Sunday, July 31, 2011

Old Navy, you disappoint

From "regular - usual; normal; customary"

I went shopping yesterday for a few items at Old Navy because they were having a sale on shirts and shorts. Everyone was helpful, knowledgeable, and friendly; it was an overall pleasant experience. The cashier told me that I could go to a website to take a survey about my shopping that day, and I could get 10% off my next trip.

The survey began with the common sorts of questions: how clean was the store, were the employees helpful, did the lines to checkout move quickly, etc. However, I was suddenly presented with a question so absurd that I had to get a screenshot.

screen capture of regular sizes question
"Of the 'other items (excluding jeans, underwear, socks)' you shopped for, were you able to find all the sizes you were looking for on the sales floor? Please consider only the sizes you were looking for that were 'regular' sizes, not Plus, Maternity, Petite, or Tall."

Are you kidding me, Old Navy? "Please consider only the sizes you were looking for that were 'regular' sizes, not Plus, Maternity, Petite, or Tall." At first, I thought I was reading too much into it, so I sent it to a friend. She confirmed that it was incredibly offensive. What I read from that message is that Old Navy doesn't want to have short or tall fatties (overweight or pregnant) walking around stores. Sure, they'll take your money online, but they'll be damned if your "irregularity" is seen wandering around in store! We'll gross out all the regular people.

If the store hadn't already closed by the time I was taking the survey last night, I would have gone straight back to the store to return my new clothes. I'm glad I didn't. Returning the clothes might send the message that they don't need to put "irregularly" sized items in stores, which is the opposite of what needs to happen. Although I wear large shirts, I need a 14 or 16 in pants/skirts/shorts, which are supposed to be "regular." It was nearly impossible to find anything above a 10, to be honest. I was lucky to find what I did.

I haven't made up my mind. I want to show Old Navy that plus sizes are in demand in stores--particularly because they often have in store only sales which exclude all but the "regular" customers--but I also have strong feelings against supporting a corporation that is actively and apologetically discriminating against certain types of customers. At any rate, I thought you all might want to know about this.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Discrimination Against Overweight People

From "rage - intense anger; fury"

Earlier today, my uncle and I had a disagreement about universal healthcare. He thinks that the government shouldn't pay for healthcare, and I believe that humans should take care of one another. However, that debate's neither here nor there.

The argument made me think about something I'd heard not long ago about raising health insurance rates for overweight/obese people. Of course, being a good librarian-in-training, I had to do a quick Google search, which led me to a Gallup poll regarding health insurance rates and hiring policies for "significantly overweight" people and smokers.

Not a good sign.

Not at all. I won't discuss the results about smokers, but suffice it to say that they were even more unfavorable than the ones for overweight people. Over forty percent of people polled said that it would be justifiable to charge higher insurance rates to "significantly overweight." What's more astonishing is that 14% said it would be okay to discriminate against people in hiring practices just for being "significantly overweight"! That's outrageous.

Also, I'd love to know the working definition of "significantly overweight." Did they outline a definition, or is it up to the person polled to choose how they would define "significantly overweight"? Would it be based on BMI, body fat percentage, or simply if a person looks fat?

I understand that people assume that being overweight means that you'll suddenly have all sorts of health problems, but I still have trouble accepting that so many would be willing to charge overweight people extra, especially since people who earn less money are more likely to be overweight.

The entire situation is disheartening.

Friday, July 29, 2011

PC Crew

If any of you are fellow Lexingtonians, I strongly suggest you check out the PC Crew. The Lexington Herald-Leader recently ran a piece on them as part of the current Stand Up Lexington series, a response to the Men's Health article about Lexington being listed as the most sedentary city.

I've joined, and everyone is so welcoming! I had nearly a dozen "welcome" messages. They have several fitness classes and events where members have a chance to meet up. Aside from the fitness component, they have social gatherings, as well. They also post articles related to healthy living and focus on that rather than weight loss alone.

Soon, I'm going to take advantage of the free Zumba classes listed in the article and through the group's Facebook page. If any of you would like to go with me, please let me know when you're available. Even though I'm sure I'll be welcomed with open arms, I would feel better having another newbie in tow.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fast Times at SC High

High school was an interesting time for us all. I don't know many people who refer to those years as their "golden years"; if a person does, I'm not sure what to make of it. Hormones and first loves and heartbreak? I wouldn't go back if you paid me.

I was on color guard for every year of high school (9th-12th). In my junior year, I was co-captain. Senior year brought me the title of captain. I loved my guard girls, and I felt confident in my abilities. I could spin, and I knew it.

Our guard instructor, however, made me feel pretty bad about myself. If he wasn't demanding weight loss, he was commenting on other physical features, like eyebrows (for me) or underarms (for another). After every performance at a competition--where we nearly always won or at least placed--he told us that we "looked like shit." It was a classic emotionally abusive relationship. He was cruel, but we were certain that he did it because he wanted to make us better. We didn't recognize that he was ridiculous until others pointed it out, yet we would defend him if anyone said a word against him.

We had to buy two-pound wrist and ankle weights to wear at practices. We wore them to run the mandatory two miles around the track every other night and to practice dance and the routine, even though it's not recommended to wear them for running or brisk walking because of the risk of injury.

I felt fat. And ugly. And worthless. To me, the ability to spin was the only thing that made me a worthwhile individual. The chance to lead my girls to victory was my main goal. As I mentioned, I was about 160 pounds back then. If I hadn't already been wrapped up in my weight, I was after that. No one explained that I was at a healthy weight or that I was probably pushing my body too hard. I don't think anyone knew.

If I could send a message to my high school self, it would be this: You are beautiful. You are loved. Please love yourself.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Putting on the Pounds

From "shame - a painful emotion resulting from an awareness of having done something dishonourable, unworthy, degrading, etc"

I’ve never been a small person, at least not in my memory. I know that I was above-average weight by third grade. Pictures from before seem to show me as average size; I still wonder what happened. Was it getting glasses? Was it the stress of my horrible third grade teacher? I don't know. In seventh and eighth grade, I played soccer for my junior high school's junior varsity team. In seventh grade, I was the only girl on the team. The boys were first. Once I withstood their bullying for a couple months, they seemed to accept me. One boy told me I was in his "top five" when we were in a circle doing stretches. It seemed disingenuous at the time, but today I think he may have been honest. In time I learned that he liked my strength and my defiance.

Still, I was overweight. My body shape changed drastically during the summer between 8th and 9th grades. A boy who had teased me in junior high suddenly wanted to date me in high school. (I laughed at him.) My color guard instructor had pushed us to lose weight--more on this in another blog. Even though I was at my best shape, my mom suggested that I lie about my weight on my driver's license to say 140. I couldn't have been more than 160, which you may recall is close to my goal weight, but it sent a clear message that overweight=embarrassing, shameful.

In the first couple of years of college, I gained about twenty pounds because I had constant access to delicious foods. I could get a (seemingly) home-cooked meal at any time of the day, a luxury I did not have as a child. My parents had fed me well, but we didn't often eat home-cooked meals. I moved away from campus after my first year of college yet continued to gain weight because I had no idea how to cook healthy foods for myself. As I've mentioned before, my family didn't eat many home-cooked meals.

When I moved back to Charleston to finish undergrad, I gained another 20 pounds. I was also hospitalized for two days from a severe anxiety attack, which had rendered me so incoherent that the doctors thought I might have had a mini-stroke. Like many other overweight people, I suffer from anxiety and emotional eating. I had tried Weight Watchers, but it didn't help. I graduated with my bachelor's at my highest weight, just over 200 pounds.

I've already discussed what happened after I moved for grad school. I learned to love myself. I learned that my self-esteem should not be dependent on my weight. I learned that I still have a long way to go in terms of eating healthy and getting fit.

I learned that I can do this. All by myself. I deserve it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Uncle Sam Breakfast Swap Challenge

This is a sponsored post through Attune Foods. I received a free box of cereal in return for an honest blog post.

I participated in the Uncle Sam Breakfast Swap through Attune Foods. In exchange for an honest blog entry on Uncle Sam Cereal, Attune Foods sent me a coupon to receive a free box (valued at $3.89). I’m not sure if they’ll like what I have to say because this isn’t a raving review, but I was asked to “Eat a bowl of Uncle Sam for breakfast every day for a week and then write a blog post about how your week went.” This will include only my honest opinions and thoughts.

I should add a caveat about my biases. I’m not a cereal girl in the first place; I would much rather have eggs and toast or waffles. Also, the only Uncle Sam cereal that I could find in town was Original. My reaction may very well have been different if I had been able to find strawberry or something else. Since I began writing this, I received an email from Attune Foods regarding the launch of their new website. Now I can buy the other flavors!

The first day was pretty miserable. I ate 3/4 cup (the recommended serving size) with skim milk. At first taste, the cereal reminded me of Rice Krispies, which I love. Then, I realized that it was a little chewy, and it seemed to take ages to get through one bite. On days two and three, I added chopped apple. On day four, I tried banana. For the remaining days, I tried combinations of apple and banana in a desperate attempt to improve taste and texture. While the apples and bananas certainly improved the experience, I still didn’t enjoy having it for breakfast.

I must say, it’s definitely not my favorite. In fact, I was going to call the box a loss until I noticed that Kenlie at All the Weigh had used it on yogurt. This was brilliant! I had a small bowl of Greek yogurt with local honey and Uncle Sam cereal, and it was delicious and so filling.

One of my sayings is “I’ll try anything twice; the first time might be a fluke.” I will go to the website and order one of the other varieties of Uncle Sam and see if I find it to be better. Although I cannot--at this time--recommend this cereal for breakfast, I whole-heartedly recommend it for a snack with yogurt!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Friend Makin' Mondays: Defining Moments

Friend Makin' Mondays is a regular feature from All the Weigh, a blog which I heartily recommend!

Was there a defining moment in which you realized that you needed to lose weight? If so, will you elaborate? (If you experienced this moment in some other area of your life, please feel free to share that too!)

My moment was less like Kenlie's moment. I didn't have an event that worked as a catalyst; rather, my moment was more a realization of how I felt about myself.

I had been overweight for the later part of elementary school and all of junior high. In high school, I maintained a healthy weight, but I didn't realize it was healthy because I was overweight by BMI standards. My color guard instructor constantly found reasons to criticize my body, and he made us run two miles every day while wearing wrist and ankle weights. (One day, I'll discuss this at length.) In college I gained quite a bit of weight for a variety of reasons. I joined Weight Watchers in my second-to-last year of undergrad for shallow reasons. I had yet to realize that my self-worth was tied so tightly to my weight.

WW didn't help me at all; in fact, it hurt. I had to stop going to WW because of the financial and emotional strain, and I gained another twenty pounds. For about a year, I set aside my weight and tried to focus on myself. After graduation, I moved to Lexington to start my master's degree. I decided that things had to change. The light bulb finally clicked that I should lose weight because I love myself, not because I hate myself. My family has a history of medical problems that can be weight-related: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. If I wanted to take care of myself and avoid these problems, I needed to lose weight and eat better.

It pains me to watch shows where the overweight people decide to lose weight because they say they hate themselves. They hate seeing their reflection in the mirror. They hate the rolls or the way their clothes fit. Personally, that seems to be the wrong reason to start this journey. We all have our reasons, but the underlying cause should be because you want to do better for yourself.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Concession Confessions

From addiction - "the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma"

This post by Skinny Emmie resonated with me. For weeks I hid from my choices, only to realize how much it was costing me. I must admit that, as much as I try, I do have to make some concessions in my dietary choices.

Everyone heralds the benefits of quitting soda--there's even an entire website dedicated to it--but I simply can't do it. At least, not yet. During the fitness program last semester, I tried to stop because my personal trainer urged us to give up sugary drinks for water entirely. I wanted so badly to accomplish what I haven't been able in years, so I stopped buying soda at the grocery store for several weeks.

I soon discovered that, even without soda in the fridge, I found ways to get it. I started ordering Jimmy Johns every evening so that I had a reason to order a soda. Or, I'd avoid packing lunch so that I could buy a soda with my lunch on campus.

If this sounds like an addiction to you, that's because it's close. It doesn't meet the medical definition for an addiction, but it's an incredibly difficult habit to break. My mom likes to joke about how I would only play tea party if she gave me soda for my plastic tea set. That's a sweet story, but that learned behavior set me up for a lifelong (so far) addiction to sugary drinks.

Time for a little number crunching! A twelve-pack of Pepsi runs around $4. If I'm lucky, I can catch it on sale for closer to $3. That sounds a little expensive, right? My average meal at Jimmy Johns, including a sandwich, chips, soda, and tip, runs closer to $11. One of the less expensive meals on campus, normally a sandwich and soda, costs about $6. Let's say I ate on campus and ordered Jimmy Johns that night: that's a total of $17 to get my soda fix! I could buy between 4 and 6 12-packs for that much. A 12-pack of soda will last me about a week and a half. So, for the price of one day of eating out to get soda, I could have stocked myself up for nearly two months. That's not to mention the money I could have saved by cooking the food that I had on hand.

I'm doing better now. My concession confession is that I always keep soda in the house; if I don't, I'll revert to ordering in and eating out just to get my soda fix. Since I've started keeping soda around, I've only eaten out (or ordered in) a few times. When I do order in, it's usually a plain turkey and provolone sandwich from Jimmy Johns and their delicious Thinny Chips. When I eat out, it's those rare evenings when I need to have dinner between working and attending an evening meeting on campus. Even then, I try to get a light meal so that I can eat something better upon returning home.

It's a long, harrowing journey, but I'll get there.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fashion Challenged

From fashion - "a prevailing custom or style of dress, etiquette, socializing, etc."

I love Drop Dead Diva on Lifetime. If you haven't been watching, you really should consider it. My favorite (superficial) part of the show are Jane's outfits. That woman can dress! She's particularly inspiring to me because she's overweight and dresses so fashionably.

For the last few years, I've been trying to develop my style. From high school until nearly the end of undergrad, my go-to outfit was a tee-shirt, hoodie, jeans, and sneakers. Now that I'm in graduate school preparing to get my degree and hopefully a professional position, I need to start dressing like the person I am instead of who I was.

I am a put-together person, but I don't look it. Part of my problem currently is that I can't afford to buy the clothes that I want...or new clothes at all. Being overweight means not really having the luxury of shopping at consignment stores or places like Goodwill. Most of the used pieces for plus size women are either severely outdated or seem to be made for the elderly (or both). I'd love to shop at Kiyonna or Sealed with a Kiss Designs or Fashion to Figure, but those things require funds that I'm seriously lacking.

I know the look I want. I know what styles I prefer, and what colors work for my coloring. One of these days, I'll be able to say that I honestly love every piece in my closet.

I'll cross my fingers that in the fall I'll have more spare change, but until then I can aspire to use my current wardrobe as best as I can to look as fabulous as Jane.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Contest Entry

Kenlie, over at All the Weigh, is doing a giveaweigh (see what I did there?) for a great scale. If you're interested, check out her post for all the details.

You may notice in my weigh loss log that I haven't posted a weight in several months. Because the weight loss program is over, I don't have a reliable scale; I don't trust my scale to give me an accurate reading, given its track record. Regardless of who wins the scale, at least I know of a trustworthy brand now.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

In Sickness and in Health

Have you ever considered the effect of being sick on trying to be healthy? I don't mean chronic sickness, just the everyday icks or a cold. We talk about how being healthy makes us feel better, but I've noticed that being noticeably sick makes me forget about trying to be healthy.

For the last week, I've been battling some annoying bug. I thought at first that it was just my allergies misbehaving after a day out in the country (which was fabulous and so fun), but that wouldn't have lasted this long. I've been at least three of the seven dwarfs when all I really need right now is Doc.

Also, I've reverted to some very bad eating habits. Instead of making time to fix eggs for breakfast, I've opted for PopTarts. Rather than cooking up some of the potatoes and broccoli I've enjoyed in the past few weeks, I've been grabbing quick, unhealthy snacks, like potato chips and plain Easy Mac.

I used to make these cute little bentos to take for lunch. I don't normally get into kyaraben (character bento), but I do enjoy finding creative ways to showcase my food. The brilliant thing about bento is that you have to focus on portion control and nutritional content. Because the containers are generally small, you can't just toss in a bag of chips and a PB&J sandwich. My mom even bought me a set of Pampered Chef Creative Cutters, which are perfect for making cute shapes from veggies and solid blocks of cheese. They would work for meat, as well, but my meals tend to be meat-light. Can't you imagine how adorable it would be to cut a sandwich into bite-size stars?

The difference between grabbing a Lunchable and making a bento is the time and effort required. The same goes for breakfast and dinner. When you're feeling so low that you can barely manage to get to work (or can't get out at all), you don't want to slice, dice, boil, or bake your way to a healthy meal. I can't stress the importance of having easy, ready-to-go snacks!

Tomorrow I intend to do some grocery shopping. I'll buy some blocks of cheese and veggies to cut into cute shapes to keep in containers in the fridge for quick snacking/meal-making. I'll buy some food to go with the Greek yogurt I bought last week. Whatever I have to do to make sure that I can have healthy snacks on hand, I'll do.