Monday, March 31, 2014

Hugging My Hero Tess Munster (Again!)

     When I look around for body positive role models, I often come up short in the modeling/Hollywood world.  The cycle of fad diets promoted by celebrities talk about how much weight they lost or gained, and how a “thin, beautiful body” has taken these women to celebrity level. This leaves me feeling like I am not living up to this imaginary potential.  Enough is enough! No one has the power to make me feel inferior without my consent! (Thank you Eleanor Roosevelt.) Last year I put an end to my own self-esteem bashing. I now recycle all my magazines without opening them. No Photoshopped lies for me thank you. I set out on a mission to find women who help me feel beautiful in my own skin.  This is when I discovered Tess Munster. 

     Tess changed my life. When I first saw pictures of her I was in awe of her beauty; her body size was not a factor to me. She emulates confidence and beauty. I fell in love with her attitude and empowered belief that size has zero to do with someone's sexiness and/or beauty.  When Tess came to Las Vegas last year I went to hug the woman who helped me stop hating my body. Click here to read about my first time meeting Tess Munster.  

     This past Saturday I had the opportunity to see her again. My friend and I stood patiently waiting to have our few minutes to talk with this amazing woman who is breaking down size barriers!  The feeling of being in a room filled with people who all want to be accepted for who they are and are waiting to hug the woman who has helped them embrace their bodies is empowering.  Tess was incredibly gracious to every fan.  

     I was overjoyed that she remembered me. I was on cloud nine when she told me she follows my blog! Yes, Tess Munster follows my blog! I gave her a hug, took pictures, and tried my best to express how much I adore her without being creepy about it. She, as always, was an absolute doll.  

     Tess makes it okay to be the size that makes a person happy. Tess makes it okay to wear what makes a person feel beautiful. Tess makes it okay not to
subject yourself to unattainable beauty standards.  Tess makes it okay to not be perfect. I relate more to her than I do the Victoria Secret models. Tess does not make me feel bad about my body; instead, the confidence she has in herself is contagious and has helped me stand taller and embrace my body, cellulite and all! I am not the only person that feels this way.  Her fans standing in line varied in sizes, shapes, ages, and fashion interests. Tess is appealing to so many because she teaches acceptance of the body just as it is. 

Thank you Tess for giving women of all shapes, sizes, ages, and colors a body positive role model!! 
My 2nd Autographed photo from Tess. They hang in my bedroom as a reminder that ANY size is beautiful!

Friday, March 28, 2014

My Battle with Addiction

Teal is worn to represent PCOS awareness 

Since coming out of the PCOS closet I have been receiving emails from women with the same condition. Many of these women had not been informed by their doctors of the potential health risks PCOS contributes to our bodies. The majority, like myself, have been handed birth control to put their bodies back on a month to month schedule. I am not sure why doctors are not explaining the high risk for diabetes, heart attack, and stroke.  PCOS goes beyond a mustache; it can be life altering if not taken seriously.

Answered many of my questions
I have been putting in hours of research to have an understanding as to what my body is doing and what it needs. I checked out books from the library and read every legitimate doctor written article I could find online.  The information is out there and not hard to find. What I have found has been a resounding focus on the link between PCOS and Type 2 Diabetes, which can be fatal.  This was a huge slap in the face for me. I have written about being a sugar addict in a previous blog (click here to read about my battle with sugar).  It never occurred to me that I was putting myself at risk for diabetes; after all, that stuff only happens to really over weight people and I lost the weight I needed to to put myself back into a healthy bracket. I could not have been more wrong!

The biggest hurdle I had to get over was the idea of thin meaning healthy. There is such a focus in this country to reach and maintain a small size that, often times, the health risks to obtain that size are brushed under the rug. We are not praised for good health - we are praised for our physical size.  I wasn't paying attention to what my body needed to be healthy, all I was concerned with was maintaining my waist size.  This is where I had to take a real look at myself and what I was doing to maintain my size.  I had to stop lying to myself. I was maintaining my weight through deprivation.  Up until 2 months ago I was still abusing my body and had managed to rationalize it as the way I needed to eat to prevent weight gain.

The past two months have been a journey of self love.  I had to step outside myself and treat myself like a dear friend who had lost her way. This is when I started to educate myself on PCOS. I was motivated by my hair loss, I wanted to put a stop to it and maybe throw it in reverse.  The information I was obtaining was overwhelming and started to explain the battles I have been fighting with my body.  The sugar cravings have been explained in that PCOS causes insulin resistance which causes extreme highs and lows in blood sugar causing cravings for processed carbs and sugar. The body is trying to quick fix the imbalance of sugar. I was not having just any cravings; I have had cravings for sugar so bad in the past I have become a monster until I had a fork and cake in front of me.  Now I had to face reality and break this addiction.

My addiction to sugar was like that of a drug addict. I would binge behind closed doors. I could not stop, sometimes for days. I lied about binging and purging for years. The thought of breaking this cycle scared me. I seconded guessed myself over and over.  I can't live without sugar. All the fun foods have sugar. I will miss it too much.  I forced myself to go through the detox anyway. I braced my husband for the mood swings that could happen during this time. I braced him for what life would be like on the other side; no ice cream, no cake, no late night trips to Diary Queen, and the diet overhaul that would be taking place.

The detox was not fun or easy. I needed to break the habits I had formed over the years. The biggest being my bowl of ice cream every night. I had to tell myself it is the habit that is the hardest part and to stay strong. I had to be aware of what I was eating, reading all food labels for the hidden sugars that sneak into our foods with clever new names.  I ended up cutting out more than just junk food, out went the salad dressing, the peanut butter (I use 100% natural now, one ingredient-peanuts), the bottled sauces, white flour products, and much more. This has forced me to take control over the foods that come in the house.

Jumping head, I am on the other side of the detox and kitchen overhaul.  I have successfully cut sugar and learned to balance my blood sugar levels with healthy foods and not letting my body go hungry (letting the body go hungry can cause dips in blood sugar and for someone with PCOS this leads to craving for sugar that can then lead to diabetes). I eat more fresh vegetables and fruit than I did before the wake up call about my health.

This journey has not been about weight. I hid my scale a few months ago as part of my New Years resolution (click to read about my addiction to the number on the scale.).  I wanted to see if my body would change so I took out the smallest pants I own and took my before picture. Yesterday I took another a month later and was shocked. I have no clue the weight difference or even the inches. This lifestyle change isn't about any numbers. This just reinforces that the changes I have made are making my body happy.

I don't have a size goal. I am letting my body come to its own conclusion of where it is happiest. I have to eat for my health and for my health only.  The weight that comes off is because my body does not want it, not because I have dieted it off.

My journey with PCOS is changing my life as I take a mature look at my health and set aside my vanity. This world can not get rid of me that easy. I will show my body love and compassion. My body is only as strong as I make it and at this rate, I will be a rock of strength.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

There's 2 Sides to Every Story. This is My Second Side.

I have only told one side to my weight/health story. I did not think I would need to share the other half. The other half that is embarrassing, extremely personal, and not what I want to be known for. I have reached a crossroad within my blog and realize that it is time to share the whole truth. As always, I am open, honest, and tend to over share.  

Ok, so here it goes....

I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS, as it is more commonly known.  PCOS affects many aspects of a woman's body including but not limited to; facial hair, infrequent periods, weight gain, loss of hair, depression, anxiety, and infertility. I have it all. There is my truth. The other half of my story. Behind closed doors my body and I did not get along and it has been that way since 6th grade when the first sign of a mustache appeared.  

When I was first told that I had PCOS it meant nothing. It was just letters that were supposed to explain why I was the fat girl with a mustache and rarely had a period.  The hair loss, ridiculous sugar cravings (huge contributor to weight gain), infertility, depression, anxiety, and risk of diabetes, heart disease, and endometrial cancer where never explained to me by a doctor. I was handed birth control and out the door I went. I lived with my PCOS for years, not paying attention to it. I stopped taking birth control over time because I did not see the point. 

I learned how to get rid of the facial hair in high school. I have had my routine for almost 15 years now, it is my normal. Not having periods became my normal, and I actually thought I was lucky. Binge eating sugary high carb foods was normal for me. It was nothing for me to pack away an entire box of anything when no one was looking. PCOS is not what made me 300 pounds, though it contributed. PCOS is not why I lost 125 pounds, though it was a small concern at the time. I lost my weight because I was tired of not being comfortable in my skin. I wanted to stop the war with my body. I learned what I needed to do to get the weight off and keep it off.  I feel I have been lucky in that and when I have binged I have always managed to catch myself and get back on track before the buttons on my pants popped off. 

Engagement photo. The only picture found where my ponytail can be seen. 
It was not until I was 28 that the reality of what I have started to sink in. I had lost so much of my hair that I could not lie to myself anymore. The pathetic ponytail I clung to was driving me into depression. I remember the tear filled conversation I had with my stylist about needing to do something so that I can stop obsessing about my hair. So, with a few months to my wedding, my hair that was past my shoulders was chopped into my signature pixie cut.  At first I struggled with the harsh reality that I will never have thick flowing hair down my back. Long hair is feminine, it is what makes a woman who she is, or so I thought.   

Cut it all off to spare myself anymore heart ache. 

The worst part about cutting my hair so dramatically was the constant comments asking why I cut it and why did I not wait until after my wedding. I was honest every time explaining that I was losing my hair and that I didn't want to look at my wedding pictures and see something I will no longer have; long hair.  My answer caught people off guard and caused people to stop asking me why I was losing my hair, they just shut up. 

I am a few years into knowing that PCOS is the cause for so much of the struggles I have with my body. I thought I just had to live with the symptoms. This is who I am and how my body is going to be.  I was not given adequate information by doctors, just birth control pills and a sympathetic head tilt.  I thought I would always be a sugar addict, binge eating on cake until I was sick and always struggling with my weight.  Turns out I was wrong! I do not have to surrender to the effects of PCOS.  I have recently been educating myself about PCOS and have taken charge of my body. 

The websites and books have given me a wealth of information about how to take care of my body and have helped me to balance hormones, depression, and anxiety.  Over the past few weeks I have begun a private healing journey with my body and mind.  I have made changes in my diet, focusing on whole organic foods and little to no sugar. I have stopped eating desserts and refined carbohydrates.  I no longer eat potatoes. I have said goodbye to coffee (and finally the caffeine headaches)  and switched to green tea.  I do all this to help balance my body, help slow down the hair loss, and to feel the best I can feel. 

A few of my dietary changes have made their way on to my Facebook page and I realized that without explanation these posts look like a "diet" food post.  This is why I am talking about my PCOS and will be explaining my food choices openly from now on.  I have changed my diet to nurture my body and care for it. I am no longer at war with my body. I am listening to what my body needs in order to be its best.  It has taken many years to get to the point of appreciating my body and loving myself. 

There is no miracle cure. This is not a fix it band aid. This is my new life style. It began as a struggle, especially with the sugar cravings (I will write about the sugar withdraws in another post), and now has started to balance out for me. I feel strong and healthy now, much more than I ever did before. I am moving forward with a new understanding about my body. I have made peace with things that are out of my control. Life is too short to spend it angry at what cannot be changed.  

I have had to learn to embrace my body and mind. I have to be kind to myself and nourish myself with healthy foods and soul fulfilling activities.  The openness that I have with my journey will continue with a new understanding that the picture was only half revealed and what I do for my body is not always about my waist line. I am not ashamed anymore. I know I am not the only woman who deals with PCOS. I will no longer treat myself like a broken woman. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Spread the Word Giveaway

I am hosting my Spread the Word Contest! 
Let's Get New Figure Forward to 2,000+ fans!

This time I have teamed up with Jennifer, the amazing designer behind Nestled With Love! Jennifer is a wife and a mom to two beautiful little girls and her third bundle is arriving later in the year. She is a hard working lady: taking care of her family, completing her Masters degree, and running her own business.  She is woman - hear her roar! 

Nestled With Love is her line of hand stamped, one of a kind jewelry and unique pieces. 

You can see all of Jennifer's pieces on her Facebook and Etsy pages; 

The meaning behind the name for her business is touching;
"A bird's nest has a lot of symbolic meaning including protection of the young and nurturing new generation and life. A nest is a home and a shelter and a Mama bird dedicates herself to the protection of her precious eggs.  Perfect gift for a Mother, Grandmother, or anyone who wants to celebrate family...I enjoy making necklaces for women and seeing their smiles when they are wearing them."

I love her pieces. I had the hardest time picking out which piece to give away...

Drum Roll....

I adore this necklace and I am giving one away!! 

This necklace can be yours! You will be able to pick the color of your choice: pink, purple, green, or blue. 
All you have to do is a follow these steps: 

       1. Head over and 'Like' Nestle With Love and New Figure Forward
      2. 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.)
       3. Facebook posts dated March 11th through March 18th are eligible to earn you entries. 
                                             -Every 'like' and/or 'share' will earn you entries. 
                                             -The more you likes and shares, the more entries you earn. 
                                             - Each time you comment you will earns 2 entries!! 

That's it! Simple. The winner will be pulled at random. The more entries you have the higher your chances of winning! 

Remember to 'Like'/Share this post on Facebook. Only the names listed 
on this post will have their likes, shares, and comments tracked for entries. 

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

Thank you to all that participated and help share my blog and Facebook page with friends and family.  The winner of the necklace giveaway is Ashley Hawk!!
Ashley, please send me a private message on Facebook with your address and your necklace will be on its way!!