So if you know Tyler and I you know that we are passionate about good television.  That means that reality TV never almost never crosses the threshold of our home.  Lately, there has been one large exception.

what-not-to-wear-stacy-clintonI know, I know.  It’s an embarrassment.  Netflix added two seasons of this gem to streaming and I’ve been mainlining it for a few weeks now. But I truly do not see it as being  a total waste of time.  Here’s the reasons that I’ve been empowered by this particular show.

  • They are dressing average women.  Sure, Stacy herself is outrageously thin (and I always remind myself that it’s her job to be thin and stylish all the time).  But the women that they dress are so gloriously normal.  They range in size and body type dramatically and it’s so refreshing to see them be featured.
  • They never, ever tell the women to change their body.  It doesn’t matter whether they are teeny tiny thin who could use to bulk up or if they are well over 100 lbs overweight.  They tell every single woman that they are beautiful and to love the body they are in.  They tell women to dress the body that they have and to be proud of their body and learn how to feel attractive, comfortable, and confident in their body.
  • The women find themselves in their new clothes.  When you wear something that really fits well and suits who you are, it changes how you carry yourself.  They learn to care for themselves and really value who they are.

After watching over 20 hours of this, it’s had an impact on me.  I’ve been practicing taking a beat when I get dressed to make sure I actually really like the way that I look and (for once) taking time to pair my outfits with the plethora of jewelry that I have.  I live in a phenomenal city full of stylish people and I like being one of them.

In the past, when I have felt like I didn’t have any clothes that I thought looked good on me, I punished myself by refusing to buy clothes.  I would say “No.  You’re not allowed to buy clothes while you’re overweight.  That’s a poor investment.  Get some control of your life and lose weight and then you’ll fit into the clothes that you already own.”  And while this is the year that I’m choosing to take control of my life and drop some excess weight, that doesn’t mean that who I am now is not valuable.  This week I chose to purchase two dresses this week that look phenomenal on me now.  Just because I weigh more than I’d ultimately like to, that doesn’t mean that I don’t deserve to get myself a new back-to-school dress that I look and feel great in.  Both of the dresses make me feel good and feel that I have value.  If you dress confidently and pour some time (and a little money) into yourself, it really does make a difference in how you feel.  Thanks Stacy and Clinton!

Earlier this week I posted about my recent revelation of what I actually want my body to look like.  And I mentioned that even though I know it is physically impossible to live up to the industry standard of beauty, I know that my weight is simply too high for the life that I want to live.  So to start, I thought I would state the reasons that I am choosing to lose weight this year:

1.  To live a long and healthy life with my husband.

    This is by far the most important reason I am choosing to lose weight.  While I know that I am capable of being healthy in an overweight body, I also know that weighing less will contribute to my overall health (with continued healthy lifestyle habits).  I want to live to be over 100, and I want my husband to be there with me.  We love each other so much, we don’t want extra weight and unhealthiness in our lives to cut us short on time we could spend together.

Kayaking!

2.  To prepare my body for having children.

     Okay, nobody panic here.  Seriously.  It has always been in our plan to have at least one child by the time I turn 30 (I’m barely 25 – not getting pregnant tomorrow, people).  And I always have known that I will not be an obese pregnant woman.  Because my mom is a labor and delivery nurse, she has told me all about health risks to both the mother and the child in utero (when the time comes) when the woman is significantly overweight.  That knowledge has always made age 30 my “drop dead deadline” for when I had to actually, really lose weight.  But Tyler and I agreed recently that this wasn’t a close enough goal.  Why wouldn’t I want to enjoy more years of feeling good and looking great?  So this year, there is a third reason.

Ellie and Me!

3.  To finally, finally be able to fit into my “skinny” clothes.  

    Clothes that I purchased when I weighed less, and in particular, several items of clothing that I bought years ago as a “motivation” to lose weight so that I could fit into them.  I have literally never worn 5-10% of the clothes in my closet, and this is the year that I will wear them.  How you say?  The Hanger Flip.

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With my new gigantic closet in our Seattle apartment, I have room for every single shirt, pant, skirt, tank top, sweater, and dress to be hung up for me to see.  A couple of weeks ago, I flipped every hanger so that they were hung “backwards.”  As soon as I wear that item of clothing (in public, not just to try it on), it gets hung back up the closet “normally.”  Any item of clothing that has not been worn by August 15, 2015 goes straight to Goodwill.

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I encourage any of you with lots of “skinny” clothes hanging in your closets to try this!  There are so many items in there that I have either never worn or that I have really missed being able to wear and the thought of them disappearing forever is great motivation for me to keep going!  In fact, Tyler and I have even thought about “This dress will probably work again when I’m 195” or “This one will probably have to wait until I’m in the 170’s” so that I have lots of check-in points with clothes along the way.  I am so excited for this first year of ours in Seattle and to see some positive change in my body and in my wardrobe!

The other thing that I’ve done is set up “Wellness Check In” appointments in my calendar.

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I absolutely live my LIFE by my Google Calendars.  If it doesn’t go on a to-do list or as an event in my calendar, it doesn’t happen.  I think this has been my biggest downfall in sticking with the goals I’ve set for myself in the past.  So, I set myself a once a month appointment in our shared family calendar (translation:  Tyler can see when those are coming and be a part of the conversation) with a target to work towards. If I make the target weight, I get the reward!  If I don’t make the target that month, then I adjust the rest of my targets according to what I actually weighed that month so I don’t get stuck in the “I’m so far behind, I may as well give up” mentality.

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My favorite part of my wellness check-in sheet is that I earn a non food or drink related reward for each step of the way!  For example, in September, if I drop below 200lbs I will reward myself with a massage!  In October, I get a mani/pedi.  November, I have a set appointment to try on all the dresses in my closet to see which ones now fit GREAT and which ones I have shrunken out of.  When I reach my goal weight (ideally in May) then I will get to go on a weekend away with Tyler, just us (which I’m pretty sure we’ve never done before).  My basic philosophy throughout this whole process is this:

  • Celebrate successes
  • Forgive failures
  • Start each day anew

Forgiving failures is a hard one for me.  If I feel like I had a rock star day for nutrition and exercise, I get angry when the scale doesn’t reflect that the next day.  That makes me want to throw in the towel altogether, eat a big pile of baked goods and take a nap.  But having reasonable goals (aim for losing 1.5lbs per week) and room to adjust if needed will help me find success this year.  The goal is always forward motion, and not to get bogged down when a week inevitably goes awry.

I know many people get sick of hearing weight-loss talk and stories, and if I lose a few followers, that’s fine.  But I also know that many of us make choices to carry extra weight and need the boost to choose health every day.  So if you’re feeling discouraged – send me a message!  If you are celebrating success for health in your life, let me know!   I am always willing to share and collaborate and help others be accountable.  We all want the same thing – to live long, happy lives – and we can help each other get there!

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Body image is such a hot topic right now.  If you haven’t seen any of the videos floating around the Internet that show how absolutely insane photoshopping models has gotten, I highly recommend this one, which shows a photograph of a real model transformed into a “magazine-ready” photo:

And also this video, which is done on a music video of this woman singing and being adjusted in video software as she sings.

And one of my favorites, four average women made to look like “cover-ready” models:

In all of these, the final part of the video shows the normal human next to the fully edited version.  In nearly every single one, you look at the photoshopped version of the woman and she looks like an alien next to a normal human.  It looks so foreign, and so far from what the woman actually looks like.  Even though I don’t buy magazines, I do go to clothing stores.  I’m active on pinterest occasionally.  And I watch movies and TV.  In all of these situations, the women being portrayed are not what women really look like.  Even the models and actresses don’t really look that good in real life.  And even though their real-life, non-edited bodies still look phenomenal next to the average woman, we forget that looking toned and thin is their full time job.  That is literally their only income is to be beautiful, so they can spend their time and their money on excellent quality food, hours on end at the gym with trainers, and paid staff to make their hair, makeup and wardrobe look flawless.

I’ve been reflecting on this a great deal lately.  While I have been working exceptionally hard to eat excellent food and exercise as much as I can, I have been holding in my head a standard for what I want myself to look like that is unrealistic.   This last weekend I spent the day at a resort in Chelan, WA for a bachelorette party.  Because it was a resort with a pool next to a lake, pretty much everyone there was walking around in just a bathing suit.   I knew this would be the case, and I was panicked about it. I don’t wear bathing suits. Like ever. Especially when I’m north of 200lbs, I feel like I’m doing a detriment to society when I wear a bathing suit in public.  This particular picture was taken on our honeymoon in July of 2011 where I was just shy of 200lbs and even in a country where nobody knew me, it was a “take a deep breath, Sarah, it’s going to be okay” moment.  We took this picture, but I didn’t even post it to Facebook.  I had to dig through old photos on an external hard drive to find it.  I’m pretty sure I’ve worn a bathing suit once since this picture was taken.

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But this was the agenda for the weekend – go swimming, go boating, have fun!  And I wasn’t going to be the girl in jeans and a T-Shirt saying “I don’t wear bathing suits” and making everyone feel uncomfortable.  So I decided to don this very suit and, armed with a swimsuit cover-up scarf, I just went for it.  I wore a bathing suit for hours on end, in public, and it wasn’t a big deal.  Nobody said “OH MY GOD, put your clothes on!  You are SO fat!”  Nobody laughed at me.  Nobody probably even thought those things.  In fact, I got a few compliments on my suit cover-up.  People looked at me in that suit and thought “She looks cute!”  They did not think “Ew, gross.”  And even if they did, they kept it to themselves.  Here’s the kicker for me – I really don’t think very many women go around harshly judging every outfit and makeup and strand of fuzzy hair on every single woman they see.  Sure, sometimes we see someone in an outrageous outfit and think “Wow, I would never wear that!”  But who cares?  That person obviously is comfortable wearing it and that is their absolute right.

My other mind-blowing moment of the weekend was this – watching everyone else in their suits.  Sure, you could say this contradicts what  I just said about women not judging each other, but I don’t think so.  What I observed was – almost NO ONE had a truly flat stomach.  That always seemed like my very biggest flaw in life is that I have never had a flat stomach and that somehow I was supposed to.  But I looked around at these women in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s and I had a revelation.  Even the girls who are at healthy weights, the girls who are in great shape – nearly all of them still have a little bit of a belly.  And it’s not a bad thing.  It is normal for women to carry a little bit of extra body fat on their torso.  It doesn’t make them fat.  It doesn’t make them ugly.  It makes them normal.  There were women at the resort who probably wear a size 14 who were in two piece bathing suits.  And nobody made fun of them.  They were comfortable in their own skin, they were confident, and it shone through.  They looked good!  This blew my mind.

10609675_10152638477640135_3566532787541288608_n It gave me the confidence to wear a tank dress without a shrug again.  I haven’t done that in years.  It’s not even that big of a deal – just this small piece of fabric that helps me feel more secure.  But it was SO HOT that night, and I realized, “I don’t want to wear this.  And I don’t need to wear this.”  So I didn’t.

This isn’t to say that I don’t need to weigh less.  I really believe I do.  And I will continue to work on that every minute of every day.  But it will not be because I think I look fat and it’s a detriment to society for people to have to look at fat people.  I’ll post later this week about my motivations for my own personal weight-loss (and how it’s going!) but you can guarantee that “to have a flat stomach so people don’t judge me” is not on my list.  And it shouldn’t be on yours either!  Be the best you that you can be, and don’t try to live up to the “industry standard” of beauty.  Because nobody looks like that.  Today, I will choose to be happy with how I look, and know that I am doing what I do best – being me!

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