Looking ahead to 2012

Well, here we are, at the end of another year. Looking back over my journals, I see that there were ups and downs, but definitely more good than bad. That was reassuring. I hope that you find that your year was more positive than it felt. I don’t believe in resolutions, but I do plan goals for every year. This year I’m considering making monthly and weekly goals to keep me focused. With that, I am considering changing the title of this blog so that it is more representative of what I’m focusing on in my life. Anyway, here are my big plans for next year: PR in the half-marathon, run a new full marathon, try a duathalon (bike/run), and continue my small garden. Blogging has been difficult, but I am going to post once a week, sharing my training, challenges, and successes. Happy New Year!


Did you watch BigSexy?

Okay, I heard about this new show starting this week on TLC and I was curious as to what they would present to empower plus-size women. Well, it was not at all what I had hoped.  It may get better but I don’t know if I will bother watching again.

I was bothered that the presentation of  the women being showcased did not focus on their career success or interests, but rather emphasized their fanatsy to be part of a fashion show. Many insecurities and examples of low self-esteem were shown and I can’t imagine how they felt after being so emotionally exposed (not my idea of entertainment). The repeated instances of rejection and humiliation (from family and strangers) made me question the reason for this program. Anyway, if you saw it, let me know your opinion.

A,B,C’s to handling criticism

One of the problems plus-sized women run up against is the usually loudly voiced criticism and/ or unsolicited advice from others. I have found this to be irritating because it indicates that the other person either doesn’t believe that I have healthy goals and am trying to reach them or just enjoys trying to embarrass me.

            As a psychologist, I give presentations to various groups on many different topics, including managing stress and establishing healthy habits. Recently, I met with another health care professional about the possibility of us working together on some presentations. I was quite surprised when he made a big issue about my weight and suggested that I wasn’t a good example of being a healthy woman. Of course, he then presented his sales pitch for a weight loss product that he uses with clients. Despite my responses describing how active I am, my lack of interest in trying to lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks, and my focus on working with other plus-sized women, he suggested that I change my  presentation and leave the ‘health’ stuff to him.

            Being plus-sized does not make one less intelligent, less knowledgeable, or incapable of relating to an audience. I understand that there are people who place a lot of importance on looking a certain way. But that just doesn’t work for me. I am a real woman who happens to be a tall size 16. I am working on losing weight but not so that others will accept me. I firmly believe that there are women who are dealing with weight challenges and would appreciate hearing from someone who has walked in their shoes.

            So, what do we do when faced with this type of criticism? For many of us, our anger precipitates our response. Maybe we snap back a rude retort which we will certainly regret later, especially if this is a person with whom we spend considerable time such as at work or an organization. There are some better ways to prevent these criticisms from putting us in a sticky situation. Here are three. I call them my A,B,C’s.

            A= Answer back as honestly as you feel comfortable. For example, you could say something like “Thank you for your concern. I am involved in making some healthy changes.” And leave it alone. I don’t suggest giving too much information to people who really are not trying to be helpful or encouraging.

            B= Be firm in your resolve to avoid further references to your weight. Get back on track or change the subject completely. However, if this person is a friend from whom you would like some advice, feel free to ask for help. Schedule a convenient time to discuss food plans or exercise routines. You could plan to take a walk together or try a yoga class.

            C= Cool down. Critical comments that blindside us do hurt our feelings. It is quite easy to blow up but that rarely solves anything. And, holding on to that anger may cause you to forget any healthy plans you had and send you straight to the snack isle at your local grocery.

            Becoming healthy is a journey that will take you to your goal. However, your goal may not be a size 2. Finding your own path will help you stick with it.

“Being fit at a size that’s right for you”

 I am Jacqui and I am a plus-sized woman. For many years I have fought with my body. I have tried many different diets as well as some sensible weight loss plans. I had some success but never to the degree where I could fit into a size 10. So, I have come to the realization that I am not built to be that small. Despite my years of training and experience as a clinical psychologist, this was a hard thing to accept. It occurred to me that if I’m having a hard time with the image of being ‘plus-sized’, how many scores of other women are in the same boat?  It is a fact that the average American woman wears a size 14. Anything above a size 10 is considered ‘plus-sized’.

                      Being a ‘plus-sized’ woman in our society is not easy. We are often the subject of intentionally hurtful jokes, critical stares, and negative stereotypes. We are overlooked and put down despite our skills and talents. As a result, some of us adopt the notion that we are second-class citizens. This is not healthy or productive, especially when we do it to ourselves. I encourage all women to refuse to adopt and foster the negativity and self-recriminations that are currently part of our daily talk.

            Even though I am larger than a size 10, okay a size 14, I still want to be, and work at being healthy.  I exercise several times a week and just completed my fourth half-marathon (running and walking).  I have decided that being healthy is one of my most important personal goals. This is also the goal that I encourage my clients to reach for.  I was amazed to learn of a survey completed last year which found that young girls are more afraid of being fat than having cancer. These reports reflect how our focus on being thin is affecting our children. Why do we think there is some ‘ideal’ size that means we are beautiful, desirable, or even successful? We are all made in different sizes. That is part of the beauty of being a woman. Beauty is defined in many ways and we are not all meant to be a size 2, 4 or 6.

            It is too easy to get caught up in losing a certain number of pounds or fitting  into the same size as a celebrity that we don’t even consider whether that diet is good for us. There have been so many problems associated with over-the-counter diet products and pills (such as Hydroxycut) that we should avoid using them. The problem is that too many women want a quick fix. Even though we didn’t put these pounds on overnight, we expect them to disappear quickly. We can be very impatient or unwilling to do the work necessary to lose weight while increasing health. And, yes it is hard work. But if you don’t think you are worth committing to the work, you short change your life. Some of the health problems associated with obesity include diabetes, hypertension, and sleep apnea.

              It is important to note that being ‘plus-sized’ is not the same as being obese.  While the Body Mass Index charts give weights that are ‘ideal’ for your height, bone structure and muscle mass are not factored in. It is quite possible that by making simple changes in your eating style and activity level, you can eliminate 10-25 unwanted pounds which could result in significant health improvements. Even if losing those 20 pounds does not take you out of the ‘overweight’ range, you can feel good knowing that you are regaining control of your life and being responsible for your health. And, you’re setting a wonderful example for your children. We can’t be afraid to take the actions necessary to improve our lives. We all can move our bodies more and make better choices regarding our food. It doesn’t matter what anyone else may say or think. Know that you are making your health a priority and that you are worth it.