pretty privilege

What I’m going to talk about may not resonate with everyone but just stay with me. You know the saying, “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone” well you might think it’s about a love interest but it’s not, it’s about pretty privilege. If you’re wondering what pretty privilege is, let me explain. The Urban dictionary definition of pretty privilege is: “when being pretty/ beautiful gets you better things or opportunities.” If you’ve been insecure your whole life you might not relate, this is more for those of us who have lived on the other side and know the grass is in fact, greener. I’m not saying I haven’t been insecure my whole life about my weight, because I have, but there have definitely been times I was more confident. When I was younger and thinner, I felt like I exercised my pretty privilege fairly often.  I was talking to my old college roommate recently and we both reminisced on our party days when we never thought twice about getting hit on at the bar or having our drinks paid for, we knew these things would happen. Well, fast forward 8 years and 60lbs later, these advances are few and far between. Now, my mentality has totally changed when it comes to dating, I’m much more reserved than I used to be and I’m also oblivious to most advances. I went out with someone this summer to a Phillies game and didn’t realize that we were on a date until he kissed me. I honestly thought he just needed someone local to show him around Philadelphia since he was only here for the summer. Years ago, I would have expected him to ask me out, but that arrogance is gone now.

I did a therapy exercise the other day where I had to think of the last time I felt attractive. After reflecting on this for a while, I could pinpoint the exact occasion. Three summers ago, my friend Kelly and I spent a weekend at the beach right outside Ocean City, New Jersey. One night during our stay we drove across the bridge to find alcohol since Ocean City is a dry town. After dinner and drinks, as we headed back to the hotel Kelly told me that our server had left his phone number for Kelly to give to me when I was in the bathroom (sir if you’re reading this, I’m sorry I never called you). Now to paint y’all a little picture, Kelly is prettier AND skinner than me so when I’m out with her I’m used to getting the “who’s your friend” line from most men. This was a real moment, and not because I need outside validation to feel attractive but also, SOMETIMES I DO. Every person on this earth has wanted to feel desirable to someone else at one point in their lives and I’m sorry, but you won’t convince me otherwise. This got me to thinking, why did I feel so attractive in that moment, was it a weird unspoken competition I had won being pursued by the waiter? No, it’s because 3 years ago I was the thinnest I have been in a long time. I went back and looked at pictures of myself from that summer and was shocked at the differences between then and now.

So what’s wrong with admitting that I feel better and more confident about myself when I’m thin? We’re supposed to love our bodies and accept them for what they are, but I don’t agree with that all the time. I’m not saying you should hate your body but if you gain 50 lbs and it makes you feel awful and you have the ability to lose that weight, what is so bad about doing that? I know it’s really trendy to say that losing the weight isn’t only about the weight. But, what if sometimes it IS about the weight? Sometimes confidence IS tied to appearance, why is that any different than confidence being tied to intelligence? (This is not directed at anyone with an eating disorder or body dysmorphia, if you suffer from any of those conditions please, I beg you, go to therapy and work through it with a counselor.) There are obviously exceptions to everything I say, maybe my perspective doesn’t help you or maybe you can’t relate but I can only write about my personal journey with weight loss, from my own perspective and experience. It’s not always losing weight either; some people are more confident when they gain weight. I watched an interview that Beyoncé did a few years ago right after she filmed “Dreamgirls” where she talks about losing 20 lbs for the role so the character progression looked authentic. After filming, she gained the weight back because she said she feels more confident with her curves and that she wanted to represent the average woman because not everyone is a size 2. Losing weight isn’t always a good thing but we as a society seem to always celebrate weight loss, no matter the reason. One of my best friends deals with severe anxiety and when it gets really bad, she can’t eat and will lose 5 lbs in a week. She is naturally petite, so the weight loss is usually really noticeable. It’s not healthy weight loss, its anxiety induced and very concerning. HOWEVER, people always compliment her, why are we trained that way? I’m no exception, I do it too. I’m trying to be better, but I know my first instinct when one of my friends has lost weight is to congratulate them.

If you’ve been around me in the past year since I’ve been at my highest weight, you’ve probably heard me say “when I used to be pretty” in conversation. I realize this is a fairly annoying self-deprecating statement but what can I tell you, sometimes I’m pretty annoying. I feel like I realized overnight that I had lost my pretty privilege but looking back, the process was anything but instant. It happened so slowly that I didn’t realize what was taking place; my friends stopped asking to borrow my clothes or inquiring where I bought something, I would be on a trip and no one would offer up a cute outfit for me to wear to dinner. While no one consciously brought it up, I started to feel isolated from the group, like I wasn’t welcome at the cool kids table anymore. I’m going to be a bridesmaid again for one of my best friends in a few months and I really want to feel confident at this wedding. Does anyone remember when I said before that I shouldn’t set goals for specific events? Well, I’m being a hypocrite again so if anyone wants to jump ship, now’s the time!

sex is like food. when you abstain, even the worst stuff starts to look good

I’m gonna ask y’all a favor, go online and find a picture of someone you think is handsome or beautiful or a person you’ve always idolized or admired. After looking at the picture see if you notice any flaws. Are their ears too big or their eyes too far apart, do they have an undesirable gum-to-teeth-ratio (it’s a thing)? You probably don’t see anything wrong with them. Now, pull up a picture of yourself, if you’re not a millennial and you don’t have 1,000 selfies on your phone, go find a mirror. I bet you notice your own flaws before anything else, right? I can name at least five things I don’t like about myself without looking at a picture, just some on-deck imperfections I’m ready to list at a moment’s notice. Yet, if you were to ask me to identify five things I love about myself, almost none of them would be related to my physical appearance. I don’t know why, but it’s so much easier to believe the bad stuff. Insecurities are loud and sometimes they’re all we can hear. However, I have found that thankfully my internal issues don’t translate to how I view others.

When I was at the beach a few weeks ago, I saw a girl who was at least 100 pounds heavier than me rocking a string bikini. Based on how I feel about my own weight, I was actually surprised that my gut reaction to seeing her was “get it girl, you look great” and not something judgmental. (I feel like this should be a real learning moment with self-reflection and awareness but maybe I’m not ready to go there yet.) What I also thought when I saw her was “how does she feel having sex” because that is something I constantly wonder whenever I see a girl who is heavier than me. Now, before anyone starts attacking me saying that I’m judging big girls or implying that only skinny people can have sex, I’m absolutely not doing that so please chill. I have so many friends who have slept with guys smaller than them and they don’t feel insecure about it and I think that’s great, more power to ya, honestly, I just can’t get to that place. I haven’t had sex in a year. What’s more shocking is that I haven’t wanted to have sex for a year (ok there was literally one time I wanted to with a guy I’ll probably never see again but that’s a different story). Sex is such a taboo subject so some of the more conservative eyes might want to stop reading, but for the rest of you rebels, I’m gonna dive in. Maybe I’ve been brainwashed by society telling me that I can’t enjoy sex unless I’m thin? Think about how many sex scenes you’ve seen in a movie or show where the people are overweight, it ALMOST NEVER HAPPENS. It’s not mainstream to show two chubby kids going at it on the beach unless it’s the punchline. There is lingerie made specifically for women who want to feel sexy while covering their stomachs. I worked at Victoria’s Secret and let me tell you that women want their belly rolls covered more than they want their cleavage on display. Sex is everywhere- advertisements, media, politics, music it’s hard to escape and even more difficult to understand.

Do I really think Oscar Wilde was right when he said “Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.” Yes, I do. Sex can mean something different for everyone, but it all comes back to power, whether you’re asserting or relinquishing, there will always be a power dynamic. Sometimes sex is love, intimacy, safety, or comfort. Sex can be rough, animalistic rounds for pure pleasure. It can also be a job, a chore, or an obligation. In the worst scenarios it represents control, abuse, fear, or trauma. Sex can also be different depending on your partner, environment, state of mind, or blood alcohol level. Each sexual experience is unique. Before last year I would have said I had a pretty healthy appetite when it came to sex. Anyone reading this who has dated me, slept with me (you’re welcome) or is a close enough friend to know my sexual history- knows what I mean. I was drugged and raped in college and I still had sex with my boyfriend the next week. I read somewhere that rape survivors become sexually active again as a way to regain control over their body. But that was trauma; this is different. I haven’t lost my sex drive; I’ve lost my body confidence. The idea of someone looking at me naked sends waves of panic down my spine. My most recent boyfriend used to reassure me how much he loved my body and tell me that my stretch marks and stomach flab didn’t bother him in the least, I believed him, but it didn’t matter. Confidence is internal, no matter how many times someone else tells you you’re beautiful- until YOU believe it, those compliments are falling on deaf ears.

The demand for human connection is one of our strongest, basic human needs to survive. Believe me, I know it’s pretty fucked up to let my weight interfere with my responsibility to pass the redhead gene onto future generations. But sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t be chubby and sexy, like who am I to be out here with an active sex life and all these extra pounds. I struggle with choosing just one identity, but should I, do I have to pick? Think about when you read an obituary, the point of the column is to make the person sound as dynamic as possible. Their entire surviving family is mentioned, hobbies and interests are listed, every job title they’ve ever held, volunteer work, pets, plants, everything. When we die, we want to be remembered as modern-day Renaissance men, but we live our everyday lives as though specialization is the holy grail of happiness. I think that’s bullshit. I know it’s possible to be both a serious scientist and a stand-up comedian, a great mom and a fierce lawyer, a muscular mechanic and a sensitive poet. We don’t have to choose. Variety is the spice of life! I don’t know if I believe that yet, but I’m getting there 🙂

confidence and Kardashians

I read an article the other day that said Kim Kardashian tries not to let paparazzi photograph her on sunny days because her cellulite is more evident in that lighting. This discovery led me down a rabbit hole of Kardashian/Jenner clickbait posts about the harsh truth behind their struggles with body confidence. There were clips of the girls crying over cruel comments, intimate moments (however intimate a reality show can be) discussing how horrible they’ve felt about themselves, explanations of the reasoning behind their surgeries, overall really upsetting stuff. Apparently, having all the money in the world to manipulate literally any body part is not the answer, who knew? Most of us are constantly calling out these girls for photoshopping their pictures or using layers of filters but when they don’t hide their imperfections the alternative is the rest of the world bashing them for having cellulite? Seems pretty unfair to me. I’m not defending celebrities I’m just wondering how ANYONE is supposed to express confidence on a daily basis when you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If the royal sex-symbol family of America cries over internet comments how are the rest of us to cope?

Self-love is all the rage these days and any influencer will tell you how easy it is to just forget the haters and post the pictures that make you feel good. But when we live in a world dependent on likes and follows how do we really, truly not let it bother us if our selfies get less attention than a picture of a half-eaten burger? Confidence is sporadic, situational, and transitory. For example, in 2005 when Missy ‘Misdemeanor’ Elliot sang “I’ve got a cute face, chubby waist, thick legs n shape, rump shaking both ways- make you do a double take” I WAS FEELING MY 16-YEAR-OLD SELF. I remember singing that song in front of my mirror and doing the “double take” of my own ass. This was a real moment. Guys, Missy had just sung about being chubby, she was owning it and now I was empowered, if she was confident then so was I, right?? Wrong. A year later when I performed the same song at my senior dance recital, I refused to take part in the neon sports bra and leggings combo that the rest of my class wore. I wore a shirt that comfortably covered my midriff. I was dancing to a song about how awesome it was to have curves while simultaneously hiding them. What a phony.

Fast forward 14 years and here I am trying to embrace “hot girl summer” by spending the last two Saturdays at beach bars with my friends. Like most women, I devoted about a week to deciding on an outfit for each night. I needed it to strategically cover my chubbiest body parts while also being just slutty enough to count as “summer going out clothes.”If you’re a girl and you have an event planned with a lot of other, skinnier girls but you have a solid outfit, it’s almost like having body armor. You have this sense of reassurance that even though you might be insecure about your weight, your outfit will save you. In these scenarios, the right top is a bullet proof vest. Maybe guys feel this way too? I don’t know. I’m not a guy and I’m not going to pretend for one second that I understand how a guy’s brain works. Anyway, I had two great, battle-worthy outfits lined up and ready to go for each night. Well, the universe decided that I didn’t deserve to exuberate Lizzo-level confidence and stepped in to fuck up my world. The first weekend I forgot my whole outfit at my house and didn’t realize until I was halfway to the beach. The girls I stayed with graciously offered up their largest shirts to help me put together an acceptable ensemble. After feeling like I belonged in the ocean (a whale) instead of drinking on the shore, I settled on a beach cover-up and jeans. Let me tell you, it wasn’t great but at least my arms weren’t showing. The next weekend I was going to be brave and wear mesh pants! I ordered a pair from Amazon that I was planning to wear with bathing suit bottoms. They were just sheer enough to be sexy but also hide my cellulite-ridden legs. Plot twist, when I got to the bar my friends were standing in the bay at Seacrets and I had to take my pants off. I had to stand in this cesspool of ocean water (that you know every drunk person was peeing in), totally unarmed. Also, it was the sunniest day of the year. KIM I UNDERSTAND. I might as well of been naked in the cafeteria in high school. As I stood there awkwardly with my group of mostly guy friends, I hoped they were all so drunk they wouldn’t remember what I looked like or they would miraculously go blind. I wished I was drunk so I wouldn’t care or that I had the resilience to enjoy the experience regardless of my outfit, but alas I didn’t. I’m not saying I didn’t have fun; I had a great time both weekends but like I said, confidence is sporadic.

Does anyone else ever feel like they have to start a diet or new routine on a Monday, but not just any Monday you have to wait for a Monday that falls on the first of the month? I do that a lot. September technically starts on a Sunday but the next month to start on a Monday is June and while I could probably come up with 10 months of excuses, I won’t. I’m diving back in and I know it might feel like all I do is try and give up since I’ve started writing and maybe it’s annoying but y’all have only been following this journey for a year so JUST IMAGINE how annoyed my friends and family have been my whole life. I’m trying a new approach though, I’m not starting slow this time I’m going balls-to-the-walls-all-in. I’m also going to the gym because I’ve been a real baby about refusing to be even slightly uncomfortable with my methods throughout this journey and honestly, I need to suck it up. I have a whole plan for how I’ll be approaching my 5,000thattempt and it feels like I’m ready, I know I’ve said that before but I’m saying it again, fight me. It is August 30thby the way, and I haven’t had Starbucks all month, two more days stand between me and sweet, sweet victory (and maybe a pumpkin spice latte).

fail, fail again, fail better

So, I gave up Starbucks for the month of August. My plan was to write my next blog post in September and talk about what a win it was for me to go a whole month without Starbucks. I was going to relate that to celebrating baby steps and being proud of yourself for accomplishing a goal no matter how small; there was something in there about discipline being more important than motivation and how we don’t give ourselves enough credit. It was shaping up to be a really insightful post. I had all these reasons why I had to wait until September to post again when I realized I was stalling. I was stalling because I’m embarrassed.

I started this blog with the intention of taking everyone through my weight loss journey and in all honesty, that journey has yet to begin. In fact, since I last posted, I’ve actually gained weight. That’s right, not only have I not progressed towards my goal, I’ve actually set myself back. But wait there’s more, I’m also a hypocrite. Remember my post about how much I hated the gym and how I was going to work out at home? Well, I joined a gym. AND I paid $200 a month for personal training sessions (I quit after 2 months btw). Honestly, I don’t know if you can trust anything I say anymore, I might start selling detox tea at the rate I’m going. Seriously though, is this part of the ups and downs of the struggle? How long will I be stuck in the down phase? When do we start the climb to the top?

I have fallen asleep every single night for the last year telling myself “tomorrow is the day you get your shit together, tomorrow is when you start working out on your own, and meal prepping, and drinking water without Kool-Aid packets in it, you’re gonna jump out of bed at 5 am and hit the floor running, yes tomorrow is THE DAY” however, in that time I have had exactly ONE day where I’ve felt productive and proud and it was yesterday! I woke up early, read a book for about an hour and spent the rest of the day cleaning and organizing my apartment. It might not seem like a lot to most people but if anyone reading this battles with depression, having a day like that is huge. The sense of accomplishment I had when I went to sleep was better than an Ambien. Maybe no one wants to keep hearing about my depression or maybe you don’t care but this is my truth. If you’re reading this blog because you’re my friend then you already know how bad my depression can be, if you’re reading because you’ve also struggled with weight loss and you want to see an honest journey- well, this is honest. If you’re reading this because you don’t like me, go to therapy.

I know there are books, blogs, Instagram accounts, and public speakers who preach that they struggled for years with weight loss and that their journey was hard but hearing someone say “I struggled for years” when they look like Thor is kind of hard to believe. Hindsight is 20/20 and I FREAKING HOPE I can look back one day on my own journey (preferably while I’m lying on a beach in a thong bikini drinking rum from a pineapple and watching the glare from my oiled-up abs blind a beautiful man from across the pool) and appreciate the hard times but, right now, living in the hard times is a different story.

If you’ve ever listened to a Tony Robbins talk you’ve probably heard him ask people, “Whose love did you crave as a child between your parents and who did you have to be for that person”. “Who did you have to be?” That question haunts me in so many ways. When you think about it, everything that makes up who we are is really just a melting pot of contributions from everyone we’ve met or been influenced by throughout our lives. Maybe you’re from New York but you cheer for the Orioles because your dad was a fan or your big sister’s favorite flower is a daisy and you wanted to be like her growing up, so it became your favorite flower too. How much of what we are is really ours and ours alone? The more I thought about why Tony Robbins asks that question, the more I questioned my own motives for weight loss. Was I trying to lose weight for my parents? Did they ever give me a reason to think I needed to be thin? I tried for a few weeks to be more aware of any hidden cues or comments I might have missed and you know how people always say “if all you think about are yellow cars, all you see are yellow cars” well, I saw quite the traffic jam. A few months ago, I was in my parents’ kitchen and I was about to open a bag of chips and my dad grabbed them out of my hand and said, “do you really need these” then proceeded to pinch my side. If you ask him about this interaction, he will deny it, BUT IT HAPPENED. Another time, I overheard my mom say to my sister “I can’t believe how big Sandi has gotten” that was also a really fun experience. What I don’t understand about all of this is why my weight matters so much to them? Do they assume that weight gain= health issues? Do they see me as less attractive now because I’m heavier? Will I be even more unlikely to find a husband with all this extra weight on top of my feminist, career-driven attitude? Where does this come from, some primitive mindset that I must find a mate and reproduce? Subconsciously, I’m sure some of my motivation comes from wanting my parents’ approval and maybe 10 years ago it would be the majority but not now, now it’s for me. I think so many of us live in a constant struggle between our ideal self and our actual self. For example, my ideal self is this smart, tenacious, kind, life-changing, meditating, sensitive but impervious, fit, tan woman with a great ass and flawless eyebrows. In reality, I’m at about 32% of that total package. That is my ideal self, mine. It’s not what I think my parents want, or what society wants, it’s what I want. Maybe your ideal self is a stay at home super mom who makes the best meals for her family and has the most well-behaved children. Maybe you dream of owning a law firm with your husband and living life on your own terms. Whatever your goal is, it’s yours and you don’t need to justify it to anyone.

Once I started gaining all this weight and writing this blog people felt like they had a right to make comments because they were “trying to help me stay on track” or maybe they felt entitled to voice their opinion because I made my struggle public? Either way, I don’t like it. Friends, coworkers, even STRANGERS have given me unsolicited advice on weight loss. One of my coworkers makes comments INCESSANTLY about what I’m eating “do you know how many calories are in that, why aren’t you having grilled chicken instead of breaded?” This shit gets old fast. I’m not out here looking for advice on weight loss or trying to find the secret to harnessing willpower. I’m just sharing.

Oh! Also, I haven’t had Starbucks for 12 days, I bet you guys were thinking “she never finished the Starbucks story because she probably failed at that too” well, no I haven’t and I’m not going to 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mind over matter?

As I’ve been doing research for this blog, I’ve come across such an overwhelming amount of weight loss advice that it makes my 7 years of college (and 100k of debt) feel about as useful as a white crayon. Not only does everyone with more than 10,000 followers think they’re qualified to be both a fitness coach and nutrition expert, but people will literally believe ANYTHING. I’ve read some bold advice, anything from using detox tea to “reset your body” to a diet that claimed you could lose 100 lbs in less than 2 weeks. Why do we buy into this? Why are we so desperate that we will pay thousands of dollars for someone else to do the work? So many companies are capitalizing on our desperation and lack of knowledge and we are letting them! I’m not judging because I’ve definitely done it. Whether it’s buying meal replacement shakes or using a “6 second abs” machine (Google it), there have been times I was totally convinced that my life was going to change from drinking what were essentially milkshakes and using a spring-loaded plastic toy that I pushed down with my arms. We’ve all been there. It’s so easy to get sucked into the idea that we can achieve body goals with minimal effort and easy shortcuts. But the (really annoying) truth is that it can’t be done eating pizza and donuts sitting on the couch watching Tony Horton or Jillian Michaels yell at people. It does take hard work and effort and discipline and all that other shit.

Have you ever wondered what it is that pushes people to lose weight? Why two people can do the same diet and workout program and one person can have killer results and the other barely notices a change? I do, I wonder this all the time! I’m not saying there aren’t physiological differences or that one person could have a medical condition, or gender difference, or any other excuse you’re thinking out loud right now. I’m saying you and your friend plan out a healthy lifestyle together and 6 months in you are canceling your vacation but your friend is shopping for a thong bikini to wear on her “suns out buns out” singles cruise. Clearly, it’s not the diet or the workout program. With everything I know about the physiology of exercise, what it takes to burn calories, which exercises will sculpt the ideal physique, I still don’t know what it is that determines whether or not we succeed or fail. Angela Duckworth writes in her book “Grit” that the best predictor of success is tenacity, the drive to never give up. Well, not to discredit her life’s work, but DUH. Obviously the people who succeed are the ones who never give up. However, I would personally not like to spend the rest of my days on this planet struggling with my weight. If I try and fail until I’m 95 to lose weight and finally succeed in my 95th year am I successful? That literally sounds like a living hell. I want to know what the magic ingredient is (don’t you dare tell me it’s spinach, I hate spinach), there has to be a common denominator among people who lose weight and keep it off.

When you think of all the reasons we say we can’t lose weight it’s most commonly outside factors, “I can’t afford to shop for healthy food, I don’t have time to work out, I have to cook meals my whole family will eat, I don’t know how to use gym equipment” although these are valid, I don’t think they are why people fail at losing weight. Think about celebrities, they have access to personal dietitians, chefs, trainers, the most advanced technology and equipment, they have nannies, and chauffeurs, and personal assistants who can block time in their schedule to work out. Wouldn’t it make sense that every rich person would always be in the best shape of their lives if that was their goal? But it’s not that way, we see some celebrities battle with their weight for years, not to mention any names (because, like, what if I’m famous one day, I don’t need beef with billionaires) but even some spokespeople for weight loss programs are overweight and have been for decades! In a totally opposite scenario, there are people losing weight and getting in the best shape of their lives while facing obstacles and resistance from all sides. I watched a YouTube video about guy who saved up enough money to not work for a year and dedicate that entire year to getting in shape. He was successful and looked amazing, he kept with that lifestyle as far as I know and continues to live his best life. Oh and I forgot to mention that HE DIDN’T HAVE HANDS. I also went to college with someone who was in a horrible motorcycle accident which left him paralyzed from the waist down and now he does pull-ups in a wheelchair, like pulls himself up while in the wheelchair. I looked it up and wheelchairs typically weigh between 35-50 lbs. I can’t do a pull-up and this kid is adding weight to his workout and does not have the use of his lower body! People overcome the most extreme misfortunes to reach their goals, so why doesn’t everyone follow suit?

Do we have to face some type of adversity to succeed, does complacency stifle our dreams? Is the mentality that “it’s not great but it’s not awful” what keeps us from reaching our full potential? Sometimes I think it is. Losing a significant amount of weight, training for something, or manipulating your physique in any way is an internal struggle. I mean sure, you can have trainers and dietitian designing your plans and stuff like that but whether you succeed is 100% on you. When you compare it to other accomplishments in life it really is a unique category. There are no connections in fitness. No one has ever succeeded in weight loss because their dad knew a guy.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it must be mindset. Our mindset determines our success (I realize this is not a groundbreaking discovery but hear me out). I’m sure if you’ve ever stumbled into the world of self-help you’ve heard this before. Well, maybe it’s stupid and it won’t work and maybe it’s the key to success! Either way, it literally costs nothing to try this and I’ve done a lot of other stupid things in my life so it can’t hurt. I don’t know about you, but my self-talk is awful. I constantly make fun of myself or think that “this is just how I am, and I’ll never change” which yes, I KNOW that’s a terrible habit but it’s true. So we’re gonna try some affirmations. I’m going to work on my mindset. Meditation, positive thinking, all that jazz. It will be something like this https://youtu.be/qR3rK0kZFkg although I can’t stand on my sink, I can dance in my bathroom 🙂

there is no health without mental health

I know you’re probably reading this blog for weight loss tips and tricks, some real insight into struggling with body positivity, or just to follow my journey but this week I want to talk about something else, something a little less sexy: mental health. What most people don’t know about me is that I was diagnosed with depression 5 years ago and I have been struggling to find balance ever since. You might be thinking “not you Sandi, you’re so funny, and vibrant, and smart, and beautiful” well, that is correct I am all of those things, but I’m also depressed. Depression looks different on everyone. Sometimes you’re the sad person in the Cymbalta commercial who stays in bed for 3 days and sometimes you’re the life of the party then trying to figure out how to make a car crash look like an accident on the way home. This has become such a taboo topic in our society and I know how divided everyone can be on the subject but after telling the world I gained 40 lbs in a summer and crying in a video, talking about my depression feels less scary.

One thing I think people need to understand is that depression is not sadness or grieving or feeling sorry for yourself. You don’t have to have “something to be depressed about”. My worst bouts of depression have happened when everything else in my life was going great. Over the last year I’ve gotten a new job, new apartment, made some fantastic friends, and filled my mind with books and podcasts dedicated to self-improvement. In spite of these positive changes, my depression has recently hit an all-time low. It’s such a strange feeling to stop involving yourself in things that usually bring you so much joy. I experienced this when I spent a day at the beach this summer. I walked on my favorite boardwalk, shopped at my favorite stores, and ate at my favorite restaurant but for some reason I cried almost the entire day. I can’t explain it; I can’t accurately describe the emotion but I know it takes over every aspect of your life. Anyone who knows me knows that my love for greeting cards runs deep. I enjoy nothing more than spending hours rifling through rows of stationary trying to find the perfect birthday message. However, in the last few months I have not sent one birthday card, not to my dad, or my sister or my best friends. Something so simple that used to be the highlight of my week has been replaced with anxiety and stress. The very idea of picking out a card was so overwhelming to me that I avoided it completely. Ironically, the guilt I felt from not sending cards was just as upsetting as my irrational fear of sending them.

I could go on for hours with examples of how depression has affected my life but I don’t need to, I’m not trying to prove that I’ve been depressed. Members of my own family don’t believe in depression or agree with being medicated so I’ve given up trying to educate people who don’t want to learn. The reason I’m sharing this is the same reason I told everyone that I’ve eaten an entire box of oatmeal cream pies in one sitting- because maybe someone reading this needs to know they’re not alone. I know that sounds cliché like I’m doing an E news interview saying “if I could just help one person it would all be worth it” but it’s true, I do want to help people. I don’t really want the recognition (unless there’s money involved…just kidding, kinda) but I started this blog because I couldn’t find someone at the beginning of their weight loss journey who was going to be honest about the struggle, so I became that person. I’m also sharing this because I haven’t written in a month and I thought y’all deserved to know why. I don’t know if my depression will go away completely, lie dormant for a while, or have to be suppressed by medication but I do know that ignoring it does more harm than good.

On lighter note, we’ve started a new year which is exciting if you count your life in calendar years. Personally, I only measure time by how old I am but I’ve decided to make some resolutions this year because I’m going to be 30 YEARS OLD. I will have taken 30 trips around the sun, experienced five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes (30 times), and done a lot of other cool shit I don’t feel like listing (if you’re about to turn 30, don’t Google “things you should do before 30” trust me). I COULD dwell on the fact that by the age of 30 I thought I would be married with a bunch of kids and I’m currently single with an empty uterus but we’re not going to do that today. I’m going to focus on fitness and nutrition and really strive to push myself like I never have before. The next 5 months will be my time, I’m sure of it. Maybe you think New Year’s Resolutions are dumb (maybe you’re dumb) but anytime someone sets a goal to better themselves it is something to be celebrated. So blog reading people, I’m setting my goal right here, right now. I’m going to lose enough weight to fit into the overall shorts I bought last summer that I only wore once because who knows how long this 90’s trend will stick around and they can’t go to waste. I don’t want to make it about numbers, I want it to be about how I feel and let me tell you, I felt pretty damn good in those overalls.

Join me if you want! Maybe you’re not turning 30, maybe you’re turning 50 and the kids are out of the house and you can finally make whatever you want for dinner after 18 years of chicken pot pie with extra peas even though you hate peas. Live it up! Throw out the peas and never look back!

I wanna quit the gym!

The title of this post (I wanna quit the gym!) is from Season 4, Episode 4 of FRIENDS, “The One with the Ballroom Dancing.” If you’ve never seen FRIENDS and you have no idea what I’m talking about, I honestly feel that your life is incomplete up to this point. If you’d like to fill this void you didn’t know you had, just shoot me a message and I will gladly share my sister’s Netflix account with you so you can get caught up. You’re welcome.

I hate the gym. I really do. I don’t enjoy being surrounded by people while I’m trying to give myself a pep talk, pretend I can sing and dance like Beyoncé, or count down the minutes I have left out loud. Also, I want to look ugly without worrying if the person next to me is judging my back acne or my form when I’m squatting. I know there is a whole category of people who hate girls who wear makeup to the gym. Well, SURPRISE I’m one of them. It’s not vanity it’s insecurity. I have red hair and blonde body hair; my eyelashes need mascara or I look like a lizard. If I want to slap on some lashes and conceal the pimple on my forehead I’m going to. I’m an adult and it in no way impedes anyone else’s workout. The gym is intimidating, especially now with social media and horrible people taking videos to mock someone using a machine wrong or bully those who are overweight. I know what it’s like for women, because I am a woman but I think it’s equally as hard for men. In modern America, society has this idea that men should already know how to workout, they should be born with this knowledge the way they are born with the ability to use any remote control or gaming system. Women are seen as “teachable” and if we just continually repeat the phrase “I really want to be toned” trainers will shake their heads, roll their eyes, and hand us pink 5lb weights. It’s a battle of the sexes and we’re both on the losing team.

Thankfully though, we have the wonderful world of home workouts we can do in the privacy of our living rooms. A few years ago I was a dedicated P90X-er. Tony Horton was my guru and I felt like I could do anything (except a pull-up). I really like home workouts so we’re gonna give it another go with the same Beach Body community. One of my friends is a Beach Body coach and recently told me that I can get this on-demand version for $100 for a whole year so that seems like a pretty good deal to me. (Disclaimer: I am not a Beach Body coach or trying to sell you anything or telling you what you should do, I’m just telling you what I’m doing.) I also want to point out that everyone, including myself, is a hypocrite and maybe a year from now I’ll be a gym rat. A few more months of therapy might reveal that I’ve hated the gym this whole time because I was insecure with my body and once I’m confident I will change my mind. Or it could be daddy issues, who knows.

I realize that if you’re reading my blog you probably already know this, but for the people in the back I would like to inform you that not every girl wants to be stick thin and not every guy wants to look like The Rock. My goal has never been and never will be to look like a runway model. I like my curves. I feel better about myself when I’m less jiggly but still thick. Someone else might think differently and only feel confident in a size zero. THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. Believe it or not (believe it) not everyone wants to conform to society’s perception of the “perfect body.” Across different cultures there are huge discrepancies about what kind of body is attractive. Also, it is constantly changing. For example, ever since puberty I’ve had a big butt and in high school one of my least favorite people and biggest bully in school used to call me “bubble butt” (it was not meant as a term of endearment). I would make sure all of my shirts or sweatshirts were long enough to cover my butt or my jeans were never too tight so he wouldn’t say anything. HOWEVER, fast forward to 2008-2018 and guess what? Big butts are back baby! Shout out to Kim Kardashian for pioneering the way for white women with substantial backsides to thrive. But, what if 10 years from now, big butts aren’t “in” anymore? Would I have to cut mine off or go back to wearing baggy jeans and over-sized sweatshirts? Here’s the thing though, I liked my butt in high school I just didn’t like being made fun of or being the butt of every joke (pun definitely intended). Someone else’s rude comments shouldn’t have an impact on how we feel about ourselves when we’re alone.

When I was coaching one of my best friends on weight loss she would grapple with whether or not she was losing weight for herself or because society told her she needed to look a certain way. One thing I said to her that I still believe is to think about how you feel when you’re alone with your significant other (if you are single, just pretend for a second). If you are going to squirm when they hug you and feel your back fat or if you always want to keep your shirt on during sex, that’s you, that’s not society. Sometimes even if they say “I love the way your stomach hangs over those jeans it took you 10 min to get into, or I think it’s sexy how your flabby arms keep waving after you’ve stopped” you still won’t feel good about yourself. Confidence comes from you, not from outside validation. What is most important is how we see ourselves, and I realize that it took me 29 years to come to this conclusion, but now that I’m here I ain’t going back.

Originally, I had the idea for Weight Loss In Real Life back in June but it took a couple of months of writing and deleting posts, asking everyone I know if they thought it was a good idea, and some soul searching to finally publish. During that time, I had planned to post videos and I filmed one at a particularly vulnerable moment in August. I had been wondering how people could have genuine emotion and thoughts on camera because unless your whole life is filmed do you just think to yourself “I’m about to cry, better get my phone out” and it turns out that’s exactly what I did. It’s really hard for me to post this video so please be kind. For everyone who is reading this because they relate to the struggle, here is an honest account of how hard ordinary plans can be when you’re uncomfortable in your own skin.