The F Word

You thought I meant the four letter one, huh? Or the three letter one? Nope! I mean the word FEMINIST.

Most of the time, I love being a woman. In high school, my best friend and I would pore over the book Making Faces, spending hours crafting various looks from tubes of concealer and blushes and eyeshadows. We delighted in the feminine pursuit of shopping and finding clothes that flattered our bodies, made us feel confident, and brought a swing to our step. Even dating was in some ways an exercise in self-acceptance, as we quickly grew to realize what boys really did appreciate the fact that we loved aggressive girl-punk-rock, and which ones actually thought we were just silly girls.

I’ve always had a feminist edge, and I’m not ashamed to say I’m a feminist. I’m still shocked by something that happened to me in college: I was working on my Bachelor’s degree in 2008 at Cal State Northridge, and we had a “women and men in the media” class. My teacher asked everyone in the class who was a feminist to raise their hands. Out of 32 students, one person raised their hand. That person was me. I couldn’t quite understand why being a feminist was seen as such a bad thing. In fact, one of my first boyfriends dumped me because I was a “feminazi” because I told him that females could be DJs just like men, and he felt that DJs should only be male. My definition of feminist is somebody who values, respects, and appreciates that women should have the exact same rights as men. I’m not standing on street corners burning my bra or refusing to shave my legs (though quite frankly, if women want to do that, go for it. (And shaving your legs totally sucks, so I can see the appeal in that,). I once saw a quote that said that all people born from women should be feminists… and I agree.

As I near the end of my pregnancy, I’ve had some time to reflect on body image and beauty standards for women. When other people see you are pregnant, they feel they have a free pass to comment on your appearance as it now pertains to two people: you and a baby. I’m used to rude comments on my appearance as a woman of size, and thankfully while I don’t experience it often (apparently I “carry it well”, another thing I hear a lot), I’ve noticed that as I have just under 4.5 weeks to go, the comments about the size of my body, appearance, and bump are picking up. I also heard comments about my food choices in my early pregnancy, but anyone who dares comment on my dietary choices now might receive a swift kick to the head. I don’t want my daughter to be walking through the mall hearing teenage boys make “oink” sounds behind her back. If she chooses to become pregnant one day, I also don’t want her to have to hear “Wow, you still have four weeks to go? You look ready now!”. I don’t want her to hear about the size of her breasts, how she has such a pretty face, or how things would be better “if only” she lost a little weight. However, I’ve accepted the sad reality that because she is female, she will hear these things. In Amy’s Schumer’s movie, Train Wreck, the main character’s sister shares that she found out her unborn baby is a girl. Amy shares her excitement and says something to the extent of “That’s wonderful!”. Her sister immediately says “No, it’s not! She’s totally screwed!” and Amy says, “Yeah, you’re right, she’s screwed.” The actual dialogue in the movie is much more succinct, but basically the gist of the scene is, yeah, she’s  a female, she’s already got a few challenges stacked against her just because of her gender. While I am thrilled to be having a baby girl, I admit I have some of the same hesitations. I’ve lived an amazing life thus far, but have I experienced sexism or problems because I’m female? You betcha. We all have… and I’m sure even men have experienced things that suck because they’re guys.

Jennifer Weiner wrote this letter to her daughters, and it made me sniffle because it sums up so eloquently what I want my daughter to know. As we’re just weeks away from meeting her, I want her to know it’s ok to be a girl. It’s ok to love the color pink, and it’s also okay to hate wearing a bra. It’s ok to be a feminist. It’s ok to question the status quo, to be angry that she may be reduced to her appearance rather than the sum of her parts. I haven’t even seen her yet and I know that she is beautiful, not because of what she looks like, but because of who she is. She will be courageous, and strong, and intelligent. She will be creative in her own ways, independent in her own ways, opinionated in her own ways. And she will grow up with a mom and dad that encourage her to be herself, and to raise her hand when a teacher asks if she is a feminist. And with any luck, hopefully she won’t be the only person in the room to raise her hand.

It’s not goodbye, but see ya around!

Dear Double Chinners,

When I started this blog over four years ago (wow!), I felt inspired and compelled to chronicle my journey from fat to fabulous. When I started blogging, the ‘fabulous’ part meant that I’d reach my goal weight and flutter off into a land of thinness, where I could eat chips and dip with no ramifications (I still wish for that!). As the years wore on and the journey remained a journey and not a destination, I started to grow a little bit bored of the whole “losing weight” thing. I’ve accepted that my struggles with reaching a healthy weight will be something I’m constantly trying to achieve, and that’s okay.

I decided over Christmas this year that I was ready for a change. I was planning on writing my traditional New Year’s post for this blog, and I was looking back at last year’s New Year’s post. I had already been feeling stifled this time last year, and even wrote that I was considering starting a new blog, since my “weight loss blog” has really been nothing but a “weight maintenance, sometimes loss, and sometimes gain blog”. I was feeling like I was falling out of love with blogging, and that sucked, because I’ve been blogging since I was 14 and I LOVE blogging. So I took some time away from the blog to think. We didn’t break up, but we took a break. And that break was exactly what I needed to decide that while I’m not done blogging, I need a breath of fresh air. I need to get out of the box that I put myself in, and step into a new place– one that’s huge and large and limitless and lets me talk about whatever the heck I want, like travel or makeup or fashion or weight loss with PCOS.

And so, my friends, LaLaLyssa.com was born. I noodled for awhile on a new blog name, and settled on LaLaLyssa.com for a few reasons. First of all, I had purchased AllLyssa.com as a play on words, to be everything and ALL Alyssa, but then I learned that Allyssa.com (one less L) was a porn site. Yeah, no. Too much potential for awkward typos. I was going to blog under my business site, AlyssaCurran.com, but I liked the idea of a cutesy, separate land for all my ramblings. And so I chose LaLaLyssa.com, for a few reasons:

1) I choose to live my life embracing quirkiness, and sometimes I feel like I’m in LaLa Land.
2) I live IN La La Land (Los Angeles).
3) I used to name products, and one of my favorite things I’ve ever named is a popular toy line that starts with the prefix ‘Lala’.

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So there you have it. The Double Chin Diary isn’t going away, but it’s going to quietly simmer on the backburner. Every now and then when I want to write about weight loss or fitness, I’ll probably write a post over here, but will link to it from my new site as well. As I said before, my journey with weight loss is far from over. Despite the number on the scale, I’ve made some amazing progress towards being a healthier me — like being able to walk amost 60 miles in 3 days, and more importantly, learning to love myself despite my weight. I hope you’ll come over and check out what I’m up to at LaLaLyssa.com, because I love hearing what you think. I’ll always be grateful to the Double Chin Diary for giving me a taste of what being a ‘real blogger’ is like, and for opening the door to many exciting and awesome opportunities. I also plan to one day write a book, and that was the reason I started this blog — because I knew one day, I’d have an “after” to match my “before”, and I’d call it the Double Chin Diary. This isn’t goodbye — it’s just see ya later 🙂

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Happy Thanksgiving from the Double Chin Diary!

Wow – I can’t believe it’s Thanksgiving. 2014 has been a year of learning, and I’ll reflect on that in a month, but here are some things I’m grateful for today, yesterday, and always.

  • I’m grateful for YOU. Sometimes I feel like this blog is just a creaky old soap box I step up on that nobody reads, but I know that’s not true when I get an email from somebody who says I inspired them to go kayaking even though they’re plus sized, or that they’re newly diagnosed with PCOS and looking for information. A blog is just a diary if it doesn’t have readers, and I’m proud to say the Double Chin Diary is actually a bonified blog. Also, you readers help bring me opportunities – like attending Fitbloggin’ 2015 as one of their social media managers. Hooray! Thank you!

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  • I’m grateful for my health. Sure, sure, I have terrible allergies, PCOS, and the occasional case of anxiety – but for the most part I am healthy, capable, and getting closer every day to this whole being fit thing. Our health is genuinely a gift we take for granted until it’s too late, so I’m glad I can recognize my body, though imperfect, is just fine.

    AlyssaAfterHerFirstFiveMileHike_DoubleChinDiary

  • I’m grateful for my family. I’ve been blessed with cool parents, siblings I’m super close with, awesome in-laws, and my sweet husband. They make me a better person every day, and I’m proud to be a Lofgren Curran.

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  • I’m grateful for closure. This year, we lost my mother in law to cancer. Around this time last year, we learned of her diagnosis, and it’s awful that just one year later she’s no longer with us. One of the only positive parts of losing her is that we were able to spend time with her before she passed, to tell her how much we loved her, and how we knew we’d see her again. Many people don’t have this opportunity, so this year, I’m grateful for the fact that no words were left unsaid. I still feel her all around me, like in this amazing rainbow that arched over us as we walked the 3-Day this past weekend.

    Photo via Susan G. Komen 3-Day Facebook

    Photo via Susan G. Komen 3-Day Facebook

  • I’m grateful for the 3-Day. What may have started as an exciting new job managing social media for the 3-Day has turned into a life-changing experience. Not only do I adore my co-workers and job duties (AND I get to work from home), I feel like what I do has real value in giving back. I walked my first 3-Day this year, raised over $3,300, and saw first hand the impact that this walk has on people facing cancer.

    This is why I walk.

    This is why I walk.

  • I’m grateful for a cozy home. Matt and I have lived in our little bungalow for six years, and while it’s not perfect (who designed a bathroom with the light switch behind the door?!), it’s warm, cozy, and holds our vibrant little family of two adults and two fur babies.560538_10100449850528036_1856930000_n
  • I’m grateful for my friends. There’s friends in my life that have been around since I was a spunky little spitfire (Hey beek!), to friends I met at work (Hi Jason and Juan!), to friends I met in grad school when simultaneously crying and laughing was the norm (Hi Julie, Virginia, Em), to new friends (Aubrey, the Erins, Jenn… the list goes on), to friends I work out with (Hey Susannah!). I have so many awesome friends, way too many to list here, and I’m grateful for each and every one of them and their many endearing quirks.

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  • I’m grateful for travel. This year, thanks to work, I got to see Michigan, Twin Cities, Seattle, Philadelphia, and New York City. Next week, I’ll be on my way to Costa Rica. In March I’ll be going to the Bahamas. Matt and I pinch pennies all year to afford travel, and it’s one of my favorite things. Exploring the world is a great way to relax, rest, and reflect on all these amazing things that make life life.

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    Whereever you are today, I hope you take a quick moment (or a long one!) to reflect on what you’re thankful for. No matter what crappy hand life has currently dealt you, there are people out there who have it much, much worse. Sending you love and light for a wonderful Thanksgiving, and thanks for being YOU.

April’s bikini day at the beach

I did it.

I finally wore a bikini at the beach.

I had done it before as a child, I’m sure.

But as an adult, my stomach had never once felt the cool sea air upon it.

bikinibeachI’ve always wanted to try wearing a bikini. If I just didn’t have that horrible fear of what everyone there would think, I bet I would have done it a lot sooner. However on this day, once my friend and I had successfully walked the farthest away we could from people, I decided to strip down just to the bikini I had worn there with fearful anticipation of actually showing it. My friend easily sensed my embarrassment as I peered around to see just how far away everyone was, standing with my hands in my shirt ready for lift off. Luckily, as the awesome guy my friend is, he knew to say all the right things to make me feel better. Compliments about me being hot and “no one caring” eased my anxieties enough to get me to take off my top and plop down with my hands/arms hiding my stomach. With a few more self-esteem boosting words, I let go of my stomach and realized I badly needed to just get over this deep-rooted fear I have about wearing a bikini.

Why is that I could go to Burning Man and walk around with no  top? Or go to an Oregon hot springs and do the same? Why didn’t I feel horrible shame there the way I do at the beach?

A suggested answer came from one of my close girl friends. She pointed out that at Burning Man and hot springs, so many people are naked and “letting it all hang out” that the societal pressure to look a certain way just isn’t there. Though at the beach and other public swimming places, it is almost expected that the only women you will see wearing bikinis are thin. I am grateful that these times are changing and more and more women are feeling more secure about rocking whatever they want to at the beach. Sadly, I still haven’t been able to JUST GET OVER IT. I think I’m getting better since I’m even willing to give it a try, but I hate knowing that the #1 reason I won’t wear a bikini to the beach is because of my fear of what complete strangers think of my body.

How freaking lame is that?

So, blog readers, does the fear of what other people think of your body ever hinder what you like to wear?  If it doesn’t, how did you get to that awesome place of complete self-security? I’d love to hear it!

Oh, and by the way, I’m totally down 20 pounds officially from the start of this year. YAY. Thank you 3-day training and food allergies! WOOO!

 

Lots of love,

AprilSignatur

 

 

 

 

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Proof (at a safe distance for my insecurities).

Fat Girl Fear Debunked: Being Naked at Korean Spa

As I thought about this post, I thought, “How do I write a post title that isn’t like, all about being naked at a Korean Spa, because it’s about so much more than being naked?” But then, let’s face it; the notable thing I want to tell you guys about IS being naked at a Korean Spa, cuz’ this blog explores the adventures of an adventurous plus-sized gal and her quest to live a full-life as a full-figured lady. My journey to health the past few years has gleefully invited pampering into my life. Massages? Love them. Acupuncture? Bring it on. Hot Springs? I’m there. Pedicures? Every month and a half. My paychecks may dwindle, but while I can get away with this pampering and relaxation, I fully intend to reward my hard-working self with non-food items. My awesome acupuncturist has been recommending that I visit a Korean Spa for several months, but I always had the same reaction “Don’t you have to be NAKED?”. My acupuncturist, who has the cool and calm European attitude about nudity that people should (i.e., it’s no big deal, there’s nothing sexual about a spa!), would shrug and casually say that’s not what it’s about. I mulled this around in my head for a while before ultimately deciding, that nope, while learning to navigate a newfound confidence with my body, going au naturale in front of others (willingly) just wasn’t for me.

…Until, I saw an awesome deal on a Groupon for a Women Only Korean Spa, and my friend Jenny mentioned it to me, wooing me by the description of bath tubs filled with tiny, heated, clay balls that you submerge yourself under. Bathtubs with hot clay balls? Steamy rooms filled with aromatic herbs? An oxygen room, rumored to be the cure for insomnia? An ICE room, like a walk in refrigerator, when it’s been 102 degrees? The heated Himalayan Salt room with burlap sacks sent me over the edge, and like that, my groupon was purchased, my anxiety was amping up, and I had a date for a Friday night Korean Spa adventure with Jenny. We discussed this very bold transition in our friendship; after all, few friends have seen my shockingly white birthday suit. Luckily, we laughed about it, decided our eyes would stay up, and chose to adopt the aforementioned European attitude. She soothed some of my fat girl fears like only a friend can; with rationale: Would I be the only overweight person at the spa? Probably not. Would somebody say something to me, like they had in Thailand, and make my self-confidence disappear? Probably not, and if they did, I could smack them with my towel. Would my body be pointed at and ridiculed? See #2.

Once we arrived at the spa, in true Alyssa fashion, I blurted out my insecurities to the woman at the front desk. She laughed, assured me I was not the only person nervous about being naked, and told me I would feel great. With a deep breath, we walked into the locker room, stripped down to our fashionable pink robe, and headed to the shower room, the place where the nakedness would go down. (At Korean Spas, the principal is that you need to be clean and free from chemicals that may be lurking in your swimsuit from pool chemicals or laundry detergents.) It was a large room, with multiple showers along each wall, a narrow bathtub with buckets for rinsing your feet, and a heated Himalayan salt tub. Upon first inspection I saw: butt cheeks. All of the naked women stood with their fronts facing the wall. I can handle some butts, I thought, after all, while varying in size, all butts look the same, pretty much. As I rinsed myself, I made a decision. I could either be coy and ashamed of my body, trying to hide it, or I could embrace this opportunity and own my body like an Amazonian queen. I chose the latter, got myself nice and clean, and moved into the wonderfully relaxing salt tub. The longer I sat naked, the more I saw, but here’s the thing. As is with most matters in the world, nobody is ever as focused on YOU as you are with you. The things we worry about, stress about, freak out about; these personal insecurities and vulnerabilities are personal in the sense that nobody is really giving it the mental real estate you might think it would occupy. I couldn’t care less about the bodies I saw, and did I pass judgement? No. There were bodies of all shapes and sizes, all colors and textures, but I wasn’t there to observe. I was there to relax.

After my hot tub dip, I put the robe back on, because all of the sauna rooms actually require you to be dressed so that you don’t flash your bits and shock someone out of a steam-induced zen. Once I was back into the false sense of security that clothing promises, my vulnerability was hidden again, tucked safely out of sight. Something strange happened then: I realized with the heat swirling around me, the steam gently clinging to my body, that being naked would make more sense. It wasn’t a sexual experience, it wasn’t about vanity. It was about relaxation and healing, free from the hindrance (and very real practicalities, like sweat), that clothes can provoke. I relaxed, took a few deep breaths, and was reminded in a very subtle way of the same lesson my body has been telling me for years: that this body of mine, while big, is perfect because it is strong. It is capable. It is mine.