Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Addicted to the Number

     Confession: I weigh myself every morning and have for over a year. I started after I went to my doctor seeking help when I started to put on weight, getting very close to a number I swore I would never see again. To monitor my figure, I checked in every morning, weighing myself and writing in my calendar.  That number had the power to make or break my day. It would dictate what I ate, what I wore, or even how much physical activity I would put in for the day.  

     Today I read The Militant Baker's blog post Smash the Scale Revolution. This post made me realize that I have an addiction to the number on the scale. My self-worth starts every morning in my bathroom.  It could be a good day or a bad day; it all depends on the number.  I have lived by the scale since I was 9 years old. I earned more love from family if that number was lower than before. If it went up I was put down and belittled. The lower the number the more love I could earn. This has been a lifetime battle for me. 

The following passage from the blog hit me like a punch to the gut;

"So who is Smash the Scale for?
For every girl bent over a toilet, worshiping at the altar of thin. For every teen who cries herself to sleep at night because she’s not good enough and doesn’t know why. For every child who didn't know they were fat until someone told them. For every woman who hopes that happiness is on the other side of that pill bottle. For every person who's stopped eating when they're still hungry. For every woman who hopes that happiness is on the other side of that pill bottle this time. Or maybe this time. For every woman that thinks she’ll be worthy of love if her thighs were smaller.  For every woman that holds back tears while she tries on jeans. For every child with a Weight Watchers chart on their bedroom door. For every man who's been told to put his shirt back on. For every teen who starves for a gap. For every skinny girl accused of anorexia and every fat girl that’s called lazy.
For every person who looks down at a number for so long that they forget to look up at the world.
For you.

Choose your weapon.
Smash the Scale.
And with it, all obligation, expectation and guilt."

     Look again at the line I have highlighted in red. That line hit home. The wheels in my heads started turning. I am addicted to the scale! Am I capable of not standing on the scale? It has thrown me a bit to realize just how much power that square box STILL has over me. I told myself I was doing it to stay in check and to help maintain my weight. That is only half true. My self-worth still comes from that damn number. If I weighed in less than the day before I knew I was going to have a good day because I was happy with the number. Why am I giving this number so much power? I have been looking down at a number on the scale since fourth grade. When I was losing weight family would constantly as what I weighed. That number became my definition. I am THAT number. I have to learn new places to find my self-worth! No more looking down!

     I admit to having a sense of panic over not standing on the scale every morning. Because of that panic I will be relocating my scale to the closet. I am going set myself free from the number. It will take some time to move past knowing how much I weigh. I stand for a positive body image and I need to heal this part of my own mind and heart. I am NOT the number on the scale. This addict is kicking the habit. I trust myself to care for my body like I always have without needing to know my weight. In 2014 I will not weigh myself every day. I promise this to myself. I am more than a number! Loving myself is not contingent on the number on a scale anymore!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

From One Bad Ass to Another

The Militant Baker
 is a total bad ass babe.  She is a take no names, ball breaking, smash the scale body positive fighter. Her name is Jes and she is a woman on a mission - a freaking awesome in your face mission.

You might recognize her as the woman who took on Abercombie & Fitch back in May. She took a stand against what the CEO said regarding only wanting "the cool" people to wear his clothes.

She has been a Yahoo News headline story twice within the past few weeks.  She started an anti-bulling campaign that created a revolution.  She received over 800 entries, compiling them all on her website and Facebook page.

     Her in your face take no prisoners way of getting body positive messages into the main stream media is hard to miss.  She has been featured on CNN, TODAY, BBC, "People Magazine," "Time Magazine," "The Huffington Post," and more.  She is awesome and it is catching on.

Here is an small portion of a very meaningful blog she wrote called ""What the F*@K Does No Diet Talk Mean?":

"...what philosophy replaces the concept of always depriving your body in order to make it some false representation of health? It's called "Health at Every Size". It goes something like this:

"What is Health at Every Size?
1. Accepting and respecting the diversity of body shapes and sizes
2. Recognizing that health and well-being are multi-dimensional and that they include physical, social, spiritual, occupational. emotional, and intellectual aspects
3. Promoting all aspects of health and well-being for people of sizes
4. Promoting eating in a manner which balances individual nutrition needs, hunger, satiety, appetite, and pleasure
5. Promoting individually appropriate, enjoyable, life-enhancing physical activity, rather than exercise that is focused on a goal of weight loss"  Now, that just makes fucking sense, don't you think? "

I LOVE Jes. LOVE her message. I read her blog. I follow her Facebook page. I am a fan. Which is why when I posted my blog on her page as a total shot in the dark that she would look at it, I screamed and did a happy dance. 

Why? This happened....

Two things came from this moment.
1: A hero of mine complimented me. AWESOME.
2: The circle of empowered women is only getting bigger; the more we connect and support each others messages the more we will NOT be ignored.

So, yeah, I am one happy blogger.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Damn Dress. Wrong Assumption. Stronger Conviction.

How to begin?

     One evening for an event, I made the choice to wear the dress I have deemed my "I feel blah" dress. It is a size too big for me, ties in around the waist, and with a nice cardigan I still feel pretty and not stuffed into it.  I love this dress; it is my dress version of "stretchy pants" when I need to look nice. I am ok with my extra holiday fluff as it will go away and I will be back to my normal weight after the holidays. I forgive myself for the treats I have had and relax. I am strong in my convictions about my weight and how I feel about my body. At a gathering the universe decided to test just how strong I am. 

     As I said before, the dress ties in around the waist. The string is sewn in the dress. Pull, cinch, and tie. I pulled and tied a bit to tight because during the evening when I leaned forward in my chair the string broke! There was nothing I could do. In that moment I knew I had two choices: hate my body or hate the dress. I chose to hate the dress. It betrayed me. There is nothing wrong with my body. I had simply tied it too tight and unfortunately moved in just the right way that...snap...my dress now hung on my body like a moo moo.  I proceeded with my evening, pulling my cardigan around my body to try and disguise my potato sack dress.  

     As the evening went on I forgot to focus on keeping my cardigan wrapped around me, it did not have buttons to keep it closed on its own.  I was enjoying conversations with friends when the true test of my self esteem came a-knocking. I extended a pleasantry to a woman I know. I gave her a hug and engaged in small talk. She began to congratulate me, going on about how happy she was for me. My husband and I give each a look and it occurred to both of us...SHE THINKS I'M PREGNANT!!  Just to be sure I asked her what I did to be congratulated on, maybe I missed something. No, the look on her face said it all. She really thought I was pregnant and my response informed her I was not.  She quickly changed the subject to my hair, complimenting me on it, and then darted away from us as soon as she saw a way out. 

     Here is the moment. The true test to having rebuilt my self esteem.  I felt stunned. I have never had that happen before. I turned to my husband, who is an extremely supportive man, and I could see the look of panic on his face. He did not know how I was going to react and he was braced for something.  That moment, needless to say, killed my evening and I wanted to go home. We said our goodbyes and left.  I was struggling to think rationally. I know I do not look pregnant in clothes that fit me. I had to have repeated this to myself one hundred times on the drive home. My husband did his very best to remind me I am beautiful and it was the dresses fault.  Agreed, it was the over sized dress that apparently emphasized the wrong body parts.  

     I barely walked into the house and I had ripped the dress off my body, cursing at it, and threw it into the trash. I stood staring at my beautiful dress crumpled up in the trashcan and I felt confused.  I am body positive. My mission is to spread love for all bodies, yet in that moment I felt a tiny bit of dislike for my body. A tiny bit of anger for eating the cookies. A tiny spark of anger for feeling a spark of anger.  I put on the largest shirt I could find and like a child I pouted. Yup, lip out pout.  

     A few minutes later I was done.  I had successfully shaken myself back to normal. There is NOTHING wrong with my body - it WAS the dress.  Plus, she should not have assumed I was pregnant. It was a bit rude to openly congratulate me without knowing for sure if a baby was on the way. I learned a lesson from her. I will NEVER assume a woman is pregnant. EVER!! That moment messed up my head for a bit.  I was shocked and it took me some time to shake it off, though it also showed me just how far I have come. I am strong. I did not fall apart; instead I fought to build myself back up and remind myself that the assumption had nothing to do with my body and everything to do with a broken dress.  That was one hell of a test to prove how strong I am. I hope I passed! 

     I have since rescued my beloved "I feel blah" dress from the trash.  The broken string cannot be fixed but a chunky belt will do the trick and look cuter anyway.  I do have plans to wear a form fitting dress at the next event just to squash any rumors that may be milling about.  So universe, although I wavered for a moment, I am still proud of my body, and even learned a lesson.  

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Drum Roll Please....

     Merry Christmas everyone! The best gift I received over the holiday season has been the encouragement from friends, family, and complete strangers. With 2014 approaching I am excited to see New Figure Forward grow and continue to spread the message of embracing our bodies, regardless of pant size! We are beautiful and deserve to feel beautiful!  

      The Spread the Word Contest helped get my message get out and to say thank you, I am giving away luxurious Body Shop products. Pamper yourself, take time for yourself, and most of all love your body!

 New Figure Forward is proud to announce the winner is Shelby Goldberg! Shelby, please inbox me on Facebook your mailing information and I will get your package out to you! 

     Thank you to all who participated. I will host give aways throughout 2014.  With your continued support New Figure Forward is going to grow and reach more amazing women.  

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Trade Guilt For Trust: Surviving the Holidays

     The holidays used to be rough on my waistline as well as my mental health. This holiday season has truly been a test for me. Last November I made a promise to myself that I would STOP punishing my body. I would stop hating my body. I would learn to love my body before it fails me.  It was not easy - I had to retrain myself. I started with baby steps. I started by promising I would go for a walk every day, not for losing weight but to promote mental health. Guilt is a powerful emotion, and I was done with feeling it. The holidays are great for bringing around a nice big helping of guilt.  

     How do I maintain a healthy body image, indulge, and balance the scale? This holiday season I got my answer. I stopped worrying about it. I put my scale away. I allowed myself the treats. I felt my pants get tighter and I reminded myself that it is okay, I will not wake up 300 pounds again. I know what to do. I know how to eat healthy. I work out 5-6 days a week. This will not erase my normal healthy life style. I trust myself...I trust myself. That was a difficult achievement and the one I'm proud of the most. From previous experiences I learned to NOT trust myself. After all, no one was shoving the food in my face, I was.  

     I have maintained my weight for 6 years now.  I have become the woman I always wanted to be. That is my proof to myself. That is my proof to people in my life that have been sitting and waiting for the weight to come back. It is safe to say that I get it now. I CAN trust myself to do what needs to be done and I CAN indulge without fear. My healthy eating is no longer my diet, it is my life style.  The cookies, the cakes, and other treats are not a part of my everyday eating. I do not keep that stuff in the house. Come January 1st, it will all be gone, and I will be back on track. 

     I understand those on their journey to lose weight and the fear of treats. During my first few holiday seasons I worked out for HOURS and barely touched the sweets. I was terrified of gaining even a few ounces.  If the scale moved in the wrong direction I felt like I had failed. For those feeling fear and guilt, it is ok. You too will learn to trust yourself and your abilities to care for your body. I learned to embraces a "fluffier" figure during the holidays.  I no longer hate my body. I understand that my body will fluctuate in weight and size for my entire life for various reasons. I am not a battle field and food is not my enemy.  I know that I will never give up on myself , I know I will never go back to processed boxed food, and I know I still love myself even when I have to jump into my jeans (and avoid washing them for as long as I can.) 

     This way of thinking did not happen overnight. It has taken me several years to accept my body and what my version of healthy is.  Enjoy the holidays, let go of guilt, and trust yourself.  If you struggle to trust yourself, start with baby steps. Every journey has a beginning. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Etsy Artist Discovery

Spot Light on Artist Lady at Large

     I have made it a mission to find artists that celebrate a woman's figure.  The female form does not come in a standard one-size-fits-all mold. We are often subject to one body type, the subjective idea of what 'beauty' means.  As women, we are worthy to feel beautiful in the skin we are in, regardless of our size.  Like art, the human body is open to interpretation. What we find attractive, someone else may not. Neither feeling is wrong.  

     Being able to explore the talents of many amazing people from around the world has made Esty an addiction of mine.  On Etsy, I discovered Aubry Chapman,Lady at Large, an artist from Seattle, Washington who paints the female form with glorious curves.  Her use of bright colors enhances the smiling seductive faces and voluptuous curves of her female creations. 

     It is refreshing to see the voluptuous woman celebrated.  When I look at these works of art, I smile and realize that my own body is just as beautiful! Aubry writes on her Etsy page:

"This art is to celebrate the larger female form. Not to treat it as a joke but to show that fat women are as beautiful as their thinner sisters, despite what the media might try to tell us. 
As a fat girl myself I get sort of tired of FAT being thought of as a four letter word, when so clearly it has only three. ;)" 

     The acceptance of our bodies - the ability to take a stand for our freedom to be in our skin however we choose to - that is a beautiful thing.  Images of women larger than the models that walk the runway and grace the cover of magazines have raised my personal self esteem. They do not have to be my size to help me look in the mirror and see a beautiful woman. Self confidence is contagious. 

Aubry uses her art as a way to spread her message of body positivity. Taken directly from her Etsy website; 

Size Positivity is my artistic mission!

I am a fat girl! There I just took that word back, it's not a four letter word. I started creating my fat ladies because I was sick of being treated as a joke and humorous device. I think the female form is beautiful in all its forms and create art to that end. 

Creating these ladies is for myself as much as the people who buy and create a home for my art. 
Growing up in this society it's difficult to grow up unscathed by societal expectations of beauty and femininity. It can paralyze a person with self hatred, my goal is to show the beauty in all of us, and not just inner beauty but the superficial physical beauty too. Because truly we are all lovely just as we are every bit of us!

     Her art is as beautiful as the message she sends.  Follow her on Facebook, on Etsy, and her blog.  Her beautiful ladies will help you to feel better about your own body as well as add charm to your home.  

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Conversation with My Bully

     Facebook has made it so that people do not slip away from us. We may not continue to have deep relationships with some people but we can always check in and see how life has treated them.  I have typed in names of people I have known at all times in my life. Elementary school friends to old colleagues.  One night I decided to look up my elementary school bully, just to see what became of the boy who tortured me in school. It didn't take very long to find him. I sat staring at his profile picture. His picture brought with it memories I had filed deep in the back of my brain.  I decided to message him so that I could let the fat girl in me have her moment of glory and ensure that he saw what a gorgeous woman I grew up to be.  

     A small back story to help paint the picture of my elementary school experience; I went to a small town school in South Jersey. From kindergarten to 8th grade the school's total student population may have been 75 kids.  I was one of 2 "fat" kids and my bully was the only African American in the school. Life was very different for the two of us. 

     The following is the conversation that took place via Facebook. The impact this moment had on me laid to rest the sad, angry little girl who felt like her childhood was taken away by a cruel bully.  I have not edited the text in any way. This is a direct cut and paste.  My original message to him ended up not being apart of the messages between us. I don't remember what I wrote to start the conversation.  (Names have been removed to protect the privacy of those involved.) 

Bully: yea its me wow i used to pick on u a lot..i never forgot all that.
Me: Yea, I never forgot it either but what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. There has to be that one kid that gets picked on in every class, it's tradition. At least now no one picks on me anymore You know what I remember most? I remember 4th grade when you didn't pick on me and we were really good friends. 5th and 6th grade changed all that but when you're nice you were a good friend. 
You have to love Facebook...who knew I would find you of all people...
Bully: all i said was wowwwwwwww...i used to talk about u all the time...like yo it was a girl i picked on all the time i was so mean to her...but as i thought about..you were my scapegoat to draw attention away from me..i was the only black thing in there..it was wierd for me cause i was real bad b4 i came there..i want to appologize but i believe shit like that builds chracter n happens for a reason...i used to think ur soul haunted me with bad luck..i do regret it...you looking good now tho.
Me: You can take some credit for who I am today. You made me stronger because I had to find an inner strength in myself to not let you completely kill my spirit. I had self esteem issues for years, but now...I'm OK. Just as you said, things happen for a reason and like I said every school has to have that one kid that gets picked on. I'm OK with it having been me because I was strong enough to take it and grow from it. I'm a tough lady now
Thank you for saying sorry. It means a lot to the little fat girl in me. I understand needing to put attention anywhere else but on yourself. We had more in common than we knew as kids.
I'm glad to have had the opportunity to talk about it. It's not often people have the chance to say sorry for things they did some many years ago. I have no hard feelings, and only wish the best for you! So no more bad luck!!
P.S. Thanks for the compliment, coming from you it means a lot!
This brief conversation enlightened and healed me. It does not make it right but even the bully had his reasons why he behaved the way he did. I am proud of the woman I grew up to be. I worked hard to become her, to keep my head up, even when I had people around me taking joy in trying to push me down. A long time ago I was told that the greatest revenge in life is to be successful. I held on to that and made it my mantra. I was not beat down, I did not give up, and from those lessons I became who I am today. My past has given me purpose.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Verily Changed Everything

     When I decided to take control of how I felt about my body, I had to consider what was causing me to feel bad about it in the first place.  While pondering this thought my eyes kept glossing over the latest cover of “Cosmo” that had arrived in the mail. Then it happened - my lighting bolt moment - the magazines I read!! Duh!! I allow myself to be subjected to Photoshopped bodies and wonder why when I look in the mirror I'm not always happy.  I knew what I had to do.

     I took control and purged my house of every Photoshopped magazine I had. The recycling bin was filled with “Cosmo”, “Shape”, and “Marie Claire”.  I was a woman on a mission. No more lies! No more guilt! Good-bye! Immediately I felt better. I felt empowered. I'm not stupid. I know the images are altered - why was I comparing myself to these illusions? Not anymore.

     I had resigned to never reading another magazine again until I found out about "Verily magazine."

The following is taken from the website: 


Whereas other magazines photoshop to achieve the “ideal” body type or leave a maximum of three wrinkles, we never alter the body or face structure of our models with Photoshop. We firmly believe that the unique features of women — be it crows feet, freckles, or a less-than-rock-hard body — contribute to their beauty and therefore don’t need to be removed or changed.
Verily is a new kind of women’s magazine: one that celebrates the best of who you are. We feature fashion that is worthy of the woman, relationship articles that go beyond sex tips, and strong cultural and lifestyle journalism. Verily is the modern woman’s go-to guide on how                                                to lead a fulfilling, integrated life.
   Finally a publication for strong, empowered women!! Am I worried about the '10 Things He's Thinking About in Bed'? No. I'm a married woman looking to enhance my soul, my relationships, and my mind.  I want to love what I see in the mirror. I want to embrace my curves.  I want to love my face, laugh lines included. “Verily” takes me seriously as a woman, imperfections and all! 
  I want to get this magazine into the hands of every high school and college girl. The message of sex, sex, sex, is shoved in front of young minds every day, and we wonder why our youth is focused on the physical and not the intellectual.  This is a magazine I am proud to have on my coffee table. I do not have to hide the cover of it from my nine year old son. I want to raise him to be the kind of man that loves a woman for WHO she is and not the package she comes in. That message starts with me. I have taken away the images that objective women and replaced them with images of smiling real women.  

   We can take charge of the images we are subjected too. We do not have to look at Photoshopped models. The more we spread the message that there are alternatives that enhance our lives, the stronger the message will be to main stream media.  It is time we take back our mental health and STOP subjecting ourselves to lies that breed self hate and poor body image. 

     “Verily Magazine” can be found at Barnes and Nobles and a subscription can be purchased on the website. Indulge yourself!

**UPDATE** Verily is no longer a published magazine. It is only available online. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Spread the Word Contest

Spread the Word Contest

     One of the tricks I learned to help maintain my weight loss was learning not to turn to food for comfort or to reward myself.  I chose pampering my body with lotions, soaps, and oils instead. I fell in love with The Body Shop years ago. I love not only the quality of their products but also the morals of the company. They do not test on animals, they trade fairly with other countries, they support self esteem, they care about protecting the planet, and they work to protect human rights.  Why am I telling you this? I am giving away Body Shop products!!

My Spread the Word Contest is back and this time I have pumped it up.  The contest will run for two weeks, until Christmas Eve.  On Christmas Day the winner will be announced! 

Want to treat your body to rich scents and luxurious products? 

Coconut Beautifying Oil, Vanilla Body Butter, Coconut Body Soap

All you have to do is a follow these steps: 

     1. Like this post on New Figure Forward's Facebook wall- This enters you into the contest. Without liking           this post your future likes will not count toward this contest. 
         (You may enter at anytime within the two week period.)
     2. Facebook posts dated December 12th through December 24 are eligible to earn you entries. 
                                             -Every 'like' earns 1 entry. A 'share' will earn 2 entries. A comment earns 3 entries.
                                             -The more likes and shares, the more entries you earn. 

That's it! Simple. The winner will be pulled at random, so get those entries in! 

Good luck to all that participate!! Your support of New Figure Forward keeps the message of empowerment and loving our bodies alive. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fat Girl Victory

     I had a victory moment. In the grocery store today I happened to see an old boss of mine from 7 years ago. When he knew me I was 300 pounds. He and I where not fans of each other but I was good at what I did so he made peace with me.  The office staff, including him, were always on a diet. I was surrounded by health conscious gym rats and in that time in my life I was not a healthy person.
     I tried to fit in. I took diet advice and felt like the office project. It was the first time I joined a gym.  It was the first time I ate protein bars.  I lost a few pounds. Nothing major. When I officially left my job I was relieved to no longer be under the microscope of that office. People would make comments about my lunch, snacks, and beverage choices.  No thank you. Fat shaming does not help anyone, ever.

    Fast forward to 7 years later and 125 pounds smaller. I'm in the store with my son, looking extra cute. I had my hair cut today. I had done my make up and my outfit was rocking. As I come around the corner who do I see across the isle? A man giving me a funny look. I knew right away who he was and could tell my look on his face he was trying to place me. My heart skipped a beat and I told myself to play it cool. I went about my business. He stared, gawked, and did multiple double takes.  I think he figured out who I was.

     I was jumping up and down on the inside. The fat girl in me felt victorious! After 7 years of maintaining my weight loss just about everyone has seen my transformation. Today was a BONUS!! Thank you universe for having it happen on a day I look adorable.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Everything Sounds Better with an Accent

Ladies, if you have never heard of Gok Wan, I am thrilled to be the first to introduce you!! He is adorable, British, and all about making women radiate self confidence.

"Fashion expert, award-winning TV presenter, author and all round national treasure, Gok Wan has taken the fashion and TV world by storm and has become one of the UK’s most sought-after entertainers.  He made his mark by giving women the confidence to appreciate their bodies, whatever their size and encouraged women whatever their shape and size to strip for the nation!"

     As women we are our own worst enemy. We judge our bodies harshly. Our inner monologues of “I hate this” and “I hate that” are devastating to our mental health.  It is time we take back our bodies and our minds. Regardless of your size you have every right to love yourself and be loved in return.  

     When I openly point out the flaws I see on my body, my husband looks at me like I am insane. He does not look at my body and judge it. He is not making mental notes of everything I should be fixing. Love does not see size. Did you see that? LOVE DOES NOT SEE SIZE!! So please love yourself!!! 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Super Fun Night Fan

I was apprehensive about “Super Fun Night” with Rebel Wilson.  I am over plot lines that make the plus size character constantly make fun of themselves in order to distract attention from her size. The stereotype that fat equals funny is irritating. I procrastinated watching the show for fear of hating it. Rebel Wilson is adorable, sassy, intelligent, beautiful and I really did not want to see her play the fat fool.

I am caught up on the season thus far and even watch a few episodes twice. Rebel Wilson's character, Kimmy, is endearing and adorable. She's obviously smart, she's a lawyer (fact: Rebel WIlson has a law degree). Yet she is completely lost with herself, growing into womanhood.  I found that very relatable. We want to be comfortable in our skin and blend in with those around us. When we are still in the process of figuring out who we are we can look like asses along the journey.

     I love her girlfriends. They make me miss the bond I had with my close friends from high school.  My friends who would have stood in line with me to get Xena's autograph and remind me to not sport the awkward t-shirt to school. Kimmy's friends are loyal and accepting of each other and their quirks.  They help each other be the best versions of themselves they can be, often encouraging each other to break out from the fear and just do it. It is a nice break from the back stabbing woman characters I see so much of on TV.

     The more I watch the more I do not see the show as a way to poke fun at big girls. I see a woman coming into her own and discovering the woman she is becoming. She is growing out of “girldom” and into womanhood with a few bumps along the way. I think Rebel is a master at combining humor and honesty. Rebel created and writes the show.  She is aware of the fat jokes - she wrote them! I still struggle with humor as the main attribute to a plus size character but she is charming and it works.  The Kimmy character is not the way she is because she is fat; she is spunky, funny, and adorable because that the PERSONALITY she has been given. Fat does not make her funny. Her giggle, facial expressions, and nerdy ways make Kimmy the cute character she is. When I laugh at what she says or does I am not laughing because she is plus size, I'm laughing because the moment was funny. Put in a skinny woman and it still would have been funny.

 I have my fingers crossed that the show holds on and does not get canceled. It is refreshing to have women with different figures on a show. I welcome these girls into my living room every week. I am comfortable watching in my pj's, glasses, and with my green face mask. It has become my 30 minutes of pure girl time. I do not compare myself to these women and feel bad about myself. Instead, I laugh and remember the moment I did the same thing.  The show becomes about weight when all anyone can focus on is Rebel's weight. That is not a reflection of her, rather it is a reflection of society’s fear of a strong plus size woman who is not buying into the idea that beauty comes in one size propaganda.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Empowered Woman on a Mission. Join me.

    I am excited, shocked, and humbled by the amount of fans my Facebook page has received in the past few days. In light of my New Figure Forward project picking up speed I figured I should take some time to explain who I am, where New Figure Forward came from, and what my mission is as a blogger and as a woman.  

    My name is Alyson, I am 31 years old, and I live in Las Vegas, Nevada.  My passion for figure equality comes from my own life long struggles with weight. I do not remember a time when I was not the biggest kid in my class. I was always the tallest and then I became the roundest. I quickly developed a distain for my own reflection. Up until a year ago I have always hated my body and I punished it in many ways.

     In elementary school, I was bullied, teased, and beat up. Middle school was the same. I was fat and miserable. I did not feel pretty. I started diet pills in 7th grade. I started binging and purging in 8th grade. By high school I was abusing myself in the worst ways.  I wrote about my high school experience here; My diary

    After high school my weight went up and down, over and over. By the time I was 25 I was 300 pounds! I lived with it. I was fashionable. I had friends. I had a job I loved. I was making 300 pounds work for me, until a moment in my bathroom changed my life forever. 

       **WARNING** I'm about to get seriously honest.  
     Everything changed for me the day I could not reach around myself. I sat on the toilet unable to reach around. I did what I had to do and then burst into tears. I actually cried myself to sleep on the bathroom floor that night.  I had lost the empowered female I had told myself I was. I was strong enough to be big. I was strong enough to not let the stares, comments, and almost needing to purchase an extra airplane seat make me feel bad about myself. I put on my happy face everyday. Deep down I knew I was lying to myself. I was not happy. I was miserable. I realized I was depressed and stuck - but then I had the realization that I didn't have to settle for this being my life. 

     October of 2007 I signed up for Weight Watchers and proceeded to lose 125 pounds over the next year and a half.  My entire life changed. Forever. I promised myself I would NEVER go back to 300 pounds and I have kept my weight off for 6 years now. The biggest challenges have come from being in a new body. One that did not end up like a super model. I had to learn who the new face in the mirror was. I did not know her, I had never seen her before. My problems were not solved at the end of my weight lose journey. No one told me I would actually have a whole new set of problems fall in my lap. 

     I still struggle with weight issues. I am still a food addict. I still see a fat girl in the mirror. However, I am also a runner and I enjoy cooking and eating healthy. I work everyday to repair the mental damage that simply became apart of my everyday thought process. I am not perfect. No one is. I have stretch marks. Everyone does. My thighs touch. So do the thighs of most people.  I created New Figure Forward as a place to be deeply honest about my body and my struggles at all of my weights.  I created my blog to be a place where women (and men) could come together and empower each other with honesty.  
     A passage from a pervious blog I wrote :I will never be a super model and neither will anyone else. There is no such person. I like this reality; there is a lot less pressure realizing no one has a blemish free body. I am done playing dumb to a culture that assumes I don't know models and actresses are being Photoshopped.  I will not allow these fantasy images to influence the acceptance of my body.  I am human, I am normal, and my body is healthy and strong.  I choose to love myself, to value myself, and to cherish my body.  I will now be removing the "sucker" sticker off my forehead. No one can make me feel bad about myself anymore."

     And with that I took control over the images I see everyday. I do not read magazines any more. "Cosmo" went into the trash and does every month. I follow plus size models and other curvy empowered women on Facebook and Instagram. I love my body so much more when I see other bodies that look just like me. I look at these women and I think they are beautiful. I am beautiful. You are beautiful. I am ending my own self abuse and I hope to inspire others to do the same. Learning to love myself is not easy and everyday I have to keep working on it. I hope to encourage someone to do the same, to shut off the hateful inner monologue and embrace their body, however it maybe shaped!!


My weight loss gave me a new figure 
and I am pushing forward!!! 
Welcome to New Figure Forward!! 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Secret Food Addict

      Unsupervised in the kitchen has been a battle field for me since elementary school. I remember the first time I was left alone in the house. My grandmother had gone out with a friend and left me, and cake, alone for maybe an hour. I remember sitting and staring at the cake, swearing I could hear it call me name.
In this moment, I used the trick that I would continue to use even until today.  If I just cut off little slivers from the sides no one will notice anything is missing. I am not sure I really mastered this skill as I have been caught MANY time throughout life having eaten more than I should.

     I have been yelled at more times than I care to count for having eaten too much food or food that I wasn't supposed to eat. I have known a few "non-food sharers" who would bring in food to the house that I crave then tell me to not eat it.  When your labeled the fat kid, people think they are doing you a favor by not letting you eat the foods you crave and punishing you if you do. In all reality, it is no different then putting someones drug of choice in front of them and telling them no. A person can only be strong for so long and inevitably the Costco chocolate chip muffins were mine! Bringing in foods that, because I was fat, I was told I could not eat did not do my any favors and instead turned me into a closet eater.

     There was no amount of yelling or fat shaming that could stop me from eating the foods I craved. Sugar is my drug of choice. Cakes, cookies, chocolate, frosting, ice cream, donuts, and everything else in the sweets category is my drug. The constant ridicule for eating sweets only made me eat it in secret. Alone in the house I would eat the foods I was told not too.  The fear of getting caught was not enough to stop me, just like the drug addict is no longer scared when the craving gets too strong. I became numb to the aftermath that my drug induced binge eating would cause.

     I have done things when it comes to food that I am in no way proud of.  I have devoured entire packages of cookies, candy, cakes, and many others food and simply put the empty container in the bottom of the trash can so no one would see the evidence.  I have spooned, cut, and nibbled at foods in hopes that it would not be noticeable that I had eaten any of it.  Before I could drive I would get creative in the kitchen; mixing, stirring, and baking my way to some form of a craving fulfilled item.  Over the years I learned the ingredients for coffee cake are usually always on hand, as well as the ingredients for frosting.

     The inability to resist my cravings would eventually lead to massive amounts of guilt.  I would make my coffee cake, sit on the kitchen floor, and when I could safely eat it without burning my esophagus, I would devour half before I could process what I was doing.  My crumb covered face, like the white powdered nose of a coke head,  would knock me back into reality and drown me in guilt.  In a fit of anger I would dump the remains in the trash and bombard myself with hateful inner monologue. I called myself names that others had called me; I believed I was a fat pig.

    Moments after shedding tears over the trash can, I would purge. The two places I have cried the most in my life have been in the kitchen and my bathroom.  I would eventually pick myself up off the bathroom floor, wash my face, tell myself something somewhat comforting, and try to put the event behind me.  The guilt feeling would never leave. I would go about doing something else and just about every time find myself standing over the trash can.  I would mentally argue with myself; how could I seriously be considering eating out of the trash? When my craving would kick in, my standards would drop a great deal when it came to what I was eating. It is shameful to admit that, on more than one occasion, I would pick whatever it was back out of the trash and finish it.  I hated myself for doing it, yet I could not stop myself. I would binge eat until there was nothing left and then purge in hopes of sparing my waist line.

     This was my life for years. When I moved out and was away from parental supervision and judgement, my eating disorder became worse.  I worked at CoCo's Restaurant and Bakery and would take home pies after work and eat the entire pie.  I repeat, I would eat the ENTIRE pie. Why? If there was no evidence then nothing happened. I had learned to be ashamed of my sugar addiction - I was fat because I could not control myself. When I would give into my addiction I had to eat it all and throw the box away, not just in my kitchen trash but all the way to the apartment dumpster. I did not want a reminder of the sinful act that I had participated in or the judgment from someone thinking I should not be eating that kind of food in the first place.

     The freedom to purchase my own food lead to massive weight gain over time and the continuing fight to fit into my pants.  Binging and purging was normal for me up until I was 26. At that point and at 300 pounds, I signed up for Weight Watchers. Weight Watchers taught me what I had always been missing in my diets. Balance. While in the program, never once was I told I could not have a food. Instead, I was taught how I could still eat the foods I loved in moderation.  Over time the guilty feeling that would come with eating sweets went away. As I regained control over my body and mind I was no longer ashamed of being seen eating "junk food". I had grown up believing that in order to be thin I could no longer eat sweats and I would have to eat salads every day for the rest of my life. No thank you. I was willing to sacrifice my health so I could keep eating cake.

     It has been five years since my weight loss and I still struggle with binging and eating trigger foods. I did not "get over it." It's not something that can be cured. Binge eating and trigger food are a reality I have to face everyday when I am alone standing in front of the pantry door. There are foods that are not allowed in the house. For example; fruit snacks - I have eaten too many entire boxex; candy - the entire package will be demolished; Lucky Charms - yes, I admit I have had nights where I pick out all the marshmallows and throw the cereal part away.  My husband and I also have a rule in place that if we are going to indulge in a treat it must be something that will be gone in one night. No entire cakes allowed.  I have also learned that if there is something that I am craving, and craving bad, just eat it! I have found myself eating everything else expect the one thing I want and eventually end up eating it anyway. I have had to learn to accept this about myself and make accommodations because of my sugar addiction.

   Food addiction is difficult to fight. After all,  we have to eat! I do the food shopping for my family. I have the ability to pick out whatever I want. I don't struggle as much as I used too. My health is important to me and I also did not shed 125 pounds just to let Little Debbie help me pack it back on.  Do I slip up? Yes. Those oatmeal cream pies are my crack and sometimes they win. Sometimes. Do I find myself eating out of the trash? No. I have not done that in so long I can not remember the last time I did. Food is not easy to stand up against. It took years for me to better understand and ACCEPT myself for the way I am wired. If a craving hits, I will leave the house, or get online, or tell my husband, or pick up the phone. I will fight it until it passes and it almost always passes. Almost always....I am not perfect - when I do slip up I refuse to let it sabotage everything I have done. A box of cookies will not add 100 pounds to my body overnight. I get up the next day and treat it like any other day. I eat right, I work out, I put my energy into something other than thinking about food, and I forgive myself. I am only human. I will make mistakes. I accept that and no longer punish myself for it. No longer being told no, knowing that eating sweets does not make me a bad person, and I am capable of balancing the diet that gave me my life back. Most of the time...sugar is still my drug.

I have found that eliminating refined sugars from my diet has drastically improved my health. I no longer have craving (99% of the time) by replacing unhealthy treats for healthy options. I LOVE and swear by www.chocolatecoveredkatie.com for healthy sweet treats. I do not live a deprived life, I live a healthy life WITH treats. Check her out and just start slow. Find a recipe that you are comfortable trying and give it a shot!! I promise you will be blown away!!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Bonding Over Curves

     There are moments in life when we are given the opportunity to shake hands, hug, and exchange smiles with someone who has touched our lives in ways they may not know.  My opportunity came on Saturday. Tucked away in a small strip mall in Las Vegas I stood face to face with the woman who has contributed to my growing belief in my own sexiness.  Tess Munster has forever changed not only the way I see my body but also how I treat it.

     I'm not sure how I came across this beautiful, inspiring woman; the universe has a way of providing what we need when we need it. I follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and her blog. She is a plus size model, blogger, mom, and positive body activist.  Her pictures are stunning, her blog is honest, and her #effyourbeautystandards is empowering women of all sizes around the globe.  She has changed the lives of women, helping them to embrace their bodies and love themselves.  Tess is not perfect and has had her own struggles with body image issues and is always openly honest about how her life is not perfect. Confidence does not mean that an occasional self doubt thought does not sneak in. The modeling world is not easy, but the plus size modeling world is even more of a war zone.

     There is a misconception about weight loss - that once the weight is gone the life always dreamt about can now unfold.  Confidence will just ooze from the pores and everything life was missing will now magically appear. My experience was not like that at all.  I was, at times, more uncomfortable in my healthy body than I was in my heavy body.  I did not know how to feel comfortable in my skin. I was happy to have lost weight, improve my health, and eliminate obstacles I faced when I was heavier, but I struggled with self-confidence.  I mentioned in another blog post how my past experiences had made me a shy, anti-social person struggling for my mind and body to catch up with each other. Looking at the world through fat girl eyes didn't change when my waistline shrunk.

     I struggled to look at my body; the extra skin, the stretch marks, and the imperfections the body takes with it when it changes size. My insecurity in my body affected how I felt as a woman. Yes, I was smaller. Yes, I could wear all kinds of new clothes. Yes, I have a man that loves me. Yet, I was still waiting to feel sexy, to feel empowered in my new body, to rock what my mama gave me.  That was when the universe introduced me to Tess Munster.  She radiates confidence, sexy, and a love for her curves. I envied her confidence. I envied her sexiness.  I started to follow her on social media and I am happy I did! She has forever changed how I feel about myself.

Matching shoes! <3

 Tess has taught me to take pride in my body. Not be ashamed of my body. To feel sexy in my skin. Since following her I have taken more time in my appearance, slowing down to take pride in myself.  I have stopped evil eyeing my hips - now I embrace them and purchase skinny jeans without fear.  Tess has done for me what I hope to do for others; inspire confidence and self esteem. All bodies are beautiful and we can learn to stop being our own worst enemy and embrace our figures.  We deserve to showcase our love for ourselves.  It is OK to love yourself. It is even OK to rock a strut when we walk.

To Tess,
           Thank you for teaching me that sexy does not have a size requirement. When I look in the mirror, I hold my head higher because I am beautiful.  You are the reason why my oversized tee shirt stays folded in the drawer much more now. Modeling is not easy and it is appreciated by many women that you continue to break down walls and showcase how truly beautiful curves are! The conversation we had will have a special place in my memory bank. Thank you for your insights and optimistic outlook on life. You are a beautiful woman! 

My autographed photo is extra special too me. This is one of a series of photos with Tess in lingerie that helped me retire a few oversized, shapeless night wear. Not only do I thank you for helping me discover my own sexy, my husband does too.