doing. I can only imagine the emotional roller coaster she rides on during these events as I know that I would probably be crying both happy tears and sad tears the ENTIRE time. It’s hard for me to even get through my more emotional blogs I write without crying my way through it! So, if you’ve got a moment – stop by her personal page and send her a comment, it’ll surely brighten her day when she gets the chance to read it. 

Besides all the excitement that Alyssa has been doing, I’ve been busy figuring out the next few weeks of my immediate life. School started a few days ago so I’ve been working a bunch more to earn the funds needed for my adventure next week.

I’ll be heading out to Burning Man next Thursday with my brother. I went for my one and only time in 2008 and definitely had a life-changing experience as I believe anyone would if they gave it a chance. If you haven’t heard of this event or maybe just want another explanation, here is how I describe it. Burning Man is what human civilization could be like if we weren’t held down by the standards that society places upon us. While there are plenty of restrictions financially as not everyone can afford the $390 ticket, spiritually it is the only place that I have found where people can just be FREE. The every day aspects of life like clothing, money, careers just don’t matter at Burning Man. People wear whatever they’ve always wanted to wear knowing that no one is going to make fun of them for dressing up like a Giraffe with neon spots. I drew blue dolphins on each of my eyes and felt super cool walking around like that, not embarrassed like I would be back in the real world. Wallets are put away for the week as nothing at the event costs money (unless you need ice and coffee – the only two vital things for sale). The reason why I personally love Burning Man though is for the art. There is no limit on what the human mind can create and this event showcases some of the most talented people in the world. With the help and the extremely open environment, the best gift that comes out of Burning Man is the ability to see a different way of living life. Any words that I can write won’t give justice to the what the event can do for a person’s soul and if you ever have a chance to go, do it.

One of the many temples at Burning Man Shared from: http://artfultour.com/2013/09/public-art-burning-man-the-mission-murals/

Now that I’ve given a long explanation of what Burning Man means to me, I have to tell you my story of a very significant moment in the healing of my self-esteem that came out of the 2008 event.

It was my first afternoon at the event and with the 100+ degree desert temperature, I wasn’t exactly comfortable in my sarong on my waist and scarf tied around my chest. As my friends and I wandered around “the playa”, we came across something called the “Tittie Totter.” I’ve always been a fan of teeter totters and while the idea of getting topless completely petrified me, the desire to go on this thing was STRONG. The tittie totter went up an insane amount of feet, I’m horrible at estimating but I would guess around fifty feet up into the air once the other person had sunk down to the bottom. I’m also a big fan of scenic views and knew that if I was brave enough to do it, the reward of seeing the entire sprawl of Burning Man would be remarkable.

Now, I’m the kind of person that hides in the corner of a locker room to change and have a strategy that allows practically none of my “private parts” and stomach to be shown. I also recall a time in a hot tub with Alyssa and two of our girl friends when they all wanted to sit topless (since we were alone) and I freaked out about doing it and refused.

But this tittie totter was proving to be worthy of conquering my fear of getting topless so I nervously got into line to wait my turn. Another challenge quickly became presented to me as soon as I got in line. I would have to tell them my REAL weight so I could get evenly matched with someone. I took a big breath, thought about it, and came to a very clarifying conclusion that telling my weight and taking off my top would have no effect on the outcome of my life but could bring a positive memory to a very different type of experience.

My weight was announced and a woman who reminded me of my awesome Mom yelled out, “I’ll do it!” and came rushing through the line to stand with me. Immediately she peeled off her top and continued to talk to me with absolutely no body shame at all as I held on to the safety of the fabric covering my chest. After chatting for a while, it was finally our turn.

Still clutching onto my top, I nervously walked over to my side of the tittie totter and sat down. My friend yelled out for me to take off my scarf and with another big and fearful breath, I let the scarf drop to the ground. As soon as I did that my body temperature dropped probably twenty degrees as a rush of cooling air engulfed my entire top half. I felt myself begin to rise up over the hundreds of camps around me. As I looked around, I realized I hadn’t even been paying attention to anyone else but only for the moment that I was in personally. I finally took a glance down to the ground to notice that not a single person was pointing and laughing or looking away in disgust. Once the ride was over and I was excitedly greeted by my friends and co-rider, I made the quick decision NOT to put the scarf back on.

I felt incredible.

I was so proud of myself for getting over such a big fear of mine and the very obvious temperature difference made it a simple choice to not cover up.

Before I dropped the top. <3

Apparently no one minded seeing me topless. Plus, once I did it, I began to notice that many of the people who were topless or naked didn’t have a body that was stereo-typically considered fit either. Before I went on the tittie totter, the body shape of the naked people didn’t even phase me. I didn’t even notice whether or not a person was overweight. I noticed the boobs. I noticed the lower regions because it’s not every day you see that out and about, haha. But I did NOT notice their stomachs, the part of my body that I was just as fearful to show as my chest. After the tittie totter, the body shape of people still didn’t phase me but it did help me realize that complete acceptance is one of the many wonderful things that Burning Man comes with. It didn’t matter that I’ve got eighty pounds to lose or that I have stretch marks. It didn’t matter if someone had a giant birth mark covering their stomach and back. It didn’t matter if the person was 77 years old and covered only in wrinkles, they were just as accepted as  the 19 year old girl wearing fuzzy boots and a tutu.

This year I may go topless but now I’m fighting another personal battle with myself over it. Since my brother is going, I feel somewhat awkward about being topless around my grown brother. In the United States, being naked around your family just isn’t a socially accepted situation. However, as my brother and I both learned as we flipped through channels on our way to the Netherlands on a cruise, American’s fear of nudity does not share the viewpoint of nudity elsewhere in the world. So many of the channels we saw had women topless and were done so without sexuality being involved at all. The boobs were just a part of the woman’s body, a source of nutrients for a baby, not a source of sex appeal for whatever pair of eyes wants to adore them. At Burning Man, the nudity that is rampant all over isn’t necessarily done because the person is wanting to be sexy. In a matter of survival in a very hot climate, going topless was a very wise choice for me as I’m very susceptible to heat strokes as it is.

I’ve prepared myself by purchasing bikini tops so I’ll rock those until the time comes when I might feel comfortable enough to drop the top. Buying those bikini tops was another great moment in my self-esteem, but I’ll save that for another blog as this one is already longer than many of the essays I have due in school.

I hope you guys enjoyed my long story and if you’ve got any experiences of your own to share about “dropping the top” or getting over your fears of body shame, or Burning Man, let’s hear it!

Thank you so much for reading and remember, if you want a way to support boobies, check out my fundraising page by clicking this sentence!  I’m only $5 away from my first $1,000!

Much love,

 

AprilSignatur

 

 

 

Burning Man 2008

I can not eat-eat-eat apples or bananas

It’s been a little over two months now since I found out my food allergies. I’ve been plagued with constant headaches and tummy problems my whole life but never considered it to be from the food I was eating nearly every day. I had cut out processed crap years ago so it just didn’t make sense to me how I could eat “clean” for a week yet still have a headache nearly every day.

Finally, after a blood test, the results came back saying I was allergic to wheat, rice, oats, apples, oranges, and bananas. I also am apparently right on the border line with eggs, cow dairy, corn, and CHOCOLATE.

Since finding out about the wonderful things I should no longer enjoy, I have drastically reduced everything and have noticed a dramatic change. I can not choose which food has really been the hardest thing to give up as I loved all of it. Since I’m on the border of the eggs, dairy, chocolate and corn – I have yet to even attempt giving those things up. I just don’t want to. Giving up the rest of the foods has been a challenge enough and with how great I’ve been feeling since making the change – I just don’t see a need to give up my border-line foods just yet.

I’ve lost twelve pounds in the past two months and I credit 80% of that weight loss from getting rid of my allergens. Of course, all the training walks I have been doing and having a routine food schedule from my summer job certainly helped however I am positive the food has made the biggest change. Besides the weight loss, not having to take ibuprofen nearly every day or carry tums in my pocket has been amazing.

What has freaked me out the most is what happens when I cave and eat one of the things I am allergic too. I had an enchilada at work two weeks ago, hoping it was made with corn. Within twenty minutes, I had a raging headache and within three hours, my head was worse than it had been in a long time. Six hours after the initial enchilada, I was completely congested as if I had a horrible cold.

Last Thursday night I have three small cocktail glasses of blood orange soda, a BIG favorite treat of mine. I didn’t experience any symptoms that night but the next morning I awoke with a headache that cradled the whole front part of my skull. The headache wasn’t gone until I woke up the next morning.

It’s things like that which make me realize that my sensitivity to certain foods is a real thing. I’ve mostly accepted it but I’m still somewhat in denial. I think most of my denial comes from the weirdness being that apples, bananas, and oranges are such “normal” fruits so I just don’t understand how I could be allergic to them. I can get the wheat – and even the rice and oats – because those are all grasses. Outside grass has ALWAYS been horrible on me in the sense of hay fever so obviously consuming it would be devastating for me too.

For those of you who have food allergies too – what was it like for you when you found out? What kinds of allergies do you have?

Have a fabulous Wednesday everyone, I’ll be back with another blog Friday as Alyssa is off working on the FIRST 3-day walk in Detroit happening this weekend. Did you guys know she is less than $900 from reaching her $2,300 goal? I know I still need a ton of money towards my goal – but in case you’d like to help Alyssa get to her goal since she’s already so close – click here for her page!

Bye bye!

 

AprilSignatur

 

 

Dropping those pounds!

Happy Friday, everyone!!!

I’m excited as I’ve got the next two weeks off and I’ve got lots of plans for getting active in nature! I hope all of you have been able to have a fun summer so far. I feel like I’ve had a ton of fun working for the humane society’s summer camp but besides that – my weekends were pretty tame. My summer critical thinking English class was ultra demanding. There was hardly a time when I wasn’t having to write a ton of pages on some deep topic like Columbine or the effect of globalization on whaling. I’m going to blame my lack of blogging on my class taking up all my writing abilities. Yup.

Besides the fun getting to hold puppies, kittens, and pigeons all the time, working full time for the summer gave me a chance to get super routine about my eating habits. I was able to figure out the perfect on-the-go breakfast thanks to the advice of you guys, our awesome readers. I’ll be posting up a recipe next week of an incredible egg “muffin” I created after being inspired by a bunch of the advice. With my egg muffin, chili, and a ton of lettuce – I’ve been able to lose twelve pounds these past two months… I’m sure getting rid of the foods I was allergic to has helped SO MUCH as well.

As for exercise this past week, I’ve been struggling with not wanting to walk in 90 degree weather. Alyssa called me the other night and I was so amazed that she didn’t mind walking in the intense heat of Southern California. At least here it gets down in the low 60′s by the time sunset arrives. I truly am spoiled in that I can have two completely different types of climates just from night to day here in the bay area, especially in a city so close to the ocean that we are constantly covered with a gray blanket of fog. I’ve been doing the majority of my walks in San Francisco either on  the Golden Gate Bridge, in Golden Gate Park, or along the coastline by Baker Beach. I love it because it’s always breezy and seeing the tourists just makes me happy to hear different languages.

How have you guys been keeping cool this summer when you work out? Or do you just deal with the heat and get through it anyway?

And in the spirit of  staying chilled, here is a baby polar bear from a zoo in Germany!

http://www.reddit.com/r/aww/

Thank you, reddit aww.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bye bye!

AprilSignatur

Obese, morbidly.

 

Greetings, readers! I’m back with my attempt to blog at least once a week and this week I want to talk about something that I’ve known but never really thought too much about. I visited the doctor this week and we did a check-up on my blood work  with my discovery of food allergies and such. My blood ended up being just fine but there was something that came up on my lab reports that disturbed me.

 

My doctor had officially noted me as obese, morbidly. I was well aware of what the medical world calls people with high weights but I like to live in my happy bubble where I can just consider myself as an obese person working towards better health. Unfortunately the medical way to describe my weight, specifically with the use of the word “morbid”, makes it seem like I’ve got one foot on the gas and one foot in the grave. I just don’t agree with the word morbid. Obese, fine. Fat, whatever. But morbid? It makes me feel like I should start dressing like Morticia Addams and never smile again. Why not just call it, “super obese?” Like, you’re fat, but you’re also SUPER! It’s bad enough to just BE obese, but why does it still have to sound so harsh? It’s like the only expression that hasn’t been sugar-coated over the past few decades.

I know the amount of fat on my body isn’t healthy but I don’t feel like I’m one more soda away from immediate death. The doctor also tested all sorts of things like cholesterol, calcium, sodium, thyroid, potassium, and glucose levels. Everything was perfectly in the normal range. I also was weighed and had lost seven pounds since I found out about the food allergies. I’ve been feeling pretty good about myself. I’ve been walking more at night and forcing myself to attempt to jog. I set up little goals of amount of blocks and it’s been pretty cool to see how quickly I’ve improved over the past couple of weeks.

According to my training walk schedule, I’m a few miles short of the suggested amount I should be doing every week to prepare for the 60-mile walk. I have been thinking about ways I could fund raise as I still have $1,800 to go and am stoked that I’ll be getting the pink in my hair done today! I still want to do a “Brews for BOObs” event so I hope I can do that to help raise money. I also have been thinking of a way to craft together a promised “training walk sponsorship” where maybe I could ask people to “sponsor” my training walks – They give me a goal for a month during my pre-training, say 50 miles – and they’ll promise to donate $50 when I achieve it. I log all my walks on a fabulous app called Runtastic so it would be legitimate to track my progress… and hopefully everyone who promises to donate will follow through.  What do you all think of that idea? Would any of YOU sponsor my training walks?  ;)

I hope you all have a super spiffy Thursday and if you’re looking for some good laughs, check out my hidden link coated in sugar.

Bye bye!

AprilSignatur

 

 

 

 

Click my picture to get to my 3-day page!

Please click my picture to get to my 3-day page!

Trying new foods!

Traditionally, I have never been great at trying new foods. I tend to be pretty plain in both the fruit and vegetable world and it wasn’t until my family moved to California, nineteen years ago this month (!) , that I even knew there were fruits like the dragon fruit, the star fruit, and the lychee.

This past week at Weight Watchers (where I was up .8) we were challenged to try something new this week that we didn’t think we would like… to try something new. Immediately I thought to myself that I was unlikely to actually do this challenge since I just suck at trying new fruits and vegetables. However, over the weekend an opportunity arose in the strangest fashion.

I was relaxing on this awesome futon when I noticed a kid coming to the door, probably about ten years old. After he knocked, I greeted him, unaware that I was in for a full on sales presentation. The kid spouted off a bunch of words the basically consisted of, “Do you want to try this here mango I hold in my hand?” Since I didn’t want to just say no to this mango master, I said yes and watched him as he skillfully sliced off a wedge of the mango like an Iron Chef with no cutting board.

It was amazing. His cutting skills and the mango wedge itself.

But not amazing enough for the $10 he then pitched to me for a box of them. Sure, that mango slice tasted great at the moment but I knew I just wasn’t ready for that kind of commitment to them.

The point is that I tried the mango. It may not seem like some crazy fruit but to me, it is. I’ve tried it in salsas and it was ok, but I think this attempt was enough to make me consider buying one.

The experience also inspired me to try papaya a few days later too, thanks to my buddy Melody leaving her fruit tray in my cooler.

What kinds of foods have you tried lately? How brave are you when it comes to trying new things? I know Alyssa is definitely brave with her bug eating experience! Have you guys seen that video? If not, you gotta check it out! (Click on this!)

Have an awesome Tuesday!

AprilSignatur