On Weightloss.

I’ve written about this subject before, but in January, it seems pertinent to bring it up again.

I have mixed feelings about weightloss programs.

Is there anything worse than scrolling through Instagram and seeing people’s #cleaneats and #fitfam posts? It’s horrible for so many reasons, among which are: sometimes when you’re down on yourself, others’ successes make you feel inadequate, your body dysmorphia and self-perception is reflected in the fit bodies of others, you’re usually in bed, and/or eating something like greasy pizza while looking at someone’s white bean and tuna salad with no mayo/no dressing/no cheese which just makes you feel like you’re climbing the mountain… and that’s not to say those feelings are the fault of the people who are crushing their #fitnessgoals – it’s just that sometimes, you can’t help but feel when you look at your social media, that the world is a race, and you’re in last and being surpassed by others (this is a real thing, psychologically – it’s one of the reasons why so many people are encouraged by their counselors and loved ones and teachers to quit social media – it’s not great for many people’s mental health).

I also have a few very beautiful, wonderful friends and associates who are doing amazing things under the umbrella of fat acceptance and body positivity. Their argument: it is anti-woman, anti-‘self love’, and altogether pointless to diet, join a weightloss program, and wish you were someone else when you’re just not. They agree with what a health nurse who came to my junior high school told us many years ago that I still remember to this day: we are all built differently, the way you’re built is the way you’re built, and if you’re a larger person you can work out and go on a fitness regime that any supermodel is committed to, and you will still never look like a supermodel. You are you, you should be happy being you, and the fitness/diet industry is a lie. If you listen to it, you’re not crushing goals, you’re a victim.

I’ve also heard similar arguments from many articles and uplifting posts and memes which slam the beauty industry completely. and I struggle because… well, I am a woman, I want to feel beautiful, and a little eyeliner, eyeshadow, blush, and mascara boost my confidence and make me feel more alive, awake, and complete, and yes, beautiful every day. Days without those accouterments are sick days, not-leaving-the-house-on-a-Saturday days, and that’s pretty much it. Is it anti-feminist of me to feel this way about makeup? Am I less of a woman because I subscribe to the lies of the beauty industry? Is it more worthwhile for me to just be ‘me’ and accept myself as a loved, productive, happy member of society?

I joined Weight Watchers in 2009. It’s been almost 10 years since I walked through those doors for the very first time. On that day, the first time I had weighed myself since I was probably a very young child, I was just over 188lb. Almost 200. At 5’2″. That’s heavy. I looked like trash, then – at least, I thought so. And at that time, I was SO committed to changing myself and my life, I went almost two whole months without ever even eating a french fry. I worked so hard, I lost about 20lb in that first couple of months. Jackets that didn’t close were way too big for me by October. I was down about 4 sizes in jeans. I was dropping hundreds on new clothes because I could finally wear all the beautiful trends and clothes I had always wanted to wear, but was too fat. I owned jeans for the first time in years. By the end of my first stint at Weight Watchers, I had lost about 60lb. It was INSANE.

Since that very productive time, I’ve been a bit more balanced and realistic with my quote-un-quote “weight loss journey”, but I have accomplished many things in my “new” body I never thought possible:

-I’ve run 6 half marathons
-I’ve run 1 full marathon
-I’ve run several 5ks and 10ks
-I’ve completed an intensive personal training program
-I’ve done Tough Mudder and two Foam Fests
-I have walked well over 20,000 steps in a day
-I have done all kinds of workouts I was previously too intimidated to try such as : zumba, spin classes, kickboxing, boot camp, yoga, and even drumfit
-Most importantly, I have felt beautiful. I never did before I accomplished all this.

I struggle with weight loss, because I firmly believe in self-love and body acceptance. The only reason we strive for a certain type of body is because that’s the body we seen in the media. In reality, everyone is welcome and everyone can be loved. Love has nothing to do with weight or appearance. There is so much more to love or even finding love, than that. No matter who you are, someone will see you on the inside and outside as the beautiful person you are.

The sad reality is though, not everyone will be able to feel the way that people see and perceive them. Some of the most gorgeous women I know tear strips off themselves about their thighs, stomachs, height, dress size, etc. etc. etc. I know other people who are vibrant and wonderful and selfie-every-day confident and they’ve never even been inside a gym. The most important thing in the world, weight loss program or not, is whether your self-perception matches your outer reality. And if it doesn’t, then you can try and change something to make it happen. If weight loss doesn’t work after you’ve tried it, okay, it doesn’t work. But trial and error, undergoing achievements and revolutions to find yourself, is a part of being alive. Not everyone is going to prescribe to the same remedy for self-consciousness.

Speaking from experience, does weight loss change your self-perception? In some ways, yes. You really are the same person but for me (and this may not be the same for you), seeing myself in photos as a more fit and healthy version of myself made me feel a lot better about myself. Having achieved something like running 42.2km when in high school when I was at my heaviest and couldn’t even run for 30 seconds without wheezing and stopping to walk, makes you feel like yes, I am a new person. I am different than I was before. Lastly, I’ve always had a deep love of fashion and beauty. That’s why I struggle so much between loving makeup and pretty dresses versus firmly believing in the power and agency of women. But the beauty industry, especially in the early-mid 2000s, often left out women with different body types. The industry has changed ever-so-slightly but not enough so that this is predominently their problem and not mine. So I met them halfway, I guess. That might sound or seem terrible and unjust and it is. But sometimes you can’t change the world, but you can change yourself even temporarily, and that kind of has to be good enough.

What’s my point? I don’t know. That I am confused about dieting, exercise, and beauty. That as someone who works with youth, I constantly want to not project anything about beauty standards on young women even though I prescribe to them often myself and that could make me vulnerable to criticism. At the end of the day though, feminism is about agency and to what extent we have it, and can have it. When we don’t, that’s the problem. Is it unethical and un-woman for me to participate in the diet industry? Maybe. But it’s an individual choice I’m making, and something that has helped me.

When you are participating in your resolutions, especially ones that are weight-focused, you will hear and read advice and criticism, you’ll hear from saboteurs, and competitors, you’ll be slammed and encouraged. Do what’s best for you. Ignore everything that doesn’t fit your end game, regardless of what it is.

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Today, I am thinking about my wedding; what it will look like, who will be there, what I’ll be wearing. It’s a big moment. One of the biggest moments.

And I think about those people that I once envisioned sharing that day with, who are no longer in my life. I remember one of them saying once (about someone else), “If you’re not there for the little things, you don’t get to be there for the big things.”

I never realized until reflecting back on my past, how absolutely true, that is.

New Years Resolutions.

Man.

I have been writing here for ten years now. TEN. YEARS. And it flew by. Time is a scary thing. Not too long ago, my resolution included getting over one of the people who hurt me the most. To borrow one from my good friend 2018, he was “toxic” in my life. Now, I’m about to plan a wedding.

I’m someone who makes New Years resolutions. Are they corny and cliche? Is the January 1 start date of a new year a construct? Of course. But because of those constructs, it feels like a new start. Pressing the ‘play’ button again. And so, I make them.  make them too, to give myself goals and empower myself to be a better version of myself, whatever that looks like (it’s been different every given year). Being a “better version of myself” has in the past been: to be more social, apply to grad school, cut out “toxic people”, lose weight, run marathons, read more, and so on. I’m someone who sets goals for myself and often achieves them. Here are my goals for 2019:

  1. Read 35 books
  2. Lose 20lb
  3. Run at least 2 half marathons
  4. Gain more control of my finances
  5. Do one sober month
  6. Be a more diligent professional
  7. Make time for myself every evening
  8. Get a dog
  9. Stop picking the skin on my fingers (and maybe be more open about the fact that dermatillomania is a real thing and I have it)

#30BooksinaYear

The 30 books I read in 2018 were:

1. Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng*
2 . The Disaster Artist, by Greg Sestero
3. Girl in Snow, by Danya Kukafka
4. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
5. The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah
6. The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore, by Kim Fu
7. The Alice Network, by Kate Quinn
8. Hillbilly Elegy, by JD Vance
9. Unless, by Carol Shields
10. Brother, by David Chariandy
11. The Golden Spruce, by John Vaillant
12. Jonny Appleseed, by Joshua Whitehead*
13. Beartown, by Fredrik Backman
14. Radiant Shimmering Light, by Sarah Selecky*
15. The Home for Unwanted Girls, by Joanna Goodman
16. The Heart Goes Last, by Margaret Atwood
17. Our Animal Hearts, by Dania Tomlinson*
18. You Are On an Airplane, by Parker Posey
19. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
20. Arcadia, by Lauren Groff
21. I, Strahd by PN Elrod
22. Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn
23. The Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Graham
24. The Gallery of Lost Species, by Nina Berkhout*
25. Split Tooth, by Tanya Tagaq*
26. Birdie, by Tracey Lindberg
27. Come From Away, by Genevieve Graham
28. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
29. Touching Spirit Bear, by Ben Mikaelson
30. Positive, by Paige Rawl

What I learned from these thirty books:

a) Expanding your horizons

There was a time when I was pretty limited in my taste in books; I’d look down on pulpy mysteries; I’d read a sci-fi or fantasy-related sentence on the back of the book and give it a pretty hard “Thank U, Next.” I never read nonfiction because I felt like the style of prose was a bit too ‘textbook’ for my taste and uninspiring. I was never that interested in plot-driven literature or even historical fiction, really. In 2018, I learned about a sacred spruce that was mercilessly cut down by a logger-turned-eco-terrorist; I read about a woman who is impregnated by the glaciers and northern lights in her hometown; I read about a lovelorn vampire turned evil because of his lust for desire and power; I read an incredibly quirky and strange autobiography that was written in the style of an airplane conversation between strangers; I read four “YA” novels about teenagers dealing with various weights of the world. I read stories from the perspective of Nazi soldiers and Hitler youth. The power of story is great in my list, and it carried me through the year.

b) Diversity matters

Only 23% of the books I read this year were written by white men. In reading so many stories from the perspective of women, people who identify as gay, and people of colour, I was able to gain an appreciation for stories of lives I haven’t lived. Stories that used historical sexism and racism within tales of fantasy and romance. I was able to see the value of people being able to tell their own stories. Conversely, “Bear Town” by Fredrik Backman, is a novel that takes a long, hard look at sexual assault and the unforgiving, victim-shaming culture of professional sports. I think it was so important that a man – clearly a man who values sport  – wrote this story.

c) Reading is a good use of time

People laud reading challenges because they say “I wish I could find the time to read more” and “I don’t know how you read so much!” Well… sure. But in the 21st century, we waste a ton of time. I waste a ton of time; on PVRed reality TV show episodes from TLC, Facebook Instagram, text message conversations that aren’t really conversations, scrolling endlessly through Twitter, etc. All I did was spend less time on that stuff, and more time on books. And I’m grateful that I did that, and I would recommend making time to read more.

d) I was excited to talk about books again

Every time someone told me about something, my instantaneous response was “Oh, I just read a book about that!” And I restrained myself from regaling them with the tale of whatever book that happened to be. I also refrained from shouting my love for various stories I read this year from the rooftops, during and after reading. Reading so many books has made me realize that we should read and discuss books more. I actually joined a book club this year and for the first time, actually read the book that we were to read. It was really fantastic to sit in a room of people who read the same book as you and discus it. It sounds lame. Maybe it is lame. But it felt good to share that love with others.

In 2019, one of my goals is to read 35 books and continue to read books that are outside my comfort zone and challenge me to not just read character-driven, female authored contemporary Can-lit. Here’s to more good reads in 2019!

2018.

Wow.

At the start of 2018, I had two goals: a) Run a marathon; b) read 30 books. I did both of those things, and more.

I traveled to Vancouver Island to run a half marathon (a very successful one). I went with my best friend to San Francisco for a short few days; we went to Napa Valley. It was incredible. About three weeks later, she got engaged. I traveled back to one of my favourite happy places in the world, Honolulu, with my mom. And we had the best time. And three days later…

 

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I got engaged.

 

I ran a marathon.

42.2 km. In the somewhat rainy cold. I was nauseous for hours afterwards. I ran about 80% of the way, albeit slowly. It taught me that some things are hard, but anticipating their difficulty is harder than the actuality of ‘doing’. In life, this is an important lesson to learn. This will get you through almost anything, from waking up on Monday morning, to finally ghosting on that person who you no longer see a place for on the shelf that is your life.

On we go.

What I’ve Been Up To: For My Future Self

Hello, Future Self.

It’s been a long time since I’ve written; months, in fact. Sometimes life (and a laptop with a missing charger) get in the way of writing and progress. And in those instances, one must patiently wait for updates, for self-indulgent blog posts that are germinating for months in the head of amateur writers.

It has been a long spring/summer. Within the last five months there have been: leg injuries, mouth surgeries, toothaches, camping trips in the rain, camping trips in the sun, successful half marathons, unsuccessful half marathon training, new albums from favourite artists, concerts from Canadian rock bands, snow, rain, spring runoff, forest fires, job fires, job hires, moves, pets, vets, packing, kids, adults… it’s been a loaded five months.

I am on the verge of change.

For the first time this summer, I am freelancing. For the first time, I am doing a run I shouldn’t be doing because of a lack of training and a lack of inhibitions. I am seeking alternative therapy for an injury that has prevented me from doing the best I can do at the best hope I have of achieving a natural high. I am moving to a house in the suburbs. I am quite drastically changing my vocation. Within the next three weeks, everything as I know it will be different. I am reading thirty books this year. I am running 42 km this year. Change is rising like the smoke-impacted sunrise.

But in those drastic changes, there are constants: a love of theatre. A drive to succeed at a full marathon, which I have never done before and will maybe never do again. A love of my life who is constantly influencing my desire to be a better, more active, more ambitious version of myself. A pet that I have had for a decade who I am moving into my seventh residence with. Family. Friends. An increasing love of what I do for a living. Desire. Dreams.

Have I been ignoring the insistent need for emotive musings on this brick wall of the internet on which I have severely decreased in writing my own graffiti? Yes. But with so many other goals, routines, dreams and ambitions being slowly realized in the last five months, a significant five months in my life – I will continue to strive to update, so that I know the part of me who started writing my way out of heartbreak, in public, on a blog, a decade ago, continues to show how far she has come from being an overweight, awkward, shy, jilted woman with no knowledge of real love she was in 2008.

So that’s wassup now.