Move it and Lose it: A Former Fatty on Going Lean

The word fat has been in my vocabulary since I was a child. I’m sure there was a time when I was small in size, but I don’t remember it. I was never a wisp of a girl, it’s not how I’m built. When I see pictures of myself in preadolescence, the first word that comes to mind is stocky. I’m reminded of an impish boy pointing at me on the playground, hismoveithotdog eyes flashing, as he sang, off key, the popular, Ball Park Frank’s jingle, “They plump when you cook ’em”. He wasn’t inaccurate. Plump. That’s me, for most of my life anyway.

I was a picky eater (read Gag me with a Dessert Spoon here) and gravitated toward sweets, salty, starchy, and fatty foods early on. I was introduced to diet and exercise for the purposes of weight loss in late elementary school by my mother and older sister. This was the beginning of my obsession with food and my weight, one that I’m still grappling with to this day.

I’m petite at 5′ 2″, but this word does not describe me other than my height, hands, and feet. I sported a Double D cup before hitting high school, not so sporty though, as my voluptuous Gals nearly slapped me in the face when I ran, something my younger brother told me was must see entertainment for the boys in my gym class. For most of my existence, my moveitscalestomach, back, and hips have been swathed in soft, jiggly, marbled flab. (Read A Reflection on Flab to see the progression of my thoughts on this subject, written 20 years ago here.) One of my strategies for holding my tattered self-esteem together in a culture that glorifies the slim was to stop looking at my body altogether. When I looked at my body, not only would I feel bad, but I would berate myself. A harmful practice, I decided it was better not to look. Consequently, I had no sense of my size, other than when I had to go shopping, a dismal activity I strenuously avoided. I’ve had periods of thinness, but because I’d developed the habit of not looking, I couldn’t recognize myself as thin and so never marked the occasion. Even though I swore I’d never return to my former fat self, giving my biggie-size clothes away, as so many experts suggest, I still ended up worse off than I started, a poster child for the truth that dieting doesn’t work.

I’ve been on the Cabbage Soup Diet, Weight Watchers, the Low Fat Diet, the Zone Diet, the GI Diet, and the Suzanne Somer’s Diet. I’ve also paired these diets with the latest exercise moveitrunnercraze: walking, jogging, cycling, aerobics, jumping rope, BodyFlex, strength training, pilates, yoga, swimming, and Spa Lady, a women’s fitness club. I’ve read everything there is to know about nutrition and exercise, searching for that one magical way of eating, that one transformative way of moving that would dump the blubber, the key that would unlock the smothered, thin girl inside of me.

After one traumatic period of my life, when I had eaten a hedge of protective heft around myself, up from an off-the-rack size 6 to double digits in a plus size store, even resorting to purchasing maternity clothes in an effort to get comfortable, I gave up. I resolved never to diet again, never to deprive myself of the foods I loved to look a certain way. Oh, I was on a diet; “the eat what you want, as much as you want, when you want” diet, my favorite diet thus far! It was during this time, when my life had seemingly blown up, that I decided a career change was in order and I trained to become a health care aide. I know. This choice makes no sense with the shape I was in, but, as you’ll see, it was truly a lifesaver.moveitsweets

I was hired fresh from graduation to work on the geriatric wing of my local hospital. It was there I realized that the body I fashioned out of sleeves of chocolate-covered shortbread wasn’t going to work for me long-term. Nursing is a physical profession. There’s a lot of walking, bending, and crouching with heavy use of one’s arms and hands. It’s also a very intimate work, where one comes close to others to wash stinky places and move body parts. I had patients commenting about my weight. I reached over one woman to roll her over in bed and she grabbed a generous handful of my “beef”, as she called it. Another women did the same and quipped, “You got a couple a spare tires there” to which I gamely replied, “They’re all season”. With all this jabber about my excess combined with the exhaustion I felt at the end of a shift, I embarked on another exercise program, thinking I better limber up and strengthen my body fast or be out on the injured list. I chose pilates, because there’s something so comforting about lying down to exercise, but even doing this, my knee started to give (read A Post on Pain here). My body had always worked well for me, but I’m getting older and this was the first painful yelp of complaint, the first sign that my body would not tolerate my disrespect any longer.moveitnurse

Yes, my body malfunctioning and the unfiltered comments from my patients were nudging me, but it was what I saw that spurred me to action. When obese, sedentary people enter the hospital, they can be as helpless as the frailest old person, even though they are younger by a decade or more. Unlike lean, fit folks who move with ease, obese, sedentary folks are weight lifting all day long, but they don’t have the muscle to do the job. I’ve had people ring me to move things on their side tables because they couldn’t or didn’t want to lift their arms. I’ve watched them walk 20 steps to the dining room using a walker, winded, with the coordination and balance of a toddler. I’ve hoisted their middles to soap them up in the shower and noted the chafed, rashy skin. I’ve wiped their bottoms after helping them off a jumbo commode, because they could no longer fit on a regular toilet. I’ve rolled them in bed to clean them up with the assistance of two or three others. What I saw drove home the point that I didn’t need a mirror and the willingness to look at myself anymore. I saw myself and my future, regularly, in full, fleshy colour and, I’m not gonna lie, it shook me up.

I do understand that there are active, overweight people that are healthier and fitter than sedentary, slim people and I’ve been one of these a number of times, but they’re the exception, not the rule. Some of you may be okay with being fat. I heard one pudgy lady say she’s “made peace with her body.” I’m not judging you. I’m speaking for myself. This is my story. For me, overeating, taking more than my body needs to function and thrive on a regular basis, is sin and this is the first time I’ve uttered these words, the first time I’m admitting that what I’ve been doing to myself is wrong. I’ve been abusing my body with food for over 40 years. I’ve allowed food, largely a dead thing that has limited moveitdonutability to help, to replace God in my life. When stressed or distressed or down, I don’t go to the one who made me and loves me. I don’t get on my knees, decompressing in the assurance of God’s omnipotent, benevolent presence. I bow down to the fridge or the pantry. I’ve been worshipping the created rather than the creator. I’ve taken that which should be used to nourish and fuel my body and turned it into an idol. I’ve dreamt about it, obsessed over it, measured, counted, and manipulated it, only so I could consume more and more. I’ve been eating and, subsequently, wearing my uncomfortable emotions instead of facing and feeling them, instead of giving them to God and it’s been weighing me down, holding me back, and killing me. I need a savior and it’s not food.

Certainly, I believe I should love myself as is right now, just as God does, and be gentle with myself, but I won’t accept my fat or tell myself it’s beautiful, as some are inclined to do. Nope. Not gonna happen. I’ve seen what it does to people. Obesity isn’t good.

Now, I don’t believe anyone should be shamed for being fat and I’ve tried to meet the many rude comments I’ve received with wit and forbearance. Nor, do I believe that anyone has the right to tell another person how to live. My flab is none of your business and vice versa. I’m choosing to forsake my flab, to fight it at every step, you may be choosing to embrace it. It’s up to each one of us to forge our own paths. So, to those who may be reading this who feel like it’s their duty to set all of us fatties straight by telling us to lose weight, please, keep it to yourself. Kindness is the order of the day and it’s mercifully calorie-free.

In the last three years, I’ve lost over 40 pounds. I still struggle with overeating. I long to experience healing in this area, but, at times, I feel it’s hopeless as the compulsion to stuff myself is overwhelming. I attribute any losses/gains I’ve made in this respect to God and his grace. Jesus died to release me from self-loathing and idolatry, to present me to himself, whole and healthy in every way, a fit vessel ready for service. I’m so grateful He made me look. I’m trying to nourish my body first, before I eat the junk food. I don’t believe any food is evil when it’s consumed as it was intended to be, with thanksgiving and in moderation. I’ve also started exercising regularly again, building up my strength and stamina. When I was younger, losing weight was always about how I wanted to look. moveityogaNow, it’s about how I want to move. Yes, something has finally trumped food in my life and it’s movement. I want to move freely, gracefully, without pain for as long as possible. My goal is simple and easy to remember. “Keep going”, I say to myself, as I stretch, walk, run, bike, lift weights, dance around my kitchen, hike up mountains, and help my patients. I echo the words, on a much smaller scale, of the apostle Paul in Philippians 3:13-14. I’m electing to forget my flab and move forward, straining toward what’s ahead, what I hope for, a future light on my feet full of glorious movement in all its forms, pressing on, always pressing on.

 

Posts come out when I feel like it. 😀 Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. I’m in the process of closing up shop on Instagram to focus on my blog and will be setting up a gallery page to showcase my photos. Thanks to those of you who’re reading this who followed me so faithfully, who liked and commented on my photos. Thanks for giving me some of your precious time here. Be blessed!

 

 

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Lessons from the Valley and the Mountaintop

Take control of me, Jesus. The current management is woefully incompetent.

Almost 6 years ago, I went back to school to change my career. To say I went back to school is incorrect, because I’ve been in school now for 52 years. The school of life is always in session. Life lessons are a moment by moment occurrence. If we’re aware, we’ll acknowledge the lesson, learn from it, and be changed for the better. If we go through life on autopilot, never recognizing what life is trying to teach us, we may IMG_8308someday regret our inattentiveness. Just as in school, there are some lessons we want to learn. We lap them up, like a parched dog slurping noisily at a water dish. We apply ourselves with every ounce of our time, concentration, and giftedness. Other lessons, we must push ourselves to learn. I have a friend who received a grade of 62% in one of his high school courses. Worried that this low mark would affect his chances of getting into university, he went to the trouble of taking the course again only to end up with 63%. I do find this humorous, but also baffling, because I get it. It’s true, some things we can only learn the hard way.

I learned a lesson recently. I’ve calculated that it took me roughly 40 years to learn this lesson. I know. Can my skull be any thicker? Life has been steadily knocking on my fortress of a forehead, but I’ve been disregarding, believing that this lesson didn’t apply to me. I’ve shared before that I struggle with self-care. You can read that post here. I blame the looming shadow of low self-esteem that I’ve allowed to hang around and cloud my judgement. For years, I’ve been going to bed without conducting any sort of self-care; just peel off the clothes, leave them where they fall, and fall into bed without another thought. In the morning, my makeup is smeared and scary, ground into the precious skin of my poor, undeserving face. I’ve been warned. My husband, in the last year, told me about a woman he read about who admitted to not taking her makeup off for 25 years (sadly, I have her beat). The reward for her negligence was tiny, hardened, jagged bits of mascara imbedded in her eyelids that were scraping her eyeballs! I was alarmed enough IMG_8311to take off my makeup for a few days, but, because it wasn’t my lesson to learn, it didn’t take and I went back to my slovenly ways. I’ve even had a number of eye infections over the years, but chalked it up to a strange occurence, like a UFO sighting, rather than identifying the problem which was me and my total disregard for my health. Then, a few months ago, I got a stye. If you don’t know what a stye is, according to Miriam Webster, it’s “an inflamed swelling of a sebaceous gland at the margin of an eyelid”. My eyelid went from slightly red and swollen to a ghastly, pus-filled tumor, the shade of expired Miracle Whip. It actually blocked my vision slightly. It didn’t seem to matter what I did with it, antibiotic ointment, hot compresses, lancing it myself at one point, it just wouldn’t get lost.

I’m vain. I like makeup. I look better with it on and, in turn, feel better with it on. This wretched stye hung on tenaciously for a grueling month, a month of naked eyelids and unenhanced lashes. Since my recovery, I’ve been meticulous in removing my makeup. I wish now that I had taken a picture of that purulent lesson at the height of its IMG_8315gruesomeness to remind me, because I hope I never forget. It concerns me that it took suffering to get me to change. I read a book that says so much of what we do is habitual. I have other unhelpful, damaging habits, yes, even perpetual pet sins, that I desperately need to ditch. Have I become a malfunctioning robot, glitching from one bad choice to another? Is there no way off this not-so-merry, merry-go-round? Am I doomed to mindlessly go through these detrimental motions till I seize up and die?

I have the same problem as Paul, as you, as every believer in the whole of history. I don’t do what I should do, what I need to do, what I wish and pray that I’d do. No, I do that which I shouldn’t do, which I loathe myself for doing. Paul has the only answer to this perplexing, vexing behavior in Romans 7:24.

“What a wretched man I am!” he says.”Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Jesus is the answer and rightly so. He shares his reason for coming  in John 10:10, that we might have a meaningful life, not an ineffectual, bitter existence marred by disappointment and failure, not a life where we toil and despair until we finally keel over. NO! A life blossoming, bursting with the ripe, luscious, life-giving fruit of his Spirit, a life so big and full of so much good, it can’t help but impact others.IMG_8320

If he came for this reason, surely we’re not left alone to put the puzzle together. 2 Peter 1:3, says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” This is why he sent his life, the Holy Spirit, to live in us. I read 1 Corinthians 6:19 and I’m sobered by the thought that my body is his temple, the place where he dwells in all his glory. I’m coming to the notion that neglecting myself is sin. My shoddy treatment of this extraordinary vessel supplied by my maker, meant for his abiding presence, is abominable. It’s like inviting the queen to live with you and not scrubbing your toilet, another thing I do only under great duress. The body we’ve been given is a blessing to be cherished and treated with respect and loving attention. If we don’t care for ourselves, how will we ever be capable of keeping the second greatest commandment, of loving our neighbor as ourselves? If I treat myself with indifference, what are the chances I’ll treat you any differently?

Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is not just lazing around inside of us, binging and watching Netflix. God is in the business of transformation and no matter how hard or boring it may be, self-control is a virtue, a sign that this same Holy Spirit who lives within us is doing his work. Romans 9:11 says, “if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you”. Think about what this verse is saying! We have the power that raised Christ from death to life living inside of us! What a breathtaking, IMG_8307extraordinary reality! Knowing this, I’ve often wondered why my self control has always been in such short supply. I’ve come to the conclusion that God does not transform people against their will. I have to want to be transformed. I have to immerse myself in God, praise his name, bask in his presence, feed on his word, run hard at his will, confess my sin, and petition and thank him. I have to live out the greatest commandment and love God with every beat of my heart, every breath, every thought, word, and deed. Only then will I experience the lasting, positive change I long for. It seems ironic that in giving up control, I’ll gain some in the end, but that’s the way God works. He doesn’t do things the way I do and with my lacklustre record, I’m so grateful for that!

Last year, I climbed my first mountain. I’ve lived somewhere in Alberta, the land of the Canadian Rockies, for almost 40 years. I thought about hiking, I wanted to do it, but like so many things, I never got around to it. One year for my birthday or Christmas, my husband bought me books filled with awe-inspiring pictures of mountains that listed and described in great detail all the hiking trails in Alberta and British Columbia. We never used them, not even once. I don’t even know where they are. Last spring, I met some folks on Instagram, of all places. They chronicled their adventures hiking up mountains every weekend. Their tales were inspiring, their pictures, glorious, and that old itch resurfaced. I started training my body, mainly to improve my level of fitness, but also because I wanted to achieve that dream, to climb a mountain. These people were welcoming and last summer, I bagged my first peak. With their guidance and encouragement, my count is now up to six. Why am I telling you this? Because I believe God put this desire in me to show me he has something better, something far grander in store for me. He’s always wooing me into the light and the fresh air, onto the solid rock of his presence. He’s calling me to leave behind my weakness and the squalor of sin, my baser, destructive self which is only capable of causing harm and to venture onto a higher plane, to dwell with him in radiant Christ-likeness on the pristine mountaintop of his love and to share in the fullness of his joy. Oh, there will still be struggles, thigh-burning, lung-busting, lean in and cling to the rock kind of moments, but he promises never to leave me. Just like my friends who lead me up to some of the most incredible places I’ve ever experienced, God wants to lead me into a life of self-control, patience, and faithfulness, and a life brimming with gentleness, kindness, love, joy, and peace, the life he had planned for all of us from the beginning of time, the best life one can live. I leave you with these verses. First, Psalm 121:1. “I lift up my eyes to the IMG_8319mountains–where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” And then the passages I chose to mark my wedding day, Hebrew 12:1-2a, as they are so appropriate here. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Now, I exhort both myself and you. Let us let go, my friends, look to the Lord, to the mountains, and run!

 

Posts come out when I feel like it. 😀 Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: @pollyeloquent2 and don’t forget to mention that you’re a reader. Thanks for your time!

 

 

 

Standing in the Storm

When most people think of Canada, they think of cold, ice, and snow. We specialize in winter up here. The province of British Columbia has milder temperatures the further south you go, but Canada is largely a chilly place for a substantial part of the year. I’mblizzard-91898_12802 from Alberta and winter can last close to six months with dumps of snow recorded even in the summertime.
Continue reading “Standing in the Storm”

Burn Away the Dross

Sometimes I wish I could pack up my feelings

Especially the ugly, hurtful ones

That scour my soul and leave me winded, raw, and wounded

I’d thrust them into the deepest trunkchest

And grunt and sweat to force their bulk

Into a forgotten place

I’d bury them under every meaningless piece of trash

I can’t bring myself to get rid of

 

headache-2058476_1280Sometimes I wish I could pinpoint those moments

The person, the voice, the scent that lingers

The triggers that slap my face and send me reeling

Pummeling me with those awful feelings

Those ugly, hurtful, persistent feelings

That scour my soul and leave me winded, raw, and wounded

I’d stay run away, move away, stay away if I had to

 

Sometimes I wish I could close up my being

And throw up a wall around my heart

To block the triggers, those stupid signals

That bring up the pain of those ugly, hurtful, persistent feelingsheart-1463424_1280

That scour my soul and leave me winded, raw, and wounded

But I simply cannot do it

Cannot lay down in the bitter cold

Cannot close up and get hard and old inside

So I writhe

In the flames

Alive and open

Complete the experience. Listen to for King & Country’s It’s not Over Yet.

Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: pollyeloquent. Thanks for reading. 🙂

Pieces

I’m starting to piece my past together

                And at this point

I’m wondering

If my past should have been left in pieces

                                                   When I open up the wounds of my past

I suffer again

Having gained an understanding of why I suffered

It’s painful

But worth the pain

I think

    Understanding leads to forgiveness and healing

Healing is about wholeness

                                                                                      It’s about picking up the pieces

And putting them back together

One shard at a time

Fashioning something new

                     That glitters

When the light hits the jagged edges

 

Complete the experience. Listen to Gungor’s You Make Beautiful Things.

Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: pollyeloquent. Thanks for reading. 🙂

 

Keep on Dancing

I see you there

Your glossy, pale hair swaying to the music

You pose and leap and glide

With every movement comes the sweetest smile

Such visible enjoyment

You are graceful for your four young years

So new and innocent and free

Oh, little ballerina

Let me offer you a small piece of advice

Keep on dancing

As the years beat on in time

Be flexible, be fluid

When the spotlight shines

Take joy

Stretch out

Reach up from where you are

Become the shooting star that you were meant to be

But never soar so far that you will not be ready

For when the floodlights shut their eyes

And sure as death they will

And suffering strikes an errant chord

You must not fall

Do not give up, do not lay low

By all means, wrestle with your grief and take your rest

Then go

For life is in the movement

A waltz with pain produces beauty

Only if you

Keep

On

Dancing

Complete the experience. Listen to Mandisa’s Overcomer.

Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: pollyeloquent. Thanks for reading. 🙂

 

 

A Birthday Grief

So far the days have strayed since when we were together
Oh, how the hours have flown since I last held your hand
I long to hear your voice and trace your face and hold you nearer
And wish to never lose you again
Now time is marking days we spent in celebration
But in your absence, I am at a loss for joy
The day that you first graced this place, now a reminder
That you will tarry elsewhere evermore
Oh, God, who watched his closest friends desert, betray him
Oh, God, who died alone in agony
Oh, God, I clasp your promises in weakness and hang my head in heart-sick misery
I plead, though feebly, with the psalmist
Come satisfy as only you can do
I stumble onward, tearful, faithful, and in earnest
And trust that you will see me through

 

Author’s Note: This poem was written for a friend who lost his spouse.

Complete the experience. Listen to Danny Gokey’s Tell your Heart to Beat Again.

Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: pollyeloquent. Thanks for reading. 🙂

A Reflection on Flab

Can fat people go skinny dipping?

What is flab? According to the Websters Dictionary, flab is defined as, excessive, loose, or flaccid body tissue. How boring. I can do better than that. What is flab according to Polly? How about jiggly jelly rolls, great gelatinous mounds of flesh, or excessive excess?
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I Wanna Hold Your Hand

I had a moment this past Saturday; a remarkable moment. We inhabit our moments, or minutes, and many of them whiz by us without too much notice. This reminds me of something that happened to my husband recently.
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Coming Back from the Dread

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)

Years ago, I worked as dental assistant. I handed instruments and materials to the dentist while he worked, took x-rays and impressions, and suctioned a lifetime of other people’s dentistry-316945_640spit, but the bulk of my work was cleaning; scrubbing blood and saliva off of instruments, bagging and sterilizing them and disinfecting all surfaces in the dental operatory between patients. I find cleaning grueling and so avoid it, certain that I don’t want to spend my diddly allotment of time here elbows deep in a pail of bubbles and that regret over a spattered mirror won’t haunt me on my deathbed. Consequently, this job was not a good fit for me. Over time, and I lasted almost six years before taking maternity leave, I descended into dread. Every day I had to work, I woke up with it sticking to me like sweaty sheets. There was a brief reprieve on the weekend, but its sour stench returned promptly on Sunday evening whenever I had to work Monday morning.

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