Category Archive: Body Image

Blog posts about how we are affected by our body image.

Apr
20

Wow! I Can’t Believe “It Works!”

This is probably one of the most embarrassing posts I will ever write.   Obviously, I’ve been taking a little time off from blogging, but I’ve also taken quite a lot of time off of dieting, exercise and anything remotely healthy for me.   I’ve let the pounds creep back on and am pretty angry with myself!   I gave myself a good talking to and decided that the first thing to do is get back to blogging–which would hopefully motivate me to get with it on diet and exercise!

During my time of being a lazy slug, I became obsessed with Pinterest.  Yes, I know…should have gone to yoga instead.   However, while checking out all kinds of beautiful fashions that I felt too fat to even try on, I noticed a post by Jennifer Williams about her terrific business and the amazing body wraps that she sells.   Jennifer claimed that by wrapping myself I could lose inches off my waist in just 45 minutes.

Before and After Body Wrap

Given that I’ve tried so many things that are total scams, the scam detector in my brain started screaming!   The pictures that she posted looked good but I couldn’t imagine how an all-natural product could possibly make me lose inches in that short time frame.   Besides, I told myself, those pictures probably aren’t even the same people!

I wrote Jennifer, told her about this blog site and asked if she would be willing to send me a free wrap that I could try out and then blog about the results.   She immediately called me and was one of the most bubbly, positive people I’ve talked to in a very long time.   Her enthusiasm is absolutely infectious and by the time our conversation ended, I was actually feeling hopeful that the product might be as good as she claimed.    But the “proof is in the pudding” so to speak, and I’ve definitely been eating too much pudding.   If you are what you eat, my stomach had taken on a definitively pudding-like texture.

A couple of days later, Jennifer’s package arrived.   It included one body wrap, a brochure about the It Works! company and samples of one of of their nutritional products called Greens.  With trepidation, I tried the Greens .   When mixed with water, Greens gives you the complete nutrition of the eight daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables.   It helps to detox the body and alcalyze acids.   Surprisingly, once I got past the green color, it tasted fine–kind of like  watered down Tang.  Well, that is a step up from any green liquids I’d tried up to this point.    I’ve noticed in the past couple of weeks that as a result of neutralizing acids, my problems with acid reflux have improved drastically.

Then came the true test, the Ultimate Body Wrap.   It is a simple cloth wrap that has an all-natural botanically based formula lotion infused on one side.   I took my measurements and sure did not like the number!    It was easy to use… unwrap it, place it on the area you want to wrap (it can be used on stomach, sides, legs, back, arms and even chin and neck!).   Then, I did the finishing touch and wrapped myself in Saran wrap, put on a pair of sweats and lounged around reading a good book for 45 minutes.   It felt great.   There was a pleasant tingling sensation on my skin and it smelled nice.  It just seemed too easy!   How on earth could it possibly do anything?

After my 45 minutes were up, I cut the Saran wrap and got out the measuring tape.   I had no expectation of success.   However, I had lost an inch and a half!   I was glad that I’d taken a picture before.   Then I took an afterward picture and found that there was even a visible difference.  I kept watching and measuring and after 72 hours, it was two inches of loss.   I became very excited and ordered more of them.   Again, my expectation was that after the first one, there wouldn’t be a great deal of success.   I forgot to measure on the second one but I did wrangle more photos with my Iphone and again, it was visible.

It’s embarrassing but I am posting the results photos here for all to see.   No, the photos were not touched up.   Yes, all the pictures are of my “ginormous” belly.   Yes, all the photos were taken by me by holding my Iphone out away from my stomach.   The difference in skin tone is pretty much from the differences in lighting and what I was wearing and how difficult my phone camera wanted to be that particular day.    Embarrassing but true results.   Wow!   I can’t believeIt Works!”

My Results from three wraps….and I’m not planning on stopping here!   Now that I have a kick-start, I’m back to trying to develop more healthy habits!

Results--before 1st wrap to 48 hours after

Results of the second wrap

Results of the third wrap--what a difference from the beginning!

As you can see, this product made a huge difference for me!  .   If you’re interested in learning more, click here!

Jan
07

New Years Resolutions

My New Year’s Resolution this year was NOT to make any resolutions!   Like many other people, the ubiquitous “Lose Weight” is always at the top of my resolution list.   Every year I swear that I’m going to work out and I’m going to watch what I eat and I’m going to accomplish all kinds of miracles.

Within about two weeks, all my resolutions are broken and my feelings about myself have suffered a blow that was not necessary or needed.   This year, no resolutions, no pressure, no timelines.   When my mindset is right for dieting, I will.  Right now, it isn’t.   So, instead, I’m just going to try to be moderate for a while and try not to gain any weight.  Heck, just being moderate after the holiday indulgences turns out to be a big cut-back.  So, not to be cliché but I’m just taking baby steps.

As for exercise, one of my friends has started the Couch to 5K program.   She has an app for her Iphone and highly recommends it.   The idea is to start running 90 seconds, then walking for a while, then running 90 seconds, etc until you build up the strength to run continually.   It sounds like a great idea!   But, even 90 seconds sounds like a long time for me at this point..   Maybe I’ll try it.   I probably won’t.   I already know that I hate to run.

I have, however, bought a hula hoop.   I feel like a little kid which is actually a really fun feeling!   I put on some lively music and just hoop to my heart’s content.   It’s terrific ab exercise and I enjoy it.   Like New Year’s resolutions, I’ve decided that the key to all of this is to figure out what I enjoy and will actually do.

What about you?   What do you enjoy?   What will you do?

P.S.  I bought my hula hoop from Lindsay Follett who is known as “The Siren of the Circle.”   Her Facebook page is www.facebook.com/SirenOfTheCircle. You can watch her video below.  Next I’m going to take a class to learn how to do some of those tricks!  Right now I’m just happy to keep it up on my waist!

Jul
14

The Belly Dancer with the Biggest Belly

Did you know that there are 18 different directions that you can move your hips?  That is the first thing I learned when, at age 40, I decided to get crazy and take a belly dance class along with my friend, Jen.  But it wasn’t the most important thing I learned!   Belly dance class led me on a journey to discover beauty in different forms I never would have known.

The classes were casual and enjoyable.  Most of the women in the class were around my age and our teacher, known as Alizah, was one of the most patient, kind and truly good people I have ever had the good fortune to know.  I’ve never been the most coordinated person but through her patience, I slowly learned the basic skills to move my body in ways that are very foreign to Americans.

Belly dance is very much about isolating muscles.   It’s great to learn awareness of posture and where your muscles are—and how to use those muscles independently.    I learned how to stand straight rather than to hunch over, which I’ve done most of my life.  I learned how to move my hips without moving my upper body and how to move my upper body without moving my lower…easier said than done!  Although I’m out of practice now, I can still isolate my stomach muscles to roll my belly.  I never did get good enough to be considered a real dancer but that belly dance class changed my life for the better!

They say that music is a universal language.  As I became familiar with and eventually learned to love the unusual sounds and rhythms of Middle Eastern music, I also started to have an appreciation of the culture and the people.   Belly dance was not initially a club performance.   It was a dance that women did in their own company, some of the movements a preparation for childbirth.   There are vast differences between Turkish, Arabic and Egyptian styles of music and the dance itself is very different in each.

Another thing I learned is that the most beautiful dancers are not necessarily the skinny gals…they’re the real women with a couple of extra pounds.   Curves accentuate the beauty of the dance.   You need a little “somethin’ somethin”’ to jiggle!   The skinny women who don’t have hips have to add something puffy to the sides of their costumes or you won’t see their hip movements very well.

My epiphany came only a few months after I started the classes.   Alizah was coordinating what is known as a “hafli”—basically a belly dance show and party with open dancing for everyone after the show and during breaks.   A band was hired and a show of dancers was lined up.   This particular show was very different than most, however.   This one was called “Hot Flashes” and was only open to performers  over the age of 45.    My friend and I bought our tickets without really having a clue what we were about to experience.  All we knew was that belly dance class was fun so a belly dance party sounded great!

I will never forget the first dancer in the line-up. Never.  Ever!   Her name was announced, the band started playing an Arabic standard and the dancer came on stage.   She was a very large woman.   This was not what I’d expected and I was initially taken aback.   That didn’t last long.  Almost immediately, I became lost in the fluidity of her movements, the grace of her choreography, gorgeous flowing long black hair swirling around her with every turn and what surprised me most was that she was sexy.  Yes.  Sexy!   She transformed through the dance into an amazing creature.  I really saw her as a human, rather than judging physical attributes.

After her, another stout woman did a Saidi cane dance—a flirtatious, rhythmic , fun, dance using a thin cane as a prop that was like nothing I’d ever seen.  Once more, the dancer was transformed!

Again and again, the belly dancers of all different shapes and sizes continued to amaze me with the beauty of their dances, causing my view of their physical appearance to change—and through that my view of my own changed.

When Alizah performed, Jen and I jumped up and down screaming and clapping for our teacher and her adorable, saucy style.

The next lesson came from Dorothea whose command of the stage was graceful and nothing less than regal.  Dorothea was a 70 year old grandmother at the time!   (She’s still teaching dance to this day!)   I’ve heard people say that “Belly dance keeps you young.”   I guess it’s true!

By the time Phaedra of Boston came out, I thought I’d seen everything that could amaze me.  I was wrong.  Wow, was I ever wrong!   Phaedra can do movements with her hips that defy gravity!   She is a small person, short in stature but looks six feet tall when she performs and has the most beautiful, engaging smile you’ve ever seen!   She’s truly an incredible dancer!   Aside from that, she’s a nice person and I’m now proud to call her a friend.   She’s one of  the many people I am lucky to have in my life because of that one class.

Friends, community, solidarity, and compassion are all attributes that I found in belly dance.  Through that one class, I met many wonderful, quality people.  It’s hard to believe that they weren’t always in my life.   I certainly intend to keep them close always!

No matter the shape, age or size, we are sexy, beautiful and valuable.   Belly dance made me see my own value, my own persona, my own soul.   It made me see how little my dress size means in comparison to all the characteristics that make up the rest of me.

 

Aliza is the creator of the online belly dance magazine, BellydanceNewEngland.com

Phaedra has made instructional DVD’s and can be found on www.ephaedra.com


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Jul
11

Too Thin

Johnna’s note:   In the following post, we have an alternative look at how hard we all are on ourselves no matter our size!

My good friend, Johnna, asked me to write an article for The Weight Loss Network about the fact that all my life I have been too thin.  It’s truthfully not easy for me to talk or write about.  I have struggled over this for a couple of weeks but finally I’ve decided to just tell you how it’s been for me.  My whole life I have struggled to gain weight.  I know how that must sound to those who have the opposite problem, but believe me it was no picnic!

As a young teen I was gangly, not tall, 5’3”, but thin as a rail.  I probably weighed in at about 80 lbs.  To top that off I had thick glasses and a last name that people loved to make fun of.   So needless to say, I wasn’t the most popular girl in school.   When I was 14 or so, the model, Twiggy, became really popular and I was thrilled.  Finally someone who looked like me–well at least build wise.  So for a little while it wasn’t so bad and I felt somewhat better about myself.

As I grew older, the stigma of being so thin started to weigh in (pun fully intended).  Every doctor I saw asked me if I was anorexic
Superfruit Juices - Acai, Goji, Mangosteen & Noni
and tested my thyroid, even though I told them a million times that this was just how I am!   If I had a nickel for every time…well you know.

As I got older still, people started to think I was a drug addict, a hooker, or had AIDS or cancer or something equally terrible.   I would go to the emergency room and the first thing the doctors would ask is “Do you do drugs?”   Seriously…and the funny thing is, I have never done illegal drugs in my life!  (Other than a bit of weed smoking, which I, personally, don’t think is any worse than alcohol…whole other conversation there.)

I tried protein shakes and a myriad of other gimmicks to try to put on weight, but to no avail.  The shakes took away my appetite for regular meals, so that idea went out the window since I couldn’t get proper nutrition on just shakes.

At one point a doctor gave me some pills that were supposed to be an appetite stimulant.  They were anti-depressants of some sort…didn’t increase my appetite at all and had horrible side effects!

The thing that was really worrying all my life was that if I ever got really sick my body had no reserves.  I’m happy to say that this particular worry never materialized, but it was still something that bothered me quite a lot throughout my life.

On a more personal level, my self-esteem was a bit off because I had no breasts to speak of.   I know now how silly that was, but
growing up and living with the fact that most men are very fond of larger breasts did play a role in my low self-esteem until as recently as two years ago, when I was with a man who was obsessed with large breasts.  At one point I even considered getting an enlargement, then realized how ridiculous that was.  So now, after two years of therapy, I’ve learned to like myself more and as for relationships, I am looking for someone who is happy with me the way I am.

Now from the ridiculous, to the even more ridiculous, I have finally, at 56 years old, started to put on weight– and now I find myself complaining because it’s all going to my belly, hips, and butt…so I guess the fact is that we’re never really happy with how we look! We just have to do the best we can to be healthy and try to accept ourselves the way we are.  {Johnna’s note:  Lisa has finally reached 100 pounds!}

If you eat healthy and exercise, you’ll be at your best.  It may not be perfect according to the Barbie Doll standard in this country, but you are who you are.  Don’t try to be Barbie, eat healthy, exercise and lose the weight you need to lose (or in my case, gain the weight I need to gain) but if the end result isn’t model perfect, please just realize that you are a beautiful person and you’ve done your best.

Wishing you all the luck in your quest to be healthy and fit.

Lisa D.

Jun
13

“To the Girl Who Called Me a Fatass on the Bus” by DC Mazzie

Johnna’s note: Body acceptance should be first and foremost for us. We need to learn how to accept and love ourselves and our lives. I would not have been able to say it as well as in the following post:

To the Girl Who Called Me a Fatass on the Bus
June 3, 2011 by dcmazzie  Reprinted with author’s permission

I know we haven’t known each other for very long – we were only on the bus for a handful of minutes – and I suppose it’s possible that my weight gain is sudden, but it’s not. I have been hauling this junk in my trunk for probably longer than you’ve been alive. And you’re not the first person (and likely not the last) to call me fat. So not only are you not as shocking as you probably hoped, you’re not terribly original, either.

Not only am I a fatass and a big fat fattie, I am well educated, I have a good job with reasonable hours that pays me well, and I am loved.
I go on vacations, I have fancy meals out with my friends, I have a nice apartment in a great building with wonderful neighbors, and a cute little dog who amuses the hell out of me. When I get sick, I can afford to see a doctor. My refrigerator and cabinets are always full. I have the tremendous privilege of free time to read, watch trashy tv, blog, navel gaze, meditate, and wonder about the meaning of life. I get manicures and pedicures whenever I want. I had a fantastic massage last week. I am surrounded by people who love me just as I am.

When I look in the mirror, at my face, I sometimes smile. I like who I am. I even like the curve of my hips and the swell of my breasts. I have managed to extract some self love from the battlefield that is my body. Like yours, my body has been under scrutiny and judgement for most of my life. We both face a constant barrage of images and expectations of what our bodies should be like. We will probably never be enough. Skinny enough, curvy enough, tall enough. We will never be just right. And if we are, or close to it, our reward all too often is harassment from strangers in the street, in the store, on the bus, where ever we have the nerve to be attractive to or noticed by someone in public. From early on, we are watching what we eat, binging and purging, counting calories, measuring inches, thinking about our “skinny jeans,” sold diets and fasts, and scrutinized for what we put in our mouths. And despite that, maybe because of that, your words did not shame me. That’s why I held your gaze for so long after you said it.

I’m not telling you this to one up you. I am telling you this because I wish the same for you. I hope that you grow up avoiding or shedding the judgement and shame that is foisted on your body and runs the risk of keeping you from living fully. I hope you find yourself in 25 years in comfort, with little struggle and lots of love. I am writing this to remind myself, too, that I am so much more than the words you slung.

I could have written the title of this post 25 years ago. The rest, I couldn’t have written until today.
http://dcmazzie.wordpress.com

 

Johnna’s note:  Mazzie has plenty to say about body image.   Here’s another of her very moving posts!

“No one ever asks women if we want to compete in this lifelong beauty contest. Being born female automatically makes us contestants.”

That quote is floating around the twitterverse this morning, without attribution.

I guess I never felt “in” the “contest.” When I was 13 and contemplating getting the haircut that was all the rage, I remember saying to my mom, worriedly, “There’s nothing more annoying than a fat chick with a bob.”

In junior high, I was calling myself a fat chick.

I am sure my mom’s response was some sort of horror, but what I wish she said was, “Fuck that. Fuck everyone and what they think. Be you. Be happy.” (Mom was quite delightfully conversant in vulgarities; I also remember around the same time stubbing my toe and mom standing near me saying, “Say FUCK! It will fee so much better!”) She said as much to me in many other ways since, as we both grew. But when I was 13, my parents sat me down and told me what a miserable life I would have being overweight. The message I got was as long as I was fat, no one would love me.

That summer, I did a terrible thing: I told my friend – the one who wanted to help me lose weight – I had stomach cancer. That way, I’d be forced to lose weight. Well, I didn’t. Word got around. And I went into high school as the girl who lied about having cancer.

Later, in my sophomore year of college, I was walking to a bar between two friends of mine. We could hear guys behind us talking about us, about our appearance, and one guy said to the other, “Forget the girl in the middle.” “Yeah, forget the one in the middle,” his friend affirmed. If I ever thought until that point I was “in” the “contest,” I certainly didn’t after. In fact, “forget the one in the middle” became an anthem for me. I craved being invisible.

It’s only in the last few years, as age creeps up on me and giveashits genuinely ebb, that I can do something completely radical: begin to accept myself as I am. Begin.

That doesn’t mean I don’t still internalize all the messages I am bombarded with or that I can go so far as to say I love my body. (Are any of us allowed to say that?) But at least now, as I craft my life going forward, I can carve the way to that place because I am finally, finally on my side.

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