One small step toward self-acceptance (long post)

This post is a chronicle, mostly for myself, of one small step toward self-acceptance. Unlike my recent posts, my goal in this isn’t to entertain, but rather to share a small struggle.

Starting out

These birds want me deadThis time last year I’d decided that rather than work through my lunch, I’d go for a walk at the local park. In the middle of sweat-inducing June. I got a little sun, a little exercise, a lot of damp underwear (seriously, someone please make moisture wicking everything in plus-size, RIGHT NOW). While I tottered around huffing and puffing, buzzards floated above, waiting for me to keel over. Okay, not buzzards but some sort of medium-sized bird. Falcon? Comment if you recognize these judgy, feather-headed assholes. *takes a breath*

Sorry, I’ll get back on track.

The park has some lovely views and several times I whipped out my phone to get shots. Several times I posted those shots. A few times I put myself in the shots. Those pictures never made it to the Internet. Why?

I was sweaty. I wore no makeup. My hair looked like crap. But worst of all, there were no sleeves on my tank top.

How bad it was

You see, many people had seen my crappy hair and no-makeup look over the years. I’d long ago accepted that my love of sleeping later meant I had to look like one of those “People of Walmart” tragedies. Fewer had seen me sweaty—mostly the ones unfortunate enough to cross my path when I did active things. But only a handful had ever seen my flabby, stretch-marked upper arms. I’d kept my limbs under three-quarter/full sleeves and ankle-length pants or thick hosiery. Even in the height of summer. As you may have guessed, I rarely ventured outside in June/July/August for long because I’d immediately begin melting into my semi-stretchy jeans (because spoiler alert: there’s always spandex in plus-size jeans).

no tanktopsSo I’d go to the park at odd times of the day. Times I thought no one else would be there. That had to be after the lunch crowd but before the extracurricular sports teams descended. This magical time was about 2pm. I brought my tank top and shorts with me to the welcome center and changed in the bathroom there (note: NOT a locker room situation). I’d then stash a bag with my normal clothes behind a table where I hoped no one would find it. This little ritual made me feel like a criminal, hiding my ill-gotten goods in a place I wasn’t welcome. Forty minutes later I’d returning soaked and panting. I’d change into my work clothes and drive back to the office. These were necessary steps to minimize the number of people I knew spotting me. And the few I did see while out on the trail? Little slices of mortification dug at me that they’d seen my pale, unsightly flab.

Are you getting a picture of how messed up I was?

Worse, I was judgy when people with flabby arms wore short sleeves or no sleeves. I’d think to myself, “How can they wear that? And let everyone see that? Gross.” But as time went on, and the summers grew hotter, I started thinking to myself, “How are they brave enough to wear that? And let everyone see that? I wish I was that brave.”

Baby steps

Since last summer, I continued walking at the park. I added Zumba, Aikido, gym time, and hiking to the mix. My goal was at least three days a week I did something active. During the work week, I’d change in my office and walk over to the gym. That meant passing people I worked with daily. In yoga pants and short sleeves. Initially, I was ridiculously self-conscious about being seen wearing anything less than a full-body covering. But months of doing this desensitized me to wearing short sleeves. I’ve since been brave enough to wear a tank top to Zumba where people I knew would see me.

Gym selfieAnother step that has helped is selfies. I know people decry selfies as being self-absorbed and narcissistic, but for me, they’re not that at all. Each time I post one takes courage. Even when my makeup is fresh and hair newly flat ironed within an inch of its life. In my quest for doing the courageous thing, I began posting selfies on Facebook after workouts. I credited this trend to Jillian Jacobs whose fierce post-boxing selfies inspired me. I had a few reasons for doing this. The first was to hold myself accountable—if I didn’t post a picture every few days, my already high level of guilt over being sedentary would skyrocket. Another was that I wanted to stop caring about what other people thought of me. But the biggest reason was I wanted to change my perception of myself.

You know what? It’s working.

Between the baby steps at work and the continuous sweaty-beast selfies, I no longer care if people I don’t know see my arms. And I’m almost to where I can wear a sleeveless dress at work without something long-sleeve to put over it.

So thank you to everyone who gave me encouragement on my post-workout selfies. I bet you didn’t realize you were encouraging more than being active. You’ve helped more than you know.

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The Great Outdoors Pissed Me Off (Long Post)

It’s Monday of Memorial Weekend and I’ve had just enough wine to share this post with you about my hiking trip yesterday. This post features whining and bugs. Consider yourself warned!

A little background:

BrownCountyAnya02If you follow me on Facebook, you know I post an unwarranted number of disheveled selfies after exercising. Disheveled being the polite way of saying unkempt, sweaty beast shots no one asked for. And apparently these disheveled selfies are somehow motivating, so I’ve continued posting more. I guess images of no-make-up, fat woman really scare your ass onto a treadmill, eh? Well, whatever works. I’m glad I can be that catalyst for you. No, really. I AM glad, and so I’ll keep posting because I love you all.

If you follow me, you saw my post yesterday that I’d hiked eight (8) miles in Brown County State Park, through two (2) thunderstorms, did the equivalent of one-hundred and forty-one (141) flights of stairs, and drank three (3) liters of water.

In any case, this whole hiking thing is a type of bug for me these days, with my end goal being the Grand Canyon (to the river and back up). BUT yesterday the great outdoors decided I needed a different sort of bug. That bitch.

From the beginning:

13268252_878832458906826_4526513984333221368_oI decided Indy 500 Sunday would be the ideal day to hike over Memorial Day weekend because Indiana people would be inside. I further noted the forecast called for thunderstorms around 2pm. Packing my rain gear (yes, the hiking bug insisted I buy rain gear), I headed southeast to Brown County. But first I downloaded offline maps to the program I use to record hikes, All Trails, filled my water reservoir with 3liters of water, packed a lunch meat tortilla wrap, sprayed myself with bug spray, and texted my mom that I’d be hiking alone. I made the hour+ trip to Brown County State Park and used my brand spanking new Indiana Parks annual pass to get in.

I went in the West gate because it was the first I passed. And I parked at the West Lookout and then checked the map. I wanted rugged trails only which is why I skipped McCormick’s Creek Park and went straight to Brown County. Trail 8 from West Lookout would take me to Trail 9, a rugged trail. Perfect!

Except…I overestimated how much my body could hike in one sitting. By the time I checked the AllTrails program, while still on what was deemed the “Trail 9 extension” I’d hiked 4 miles.  In other words, I hadn’t reached the actual Trail 9 and had already hiked 4 miles, had eaten half my lunch, sucked in most of my water, and sweated through everything I wore (the temperature was 80+ degrees). I made the choice to start back because I was tired and still had to hike the 4 miles back—through terrain that had lots of ups and downs but not a whole lot of cool things to look at. Multitudes of flying bugs buzzed me, particularly if I had the gall to stop for a rest. Which meant I didn’t rest for more than three minutes at a time.

BrownCountyAnya01During my 8 miles, two thunderstorms hit. I paused to change into my rain jacket and rain pants only to have both storms basically fizzle out. For the second storm, I chanted “You’re all bark and no bite” because I really wanted to test out my rain gear in actual rain instead of a piddly spray the trees allowed in. Ten minutes later I thought I heard a weather siren and laughed because after all my chanting, I deserved that. Alas, if it was a siren, nothing came of it.

After the hike:

I reached my car without incident and drove back to Bloomington en route to home. After my grueling nearly four hours of up and down hiking, I decided dinner at a sit-down restaurant sounded like a good idea. Sweaty and disheveled, I walked into Cheddar’s to check-off two items on my craving To-Do list: Santa Fe Spinach Dip and Chicken tenders. While I waited for my food now back in civilization with real Internet, AllTrails decided I’d only hiked 7.5 miles. I resisted the urge to flip it off and curse in public. Okay, fine. So I only surpassed my previous record by a half a mile? It was still a new record.

Belly full with yummy food, I got back on the road. But realized I hadn’t visited the restroom. So I stopped for gas on the way at a Speedway and used their restroom.

Tick

Not actually my thigh

Doing my business, I glanced down and saw something black. On my thigh. That didn’t belong there.

A BUG!

And not just any bug. No, this fucker was small, black, and possibly DUG into my skin. I had a quiet freak out in the gas station restroom, and then said, “oh, of course,” because honestly, how hadn’t I run into motherfucking ticks thus far?

Grabbing toilet paper, I alternated between the ick factor of touching a bug (ewwwh!) with the need to get the tick OFF my body (Yipe!). Fortunately, four tries were all that was needed before the pest came loose. I squeezed it in a bunch of TP, threw it in the trash, washed my hands three times. and then got back on the road. When I got home I did a thorough check for pests. The only thing I found was hair I needed to tweeze and that my “bug” spray only worked on mosquitoes.

Right as I was trying to drift off to sleep, I had the overwhelming urge to google search “what to do after removing a tick.” Apparently I did all right. And there will be no Lyme disease.

Still, Great Outdoors, you’re kind of a bitch.

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Truth telling and bra sizing (long post)

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My favorite bra sprung a wire the other day and there was a big sale at my go-to plus-size clothing store, so I ordered replacements. This post chronicles what happened when I picked them up. Stay tuned for frank talk about boobs or, you know, click away if that sort of thing makes you uncomfortable. And a bit of truth telling about me. *deep breath*

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