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.

 

Three Things Thursday: Alyssa’s Wellness Check Up

Hey everyone! Is today your Friday? It’s mine, and I’m so psyched to head out to Paso Robles with Matt for a quick trip. I first explored Paso Robles on Fitcation, and I can’t wait for some hiking, hot spring soaking, and olive oil tasting.

I had a couple random things about my health I wanted to tell you about, and because “Random things about my health I wanted to tell you about” doesn’t seem like a very good blog title, I decided to add some alliteration (copywriter’s favorite) and call it Three Things Thursday. So without further ado, here are three things on my mind this Thursday about wellness, health, weight loss, and my general state of being. In the spirit of full Alyssa disclosure, I did receive complimentary Blue Diamond almonds for free in exchange for discussion :)

1) About two weeks ago, something clicked for me that to be my best self, I need to be active every single day. I decided to make a small promise to myself — on days I wasn’t doing yoga, cardio, walk training, or hiking, I needed to walk at least one mile every day. That doesn’t sound like much, but on days when I literally walk only the distance from my bedroom to my kitchen, it will help. I ended up racking up about 14 miles over my weekend in Savannah, and I’ve come to realize how much I *like* walking. Especially when I can be with a friend, sight seeing, or talking on the phone — walking is a very calming thing! I’ve been making good on my promise, logging at least 1.6 miles consecutively every day for the past four days, and tonight, my Yoga Meltdown dvd from Jillian Michaels. Hooray for change!

2) Another thing has clicked for me, and that is that I don’t eat enough. Let me rephrase that. There are times when I eat too much. But then, there are times where I eat only my three square meals (or worse – I skip), and for someone with near PCOS insulin resistance, that’s no good, because hunger makes me cranky, shaky, and anxious. I’ve turned into the girl who carries a snack in the back pouch of her purse – something small, like a Health Warrior bar, or lately, Blue Diamond Almonds. You guys know about my love/hate of almonds – I am sad to admit that on their own (raw, unsalted), I’m not a fan. But dress them up in sexy clothes like Rosemary Black Pepper, Smokehouse seasoning, Coconut, or Blueberry, and I’m all good. These in particular taste like Fruity Pebbles! I’m down. So down — they taste like junk food with minimal sugar — and how patriotic, red, white n’ blue almonds!

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3) I’m stating here for accountability that in addition to being active every day and eating more regularly, I also need to get back to taking my vitamins. I’ll do really well for a few months and then get super lazy. Lately, I’ve noticed I’m battling some day time fatigue — just a general sense of low energy. Well — I forgot about my ridiculously low Vitamin D levels, and then remembered the fact that I haven’t taken my vitamin D in… oh, several months. DUH. So now, all my vitamins are stacked up eye level on the bathroom shelf, staring at me every day. I’m taking a high quality women’s multi, Vitamin D, Biotin, EPA, and soon, some Horsetail extract to help with the tons of hair I lose (thanks, PCOS).

4) I lied — I have four things to tell you about. I got mentioned in a rap!!! My awesome friend Dre from Mission Meltdown celebrated Fitbloggin’s birthday by creating a hip hop blog soup. You’ll hear an Alyssa shout out mid way through. I’m so sad I missed this in person – I was running late for the key note session because I had just come back from a long 5 mile walk of Savannah and needed to get a shower in. I’m so glad it’s on video. Watch for my Fitbloggin recap soon, in addition to a fun giveaway for you all for some non-GMO, non-chemical stevia SweetDrops, a natural soda replacement.

HAVE AN AWESOME FOURTH OF JULY!

xoxo

The Double Chin Diary Siggy

What’s up, Wednesday?

VROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM.

There, that’s better. I just vacuumed up the spider webs and dust from the Double Chin Diary for your viewing pleasure. Oh man, seriously. I’ve been away from the blog for two weeks! April has also been away. Hopefully we’ll get back to a regular schedule soon. Unfortunately, I was away for a sad reason, as I lost a very special family member two weeks ago to cancer. I was in my hometown in Northern California for almost two weeks.  I’ll share more when I feel ready, but I can say that grief has a powerful effect on eating. For some people it causes them to lose their appetite, and for others, it makes them want to eat everything in sight.  This time around, I was the latter. But now I’m back home and back into the routine, having logged a good workout and healthy meals like 15-bean soup. Gotta get back on track! Since I’ve been away for so long I figured I’d just ramble on about a couple different things. Yup!

1) This isn’t my first rodeo with trying to lose weight, but one thing’s for sure: activity is good. It doesn’t have to be an hour long sweat sesh for me to feel the benefits of exercise on my body. I took some long walks (one was 5.36 miles — working my way up to 60 miles for the 3-Day!) while I was away, and all of those walks left me feeling better. My body gets awfully tense and creaky when I’m not keeping it in motion. A good reminder for the future. (Also, how cute is my Katie K. Active  top? Score 15% off and free shipping with code ALYSSA15 — more formal review to come!)

Strolling through Schollenberger Park in Petaluma

Strolling through Schollenberger Park in Petaluma

2) I’m a telecommuter, and I gotta say, dogs make good coworkers. Can you guys help convince my landlord that I need a dog now?! This is Sadie, my inlaw’s beautiful retriever. Apparently she likes lemons.

golden retriever lemons

Pucker up, Sadie!

3) I’m super happy that Summer is almost here! Summer is my favorite season (followed by Fall, then Spring, then Winter). I got to spend the first part of Memorial Day weekend hanging around my friend Susie’s beautiful pool. I’ve gotten a lot more serious now about sunscreen, thanks to a pre-cancerous mole I had to have sheared off not once, but twice. WEAR SUNSCREEN, people! That’s your PSA for the day. Hence my stylish Havana Hat and shades. But beyond sunscreen, summer means that FITBLOGGIN is right around the corner! I’ll be headin’ to Savannah at the end of June, and I can’t wait. Any must-sees in Savannah?

Cover up in the sun!

Cover up in the sun!

4) Being back in Northern California meant I got to spend some time with my awesome boss and coworker who also live in the bay. I stopped on my way home from lunch with them to stretch my legs at Vista Point, a beautiful scenic overlook at the Golden Gate Bridge. How amazing is this? I live in such a beautiful place.

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Vista Point, San Francisco

5) Lastly, I’m thinking about cancelling my Total Woman gym membership. I’ve been doing a ton of walk training lately, and I’m not happy with Total Woman’s super packed classes. They tried to set up a system where you sign in for a class before it starts and that will determine maximum capacity, but tonight was one time to many where I arrived 20 minutes early for a class and it was already past capacity. Then, the classes I do manage to get into are so packed you can’t comfortably move around. Is this a problem I just need to get used to, or does anyone have any other gym suggestions? I want to check out LA Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness, Curves, and my local YMCA. Let me know if you have any suggestions! The most important thing to me are flexible hours and a variety of classes.

That’s all I got. What’s happenin’ with you? :)

 

Friend Makin’ Monday: The Tuesday Version

Hi guys! I have total “Blogger’s Block” tonight, so I decided to do my friend Sarah’s Friend Makin’ Monday a day late.

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic! This week the questions come to you from Stephanie who blogs over at Athlete at Heart.

Favorite things

1. Favorite color? (be specific… what shade of blue/green/red etc)

I definitely gravite towards blues, teals, and turquoises. My car is royal blue, aptly named Blueberry, as are my iPhone case, computer case, bedroom walls… lots of blues! I love jewel tones.

2. Favorite piece of clothing you own?

Oh, this is a tough one. I adore my Taffy yoga pants, and a pair of gnome pajamas my first boss gave me. I also have a new skirt I just bought — a maxi skirt, that may end up in the favorite things rotation. As I’m between sizes right now and my jeans are too big, I don’t want to buy new things yet, so skirts and dresses are coming into play more often.

3. Favorite smartphone app?

Another tough one! I probably use my Twitter app the most, followed by Instagram, then Map My Walk and Yoga Studios. I also love Tab, which easily splits a bill in a group of people at a restaurant, A Beautiful mess, which lets you add cute quotes and graphics to photos, and PicShop, which lets me edit photos.

4. Favorite city?

While I of course love my two current home state cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco, my heart will always belong in my maiden city of Chicago. Chicago just has so much to do – from the Field Museum, to exploring Grant Park, to the John Hancock Observatory, to Greek town… I just love it there. The amazing food doesn’t hurt, either.

Can't beat this skyline.

Washing Windows at the Willits Tower
Washing Windows at the Willits Tower

5. Favorite strength training exercise?

Uh. I can’t think of anything. Does Yoga count as strength training? Yeah, probably not.

6. Favorite vegetable?

Now we’re talkin’. I love Persian Cucumbers, tomatoes, artichokes, peas, onions, garlic, cauliflower… the only vegetables I don’t LOVE are eggplant and asparagus.

7. Favorite hair product? (shampoo, styling, conditioner etc)

I use Bedhead’s “Dumb Blonde” for shampoo and conditioner, and a bunch of random stuff for styling. I don’t really have a favorite – I don’t spend a ton of time on my hair.

8. Favorite animal?

Giraffe, hippo, penguin, cat. For a long time I had this lovely ridiculous mental image of spreading a beach towel out on a hippo’s belly as it sunned, and sunning on a hippo’s belly, and then I learned that hippos are vicious, vile, creatures, and that idea went out the window. So yeah.

9. Favorite superhero?

Hmmph. I like the idea of the nerd turned super hero, so probably Spiderman. But I’m not a big superhero/comic fan myself.

10. Favorite recipe? (share the details with us)

Aghhh, too many to choose from! Probably my favorite lately is one my husband’s family got me into, named “Fall Apart Beef”. I’m going to butcher this, but roughly, you get a rump roast cut of beef, barbeque it to slightly brown it. Put it in either a crock pot or big pot on low all day with one bottle of cheap red wine and a packet of onion soup mix. You can add sliced mushrooms a few hours in. Serve it over egg noodles. So simple, flavorful, and delicious!

Ok, well, that was fun! Will you participate in Friend Makin’ Monday? How about donating a small amount towards my journey walking 60 miles this fall to help end breast cancer? Every little bit counts! :)

 

 

Buy the box weight loss

Even though I am currently “doing” Weight Watchers, it took me a while to get keen on  the idea of paying money to do a program that had already been determined for me before nothing was known of my own personal condition. But since I can’t resist a good deal and I knew I needed some sort of extra pressure to help me… I signed up.  As you guys saw with my last update, I have actually been having some success over the past few months.  Whether or not I could have done that on my own, who knows.  I do know that I counted points for like 2 weeks and the rest of the time I have just been eating my typical “earth food” that comes from the ground rather than a box.

I’ve got this issue with boxes with more than just avoiding food from them.  I also have a big issue with companies that try to fit their potential customers or current customers into a box.  Specially, weight loss plans.  Ever since I started gaining weight as a teenager, I’ve had suggestions of weight loss programs that I should do.  Slimfast.  Nutrisystem. Jenny Craig.  Weight Watchers.  Atkins.  Now, as an adult blogger, the suggestions come on even stronger.

The past few months on Weight Watchers has really confirmed my disliking of programs that are designed to place certain people in certain boxes.  For example, my daily point allowance for WW was based on my age, height, weight, and my suggested activity level.  The spectrum for everything is pretty broad though.  According to this handy blog by LaaLoosh, age groups are clumped within ten years and people who fall between 5’1 and 5’10 are clumped together as well.  So that means a 27 year old female who is 5’9″ and 200 pounds who is sedentary will have similar point values to a 37 year old female who is 5’2″ and 160 pounds and walks often.  I would like to believe it is balanced accordingly per person, but I just doubt the specific attention each member receives when determining what they should eat every day.

Weight Watchers gripes aside, my point is this:  I believe there is no program that works for everyone.  The weight loss industry in the United States is driven by one thing: money.  Our country feeds into this multi-billion dollar industry by quickly latching on to whatever they feel is going to be the easiest solution to their weight loss.  I know when I signed up for Weight Watchers, it was and is because I still feel like I need the weekly meetings in order to feel accountable for myself.  I had a feeling that I probably wouldn’t actually track points and  even without it, I have still been able to have success.  Whether or not it is because I’m enrolled in the program and going to the meetings, who knows.  I do feel more determined that ever to get this weight off so whatever it is that I’m doing, it is working.

However, I can not just go and say that Weight Watchers works for everyone.  I think the only sort of program I can really advocate for is one that a trained dietitian and nutritionist creates specifically for YOU.  Anyone that I have talked to about their successful weight loss has been on a journey that has consisted of what they have crafted together by what works best for their bodies.  There is no simple, by the box, weight loss program that works for everyone. The trick is just finding what works for YOU.

Lots of love,

AprilSignatur

 

 

 

Monday Memo: What’s Cookin’ in the Land of Double Chins?

Hello there! Did you have a good weekend? I sure did! I started my weekend off by attending and speaking at the Los Angeles Lifestyle Bloggers Conference. It’s always nice to be surrounded by like-minded people, in this case, a room full of women who love blogging and technology. The panel I was on was about networking with social media and blogging, and while I’ll never call myself an expert, I do think social media is super-awesome at connecting people who otherwise may not have a chance to meet. In fact, this weekend I was lucky enough to meet several new friends — and that’s what I love about blogging and the internet. There are so many wonderful people out there that belong in your same “tribe”.

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Photo by my friend Calvin @MayhemStudios. See my water bottle?! I was hydrated!

Once I got over the first ten minute jitters of the panel, I had a great time! I tend to get nervous during public speaking, but I know that the more I do it, the better it will get. The audience had some great questions and for the remainder of the weekend we learned about things like SEO optimization, basic business principles, accounting for bloggers; you name it! We also ate delicious treats by places like Stonefire Grill, Fresh Brothers, Peddler’s Ice Cream, and A Sweet Design. I also experienced my first earthquake on the 11th floor of a high-rise! EEEK! Let’s just say this Midwestern girl still isn’t used to the earth rocking and rolling even after 10 years of living in the Golden state.

That brings me to the other thing happening over here in Los Angeles pretty frequently — all those earthquakes. April got to experience an LA Quake that was a 4.3 a couple of weeks ago, and this weekend Matt and I felt a 5.3 and then a 4.1. I try not to worry too much about natural disasters because I have no control over them happening, but the quaking of the earth reminded me this weekend that I need to be prepared. We’ll be shopping for some emergency supplies soon, in addition to what we already have (water, canned goods, flashlights, tent, etc.). Do you have any emergency preparedness kits or supplies?

And lastly, here’s a picture of my kale, which is growing out of control. Anybody have recipes that use kale? (Besides kale chips.) That’s all I got! Busy weekend, but super fun. Next weekend will be another busy one, and April and I will have a special announcement to share. Hope you have a great day!