Throwing Your Weight Around

Today’s view from my veranda is the garden my husband built me from repurposed lumber and an old door he got at a second-hand store. Over the weekend, I cleaned out the remainder of the garden, which consisted of a variety of tomato plants. They weren’t producing a lot and the tomato worms were having a party with the leaves, so I gathered them up and tossed them in the back part of our acre and let the worms have a field day. Meanwhile, I wait for the artichokes, lettuce, Brussels sprouts and greens to grow.

Recently in the news, late night talk show host James Corden responded to commentary about fat shaming by another talk show host that I choose not to mention. The host will be referred to as he-who-must-not-be-named, like in the Harry Potter books. My blog…my rules.

If you heard about the story, the other guy stated we needed to do more fat shaming in society. There was far more talk on his part but that about sums it up in the kindest way I can write.

Corden shared a rebuttal. I’ve always been a fan of Corden’s amazing musical talent and gift of gab, but he made me a bigger fan, pun intended, because of his eloquence. Pointing out to an adult male that encouraging fat shaming is another form of bullying is spot on.

Growing up, I was actually average weight. When I graduated from high school, I weighed 140 pounds at 5’9.” My parents went through a divorce when I was starting high school, but I still remained at a healthy weight. I played basketball, competed in speech, drama and one-act play competitions, and worked summer jobs as a waitress and then on the farm with family members, both in high school and college. If you look at the weight chart, you’ll see I was well under the healthy weight requirements suggested. I seem to remember the chart reading I should weigh between 128-168 and I think I may have peaked in college at 150. Women all over the south just fainted because I shared my weight range. Oh, I’m 55, for those women who were holding it together so as not to pass out the first time.

I remember when I looked at overweight people as a young teenager and in my early 20’s, I wondered how they got so large and let themselves go. I couldn’t really conceive it. Then life happened.

I’ve struggled with my weight my entire adult life. Wearing a size 8 wedding dress, I got married in my mid-20’s. A few years later at 27, I had a baby. I gained a significant amount of weight when I got pregnant and never really lost it, not because I wasn’t happy as a mother. Instead, I wasn’t happy as a wife, so I found solace in food. The weight literally kept piling on. I hadn’t seen 150 since my wedding.

A few years later, I went through a divorce, a bankruptcy, a foreclosure, and a move out of state and the weight actually came down. I found happiness in a new marriage, but this time I wore a size 14 instead of the size 8 from more than a decade earlier. A number of moves, new jobs, and other family challenges and the numbers began to climb once again.

I’ve had active moments. I’ve completed a half-marathon. I’ve trained with a heavy bag, building my upper body strength while getting rid of some frustrations. I’ve even worked out with the Wii, cursing the virtual assistant as I squatted, ran in place, and did lunges. I’ve owned treadmills, weights, and elastic bands. I currently have an exercise bike and an exercise ball in the spare bedroom.

I’ve yo-yo’d from 150-250. Yes. I have gained an entire young adult in my life, multiple times. And I’ve used self-deprecating humor to ease both my discomfort and that of others. I say I’m “twice the woman I used to be” or talk about the various sizes in my closet from 14-22.

I’ve never related to people who jump up and go for a run when they’re stressed. The last thing I want to do is apply more pain to my already out-of-shape body. Should I? Most definitely, yes. However, my choice tends to be to go in the kitchen and find the closest unhealthy snack I can find or cook something with the south’s favorite ingredients – butter and sugar. I’m a self-identified stress eater. If only my choices were a big salad with no salad dressing. I love salad but it’s not my go-to stress meal and probably never will be.

All this is to say, the struggle really is real for those of us who have been challenged with our weight most of our lives. I have yet to identify something in me that wants to continually maintain a specific diet, even though I truly know it works and that I should. I have moments when I look in the mirror and I’m good with how a look and then other times when I’m incredibly depressed about my body.

I admire those who are comfortable in their skin, whether it’s small or large. I have to admit that secretly I question if they really are comfortable since I can’t relate.

Will I always be overweight? I have no idea. What I do know is fat shaming is really not cool, even if you’re doing it to try and help motivate someone. As James Corden said, it doesn’t work.

I’ve had a lot of failures in my job, my marriage, and my parenting, but I’ve had far more successes in those areas, which is why this isn’t the easiest thing to admit. I know I’ve failed at weight loss/gain and I don’t like it. Will I do something about it? Absolutely. Will I be successful? Maybe. If I am successful, will I maintain it? I hope so. My track record would show otherwise.

So he-who-must-not-be-named will probably continue with the fat shaming and other people shaming that he is known for and it is his right to do so. Weight loss will be a challenge for a significant number of people around the world and not everyone will understand it. Could I “pull away from the trough” instead of eating? Yes. I hope some day to make those decisions easily. Until then, I await my garden of vegetables, yes, I do eat healthy more often than you might think. And as I gnaw on my next carrot or celery stick, I pray I’ll find the inspiration to do better with my body on a regular basis and not because of fat shamers. Here’s to a healthy mind, body and spirit.

The Buck Stops Here

The game cam caught this big guy in the backyard enjoying the corn we put out in our feeder. We occasionally see them during the day from the back porch but not often so it’s great to have eyes at night through another lens.

In seeing the buck and other deer on the game cam and on a camping trip we took over Labor Day weekend, it got me thinking about a phrase involving the buck from decades ago.

When President Harry S. Truman added the plaque to his desk at the Whitehouse that read “the buck stops here,” I wonder how many read it and took the words to heart?

In watching or reading the news these days, it seems we never fail to learn that someone has blamed others for their lack of success, their lack of commitment, their inability to keep their word, etc. From elected officials and celebrities to law breakers and company CEO’s and even others we see every day at work or elsewhere, no one seems to want to accept what happens because of their actions or the lack thereof.

Who wants to admit their failures and bad decisions? I certainly don’t but it’s really more of an internal battle for me rather than a worry about the consequences. I have certainly had to deal with decisions I didn’t like but I survived, far better than I thought I would.

It makes us feel uncomfortable to admit a decision was ours and we fear people will judge us for it. It seems easier to run away or cast blame on others, creating a smoke screen, rather than own up to something that didn’t work out the way we thought it would.

It’s easy to own our successes but owning our failures, not so much. If we can overcome the fear of the consequences we could face, we can get through it. And, yes, some of those fears might become reality, depending on what we’ve done. People might judge us, we might lose a friend, we might not get reelected, but we will know that the buck stopped with us.

Once we do own it, we give ourselves a chance to show our leadership, our courage and our ability to honor the word we gave in the first place. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll better understand how applying “the buck stops here” to our lives could be one of the most important things we ever do.

Picking your Battles

I was blessed this weekend with some amazing sunrises so let’s take a look before I get started with this week’s views from my veranda.

I’ve been blessed with a number of fantastic mentors in my life, offering advice to me whether I thought I needed it or not. And when you’re a young, know-it-all, even in your 30’s, you REALLY don’t want to listen to advice from someone in their 40’s. That’s ancient…says this now 55-year-old.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given was to pick my battles. As an athlete growing up, I still struggle with the concept but have learned through many trials and errors that it’s great advice.

As I sit on the back porch, watching the hummingbirds speedily flying around and determining which feeder they want to enjoy, the concept of pick your battles comes to mind. More times than not, I see a hummer fly up to get a taste of sugar water, only to be buzzed by a competitor then chased in what looks like a mid-air smack down across the backyard until they all run each other off before the next round.

Considering hummingbirds need to consume around half of their weight in sugar daily and they eat around five to eight times per hour, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me why they choose to fight when they really need to be saving up their energy and sit in one of five or six spaces in one of my feeders for a drink. Since I have four feeders, the birds have 22 different spots to sit on and reserve their energy and get what they need to survive.

It’s my view that the same goes for humans.

As I shared earlier, I was an athlete growing up, so I understand competition, especially in sports and even when applying for a job. You want to win!

To fight a battle just to be able to say you did is a competition in which we should choose not to partake. It’s not an easy lesson but an important one. Why? Because when a truly important battle finally arises and you’ve held off until the thing you’re passionate about comes up, your true desire to win will shine through. Those you are “battling” might just see your view and determine you should indeed win the battle and they might even join your side.

Or they might just surprise you and choose their own space and not get in your way at all, allowing you to accomplish what you were seeking all along. If hummingbirds can do it, why can’t humans?