Tag Archives: Body image

Exploding Oatmeal and Other Hazards

quakerYesterday, my oatmeal exploded in the microwave at work.  I make oatmeal every day and I have to keep an eagle eye on it because Mr. Quaker Oats sometimes gets a bad attitude.  Well, there were other people in the lunch room hogging using the space in front of the microwaves to make their coffee, so I was trying to be courteous and give them some room.  Next thing I know, I see my oatmeal spilling over the top of my bowl.  I leapt forward and grabbed the door, almost bashing my co-worker Lois in the head as I yanked it open, and then stared sadly at the mess.

My first thought was not, “Ew- what a mess” or “Wow, I hope I didn’t kill Lois” but was, “Rats. Now I have less food to eat.”  My second thought was, “I wonder if I can salvage any of the stuff that spilled over” followed by my third thought of, “Gross, Sue.  You might eat a random M&M off the floor but you will not stoop to eating boiled over oatmeal off the bottom of the work microwave”.  For the record, I had to repeat this to myself twice, and thankfully Lois was still in the lunchroom or I may have succumbed to thought #2.  Haha!  Just kidding!  That would be so disgusting!  I would never do that!  (No, really, I might have.  Lois unknowingly saved me, even after I tried to kill her with the microwave door.)

I hate having my food routine disturbed.  It just leaves the door open for those irrational rationalizations, where my brain tries to justify eating 10 cookies to make up for the disruption.   “You poor dear!  You didn’t get a full 1/3 cup of oatmeal today.  Have a pan of brownies.”  I know what you are all thinking.  You are all thinking I should overcook my oatmeal everyday and replace it with cookies because oatmeal is like eating wall paste and good Lord if your going to eat something as bad for you as wall paste you might as well eat cookies.  And if I’m going to eat cookies, bring on the chocolate cake, because even Bill Cosby knows chocolate cake is full of nutrition!

Perhaps you are wondering if I grew up as a starving child in China (“There are starving children in China that go hungry every day!  Eat your wall paste!”) but no.  I grew up in a middle class home and never went to bed hungry – not even as a punishment.  My mom was a wizard in the kitchen and could make a pound of hamburger stretch for all 7 of us, including my Dad and my brother.  No, I’m just a food addict.  No meth or crack for this girl!  But whoa!  Is that a bakery?  I think I’ll stop in and mainline a chocolate donut.

Because I am a food addict, I need to have a strict food plan of no sugar or wheat, and I need to follow it.  I have fallen off the wagon these last three years, and really have no desire to get back on it, even though I know the sugar and flour just keep feeding the beast.  Before this, I went four years without it passing my lips.  I lost 80 pounds.  Gained confidence and moved up in my company.  Ran my first half marathon. Hit the upper 90’s in my health assessment at work.  Felt absolutely fantastic, physically and emotionally.  Except when I felt deprived – like at birthdays when others were celebrating with cake or at Christmas when I passed the cookie tray without taking one of my mom’s cut-outs (my favorite), or on vacation with the Daver or at Easter when I passed the rows and rows and ROWS of unbelievably delicious Robin Eggs and other confections (why do we celebrate religious holidays with so much chocolate?  A fattening mystery…).

So where am I now?  I am somewhere trying to find the balance.  I want to have my cake and eat it too (pun totally intended) but I don’t want to give up my health doing it.  I have gained back some weight, but not all.  I have held on to certain food habits – like lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins – and most certainly my exercise habits have stayed.  I don’t run as much – I would like to have fully functioning knees and hips when I am 80 – but I do bike, swim, inline skate, kayak, walk, hike, snowshoe, and hang out in the gym doing burpees and jump squats and dive bombers (oh my!).  Since regressing back to sugar, I have done another half marathon, ridden 2500 miles on my bike, taken another position in my company, and performed 10 billion burpees.  Yes, you heard me.  10. BILLION. BURPEES.


And you know what?  I think I’m okay with where I am.  Yes, I still struggle.  Yes, I still have food issues.  But at the end of the day, I would rather eat a celebratory piece of birthday cake on my dad’s 82nd birthday.  I would rather go out with the Daver and have pizza and a couple of beers while we talk and laugh about our week.  I would rather bike 100 miles with Kay, eating strawberry shortcake at the rest stops.  Or have dessert with the girls at the end of our night out.  Or eat a cannoli at Mike’s Pastry in Boston even if it means getting blisters because I am stupidly wearing brand new shoes.  Or eating Garrett’s cheesy popcorn while watching my niece run in the Chicago Marathon.  And you know why?  Because life is meant to be lived, and sometimes living involves eating delicious foods that have no nutritional value.


Some people are blessed with high metabolisms or the ability to eat a single brownie, but I am not one of them.  I am a big-boobed, 49-year-old woman, with stretch marks and jiggle, that loves a good laugh and cake with frosting and sprinkles.  But I just have to believe there is a balance and come hell or high water, I’m going to find it.  And when I do, I will share it with the world.  Meanwhile, I’ll be in the gym –  doing burpees.

What are your food downfalls?  How do you handle feeling food deprived?  Have you found balance in your own food plan and if so, what worked for you?  I love hearing from you and I love your feedback!  Please share in the comments below or on my FB page!

PS – I actually love oatmeal and seriously do eat it every day at work, with two – three hard-boiled eggs.  I like it best with almond milk and blueberries or apples and cinnamon.  Mmmmm!

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For additional reading on body image acceptance, check out these blogs:

August McLaughlin’s Blog

Katrina Anne Willis


Beauty of a Woman Blogfest: Skin Deep

boaw-2013A couple of days ago, I let you all know I would be participating in the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest, sponsored by August McLaughlin, and inspired by the Sam Levinson poem (click the link to go to her site and check out all the entries, which will be posted Friday.  I promise it will totally be worth your reading time).  Here is mine:

Most of you have heard the term, “Beauty is only skin deep”.  Probably someone used this statement to console you at one point or other in your life, when you felt intimidated or inferior to someone who used their physical beauty to belittle you.  At the very least, you heard it in passing.  But is it?  Is beauty only skin deep?

Like many women, I have struggled with body image since I was a little girl, and first heard someone tell me I was fat.  I have dieted, exercised, cried, lamented, criticized, rationalized, judged, and binged my way thru the last 45 years.  I once described myself as a “Big, Beautiful Dutch Woman”, as a tongue in cheek way of trying to accept myself for who I was.  It was mostly a bravado filled, fake it till you make it statement.  But I think I am finally ready to own it.

And it’s about time, I guess.  I am one year away from my 50th birthday, and I don’t think I want to waste any more of my precious time or energy worrying about measuring up to someone else’s idea of beauty.  I have better things to do, and frankly Society, I just don’t give a damn anymore.

I’m tired of worrying if someone will notice my size 11 feet, my man hands, or my jiggly belly.  Tired of wondering if someone disapproves of my loud laugh or inappropriately placed comment.  Tired of feeling exposed and vulnerable just because I am a size 16 and not a 10.

At the top of my blog, I reference a scripture about our bodies being the temple of the Holy Spirit.  I originally chose that as a way to remind myself to feed my body and spirit with healthy things, to keep it prepared to be God’s servant.  But now – now I see it as the defining start to beauty.  It begins with God’s accepting and loving Spirit entwined with mine.    Fearfully and wonderfully made.  Oh hell yes.  Because He is the Author of this piece of work I have held in judgement and loathing for so long, and He sees His creation as beautiful.  Who am I to argue?

So I will embrace the goofy German woman – unconventional and glorious – who hams it up for the camera, loves the spotlight and relishes the laughter from her audience.  Who giggles at off-color jokes and makes funny faces.  Who sings “Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz” loud and joyously in the bathroom and whistles her way thru life.

But I will also embrace and accept the judgmental side of this woman, who can be quick to criticize and use shame as misguided motivation, and I won’t beat myself up anymore for having these traits.  I will continue to ask God to help me channel them into constructive behaviors, to use them to problem solve and organize, love and accept.  To use them to fuel my determination and spirit, to reach my goals and God’s.

I will embrace the Belgian woman, who loves puns and word play, and really, really dumb jokes.  Who loves a good fluffy book and a bag of chips with her butt plopped on a sandy beach and nothing but blue sky above.  Who is nurturing and gentle, kind and encouraging.  Who comes thru the door at the end of the day, and can’t wait to see her family.

But I will also embrace and accept the lost, passive side of this woman, who can spend too much time as a wallflower and go unnoticed in a crowded room.  Who is uncomfortable with people she thinks may be above her and not assertive enough to claim what is hers.  I will ask God to give me strength to believe in myself, to step forward and accept a compliment, and to recognize my worth in any situation, among any group of people.

And finally.  The big, beautiful Dutch woman.  I will embrace this woman most of all, as she is the one I have had the biggest love/hate relationship with.  Her big hands, breasts and feet have been the prime source of contention and ridicule in my life.  She is the one I see in the mirror when I get out of the shower, that I cover as much as possible to avoid having her be seen.  She is the one I have been ashamed of.

But this woman is also the one who has brought me the greatest joys.  She gave me the strong legs that pedaled 100 miles and ran 13.2…twice!  The strong arms that carried my babies and helped my husband with chores.  A body that at 49 can keep up with the 20 year olds in the gym (well, maybe the 30 year olds).  A body that nurtured, grew, and birthed the two greatest gifts God has ever given me – my kids.


Me and my “babies”

She has cellulite and scars.  Saggy skin (not to mention the direction the ‘girls’ are headed) and stretch marks.  Age spots, moles and wrinkles.  Bunions and cracking knees.  Her feet hurt, she can’t remember where she put her car keys much less the name of the person she just met, and she has some old-fashioned values her kids don’t always appreciate.  But she is beautiful and lovely and gets up every single day and does what I ask her to.  So, from this day forward, I will love, accept and cherish every single square inch of her.

Several years ago, I started trying to see other people – family, friends, enemies and strangers – as God saw them.  I tried to picture them thru His eyes, and it truly has helped me grow as a person, to be more loving and accepting of others, to be kinder and more forgiving.  But I left someone out of that equation.  Me.  Today I will begin a new journey, of remembering to see myself as God sees me – fearfully and wonderfully made, a home to His Spirit.  I will truly believe I am His temple, that my beauty starts in my core where His Spirit resides and engulfs mine, bubbling joyously to the surface.

Beauty is not skin deep.  It is Spirit deep.



Mom and Dad

The beginning – my parents wedding – German on the right, Belgian and Dutch on the left.

Measuring Up

How do you measure the beauty of a woman?  Is it the number on a scale? Her BMI?  Bra size?  If she is in your league?  If she’s out of your league?

On Thursday, I am going to try to answer that question, by participating in the 2nd annual Beauty of a Woman Blogfest, sponsored by August McLaughlin.  As a person whose goal is to not only redefine her own body image, but help others to as well, this topic is very near and dear to my heart.

On a whim and as a point of comparison, I decided to ask my husband a few questions.  We were talking about parenting, and I asked him if he ever worried if he was or had been a bad parent.  He never hesitated when he said “No”.  I stared at him.  “Geez,” I said, “I worry about that ALL THE TIME.”  Even now, after my kids are adults.  If I could go back in time, the first thing I would fix would be the times I failed as a parent.  I know he worries about them – their safety, if they are happy, how they are succeeding.  But he doesn’t take on the extra baggage that if they are not happy or safe or succeeding, that it is his fault.

I knew the next questions would take him out of his comfort zone a little.  I didn’t want him to think I was fishing for compliments or that I was going to ask a “Do I Look Fat” No-Win-Doomed-Husband question.  I wanted an honest answer, so I explained the blogfest and why I was asking.

By now he had the deer in the headlights look, so I eased into it by asking him if, when he saw a buff man on TV – like the guy in the Super Bowl Calvin Klein ad – he felt pressure to look like that.  His “No” was quick and confident.  And, expected.  I already knew those weren’t the sorts of things that kept him awake at night (pretty much NOTHING keeps him awake at night.  Except maybe the occasional bout of heartburn.  And sex.  Sometimes.  If we are lucky and both of us are awake and don’t have heartburn).  I replied with “You realize that women are the exact opposite.  That we see a model on TV and then beat ourselves up because we don’t look like that.  That we look in the mirror and all we see are faults.”   He nodded carefully, sensing Wife-Seems-Pissed-About-Something – Proceed With Caution.

I blurted the last question.  “So, what makes me beautiful to you?  And you can’t say my boobs.  And you don’t have to answer right away.  I know I am putting you on the spot and you aren’t always comfortable with this kind of stuff.”  I was surprised to find myself nervous at his answer and a little uncomfortable myself.  I rarely think of myself in terms of beautiful.  I know that’s wrong, and I want to change that.  This was my first major step.  Again, without hesitation, he said, “Your smile.  And your personality –  people like you and want to be around you, want to be your friend.  And that you get along with everyone, even the people you don’t like.”  Wow.  And all this time, I thought it was my boobs.  Old guy just might get lucky tonight.boaw-2013

Killer Quads

This post is going to be short and sweet – but I just feel compelled to share a single exercise that I found on the internet, that has killed my quads both times that I have done it.

I call it a “Single Arm Thruster”.  I have no idea if that is the correct name for it or not, but that’s my name.  Basically, its a squat while holding a weight in one hand that you lower to your shoulder when you squat down, and lift over your head as you rise.  I drew some pictures below.  Badly drawn, but the alternative is pictures of me doing it and I have not reached acceptance of my body image yet to the point that I will use myself as a model.  In short, you are stuck with my crappy drawings.

Pay no attention to the fact that I have a single clown foot and ‘cankles’. And ridiculously small thighs…

I guess I am posting this because I use my quads a LOT, and this exercise turned them to mush.  Besides working them in the gym and outdoors, I am also in genetic possession of my father’s thunder thighs.  But both times I did this exercise, I ended up with sore quads for 2 or 3 days.  And I mean REALLY sore.  Like, “needing to use the handicap rails in the bathroom” sore.  I can barely walk down the stairs sore.  I’m afraid to squat down on the floor to pick anything up because I don’t think I can get back up sore.  Holy crap sore.  Geez, did I mention sore?

So I thought I would share – misery loves company and all that.

The key to doing this exercise effectively is to be sure to pick a weight that is heavy enough to have you a little off balance, but not so heavy that it has you struggling to get it over your head. I think Amanda and I used a 10 pound weight last time, but experiment from 5# on up, depending on your level of fitness.

Start with the weight on your shoulder, your legs spread apart a bit past your shoulders.

More cankles, and I just realized I am not anatomically correct. Ha!

Squat down, like you are going to sit in a chair, being careful to keep your knees from extending past your feet.  Get down as low as you can, and then begin rising.  As you rise, slowly lift the weight over your head, timing it so the weight reaches top height at the same time your legs straighten.  Then go back down into your squat, lowering the weight in time with your descent.  Do this for 12 reps, switch weight to other side, do 12 more reps, rest, and then repeat 2 more times.

If you are like me, and you like to get as much into your workout as possible, instead of resting in between sets, you can do a different exercise or exercises.  Something like this:

Single Arm Thrust x 12 each leg

Abs on the ball x 15

Tricep dips x 12

Repeat 3 times

You can also incorporate this into Tabata or circuit training.  And now, because my nice short post took on a life of it’s own, I’m going to sign off.  Let me know if you have any questions by clicking in the “Leave a Reply” link below, and post your question in the box that appears.

Happy Friday!