Wednesday, July 29

Some last minute thoughts (ok, ramblings) before SheSpeaks

Well, today is the last day I have to get ready for the SheSpeaks conference. I fly out in the morning and have to do laundry before I can pack. I'm out of clean bras again.

But you know me, I have to have the last word! I want to write a letter to any potential publishers and agents that may check out my blog after I meet with them this Friday. Knowing me, my brain will be on overload and I won’t be able to form a coherent sentence during the weekend to update OSCBB. So I better speak up now while my coffee is running thru the veins full throttle!

Please, Shrinkites, feel free to comment at the bottom and add anything to this letter that you feel I may have left out. Ok, here we go!

To whom it may concern:

This is a letter to introduce myself. My name is Charlie, and I have a book I desperately wish to have published. In fact, I have 2 manuscripts, but I am not greedy enough to suppose I could score more than one. Moderation is the key in all situations. In fact, you may have noticed that my rambling during our meeting on Friday proved that I hold common sense in moderation as well. You’d be right. Although truth be told, I have plenty of common sense. I just lack the judgment to use it.

Like yesterday. I knew my tummy was rumbling like fiery coals in a pressure cooker, yet I chose to run errands anyway, against my better sense of judgment. When I got a mile from Office Max, I realized that I was probably going to have to have the van seat cleaned if I didn’t find a bathroom soon. So I pulled into our local farm store- the one with the bathrooms right near the entrance. It was a perfect plan. But I didn’t use common sense and account for errors. While I appreciated the fact that the 80 year old gentleman was cleaning the bathrooms for my satisfaction and comfort, I was unable to see the benefit right at that moment. Nor did my backside, which was beginning to reach the point of “no returning to this store.” When I found a cashier and asked if there was another bathroom available, she (using her own common sense) sweetly led me up a flight of stairs to the employee area. She took pity on me, as I was delicately walking with one hand on the railing, and the other hand clutching my backside with all intention of corking things up till I got into the bathroom. The moment I hit the toilet, I realized that perhaps I should demonstrate greater common sense in the future.

And I can. I can demonstrate it- I think. I'm pretty sure there is a remote possibility that I can show at least some common sense. And I can be normal. Part of the fun of who I am is that I get into Lucille Ball type situations trying to do things the way I consider normal should be. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe my normal isn’t so normal after all.

Like my attire for the weekend. It’s all polka dots, every day. Now, it’s not even that I like polka dots. I kinda do, I suppose, but I had to figure out how to look normal among a world of put together polished girls that understand fashion. Real fashion. As for me, I consider my sneakers with the skull shoelaces and my Operation Shrink Charlie’s Big Butt T-shirt with logo completely appropriate for church. Also the white skull I have painted on my Bible cover, with reference to Romans 6:23-for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life- well, I consider that normal and fine too. I would have been more than happy to dress in all 1950’s dresses with cherries on them for the conference, with tattoos fully hanging out. But I’m not going to do that. I am playing it safe with polka dots. All my tattoos are hideable (I knew I could demonstrate common sense somewhere!) and I fit in. Sort of. And frankly, after you read this blog and decide to give me my rejection letter face to face, I’ll be easy to find. Look for lots and lots of dots. Even normal with me is spotty.

BUT- before you give me that rejection letter, I would like you to consider something you may not think about otherwise. I would like for you to think about all those women who actually “get” me. The chicks who understand that my life is crazy and love me anyway. The gals who breathe a sigh of relief after reading my stuff and say “Thank heavens I’m not the only one!”

I don’t know if you have thought about this, but there are millions of us out there. Those of us who don’t fit in. Or if we do fit in, it’s in clothes that we really don’t want to be wearing. These women, the ones who are just like me- those are the ones that will buy my book, should you choose to publish it. I’m not talking about the crazy girls with tattoos. (But you girls know who you are!!!) I’m talking about every woman who has ever felt “less than.” All the girls out there whose life wouldn’t make the cover of a magazine. The ones who struggle with faith, fat, and fear. Those are the women I write to. The women reading this blog, same as you, are my passion. I love them more than they realize! I love them so much that I tell them the truth. About EVERYTHING. Even the ugly stuff.

And they, for some reason unbeknownst to me, listen to what I have to say. Sure, part of it is because of my story telling, and the funny stuff I can’t help but have happen. But another part is because they want to see how someone else- with the same struggles they have – can live an authentic life. One that isn’t perfect or pretty, but is full of joy. That finds the sunshine in the midst of the storm. A life that doesn’t give up, even when things are hard.

No, I am not your typical “Sweet Jesus Girl” author. I am probably going to refer to boobs as blessings in cups and mention periods and talk about my faith being like a tampon passed underneath a bathroom stall. I will probably put on a girdle in front of them (over clothes, of course) to demonstrate being girded in the truth as Ephesians 6 talks about. But wouldn’t that be a breath of fresh air for your publishing company and agency? To find someone who reaches women who are tired of listening to messages that make them feel worse than when they started? To give the someone who makes those women laugh so hard they cry, a chance? To let someone who is committed (in more ways than one) get a shot at doing something she loves to do? You can find a million Sweet Jesus Girls out there, but there is only one Charlie. (can I get an amen?)

I hope that after reading this blog, you reconsider me for a contract. Cause I would love that. Then my darling husband would relax about the fact that I have a deep set need to write without payment for hours upon end. And I can justify my writing habit. Just know that even if you don’t offer me a contract, that won’t stop me from writing. Not now, not ever! It’s too late for that. To quote my bloggy buddy Marybeth Whalen, I will do it for “The Write Reason.” I am writing for HIM.

I cry out to God, my God, who fulfills HIS purpose for me. Psalm 57:2

Marching into my Jericho-
Charlie Hester
Emerging Author, Speaker, and all around Humorous Gal with a shrinking Butt

Committed to sharing laughter and the joy of the Lord to women everywhere!

Thursday, July 23

The Headcase gets a Headshot

Headshots. Nothing strikes more fear into this woman than that word. A picture, that is supposed to be the best possible representation of your face, to be plastered on everything that you give away to potential publishers, editors, and agents. Hardly a small matter. And so, our story begins.

My husband took the last round of headshots about 6 years ago. Back before I had wrinkles and bags under my eyes. Before my son learned to talk and tell people at church “I eat danger for breakfast.” Yes, my face has matured over the last few years, and it was time to update the headshot. Especially when preparing for SheSpeaks. You all understand, faithful readers that you are, that the body is transitioning, but I’m not entirely ready to share the true Charlie with the world. With you guys, it’s fine. After all, we have been through a lot together. We are like family. Sort of. Anyhoo, I can show you what I look like because you have seen the BEFORES. Someone else who has no idea what my journey has been like can’t appreciate the less fuller body of one scatterbrained emerging author. So in usual Charlie form, I panicked.

Matt was going to take them, but we no longer have the lighting props that we need to really take a professional quality picture, and by the time he gets off work daylight is fading, causing shadows to emerge. No one likes shadows on her baggy undereyes, which only adds insult to injury. One of my friends and classmates, Theresa, offered to take the headshots for me. She has a side hobby of photographing weddings, so I was in good hands with her.

As for my own hands…not so good. For starters, remember that zit on my chin I talked about in “Charlie the Kid Sticks it to Yoga” on July 5th? Yeah, it is July 23rd that zit is still on my chin. Plus another one is orbiting the mother zit just to the right. Yes, I know that is what photoshop is for. But still, it worries me. The conference is in 6 days and I am still carrying a double chin of the close encounters kind. It is amazing how much makeup one can pile on a chin, to the inch factor. Was it still there? Yes, but it was blended nicely. It almost looked like a beauty mark that was flesh colored.

Then there is the issue of a clean bra. Why a clean bra for a picture you ask? Ah, for the simple fact of something that plagues blessed women everywhere. It was hot and I wasn’t going to risk a case of “Swamp Boob.”

Swamp boob is a condition that is caused by sweaty undersides of your girls that rub against a bra, creating the stories that friction is made of. It leads to rashes, breakouts (yes, zits on your ti…um, boobs) and of course a funky smell that can only be described as GROSS. By wearing a clean bra each and every day, one can avoid swamp boob, and can also keep it at bay by applying deodorant under each one and around the band area of your bra.

So in searching for a clean bra, I realized that I am weeks behind on laundry. It has taken a back seat to writing and homework. The only clean bra was my black “date night push up” that gives me cleavage up to my chin. Ahem. Chins. Granted, I was taking a headshot, but inevitably, the chest area would have to be documented, and looking like a big breasted hooker is not the image one needs to portray when trying to become a Christian author. Oh, well, at least it would draw attention away from my massive zit.

With pushup in hand, I went to the bathroom to apply deodorant to the bra and pit areas. When I started to put it on, it broke, fell out of the container, and all over the bathroom sink. Which had toothpaste glopped in it from the kids, leaving the deodorant crumbles un-usable. My only other option was Speed Stick for men. Considering my level of desperation at that moment, I was counting my blessings that the pictures were not scratch and sniff. Slapping on the speed stick, and feeling like a sexy man, I grabbed the pushup and began the arduous task of getting into my bra.

I am old school when it comes to wrestling the girls in their harness. I begin by turning the bra inside out, and putting the cups on my lower back, hooking it near my belly button. Then I slide it around, cups facing front, and pull it up into the correct position, lifting and tucking and yanking to get the girls settled in. I’m sure if you are a woman, you have used this method at least once in your life. You understand. If you are a man, you have already quit reading by this point, so no further explanation is needed. It was during this process of lifting, tucking and yanking that the unthinkable happened. I snapped a strap.

Not only did I snap a strap, but the strap, which was under a tremendous amount of pressure, snapped with such force that it flew up and hit my already baggy undereye. Which proceeded to water and sting like a “mother scratcher.” (I don’t like to swear. Alternate words are far more fun anyway!) Which made my mascara run like Alice Cooper, which ruined the perfect finish on my blush which ruined my base, which destroyed the house that Jack built. And I was back to square one. With 20 minutes before I was to go meet Theresa.

Trying to thread a needle with one eye watery is next to impossible. So instead of messing with it, I decided to grab the beige “date night push up” that was also clean. Which meant that the outfit I had chosen would no longer work, and I needed to adjust the wardrobe. While applying makeup, I was also ironing my favorite white dress with the little black polka dots. As I smoothed the skirt to iron it, I forgot I had just put on concealer with my finger, and put a lovely spot of Light/Fair on the middle of the skirt. In panic mode, I grabbed the Clorox bleach pen, and hit the spot as fast as I could. Which caused the black polka dots to disappear.

There I was, applying mascara with one hand, and using a Sharpie marker to re-polka dot the dress with the other, and cleavage up to my chins. A fantastic start to my authorial debut.

Over all, Theresa did an amazing job with the pictures, considering what she had to work with. And if you look closely at the final shot, you can see that one eye has a bag under it that is bigger than the other. You can also see the mound on my chin. Flesh colored it is, but a mound none the less. Sigh. I am a mess. A holy mess, but still, a mess of epic porportions.

Who knew that getting a headshot would be such a headtrip?

Sunday, July 19

I have Confidence?

In keeping with the preparations for my big conference in 11 days, I want to continue on a similar vein of thought as the last blog: personal introspection. You see, as I have been blogging and writing and exercising and dieting, this whole time something big has been changing in me. I am still figuring this one out, but I am learning something I never realized before. It is time for me to stop buying in to the “fat chick syndrome,” and I think this in an important step that we all need to do. Perhaps I should explain…

Fat Chick Syndrome: (Noun) (Entirely made up by me, of course) The chronic idea that we are less capable than other women, even though technically we are more. (Sometimes according to the scale- substantially more!) This plagues women of any shape, and is dependent upon who they are standing next to at any particular moment. It dwarfs any compelling attributes a girl might possess (brains, talent, skill, etc.) and zones in on the size of her thighs, buttocks, and post pregnancy belly that never bounced back, leading to instant meltdown of mental capacities and often crying while running to the bathroom to compose one’s self. This syndrome is highly volatile, and when mixed with PMS can be deadly to anyone standing close or within cellular signal range. FCS can lead to loss of dreams and/or hope, and lack of self-esteem. Side effects may include ravenous cravings for chocolate, Twinkies, and ice cream directly from the carton, and could lead to weight gain, which does nothing but only frustrate the problem further.

Now, this is the dilemma. I am supposed to walk into a conference with 575 other women, be myself, and be confident. Mathematically this is utterly impossible. Standing next to a size 4 (who probably ate a pound of bacon for breakfast) immediately causes me to feel that I am less of a woman. So am I less capable because of what I look like?

The idea of body image has been so engrained into our psyches from an early age that it's pathetic. Let’s take a look at the toys we played with as children. Like Barbie. You may have read this before, but if Barbie was a real girl, and not a doll, she would be 5ft9, and have bust-waist-hip measurements of 36-18-33.* On a side note, she would not have enough fat in her body for periods, so there’s a bonus with no strings attached (groan), but over all, this is a ridiculous image that we give girls from the time they are 3. We all have bought into this lie, that Barbie’s are the pretty ones. They can have fat friends, but Barbie gets the dream car, the dream house, the dream guy…you get the idea.

A few years ago, the movie Hairspray came out, and just like every teen sensation movie, dolls were made for the masses. The main character is Tracey Turnblad, who is a heavy set girl like the majority of us. And her doll was manufactured accordingly. As you may expect, these Tracey dolls, plump and plastic, ended up on the clearance rack at your local Walmart. Why? Because nobody plays with the fat girl.

So this is the stereotype we are facing. Even now, 55 pounds smaller, I had a woman, bigger than me, who overheard me talking in an office one day last week. I was sharing about the blog, and made the comment that I was the pied piper of fat chicks everywhere. She immediately looked me up one side and down the other, then asked, “Yeah, but what do you consider fat? You aren’t fat at all!” And her Fat Girl Syndrome kicked in.

Immediately, I whipped out before pictures and smoothed it over, showing her I was once fat myself, and really am mentally still a fat girl, because as long as there is a place called Hollywood, I will always be bigger than someone. And chances are someone will be bigger than me. And we will always struggle with feeling inferior.

I am not going to look at the spiritual side of confidence at the moment. I may save that for another blog entirely, but Isaiah 32:17, Jeremiah 17:7, and especially 2 Corinthians 3:3–5 have wonderful truths about having confidence in the Lord. I hope that if you are curious about them, you will seek these scriptures out and discover the confidence one can have in the Lord.I know full well that I indeed have that confidence in the Lord and His plan for my life. There is no shred of doubt about that.

What I don’t have is confidence in is myself. I have this wonderful self destructive nature that thwarts any plans laid out before me. And I owe it all to Fat Girl Syndrome.

How can one overcome this awful affliction that we so quickly pick up? Inferiority is a complex beast, and we will never please everyone. It’s just not going to happen. However, with some careful observation, we will see that this syndrome gives us a distinct advantage over those we are standing next to.

I don’t know about you, but having been a lifelong fatty, I have really had to work hard on my skills, talents, etc. to overcome the competition. (Please note, the girls I am going to the conference with are not my competition. They are sweet sisters in Christ that I cannot wait to get my hands on and hug and love, just like I do all of you! This is not a game to be played, but real lives and feelings we are talking about) That being said, my confidence can be found in this way. THEY ALL FEEL THE SAME WAY. Every woman feels inferior when surrounded by other girls. It is our nature.

So, instead of shirking away from the fact that we are all scared out of our wits that someone is better than us, I say: LET’S EMBRACE IT! Let’s learn from one another. Instead of ending up in the gossip trap where we tear apart the other’s hair style, outfit choice, or various other outside characteristics, we- as a collective group of women- must commit to building one another up. Being transparent and honest. We need to be real.

Because the reality is that I will not be the most talented girl in the room. I will not be the most funny person there. I won’t be the thinnest or the prettiest. But I will be the only girl named Charlie with a blog about her huge butt and how she is shrinking it. I will be the only one there with a manuscript called “My Thinking Cap Ran out of Batteries” that discusses the implications on my faith when Tim took a carton of ice cream to pre-school in his backpack. No one else can do those things. Fat or not, I’m bringing something besides junk food to the table.

My plan of action is to find a woman who is hiding in the corner at the conference, or running to the bathroom with tears streaming down her face because of Fat Girl Syndrome, and help her feel confident again. I will talk, laugh and pray with anyone that looks like they need a friend or a kind word. I will remember it is only by the grace of God that I have been able to overcome the syndrome myself, and maybe I’ll get to tell my story to a woman who has lost her hope. Whose dreams are slipping through her fingers. Who has given up, just like me a year ago.

Confidence has nothing to do with our size. It has everything to do with our willingness to go the extra mile and show a sister a little compassion. To be a friend. Not a Polly Esther kind of friend, but a real breathing person who takes your hand and reminds you that you aren’t alone.

So beat that, Barbie.

Lord, M.G. Forever Barbie: The Unauthorized Biography of a Real Doll. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1994.
O’Sickey, Ingeborg Majer. “Barbie Magazine and the Aesthetic Commodification of Girls’ Bodies.” On Fashion. Ed. Shari Benstock and Suzanne Ferriss. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1994.

Friday, July 17

She Diets and She Speaks

Many of you who follow me on FaceBook know that I have been preparing for my conference called “SheSpeaks.” You may even recall that I wrote a blog entry to try and get a scholarship for this conference (Post entitled Scholarships, Walls, and Tampons- A Very Charlie Message). I didn’t win the scholarship, but was still able to squeak out the registration fee and am leaving for the conference which is being held in North Carolina in a mere 13 days.

SheSpeaks offers me a chance to do what I love doing- hone my writing and speaking skills so I can be more effective when I have the opportunity to reach out to other women. It has been a whirlwind of preparation these past couple of days, and the preparations are far from over, but I wanted to take a few minutes and talk to you about some of the issues I have been grappling with as I get ready to put myself out there in front of speaker evaluators, publishers, and literary agents. This is big stuff, folks, and it is a huge deal for me. Anything that is a huge deal to me means that you get to be a part of it. I am committed to taking you with me on my journey, wherever it leads. And for those of you who just read for diet ideas and help, stick with me. I am going to talk about my faith in this one, but trust me, it is all connected.

So we shall look at this whole thing and see if we can’t work out some of the insecurities that I am facing. Don’t you feel privileged to be in my inner circle? Here we go. Brace yourself for a whole lot of ugly, folks.

I am NOT like other women. This may come as quite a shock to you all, but I am extremely unconventional. (I feel shocked!) I also fall into the category of wacky, unconformist, and well, just plain Charlie. I would like to say that I don’t care what others think about me, but in reality- I do. I have suffered from very low self esteem in the past, and continue to struggle with that even now. To a much lesser degree of course, but even so- I am not the sweet darling little Christian girl who talks about love and rainbows and happy stories about angels. I am the woman who has been saved from hell and herself by the skin of her teeth, who is honest and real about her catastrophic life and decisions. I continue to make God call me His “Little Wild Child.”

For those of you out there who maybe don’t know Christ, or know Him because of the healing blood He poured out, this lack of “religiocity” may be quite comforting. You aren’t going to get lectures from me about the need for Christ in your life. What you will get is a darn good story about the radical changes that Christ can do in your life from a firsthand perspective. And I’ll probably say “crap” at least once during the talk. It’s not going to be a churchy message, but I promise it will be a message you will remember forever, and in your darkest hour, you may recall that I was once in the pit where you are and told you how I got out. That is my prayer.

Now, not every good Christian girl can or will embrace my method of preaching. And that is a huge concern for me. In the past, I would have become the chameleon, the person who morphs her message to appease the church crowd. Tweeked her message to fit in. I would have dressed up the JC Penny collection to look more like I belong to Rodeo Drive.

This is where you all come in.

One of the greatest gifts I have received from our bloggy relationship is that I have learned the power of gut wrenching honesty. The hardest thing I have done lately was to start giving you real numbers about what I weigh, and as you may recall, the number wasn’t under 199. Friends, family, and even old friends from high school read this blog, and it was one of the scariest moves I made. But the reception I received far outweighed what I weigh. I found that you all became closer to me, you related, and you accepted. In fact, after my bold move of being real and transparent, my numbers of readers actually went up. (BTW, here’s a shout of love to my readers in Lexington KY! You all know who you are!!!)

My goal at this conference is not to become who I am not, but to embrace who I am. I am not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and that is fine with me. That doesn’t mean that I should change anything about me or my message. God didn’t give me another person’s story to tell. He gave me the message of how I was an obstinate girl who ran away while He stayed hot on my trail chasing me down. (What an awesome love story!) I intend to stay true to that story. Maybe it’s a good thing I am NOT like other women. How fun would that be, anyway?

Now, another thing I am stressing over is the fact that I didn’t hit my goal for July yet. I am 183.6 today. I am 3.4 pounds and 14 days away from the end of July, when I wanted to be in the land of the 170s. After reading the last blog, I know my tendency is to drop 9 in 2 weeks and then get stuck. But I have been slacking a little on the exercising lately. I’ve still been walking 5 miles a week, but I have not been going the “extra mile” like I should be. I really need to push myself, but I have been justifying it because I’m so gosh darn busy right now. I need to balance getting ready for this conference and making sure I stay true to the weight loss, which is not a selfish thing at all. Losing weight was something God asked me to do at the beginning of the year.

Many of you have heard this story already, but God asked me to lose the weight because He said “It can’t go where I want to take you. No one will believe that I am King of your life when it looks like you only serve Ben and Jerry’s.” No, God didn’t SPEAK those words out loud, but it was the whisper of my heart. I think this is what’s different about dieting now and why I am finding success. This is about more than fitting into a size 8 for me. It’s about trusting God to work in my life on something I could NEVER EVER do on my own. Learning to let go of what I considered normal (fast food, donuts, cookies) and letting a new normal come over me (fruit, veggies, whole grains) and embracing the adventure of change.

Something I am going to be very careful of is what I eat at the conference, and finding time to exercise. I am taking the staple (Fat Girl Yoga DVD for the mornings) and will see if any of the other girls want to walk at night. (Maybe I can start some satellite OSCBB walking groups and send them out across the country. Coming soon to a city near you!) One of the hilarious parts of this whole trip is that we had the option of putting our blog name under our own for the nametags. Of course, that made me giggle and snort, because having the words Operation Shrink Charlie’s Big Butt below my own is hilarious. And helpful. I’m counting on girls to watch me as I fill my plate at meal time, and question me on my choices. Accountability abounds!

And finally, as you all remember, my goal at 175 is to quit smoking. That has been the plan for 7 months now, and I am almost there. But not yet. Instead of pushing myself to hurry the process along, and quit before I go so I am thoroughly a wreck, I have opted to go as I am, Camel Menthol Lites and all, and enjoy the conference instead of going through nicotine detox while trying to be professional. I will take a patch to cut down on the day time breaks, but at night, this is still who I am. I am praying that these wonderful girls will understand, and support the fact I am working on food first, smokes second. If they don’t, I’m sure they will let me know. But I am open about it, am not going to hide it, and am secretly hoping I will find one other closet smoker in the group. (Horrible, I know, but still…everyone needs a buddy.) (If you are going to the conference and are a secret smoker, email me ;) God isn’t coming down on me about it right now, and I am on tenterhooks that my conference mates won’t either. One major change at a time is more than enough to handle. And when I go back next year, I won’t be smoking. Or fat. Cause I’ll be at goal. And that is way under 175. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

SO that’s the stuff on my mind at the moment. A lot to try and chew on, but what else is new? I feel better when I get all my insecurities out in the open, because then I’m not hiding anything. If you are a person who prays, I would like to ask that you pray for me about these things: That I stay true to the person God made me to be and don’t give in to peer pressure of conformity, that I make healthy choices about food and exercise while I am there, that I won’t worry about the smoking for now, and I will be accepted for who I am at the moment and not have to feel like a leper.

On a positive note, I was really freaking about the clothes I would wear to the conference, but not for the reason you might think. We are supposed to dress “business casual” which poses a HUGE problem for me. Uh, all my business clothes are a size 24 or 26. I am much smaller than that now, and am not exaggerating when I say I had NOTHING to wear. And I can’t go in the buff and have all my tattoos showing, now can I? So I looked on a few clearance racks at the mall where a group of us OSCBB Danville girls walk, and would you believe I got 3 outfits for $40! Enough to last me the whole weekend! AND (wait for it) they were all in the Junior sections, and are either a junior XL or a size 14. Everything fits! And they are cute! The whole wardrobe was found in 20 minutes, so don’t think I was obsessing about what I should wear. I just needed something! But the options I found scream “Charlie” and I couldn’t be happier about it! Tonight I’ll have Matt take a current picture of me and let you see one of them. But I was totally excited that it all fell in my lap. What a great God thing to happen to a rock and roll girl like me.

I hope that you have enjoyed delving into another segment of “Charlie’s neurosis.” See, I am just like you! (Well, maybe different in some ways, but remember- all of us, even the skinnys, have issues.) What do you guys struggle with? I’m curious, and frankly, I don’t like feeling alone. Post something you struggle with on the comments. I bet that you aren’t alone either!

Still shrinking and stressing-
Your ole’ pal Charlie

Monday, July 13

The Weighting Game

OK, after almost 10 months of watching the scale, I once again am stuck. Sure, we could blame horror-moans, cheating, Twinkies, the Cracker Barrel, or a host of other things. But we won’t. I’m not even going to whine! (Well, maybe a little, but I will be subtle about it.) Today, we are going to explore 2 very different takes on plateaus, and how we can overcome them.

First we are going to look at the magical numbers of 4, 5, and 6. Your numbers might be different than mine, but everyone has 3 numbers. No, this isn’t numerology (sorry, John Travolta). These 3 numbers represent a place on the scale that my body hits and wants to stay. Yup, as if my period isn’t enough, I have yet another cycle to endure. The Weight Cycle.

I have no science or medical opinion to back me up on this whatsoever. And I’m not going to claim that I know everything about it. I’m just a 3rd party telling you what I have observed in my own diet life, and I bet you good money (or a lovely Crème Brule) that you have experienced it too. Here is what happens:

I hit 215. I spend the next 3 weeks to a month bouncing up and down between 214 and 216. I finally move past it, and I drop the next 9 pounds in 2 weeks. Then I hit 205. I do the same thing, moving between 204 and 206, struggling for almost a month, and dropping another 9 pounds in 2 weeks. I did the same thing at 195, exact same cycle, and now I am doing it again with 184-186. I saw 184.0 twice this month, then watched it billow back up to 186 point whatever.

I have a couple of choices here. First of all, this is what my body does. Although it is rather frustrating and annoying, I can embrace that my body loses about 10 pounds in 6 weeks. Then I go through the cycle all over again. I write about being stuck when I can’t take it anymore, and about that time I move into the next 10 pounds. I always attributed it to the blog, and that there was some type of mental release that happened and I broke through the plateau.

After a quick conversation from a weight loss guru today (she is a leader of a particular group, but I won’t name which cause this dieter doesn’t play favorites till I get some cash)(but this gal is fantastic!!!) I realized that I go through this every time I hit the numbers of 4, 5 and 6. Honest to goodness, gals, I experienced such a crazy sense of release about it! Maybe these plateaus aren’t due to my own inadequacies as a dieter. This is just another part of the dieting period we talked about a few weeks ago. And as long as I realize that’s what it is, I’ll be ok. I don't have to beat myself up or only eat broccoli for a week to overcome it. I need to ride the natural wave that my body goes through, and wait excitedly for the next 6 weeks to begin!

OK, there’s the first observation of plateaus. Completely rational and biologically sound, proven by the nature of the blogs that I write. (Seriously, feel free to look back and check the dates. It was freaky how I was diet cycling and didn’t even know it!) Now we move into the next phase of getting stuck, and I bet that we can all relate to this one too.

It’s about getting too comfortable. Here’s how it works:

You lose a bunch of weight, and although you aren’t close to your goal, people begin to notice. They tell you how great you look, and you feel fantastic. You feel so good, in fact, that one day of cheating won’t kill you. After all, you have looked in the mirror, and you DO look pretty great! And even after that day of cheating, looking in the mirror doesn’t seem to show any difference, so another day of cheating is just fine. Before you know it, a week of cheating has passed and 5 pounds is back. Well, you will work on it next week, right? But before you do, there are just a few more foods you want to indulge in… can I get an amen?

This is a really tricky place to be, and I admit that I am right there. With 52 pounds gone (yeah, I was only at 186 today. Stupid dieting cycle!), I look a lot different. People notice that something is different, and are amazed and proud that I have shrunk. Which is great! I thrive on the accolades of my family, friends, and random strangers who say “Are you the big butt girl I read about?” I love it!!! But that’s exactly the problem, because looking like I do now makes me feel great. What is tough is remembering that I still have more to go, and need to keep pushing. You can’t get comfortable with where you are.

Now, before you all come at me with pitch forks and torches, let me say something here. It is important to ACCEPT yourself, regardless of where you are. You need to find peace with your life, and if you don’t have that peace let me know. I’ll tell you how I got it. Yet there is a huge difference between acceptance and complacency. Acceptance says “I am here, and it’s ok for now.” Complacency says “I am here, and I’m ok with staying here forever.”

When we get full of all the complements and kudos, feeling comfortable and/or complacent isn’t much of a stretch. I often wondered how some people who lost a good amount of weight put it back on before they finished the weight loss journey. I think this is the reason.

So how do we fight that feeling of “this is good enough” that throws us in a tailspin? It is impossible to control what comes out of other people’s mouths, and you certainly appreciate those compliments that keep you going. On the other hand, you don’t want to smash every kind word into bits, or beat yourself up about not being at goal yet. Where is the balance between continued action and comfort?

It is found in the simple act of acceptance. This is who you are today. Yes, it feels really good to be here, but tomorrow, you will be in a new place. It won’t be like today, because you can keep trying for bigger (or smaller) and better things for your life. You aren’t the same person you were when you were 16, right? (I say thank heavens I’m different!) So why should you think that where you are today is the only place you’ll ever want to be? Even when you do hit your goal, there will be doors opened up to you that were once closed. Life is always changing, because we are always changing. Our Creator planned it that way.

I recently wrote a song about my own weight loss journey, and I think the 2nd verse expresses what I mean quite poetically. It says, “I accept enough to say that this is who I am, and I’m brave enough to say it’s time for a change. Even when I fall it forces me to stop and stretch my legs.” I like that part. It gives my moments of failure purpose, and when I can give them purpose and meaning, they aren’t failures at all!

I hope that you all have enjoyed exploring these plateau pains with me, and I hope that they help in your own journey. I love getting all this mess out in the open and hashing things out with you. It really does help me- more than you all probably realize- and your faithful reading keeps me trucking toward me goal and reaching for the 48 pounds I have yet to go.

So don’t be surprised if you see me in public and say “Hey, you’re looking good” if I reply like this: “Thanks! I feel great. But just you wait till you see me 6 months from now. You’ll really be surprised at how much I’ve changed then!”

The only comfortable thing I’ll be wearing for the next 6 months are my yoga pants.

Sunday, July 5

Charlie the Kid Sticks it to Yoga

I don’t know how I do it. Sometimes it’s like I speak a prophetic word over myself. 2 posts ago I mentioned the idea that a skinny girl worries about the underground zit forming in her chin. While I am far from skinny, I now have that zit. Right in the center of my chin. Nice. Just earlier today, I posted a whiny blog about my cheating nature over the weekend, and closed it by telling you that I “will be working extra hard this week to get back on track. Which is a greater probability for something totally ridiculous will happen to me and ya’ll will get the funny blogs you love so much.” I should never have said that because, wouldn’t you know, that I spoke more truth with that sentence than you could possibly believe. Perhaps I should start from the beginning…

So just a couple of hours after I posted the last blog, my neighbor went on a date with her hubby, and we took on her sweet daughter for the evening. Her name is Gabby, but in this house, we call her Fred. Poor thing started out with a bit of a lisp, and couldn’t pronounce her ‘R’s very well. My husband thought it was so adorable, and he called her Fred just to annoy her and hear her say, “I’m not Fwed!” She has since outgrown the lisp, but the Fred remains.

Matt and Tim (our son) went fishing, while Fred and my daughters, Amy- who is 9, and Natalie, who is 8 like Fred, decided they wanted to do Fat Girl Yoga (a video I recommend every dieting woman purchases. Just My Size Yoga. Seriously, it is amazing!) in the living woom. I mean room. Sorry, Fred. As is the custom in our house when doing Fat Girl Yoga, we lit candles, turned the rest of the lights off, and spread out in our dinky living room. Fred and Natalie were in front, Amy and I scrunched against the couches in the back. And away we went.

The first few stretches went with no problems. Fred had never done the yoga before, but my girls were fantastic at encouraging her (bend your leg like this, Fred. There you go! Great job!) but both Fred and Natalie are rather clumsy. It’s adorable, really, because these are 2 girls that really understand each others’ physical limitations. And when one falls down, the other helps her friend up and doesn’t tease at all. It’s a friendship made in heaven for them. There wasn’t much falling down though, because the first 7 minutes are seated stretching. Hard to fall when you are sitting “Cris-cross Applesauce” on the floor. (For those of you over the age of 10, we are no longer to say Indian style because isn’t P.C. to our Native American brethren.) But once we moved into the next phase of Fat Girl Yoga, which was on our hands and knees, there was much falling down and giggling. And that was partly my fault.

Now you all know that I have issues with, uh, gas, but you may not know that I am the type of mother who seizes any opportunity to embarrass her children. So when everyone was stretching with our butts in the air, I let out this teeny tiny toot. Amy, who is practical, was horrified. Natalie, who is a drama queen, fell on the floor because she was sure that is reeked. She was right. And poor Fred, she fell on the floor because Natalie knocked her over. But when she realized her best friend’s mom had ripped one, she laughed and laughed. Finally, we all got our giggles under control and got back to Yoga-ing. We re-assumed the positions with our hind quarters flying high, and maybe it was the all the stretching previously, or maybe it was the pizza from yesterday causing a napalm reaction within, but I swear the next toot was at least 30 seconds long. Natalie, beyond embarrassed, swore she was adopted and I was not her mother, which is hilarious, because she is EXACTLY like me in every way. Right down to the drama and ability to cry in under 5 seconds flat. Fred’s eyes got as big as dinner plates, and she just wasn’t sure what to say. She wanted to laugh, but her friends weren’t laughing. How awkward! Amy said nothing at all, mostly because her nose had been closest to the source, and she ran to wash any air germs off of her face. (I told her to face the other way!) I, of course, was laughing to the point of snorting, which was not the best idea because it really was a foul stinker. But I love it when I can embarrass my kids. I only feel bad that Fred was in the crossfire. I bet she will always remember this day.

We all got back to Yoga, and finished the routine without further interruption. It was over, we were all feeling relaxed and stretched (and I felt de-gassed), and it was time to turn the lights back on. The girls all wanted to blow out the candles, which are on top of entertainment center, along with theatre memorabilia, pictures, and our son Tim’s beloved pet cactuses (cacti?) “6 shooter” and “Ole’ Western.” We got them a month ago, and they are in teeny tiny pots. Ole West hangs out in the corner right next to my favorite Caramel Corn scented candle, which we previously lit for Fat Girl Yoga.

I went to pick up the candle so that the girls could blow it out, and the spikes of Ole West must have stuck to the caramel corn wax when I set it back on the shelf before, because as I picked the candle up, Ole West came along too. Then he started to fall. Out of instinct to save Tim’s precious prickler, I tried to catch it by slamming my arm underneath the cactus against the side of the entertainment center. My depth perception must have been off, because Ole’ Western, still in his humble pot, ended up stabbing the side of my right arm with brute force, leaving 20 or so spines stuck deep my arm while still attached to Ole’ Western.

In a split second (and unwise) decision, my left hand automatically shot over to the right arm, grabbing the cactus to get it off, which caused another 5 of nature’s needles to be inserted into my left fingers. Finally, common sense came back, and I gently moved my right arm and left hand to let the cactus roll off of me. Thankfully it took the spikes with it. Unfortunately, Ole’ Western bit the bullet, and broke in half when he hit the back of the TV. Turns out he was rotten on the inside, which quite frankly explains his erratic and evil behavior. Even so, he is still fighting. He’s lying behind our television, where my darling husband is doing some fishing trying to retrieve the stupid thing, trying to avoid getting stuck himself.

I find it ironic that some of my best and funniest blogs end with a description of me taking 4 advil and having a diet coke. Tonight, I suppose I needed to shake things up, because I had 3 benadryl and some diet lemonade. My arm is sitting on a frozen bag of peas, and the swelling isn’t too bad. But my arm is sooooooo sore!

I had to break the news that I was unable to save Ole Western to Tim. I was preparing myself to have a memorial service complete with Cowboy hats in honor of the cactus that I tried so desperately to save from its doom. I don’t know if I was relieved or annoyed when I told Tim that Ole’ Western bit the dust, and he responded,

“Who’s Ole’ Western?”

Independence Days from the Diet

So it sounded like a good idea at the time, taking one weekend off from my veggies and fruit, and living it up on my plate. After 2 days of not calorie counting and eating whatever I wanted, I was shocked to see 189 on my scale this morning. Yep, that means I am back to losing only 49 pounds. OUCH!

I figure that most of us spent the weekend celebrating the 4th with barbeques, cookouts, and potlucks. (At least those of you readers who are in the States.) And for those of us who are fighting the battle of the bulge, it leads to a sorrowful morning after when we assess the damage on the scale. Here’s the rundown of my weekend.

I started getting lazy on Friday, which was my darling husband’s day off. We splurged a little, and I thought one night wouldn’t hurt so bad. With gusto and resolve, I was determined to be a dieting superstar on the 4th, and show off my new healthy eating skills. I did great on Saturday at lunch, chowing down on fruit salad and a turkey dog. But then I was presented with pizza as an impromptu meal on Saturday evening. Pizza, like French fries and Oreos, is a weakness for me, and instead of asking my sister-in-law if I could raid her fridge for something healthy, I snarfed it down. Since I’d already blown it, I added some potato chips. From that point on, the rest of my food choices resembled something like a dieter’s rap sheet, or the temptation locker on the Biggest Loser. Yep, I kept right on eating.

And this morning, all I could do when I saw 189 was say, “I guess I earned that” and do my best to ignore the leftover peach pie and patriotic cupcakes in the fridge.

Now, we have got to figure out how to survive holidays, because they come around often. When you figure up all the holidays we celebrate in America, there are 10 biggies, not to mention birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, etc…and we celebrate all of them with food!!! And at least 3 of them with candy! So we have got to get a game plan together before we all have a diet busting holiday again! Here are my thoughts. Mind you, I followed NONE of them this weekend, and was a horrible example. But this is how we learn, right?

1. I hate this one. Eat your healthy stuff before an event. Fill yourself up with good food so you aren’t tempted to graze during a party. This one works well if you are going to a shindig that is short and sweet. If it’s going to last longer than 3 hours, don’t count on your low-fat cheese and yogurt to hold you. But it’s a great plan for birthday parties and open-houses.

2. Bring a healthy alternative to share with the group. Forget the veggie plate, make something exquisite that will cause a pile up at the food table! You can look on websites for fantastic appetizers, look like a real Martha Stewart, AND stick to your diet. You can’t lose on this one!

3. PACK YOUR FOOD. I mentioned this in the last posting about my red lunch bag. Unglamourous? Yes, very much so. Unreasonable? Not at all! My husband’s family did a great job of providing a very sensible meal for lunch time. Which was fantastic. But it would have been rude of me to expect the same for supper. Looking back, it should have been second nature to pack some extra nutrition for the day. I was just being blonde I suppose, but I honestly didn’t worry about it. And today, the scale made me pay the price. Packing things high in fiber like nuts, apples, and even my fav, Fiber One granola bars, will keep you feeling fuller longer, and can last you till you get home.

4. In a situation like I was in with pizza, ask if you can order a healthy alternative and pay for it yourself. I could have ordered a small whole grain Hawaiian pizza with less cheese, and it would have been better than a double meat double cheese double my serving pizza. But I didn’t do that either.

I hope that these ideas help. Do you have some of your own that have helped you in sticky wickets like parties and BBQs? Feel free to post them on the comments below, so other people can read how YOU are staying true to your diet. Heaven knows I sure blew it, and will be working extra hard this week to get back on track.

Which is a greater probability for something totally ridiculous will happen to me and ya’ll will get the funny blogs you love so much. Until then, I’ll be working off my 4th of July fluff on the highest incline my treadmill will go, and marching to my own particular brand of freedom!
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