Reclaiming “Fat” on Fat Tuesday

Fat Tuesday is here.

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It think it’s time to reclaim the word “fat” this Fat Tuesday.  The “fat” of Fat Tuesday is happy.  It’s a last hurrah before a long fast.  It’s the celebration of bounty.  It’s excess and indulgence.  It’s happy.  In the case of “Fat Tuesday”  we are supposed to be happy.

I’m not defending obesity.  I’m not minimizing the diseases that obesity exacerbates.  I just want to complicate “fat” a bit.  Instead of saying “She (or) he is fat,” as if it’s an existential state, inherent to the person, like character or temperament, can we be more compassionate AND clinical?  “She (or) he is experiencing obesity.”

Indeed, obesity and the struggle with it is an experience.  If you’ve ever combed through a Ross rack at midnight trying to find a decent plus size dress, you’ve had the obesity experience.  If you’ve ever watched  plus-size loved ones yo-yo diet and cycle through success and failure, you’ve had the obesity experience.  If you’ve ever been starved for something in your life (love, attention, respect) and found a short-term substitute at the bottom of a pint of ice cream in the middle of the night, you’ve had part of the obesity experience.

I’ve been every size from a 6 to a 20W, and even when I was thin, I wasn’t happy.  I was panicked about regaining the weight.  It made shopping easier, sure, and I felt noticed.  However, keeping the weight off was my entire life.  It was a full-time job on top of the job I already had.  Thinness is not happiness.  Happiness is happiness.  We all struggle with happiness, thin or fat.

The word “fat” has bedeviled me my whole life.  “Pretty for a fat girl,” “too fat”, “too fat for the role,”–just a few of the many things I’ve heard.  Behind that “f” word “fat” is another “f” word, that often follows close by and is implied, “failure”.  Being “fat”, or more compassionately, experiencing “fatness” does not mean you are a failure.  It doesn’t mean you’re weak, or lack will power. We ALL experience failure.  The pitfall is making experiences into identities.

Many of those who have been conditioned to be ashamed of their fatness have also been conditioned to hide.  How many of us retreat to the back row of a group photo because we don’t care to be seen from the neck down?  Too many.

Fat tropes have been around for centuries.  I think of Shakespeare’s Falstaff, that repulsive, yet humorous fat Flemish drunkard (who’m I’ve actually auditioned to play).  How many times have I auditioned for characters destined to be the butt of a joke, just because I wear plus size clothes?  So many.  Too many.

It’s time to get past the fat tropes and complicate “fat”.  It’s not a state of being, a character defect or a joke.  It’s a medical condition that needs attention and also compassion.  My takeaway from all of this is that “fatness” doesn’t preclude happiness.  You have a right to be happy, fat or thin.  However, we each have to claim and create space for our happiness.  Part of happiness is treating ourselves well, no matter how others speak about us.  The word “fat” needs complicating and compassion at the same time.

I wish you a fun, happy Fat Tuesday–fat with joy, fat with happiness, fat with hope that the best is yet to come.   Celebrate you, who are you are now, today.

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Giving Myself Time

It seems like there’s never enough time.  We pack our schedules full, keep busy, keep moving and still, there’s an emptiness.  Time just flies, and we have so little time for ourselves.

This past week, I resolved to give myself some time back.  I resolved not to just wake up and do, do, do.  I resolved to give myself two hours of my day back.  That’s less than ten percent.  It’s my morning practice.  I’ve had a daily sadhana on and off for years, but in light of some events in my life, I’ve really doubled down on it.

61684677_2166278680159049_4817819988796637184_nI give myself 20 minutes to read whatever I want.  I give myself 30 min of meditation.  I give myself 10 minutes of reading any news that might impact me or piques my interest.  I give myself a 45 min walk and about 15-20 minutes of journaling.  I keep it all on a big, neon, poster board to keep myself accountable, along with my long list of to-dos.

In giving myself about ten percent of my day back “just for me”, I’ve learned things about myself–some of them joyful, some of them not.  So many of us have guilt about putting ourselves first and we absolutely need to.  When we lose our internal compass, we often make decisions that teach us not-so-fun lessons.  When I don’t have my morning practice, I get un-centered and reactive faster than I care to admit.

One of the traps of a regimen, though, is that we can get regimented, and that’s no fun.  I try to re-evaluate my morning practice monthly.  The key to this, for me, has been setting an intention.  What needs healing?  What needs encouragement?  What needs to be confronted?  To me, a good morning practice shifts you in the right direction, so it needs to be re-intention-ed to be effective.  As I shift, my intention shifts, so my practice shifts.  I make sure that the changes I want are small, manageable and actionable.

If you are doing-oriented person like me, a healthy dose of compassion may be in order too.  You may not get it all done.  Life happens.  Sometimes regimens and reality clash.  It’s okay not to get all the self care tasks done in one day.

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My morning practice gets a little too ambitious, even for me at times.  It’s okay.  I remind myself I can always adjust.  It’s one thing to stretch; it’s another thing to burden and break.  

If you have a morning practice, I’d love to know more about what works for you!

 

Where Are You Now?

It’s so hard to stay in the moment.  It’s easy to obsess over the past or ruminate about the future–the should-s, the could-s, the would-s–but the present is a very elusive thing.  For me, part of being more body positive is getting more present, heavy or not, plus size or not.  Copy of body positivity (1).png

There’s a lot of gifts in the present if we choose to accept them.  We are so used to an instant gratification culture that if the small changes we are making in our food and exercise routines aren’t noticed by others, we can get very discouraged.  The struggle is in the small steps, one step at a time, day after day.  Today, I chose not to drink my calories.  I stuck to water. I was present to my body today, instead of just shoving food in my mouth to make the hunger go away.

Think about the times that someone’s extended compassion to you.  You’ve probably felt their presence, that their focus and attention was on you.  It’s likely that you haven’t felt someone’s compassion while they were scrolling through the alerts on their phone.  We have to extend that presence and mindfulness to ourselves.  Before eating just to get the task over with and move on, what compassion can we extend to our bodies?

Likewise, we’re not the same people we were a year ago or even yesterday.  It’s sometimes hard to be honest with ourselves about where we truly are, instead focusing too much on where we’d like to be.  Have a moment of compassion for yourself today.  Say, “this is who I am today,” without judgement, without apologies.  Accepting is one of the biggest roadblocks, but it’s one that has to be dealt with.

Where are you now?