tuesday tip — finding your sexy when you’re ______.

Disclaimer: So, this is my blog, after all. And this is the stuff I’m currently struggling through. If reading it makes you feel weird, sorry. You don’t have to read it. I won’t be offended.

The other day I came across this fabulous article that pretty much sums up every thing I’ve been struggling with lately as far as body image and self-love goes. If you don’t have time to read it, the title speaks for itself:

Who gets to be sexy? Is it me?

I’ve kind of touched on the subject before here and here but, sadly, I currently don’t feel like I’m one of those people who “gets” to be sexy. My husband and I have had several conversations recently (even creating a document about the mental blocks I have and the steps I need to take to overcome them) to try and get to the root of this problem (including, but not limited to: my past, including my ex who sexually abused me, my history with my eating disorder, etc.) and while these reasons are valid, I’m sick of them.

In my head, I think, I’ve always assumed that once I hit certain self-proclaimed milestones then (and only then) could I “get” to be sexy.

  • When I reach my goal weight.
  • When my face finally stops breaking out.
  • When I can figure out how to apply make up and not look like a circus clown.
  • When I learn how to properly curl my hair.
  • When I…
My husband, who is so sweet and wonderful and always trying to help, brought something to my attention the other day:
Dan: “Did you see the lady in front of us in line at Wal-Mart?”
Me: “No.”
Dan: “Oh. Well. She was at least double your size everywhere and was buying lingerie. I thought that if she could do it, you could, too.”
Under normal circumstances, I would have probably considered the legitimacy of his observation. But because I’m hormonal and crazy, I went home, drew myself a bath, and cried in it for an hour.
It seems like it’s only getting worse for me as I get rounder. This is probably shocking to you, but feeling sexy while pregnant is proving to be almost impossible for me. I know, I know. I didn’t see that one coming, either. Lindsay can’t feel sexy when she’s not pregnant? What do you mean she can’t feel sexy when she is? *Heavy eye roll.*

I’ve been searching for ways to try and rectify this. Really, the only solution I’ve come up with is only letting my husband touch me in the morning when it’s still dark since, at that point, I haven’t spent an entire day staring at my gigantic belly and focusing on how “matronly” and “not-sexy” it is.

But then (of course, while I’m struggling with this) Jessica Simpson (who has been pregnant for roughly three years it feels like) comes out totally butt naked on the cover of Elle like she owns the joint. And my husband goes ahead and says that it’s sexy.

Ugh. 

Okay, world. I get it. It’s possible to be sexy while overweight. And it’s possible to be sexy while pregnant. So why am I still completely lacking in this department?

Oh that’s right — because the problem isn’t my body; it’s my mind.

TODAY’S SELF-LOVE TIP: FINDING YOUR SEXY WHEN YOU’RE ______.

I know not all of you are pregnant. And I know that not all of you struggle with “sexiness” in particular. But maybe it’s confidence. Maybe it’s spark. Maybe it’s being outgoing. But, if you’re like me, and you have this little part inside you that, for whatever reason, can’t come out because you’re currently _____ (fill in the blank for whatever that is: pregnant, over your goal weight, not making enough money, whatever) I’m here to tell you that your circumstance is not your problem.

It’s your mind.

I don’t have all the answers on how to change your mind (because if I did, let’s be honest, I wouldn’t have this blog) but here are some things that have worked for me so far:

1. be intentional.

Make an effort. When you think to yourself that you can’t be sexy, just think immediately afterwards, “That’s not true. I can be and am sexy.” It will be awkward and weird at first. But be intentional about it.

2. be persistent.

You can’t change your paradigm overnight. It will take some time. Commit to it because, in the end, it will be so worth it (or so I think).

3. be patient.

With yourself! Know that some days, you’ll be on fire. You’ll be a sex goddess, even! But know that, even still, there will be some days when you feel frumpy and gross and some innocent Wal-Mart shopper is gonna show up at the register with cute lingerie and make you cry in a bathtub and you’re just going to have to let that be okay.

What is your “sexy” that you’re striving toward? Please don’t say I’m alone in this!

a good body image kick in the pants.

I’m 20 weeks pregnant. I’m halfway done.

I’ve also gained ten (!!!) pounds, which is exactly half as much weight as my doctor told me I should gain during the pregnancy. In reality, I’m right on track. (Halfway there when I’m halfway there! That makes sense! Half a pound a week from here on out, right?) But as of right now, this second, I’m not doing so well. Instead of being a new mom, carrying around and sustaining a healthy baby boy, my mind is in the dark and can only see myself as a woman who has gained ten pounds in five months and can’t button her jeans which means she’s ugly, worthless, stupid, a bad friend, a horrible cook, a horrible mom, a horrible wife, who will never be a published writer…

Sigh. Isn’t it ridiculous how a bad body image can poison the otherwise awesome parts that make you you? Or am I just THAT mental?

I can usually talk myself out of feeling like a whale by reminding myself, Lindsay! You are building a life! But it’s hard to switch a twentysomething-year-old paradigm (that gaining weight is the absolute WORST thing I could ever do, save maybe intentionally running over a litter of kittens) just because I got knocked up a few months ago.

Today, HelloGiggles posted an article by Julia Gazdag that was the body image kick in the pants I needed, even though it’s not directly aimed at pregnant women. It’s a great reminder about the heavy implications and repercussions of falling victim to a broken society’s view of beauty.

This excerpt in particular was one I really needed to read today:

You’re not attractive because you look like the airbrushed neo-Barbie posing with a giant bottle in a vodka ad, or the limitlessly fancy red carpet starlet. You’re attractive because of how you tell a story, how your eyes crinkle when you smile, how you love a certain author so fervently, and any number of other trite rom-com clichés. Because there’s actually truth to those sappy monologues – the most attractive thing about anyone is what makes them unique, not what makes them blend in. Anyone who is more focused on your looks than your self is bad news and in all likelihood cares very little about you as a person, except to use you as an accessory. We’re women, not purses, and that means we can own our greatness instead of comparing it to that of others while vying for mediocraty.

To read the rest of Julia’s article (and possibly get the kick in the pants you need) click here.

if the shirt fits… wait.


And the winner for Best Angst Face in a Train Scene goes to… Lindsay Shaw in Chicago Trip 2009!

Hate to break it to you, readers, but  next week there will be no FBDC posts. My husband and I will be off the grid (that is, in my hometown-in-law Chicago — if you’re in town, holla) visiting family and friends while taking a much needed getaway from our busy lives here in the Sunshine State. I will miss you, and blogging, but I’m looking forward to a week away.

The first time I went to visit the city of Chicago I was a completely different person. For starters, I was only Dan’s girlfriend. I wasn’t even his fiance yet, let alone his wife. (I also made horrible faces on trains, apparently.) But more importantly, I wasn’t a self-love warrior. I was far from it, actually; a broken shell of a girl whose entire existence was built on a sandy foundation of impossible standards and unhealthy, destructive lifestyle choices. My second trip to the Chicago area was just over a year ago. I had just started my blog, completely unaware that it would explode into a self-love movement just six months later.

As I gear up for my third trip to the Windy City, I’m excited for a lot of reasons, most of which you’d probably expect: not being at work, spending time with my love, getting to be a tourist, seeing my distant friends and family, and going sledding (it’s snowing up there right now, right? Isn’t it always winter in Chicago?)

But this visit also brings about a unique and abstract excitement that is wrapped up in my self-love journey. You see, sometimes, it’s hard for me to chart my spiritual and emotional growth here in Tallahassee. Living day in and day out here, experiencing each moment laden with baby steps toward self-acceptance, can make my journey seem almost pointless and uneventful. Sadly, because the self-love decisions I make each day are relatively small, my progress sometimes appears minimal at best, invisible at worst. I know they’re making a difference. I do. But it’s like wearing the same shirt everyday when you’re losing weight — you can’t tell the difference day by day, but one day, the shirt just doesn’t fit anymore.

That’s the main reason I’m looking forward to this trip. Each time I’ve gone to Chicago, I’ve noticed that my old shirt — my old self — doesn’t quite fit anymore.

It’s baggier in parts, yet tighter in other parts. Some new holes have been worn and some old tears have been sewn back together. Stains have been bleached out and dirt has been washed away. These changes are small and hard to recognize each day. But by removing myself from the familiar and mundane, I can finally see that I’m growing and changing in incredible ways.

So today, I am thankful for removal. I am thankful for vacation. I am thankful for a change of pace. I am thankful for the realization that each and every day, each and every healthy choice, each and every positive comment, is one step closer to redemption. Renewal. Peace.

I’ve gotten so many emails from people who say that some days it’s so easy to love themselves. They tackle the day knowing they’re beautiful and valued, but then a nasty comment from a friend or a mean email from their boss will make them wonder if any of this is worth it. If you’ve ever felt that way, like you’re wearing the same shirt everyday in “self-love boot camp” but not seeing results, be patient. Trust me. One day, you’re going to realize your shirt is two sizes too big and that the progress you’ve made is an inspiration to the world.

the rexia series: liarexia.

the ‘rexia’ series:

liarexia

I stumbled across the term “liarexia” while perusing (what else?) a celebrity gossip magazine. The term was used to describe the eating habits of celebrities photographed eating fatty foods. Cheeseburgers, fries, bagels, milkshakes, you know, the stuff normal people eat every freaking day. So, why is it such a big deal when celebrities do it?

Well, quite frankly, it’s because they’re usually stick thin, and if they were eating that way every meal of every day, they wouldn’t look like that. Ergo, the idea is that they’re “lying” about what they eat throughout the day.

Um, duh. They also all probably have personal trainers that work out with them at their homes 7 days a week. But that’s another blog post entirely.

“Liarexia” is something that I find to be a bit of a redundancy; people who struggle with eating disorders tend to lie a lot because, hello, their eating habits are not normal. Even ED sufferers know this. It’s really rare to find someone placing an order at Starbucks saying, “Please give me a small cup of black coffee. Yes, that’s it. No cream or sugar, please. I’m trying to keep my daily caloric intake under 300 because I’m irrationally fearful of weight gain. Thanks.”

No. That’s not normal, and when people do things like that, it raises red flags. Red flags, by the way, are the eternal enemy of all eating disorders. Red flags demand explanations, which can sometimes lead to something awful. Like therapy or (gasp!) recovery.

I’m a pretty terrible liar. I’ve always known that. But I didn’t know just how bad of a liar I was until a group of my sorority sisters showed me that I wasn’t fooling anyone concerning my eating disorder.

Here I am in early 2006, about a year before being diagnosed. Where are my arms? I don’t know. But I can tell you that I was probably really hungry when this picture was taken.

Back in 2006, a group of my sorority sisters and I got together for some sort of event. I don’t remember the specifics of the event, but I do remember that we all went to Village Inn afterward.

(See? This is the real tragedy of the eating disordered individual. Food runs their life. So much so, that they can’t even focus on the great, happy, fun times they experience. Living turns into merely existing in a world where the only thing that matters to them is food, whether or not they’re going to eat it, where they’re going to eat it, how much of it they’re going to eat, etc.)

So. We went to Village Inn. When the waitress came around and asked for our drink orders, I went with water. This isn’t suspicious, I thought, because I’m a poor college kid and water is free. But while the waitress was gone, my mind was racing a million miles a second trying to come up with a logical explanation for why I wasn’t going to order any food. Normally I’d go with my staple, “Oh, I already ate dinner, I’m still full.” However, since I’d been spending time with my sisters all afternoon, I knew that wasn’t going to fly.

When the waitress came back to our table, in a last ditch effort to come up with an out, I told her to come to me last. As each girl ordered their food, my time dwindled away, and I was still without a reasonable excuse. So I panicked. When the waitress got to me, I just closed the menu and said, “Oh, I’m not eating, but thanks.”

LIE.

For a split second, I thought it worked. But then, the silence surrounding me was shattered by my sisters erupting in a burst of exasperated protestation.

What? Why aren’t you eating?”
“Lindsay, this is getting ridiculous.”
“You are skinny enough, stop doing this!”

And an assortment of other exclamations about my strange eating habits and surprisingly evident obsession with my weight.

My face burst aflame with embarrassment and horror. They knew. All of them knew. I didn’t know what to say, so I said the first thing that came to my mind:

“But I’ve already eaten too much today.”

LIE.
A big, fat, stinking lie. A lie so obvious, it might as well have been tap dancing on the table. A lie so big, it could only be conjured up in an effort to cover up another palpable fallacy.

They didn’t fall for it.

I can’t tell you how revolted that conversation left me. I felt attacked, exposed, raw, and hopeless. But those feelings were only (relatively) temporary, as they were the product of a conversation that would be the catalyst to me eventually seeking help for my disorder.

So thank you, sisters. Thanks for not buying my crap. Thanks for being brave enough to call me out on a lie.

And here is my message to anyone who currently knows they’re being lied to about something like this: I know it’s scary, but please. Speak up. Yes, it will hurt. Yes, it will be uncomfortable. But you may save someone’s life.

tuesday tip — mentality vs. reality.

Heads up: this is one of those blog posts that is more for me than it is for you. If it helps you, great. But honestly, I just need to blog because, like I’ve said a thousand times, I blog because I can’t afford therapy.

Three weeks ago I tore my ACL at my dance class. I landed wrong after a jump and, well, my knee decided to rip in half or something. I’m going to see an orthopedist on Thursday and I’ll most likely have to undergo surgery at some point in the coming weeks. Ha. Wow. I just typed that, flippantly, as if it’s something that people just do. Just like that.

“Oh hey, what’d you do today?” — “Nothing really, just had some knee surgery and then swung by Starbucks, whatevs.”

At any rate, the past three weeks have been challenging for several legitimate reasons (I can’t move my knee certain ways, I have to wear a brace every waking hour, I have to let people wait on me, etc.) But, they’ve also been challenging for a big, stupid, dumb, not-legitimate-at-all reason: I can’t exercise and it’s giving me anxiety.

You see, the thing about those affected by eating disorders is that they are constantly plagued by both the need to control everything and the desire to attain perfection. So, strict diets and unreasonable exercise routines win out to quell both cravings.

While I’m “recovered” from my eating disorder (some would argue that an eating disorder isn’t something you can ever fully recover from and that you can only merely learn to struggle with) I’ve found myself in a situation where my body and what it looks like are beyond my control. AND I HATE IT. The fact that I can’t burn off the calories I consume is tormenting me. I freak out about each food item I eat because I know that, if I’m not careful, I could gain a butt-ton (pun intended) of weight in the coming months. The mentality of it all is breaking me down.

But that’s the thing — the mentality is breaking me down. Not the reality.

My  mentality: I’ve gained weight since tearing my ACL and that’s really awful.

The reality: Even if I have gained weight, which is highly unlikely, it’s no big deal.

I bring this up because I know I’m not alone in this. Maybe it’s not a knee injury for you. Maybe you’ve gotten behind on your housework and you just haven’t had time to exercise. Maybe, because it’s wedding season, you’ve had to attend a thousand hitchings in the past few months and have eaten dinner after delectable, catered dinner and you feel as though they are taking up a permanent residence in your fat cells. Maybe, because it’s summer and the entire country is experiencing an out-of-control heatwave, you just haven’t gone for a jog in a while for fear of dying of heat stroke.

Whatever uncontrollable circumstances are arising in your life at the moment, breathe in, and remember that the reality is that you are wonderfully made and oh, so very loved.

Your mentality cannot change that, no matter how negative it might be at any given time.

my “happy” weight.

Something wonderful happened today. I ate my lunch at my desk today so, on my lunch hour, I went to Starbucks and got a deliciously nomtastic grande iced sugar-free soy caramel latte (yes, I am one of “those” people who have super pretentious coffee preferences) and went outside to sit at a table in 100 degree heat (mmmm heaven) to read by myself for an hour.

As I was getting situated, I caught my reflection in the large, glass windows of the shop. Today I am rocking my favorite dress (brown strapless with buttons down the front that comes to the middle of my thighs — this dress hugs and accentuates my figure in all kinds of wonderful ways) and a sparkly gold necklace, with my hair pulled back into a messy ballerina bun. I am looking quite adorbs if I do say so myself. When I saw my reflection, I couldn’t help but smile and think, “Hot damn, I’m a bit sexy.”

Ever have those days? When you just KNOW you’re beautiful? Today was one of those days for me.

It’s hard to believe that just yesterday I was having a mini-meltdown in my cubicle over my “happy weight.”

I stumbled across a certain “fitness and well-being” magazine’s website yesterday (and no, I’m not going to tell you which website it was or which magazine. I don’t want you going through the same crap I did. AND DON’T GOOGLE IT. SERIOUSLY. Save yourself.) They had a feature that, at first glance, looks pretty decent. It’s called “Your Happy Weight.” When I clicked on it, I was pleasantly surprised with it. They start out talking about how we women tend to diet and exercise to get down to a certain unattainable number and we beat ourselves up over never getting there. At this point I was like, “Yeah! Totally! What’s your solution?” And their solution is your “happy weight.” They had a calculator which, if you entered in your height, weight, build, and gender, would offer up your “happy” weight — that is, the weight you should try to attain in order to be comfortable and “happy.”

Well, at my current weight, I’m pretty peachy. But, in a moment of weakness, I second-guessed myself. I’m happy at my weight, I thought, but what if I’m not at my “happy weight” and I’m still happy? That wouldn’t be okay, would it?  I decided to enter in my information just to make sure I was indeed at my happy weight.

I’m sure you can guess where this is going.

According to this website, I need to lose over 30 pounds to attain my “happy weight,” which would put me at a weight I haven’t seen since 6th grade, BEFORE I HAD MY PERIOD. YIKES.

My heart sank to the floor. How am I ever going to lose 30 pounds, I wondered sadly. It will never happen. Even when I was 15 pounds lighter than I am now, at the peak of my eating disorder, everyone told me I was too skinny and looked sick. But evidently I can’t be happy unless I lose 30 pounds…

Wait. What?

LINDSAY! WAKE UP! A website calculator has no authority over your “happy weight.” Your happy weight is whatever weight you decide it is, not some Interwebs bot!

And, let me tell you what — regardless of what the scale said this morning, I will be at my happy weight today, tomorrow, and the next day. Not because of the three digits it reads, but because:

  • I know that it has no bearing what so ever on my self-worth.
  • I know I am healthy.
  • I know I am lovely.
  • I know that regardless of it, I am loved by others and by myself.

What about you? Have you ever stumbled across an ideal weight calculator online? How did it make you feel?