Body Positivity and Weight Loss: Can you have and want both?

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending BlogHer for the very first time. It’s always fun to connect in person with other members of the blogosphere and learn from their successes (and flops). I was hanging at a protein powder booth at the expo hall, and introduced myself to the brand rep. “Hi, I’m Alyssa,” I said, beginning my usual elevator pitch, “I blog about losing weight without losing my sense of humor, though lately this weight loss blog is more of a weight gain blog because I recently had a baby.” The rep and I chitchatted for a few minutes, and then I turned to leave, when I saw a girl approach me. I knew she was on the younger side as she had that youthful skin that no lotion or potion can give you back. “Hi, I heard you say you’re a weight loss blogger and I have a question for you.” She went on to explain how she struggles finding the balance between being body positive but also wanting to and trying to lose weight. She wanted to know, how did I find balance between the two and what was my perspective on it all? First of all, I asked this girl her age and she’s 17! Seventeen! Wow! Color me impressed for such an awesome, thoughtful query at such a young age.

BODY POSITIVITY

The answer to this question is both simple and complicated at the same time. The question, if we reduce it to one direct statement is “Can you still be body positive if you are trying to lose weight?” To that, my answer is yes, yes, and more yes. I’ve actually had a few bloggers snark on me for not “being body positive” because I want to lose weight, but if you go through my blog, I think you’ll find my body positivity is pretty on-point. The key to this equation for me is that I can love myself just as I am, and I should, because once that weight comes off, there’s a lot of me that will still be the same. But more importantly, it’s about loving my body ENOUGH to know that it deserves the very best. For me, the very best is a lighter body — not just for how it will look in size 12 jeans, but to walk miles without my heel spur aching, to get my blood pressure taken without anxiously spiking it, to not fret about fitting in airplane seats or going ziplining.

 

Now, these two things can exist and both be true, and that said, I’m a big advocate of body positivity and am grateful it’s become a “thing” now that I am a mother. Images like this make me so very happy, to be living in a world where different shapes and sizes are becoming more accepted, just like skin color, sexual orientation, and gender.

However, I have to scrutinize a little bit about the body positivity community if those who are wanting to lose weight are being challenged. If we’re advocating for acceptance of all bodies, wouldn’t it be hypocritical to be against those who are wanting to make a change to their body? I think that you can love yourself just as you are but still want to make improvements; for example, how my husband adores the heck out of me but really wishes I didn’t need 10,000 reminders to empty the dishwasher. I think perhaps the emphasis of body positivity can shift slightly to be just more positivity in general; with your pants size, your religious beliefs, your diet, your hobbies, whatever makes you YOU. However, I suppose a key difference here is if you’re coming at your body and size with negativity, no confidence, and self-hatred while wanting to lose weight, THAT doesn’t really work as body positivity, ya know?

I guess the point of this is, and what I told that girl, is that you can lose 100 pounds, 5 pounds, or 1 pound — and you might look “perfect”, or whatever the meaning of that word of what we’re desiring really is, and if you haven’t done the hard work on the INSIDE of learning to love the person you are, then you’re not much better off than when you started. We all know happiness comes from within, and it sounds cliche, but it’s true. If you hate yourself at 300 pounds there’s a chance you’ll hate yourself at 100, too. So, I say, rock on with your body positive self, but if you’re wanting to lose weight to feel better or heck, even look better, rock on with your self-loving self. Because there’s nothing more positive than believing in the person you are and were meant to be — regardless of what the number says on the scale.

A Friday check-in for April

Hello, blogging world!  It has been an exciting past week and I’m happy to announce that I lost 3.2 pounds!  I was quite proud of myself as I stepped on the scale this morning at Weight Watchers and saw that I was back on the road of losing, rather than the past two weeks when I was creeping up.  I finally shed my birthday weight!  Haha!

I spent last weekend on an impromptu trip to the incredible Yosemite and Mono Lake.  Even though I’ve been a nature lover my whole life, this was only my first time in one of the United State’s many gorgeous national parks.  My spectacular adventure pal, his schnugglific dog, and I basically “camped” in my car for Friday night, ten thousand feet up beneath a snow covered Mt. Dana.  It was just 28 degrees so while I was actually pretty warm in my car, the lack of sleep made it very motivating for me to try to act ultra healthy after I returned from the trip.  My body needed it.

6am beneath Mt. Dana in Yosemite, California

This week I was able to integrate more salads into my day and by keenly preparing all my lettuce earlier in the week, it made it easy not to make an excuse not to eat it.  I started to work my hula hoop back into my nightly routine and am spicing it up by using my hand weights at the same time.  I use the timer on my phone because it makes it easy to build up the time I spend hooping and fluttering my arms like a baby bird trying to fly.  With that, more walking, more hiking, and a combination of some yoga and Pilates moves, my body is starting to feel much stronger.  Especially my core. 🙂

A rejuvenated April at Mono Lake

I have a nice rush of confidence after the past week.  Yosemite was great, the gorgeous views, fresh air, and seeing a BEAR made it easy to enter into the week with a rejuvenated energy.  I had a job interview on Monday to be a summer camp assistant for a Humane Society here, combining my love of working with kids with my love of science and animals.  I am SO STOKED because right after my positive weigh-in experience, I came outside to see that I had been chosen for the job!

So with a new job, a lighter weight, and awesome visual memories of a bear, I’m ready to continue on my path of awesomeness… AND I managed to get up to $95 in donations for my breast cancer walk!  I still have a long journey ahead of me but with all this confidence, I know that I’ll achieve my goals.  🙂

Thanks for the support everyone and I hope you all have a weekend full of new visions for you to focus on!

Help me reach my goal for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day

 

Love,

AprilSignatur

Alyssa’s 16 Pounds Lost Progress Pix

Hello, hello! How are things? My weigh-in on Tuesday wasn’t stellar — I was up 2.2 pounds. But, not gonna let it get me down. Pickin’ myself up and brushin’ myself off, because I seem to be in a little bit of a big loss, then gain, then another big loss type pattern. I was holding water from some yummy food on my weekend away, and I’ve been back at the tracking and exercise with a vengeance. So I know next week will be better. Moving on to Non-Scale Victories!

I’ve been wanting to update my progress pix for awhile, and now that I’ve officially passed a 15 pound milestone, I thought it was time. It’s frustrating to think that it took me since June to lose these 16 pounds, BUT, I’d rather take it suuuuuper slow than nothing at all, if it means I’ll eventually get there. Without further ado, here’s what I look like minus 16 pounds. (And unfortunately, there’s no poorly photoshopped cats this time around. Next time!)

FRONT_FEB

Side_Updated

Back_Updated

I’m so glad I have these pictures, because on days where it feels like it’s just not worth it to try to lose weight, I can look at these and SEE change. Especially through my mid-section. Whenever my middle starts to whittle, I know that what I’m doing is working. Even better? The joyous “You’ve lost weight!” exclamation from friends who haven’t seen me in awhile. Love it, love it, love it. But it’s not really about how I look — it’s more about how I feel. And I’m feeling good. I have more energy, my body feels less tense, and I’m not huffing and puffing from simple things. I’m so glad I’m finally seeing some progress on this very long road I’ve been traveling on for several years. It makes me think that maybe, just maybe, the future is within my reach — and it’s very bright!

Weight Watchers Two-Week Weigh-In!

Today I had my second weigh-in with Weight Watchers and to my surprise – I actually lost another 2.8 pounds!  I’m officially down 6.2 pounds  since I first began on January 3rd and I’m feeling more confident than ever that this time around, I’ll be able to get ALL THE WAY TO GOAL!

I worked out a lot more this week and tried really hard to make sure I was eating every couple of hours.  I feel like I was snacking on vegetables non-stop!  Being back in school is definitely going to help me maintaining a decent eating schedule.  I was excited because I bought a cute little lunch container that fits a small sandwich or salad, and three compartments for other foods.  I’ve already used it twice and think it’ll become a permanent addition to what I bring to school every day.

I’ve also been drinking SO MUCH TEA.

My Redbull replacement

My Redbull replacement

I’m hopeful for next week as I’ll be more settled into my new schedule.  I’m also participating in an online Facebook challenge with my friend Corrine.  It’s free, five days, and comes with a grocery list and meal plan… But the best part is the daily accountability check-in that I’ll be doing to list off the amount of water I drank, exercise I did, what I ate, and how I’m feeling.  I did it a few months ago and loved the support from all the other people on the challenge.  If you’re interested, it starts MONDAY JANUARY 20th.

For more information, click on the picture below and it will bring you to Corrine’s page where you can ask her to add you to our group.

Click the pic to find out how to join!

Until then, what are all of you doing  this weekend to show off your healthy ways?!?!

Lots of love,

AprilSignatur

What’s in April’s fridge?

Happy half-of-the-week is over, everyone!

I’m back with another update on how my Weight Watchers has been going, leading off from my post last Friday.   After the meeting my friend Laura and I made a trip to Trader Joe’s and picked up groceries to get us by for the next few days.  Feeling motivated to get EVERYTHING, I went by our local produce stand and supplemented my stash with even more greens.  All of my groceries were pretty inexpensive and even though it’s been a few days, I still have a bunch of food.  I made a chicken vegetable soup and got stuff to make another batch of my ground turkey with tomato sauce that I had over cooked broccoli slaw last week.Besides a few meals outside of the house, I’ve been adapting to my new lifestyle of crunching on an apple mid-day or sucking down 100+ ounces of water.

April's stash of food for the week  ~$45

April’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack foods for the week!  (around $45)

 

I mentioned in my post from Friday that my friend Laura lost eleven pounds on her first week of being back at Weight Watchers and watched to share some tips she had.

She went from the typical holiday habits many of us shared and worked hard to stick to the Weight Watcher’s Simple Start Plan.  Unlike me in my first week, she tracked nothing (part of the plan) and “always had a cup of hot tea in her hand” ready to drink.

Here are Laura’s top three tips:

1) Drink water ALL THE TIME.  She was pulling in more than 100 oz of water a day!  With all those trips to the bathroom, Laura was really flushing out her system!

2) Avoid SUGAR!  If you can resist the urge to binge on the sweets, you can have some pretty strong success!

3) Don’t eat after seven pm!  I personally suck at this since night time just seems like the right time to sit and stuff.  I’ve been snacking with 4oz Trader Joe yogurts that I stick in the freezer.  I’ll see if I can follow this tip of hers!

unnamed5I’m two days away from another meeting and I haven’t been obsessively stepping on the scale like I did last week.  I’m giving the “Simple Start” another chance and not tracking my points and just eating balanced and light meals so we’ll see how that works out for me.  Traditionally I always lose, gain, lose, gain, lose, lose, gain, lose… But who knows!  There is always room for a change!  Maybe I’ll be surprised on Friday with a loss.

Speaking of that,  one of my random meals out was at my friend Natalie’s house!  I’ve never been a fan of eating anything that swims in the water but I am looking to expand my eating habits.  A few years ago I had an amazing serving of salmon, compliments of a talented Dad I babysit for, and since then was too threatened that no one else’s salmon would be as good as his.  However when Natalie said she was going to make us some I was excited for the opportunity to try it again!  Of course, I loved it… much to my Mother’s disbelief.

Have you found there any foods that you like now that you didn’t like when you were younger?  Maybe something you’ve discovered while on the road to better health?  Share with us!

Lots of love and healthy greens,

AprilSignatur

Kids and the “F word”

People all the use the “F word” differently around children.  Since I’ve worked with probably over 200 young children now, I know directly the impact the “F word” has on them.  I’m probably too over-protective of the word as I go so far that I switch out the words in children’s songs and stories that use it.  However, every family is different and people can make the choice to include it in their daily vocabulary if they want to.  It is just a word, right?

I had a moment tonight regarding the “F word” while working with two of the most special people in the world to me, a girl who turns 6 in three weeks and a boy who recently turned 3.  I’ve been babysitting for this family since the little girl was just nine months old and one of the best parts of my life has been watching these children grow up.

It was bedtime and the kids were rambunctious and rolling around on the ground, begging to play their favorite bedtime game.  We call it  “abalone”  and they curl up into balls and I pretend to pry off them off the rock before baking them in the oven (a big reclining rocking chair) and nibbling at their toes after they’re baked.  Well, tonight I laid down for a change and the kids dog piled on top of me with my annoying low cut jeans and “normal length but too short for a tall girl” shirt both separating on me just like my abalone shell was being shucked apart.  I immediately became so AWARE that my belly was hanging out that it became my top priority to get back up, pull my pants up and my shirt down and proceed with my mission of getting their teeth brushed.  I remember thinking as it was happening, “THEY ARE SEEING MY FAT! NOOOO!  WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?!” and having this frantic moment of body shame as the kids played on, their smiles brighter than the sparkle of any abalone in the world.  These kids weren’t thinking about the fat on my stomach.  They were in play mode, happily living their lives as WE ALL should, unaware of judgement placed on our bodies.

I didn’t have the realization of what that moment all meant to me until I was driving home soon after. I was so happy the way the moment went over.  Sure, it sucked that I had a freak-out of body shame, but the fact that the kids SAW my stomach and didn’t say anything made me feel so much better.  They didn’t use the “F word.”  They didn’t call me fat.

I think I have a lot of body shame around children because, just out of a child’s simple curiosity, I’ve been asked about my weight many times before.  The most common is a child asking if I have a baby in my tummy, likely because they’ve seen other women who DO have tummies similar to mine.  When it first started happening at the beginning of my preschool career, at age 19, I didn’t know what to say to that.  Now I’ll just say, “No, my tummy is just squishy.”   Kids will ask, “April, why is your tummy so fat?” and I’ll make a joke about eating too much soft ice cream.   It doesn’t effect me now nearly as much as it used to now that I’ve worked with kids long enough to know that sometimes, questions that hurt really are just questions of wonder.

But then at the some point soon after those innocent years of toddler time, their perspective on the word fat changes completely.    The word fat transforms from a curiosity of different types bodies to a sharp dagger that can be used at any moment on themselves or other people.  Unfortunately once a kid has a grip on using the word fat, it’s hard to drop that habit and the image of what fat is to a child may be something that carries on with them into adulthood.

 

In a place where fat is all around us, how can we even control the word from changing from simple adjective into the piercing dagger it is known as today?

Is there anything that you do to try to promote better body image to the children that may be around you?   Do you think that as obesity becomes more common in the USA, the way we use the word fat will change?

Besides those DEEP THOUGHTS, today marks the one week of my weight-watchers week!  I weighed in this morning with a loss of 3.8!  Yeah!!!!  This next week I’ll work on improving my habits even more, as this past week I still struggled with my desire for liquid sugar.  My buddy Laura, the woman doing it with me, lost eleven pounds!  I’ll share how we did it in a post early next week!

Until then, happy Friday, everyone!

Love,

AprilSignatur