Goodbye Fat Shaming

Recently, there have been a lot of songs and videos coming out about natural beauty.  There’s also been a push toward acceptance of larger body types.  Part of what concerns me though, is that the discussion seems polarizing.  When we say that bigger is okay, we don’t just say it’s okay, but better.

Like this!

Like this!

This is the kind of thing I see on Facebook all the time.  It takes the shaming from the fat girls and transfers it to the bony girls.  I had a friend in high school who was super skinny, and the truth is, she was just built that way.  I don’t know if her body knows how to build fat.  But she was a pretty girl, and more importantly, one of the kindest, most interesting people I’ve ever met.  When I think of her, I don’t think about her body type first, because it’s not the most interesting or important thing about her.  The same way that my extra weight isn’t the most interesting or important thing about me.

I did an experiment in my group.  We were talking about body type and how weight gain can lead to relapse on drugs.  I asked the group members what comes to mind when they think of me.  They said things like “kind,” “smart,” “teacher,” etc.  Then I asked, “Does anyone care about my weight?  When you thought about that, did the fact that I’m fat come first?”  The room fell dead silent.  One of the people in my group whispered, “I never thought about it that way.”  We place so much weight (pun intended) on body type, but not on what’s really important.

In All About That Base, Meghan Trainor declares “Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.”  Here’s the thing.  Skinny isn’t better.  “Curvy” isn’t better.  They both just are.  I’m overweight, and I’ve pretty much always been.  But I was also pretty gorgeous at one point, and looking back, I’ve realized that I should have celebrated my body type instead of envying my skinnier friends.  When I look in the mirror now, I try to see the things I like about me instead of picking out the flaws.  I need to lose a few (dozen) pounds now as I am way too overweight, but I’m never going to “thin.”  My BMI is never going to be in the range it’s “supposed” to be.  I have hips and a large chest, and I’m okay with that.  I focus on eating fruits and vegetables, hiking, and playing with my dogs.  That’s what healthy is for me.  I’d like to lose weight more for health reasons than aesthetic ones (mostly).

For you skinny ladies out there: your shape is your shape too, and you shouldn’t have to be ashamed of being naturally thin or athletic.  You don’t need a diet (you’re not fat) and you don’t need to put on weight (unless your doctor said so, in which case then do what your doctor says.)  You look great the way you are.  All different body types make the world an interesting and beautiful place.  We need to celebrate our differences, not say that one is better or worse.  Sure, some people find one type more attractive than the other, but one person likes chocolate, another person likes vanilla, and a third person likes Rocky Road.  My point being that my love of mint chocolate chip doesn’t mean that cherry vanilla is bad; it’s just not my thing.

Focus on improving your mind and your character.  Be giving and loving.  We like looking at gift wrap and bows, but at the end of the day, no one cares about that.  You’re a gift, and it doesn’t matter what you’re wrapped in… it really is what’s on the inside that counts.

The Biggest Loser, Newest Season

So Sad!

I am a fan of many of the reality shows. I enjoy The Voice, Deadliest Catch and even So you think you can Dance. In the past I had been a huge fan of the Biggest Loser. My opinion has soured on the long time reality series that helps morbidly obese people change their lives. Jillian Michaels is a great trainer with all kinds of products and endorsements. She lives in a world of the super skinny and gym rat crowd that judges those who struggle with their weight. The few minutes I watched disgusted me; she is ridiculous and unrealistic when working with people of the size of many of her participants. People were passing out and the paramedics on scene were hopping from person to person. The quality show I once enjoyed has become unwatchable and a shame. Do people need encouragement and need to be pushed at times? Absolutely!! Her brand of “tough love” was disturbing and painful to watch. So this season I will watch something else.

Forest Bathing

I always knew nature was good for you.  After all, why do people end up with cabin fever?  No matter how nice it is to be in the safety and security of the same four walls, sometimes you need to get out and breathe different air. It sounds good, right?

Well, science actually indicates that time in nature has beneficial health benefits.  I wonder if that’s why I tend to write better when I’m outside, or if it’s too hot, when I at least have a view.  In any case, this article talks about forest bathing and 6 other interesting and odd ways to boost health.  I may have to try some of these other things to see if they boost creativity.

I Confess My Newest Addiction

I confess… I’ve become a cookbook addict.

I never liked cookbooks.  Well, it’s only fair, since I never liked cooking.  I have several dessert cookbooks, but as for regular cookbooks, I couldn’t be bothered.

I started my cookbook addiction when I first went vegetarian.  Like most people, before I knew better, I assumed that vegetarian meant that I would be eating an endless variety of salads.  So, when I decided I was really going to do this, I started buying cookbooks and opened my eyes to whole other worlds.

Like anything else, I got into a rut with my cooking, making increasingly more boring foods that even I didn’t want to eat.  Even though I wasn’t eating meat, I had fallen back into a lot of my less healthy habits because they were easier.

I was re-inspired on my mission to better health when my husband and I recently went to a hibachi restaurant.  I could go on with raptures about how good the fried rice and hibachi vegetables were.  As I watched the chef, I thought, “That’s not so hard.  I can do that!”  So, I did, with a few modifications so that it was brown rice instead of white and I skipped the butter.  And the results were delish.

After that experiment, I realized that I’ve grown bored with my current collection of cookbooks, so I went to Amazon and pulled up Japanese, Mexican, and Thai vegetarian cookbooks.  I’m very excited to explore new flavors.  I even bought a Raw Foods “cookbook” that’s highly rated.  My goal is to add lots more variety to my diet and actually enjoy what I’m eating.  Because healthy eating doesn’t have to mean boring or eating just one type of thing.

After only a few days of going back to eating mostly fruits, veggies, and whole grains/ beans, and skipping so many of the processed stuff (oh tortilla chips… how I love you… pita chips… I miss you!), I already have more energy and feel better.  I get hungry and full faster.  Yes, it’s a pain to eat 6-7 times a day because the high fiber stuff fills me up so fast, but I’m eating far less calories.

So, once I get my cookbooks, I will review them for you.  Currently my favorite cookbooks are:

The Happy Herbivore by Lindsay S. Nixon- It’s a vegan cookbook with a lot of great “starter” recipes.  I tend to like vegan cookbooks because they’re naturally lower in fat, but if you’re creative, the recipes can be modified.  The macaroni and “cheese” recipe is out of this world.

The Vegan Dad Cookbook- This is one of my favorite cookbooks.  It’s got tons of kid friendly foods and through vegan dad, I finally learned how to make “sausage,” which is great with breakfast.  It’s currently unavailable on Amazon, but all his recipes are available on his blog.

Chocolate Covered Katie- Okay, this isn’t a cookbook, but her website has tons of great recipes, both dessert-wise and meal/ snack-wise.  It’s definitely worth checking out, if for nothing other than her healthy milkshakes!  And the cookie dough!  And… I could go on and on… Just click here!

Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How industrial food is making us sicker, fatter, and poorer- and what you can do about it, by Participant Media and Karl Weber – While this isn’t actually a cookbook, I am taking the time to recommend it, as it gives a lot of reasons why vegetarian eating is good for you and the environment, even if you only do it one day a week!  The veggie police won’t come and get you if you only try it once in awhile.  I promise.  If you’re not interested in the book or the movie, but want to learn more, you can check out their website.

Do you use cookbooks?  If so, what’s your favorite cookbook (veggie or omni)?

M is for Mental Illness

Readers of this blog will know that by day, I’m a Mobile Crisis Therapist.  By night, I’m a writer of the weird and wacky.  I have a lot of experience with mental illness, both in my job and with people that I know and love.

A lot of people I meet have a number of misconceptions about mental illness, and I’d like to take a moment to look at some of the more common ones I see.

1.  If you’re mentally ill, you’re “crazy.”-  Not true.  People with mental illness often have a chemical imbalance in the brain causing cognitive and emotional disturbances.  An estimated 46% of adults will struggle with some type of mental illness in the course of their lives(NIMH, 2005).  This can range from a temporary depression or anxiety to more serious disorders, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

2.  Most people who are mentally ill are drug addicts, and that’s why they’re crazy.- Not really.  Many people who struggle with mental illness do turn to drugs as a way of self-medicating.  They feel horrible all the time and need some way to escape it.  Because many people are undereducated about mental illness, it can be hard to know where to get help.  Families and friends often want their loved one to get over it, and they can’t.  Drug use can cause mental health like symptoms, but most people who get addicted to drugs started as a way to feel better.  And let’s face it, most people don’t do drugs unless they’re looking for an escape and a way out.

3.  If I take medication, that’s like giving up.-  So not true!  There are many people walking around right now who have struggled with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or an addiction, and you’d never even know it.  People take medication as a way to regulate their brain chemistry, and I believe it works best in conjunction with a therapist they trust.  It can be hard to feel better.  Let’s face it; most of us can’t afford a tropical vacation or time at a spa.  We still have to work, shop for groceries, drive on the road and not get killed.  Taking medication temporarily or permanently can be a way to manage those thoughts and feelings.  You’d take medication for high blood pressure or diabetes, wouldn’t you?

I’d like to see mental illness and addiction addressed in fiction.  Let’s face it, with 46% of the population struggling with a mental illness at some point, it makes sense that it would touch a main character’s life.  And notice, the term I use is “mental illness.”  If you’re ill, you can get better.  A mental illness isn’t a death sentence.  It’s just one more thing in life to deal with.

I’m done for now.  I’ve included the link of my source to the NIMH and for the National Association for Mental Illness, if you’re interested in additional reading.  Coming up in the very near future, I’m going to write a top 10 list about the best books about mental illness.