Set your thermostat....

Wow…it has been so long since I last wrote anything. I am not going to lie, I tried but was stuck. I have way too many balls in the air at present and my brain just couldn’t write. And to be honest, I have been a little scared to write since I was a guest on The Mindful Dietitian Podcast with Fiona Sutherland (http://www.themindfuldietitian.com.au/lori-short-zamudio.html). I think my inner critic has been a too vocal since that episode aired…I mean… “what if everything I post is drivel (I love this word) now?? '“ What if everyone who listened and then considered reading wondered “ how the hell did she manage to get on at that podcast?” And possibly even more likely “what if more people read this and it’s not actually that good”. Interestingly, I have been critical of my work in the past but never to the point of avoiding to write. I love to write. I wanted to be a novelist when I was a kid, then a journalist as a teen, and now a blogger as an adult. I wanted to start with this because I think I wanted to acknowledge that we are continued works in progress. These last few months have been a reminder for me that I need to focus on self-care (Thank you Julie for that help) and joy. Writing brings me joy. So today I bring joy…

I went out for a walk today and was listening to a podcast about American Politics ( yes I know I am Canadian) and I was kind of half listening while I walked. Then a quote caught my attention- which I honestly can’t remember exactly but around it formed the whole point of this blog. It was about the differences between a thermostat and a thermometer. A thermostat sets the temperature and a thermometer tells the temperature. This really resonated with me in regards to diet culture and managing for the holidays. Stay with me… I think (read: hope) this will make sense.

The temperature in today’s society is screaming hot with body shaming, fat phobia, weight stigma and food policing. Pretty much every where we go we are doused with messaging about food and bodies. “Eat this for optimal health.” “Look like this (insert current socially acceptable look here) to be successful.” “Achieve enduring health by following these 10 ( or 5 or 50) steps.” Yet beware….if you do not eat this way, exercise this way, look this way or act this way, you will be less than, not good enough to be here or so society tells us. The process of changing this temperature will be slow. Much like the actual warming of the earth it will be slow but a few degrees can and will make a difference. We might be able to do this by looking at our thermostats.

Much like the homes I have lived in, we can set our own thermostat. Meaning that how we choose to talk about food and bodies in our homes, to our friends, family is our choice much like the temperature we set to stay warm in the winter. We can set boundaries in our lives that promote the type of talk we want to hear and engage in. We can curate our social media posts so that we see images that are in alignment with the values we place around bodies and food. We can set our thermostat to inclusive- all bodies regardless of size, shape, colour, gender or anything else is acceptable. We can set our thermostat to compassionate- acknowledge others lived experiences in their bodies and yours in yours. You can show compassion to your body by nourishing it with the foods that it needs to feel good and the movement it needs to feel joy. You can show compassion to your children by helping them learn their value in this world regardless of their bodies. And if their bodies do not meet the norms that society has placed on them you can continue to show compassion by not attempting to manipulate those bodies. We can set our thermostat to be free of diet talk. Diet talk is everywhere- we live in what I call Diet Stew. It is thick and sometimes difficult to move in. Yet you can banish it from your homes. You can set a boundary to everyone that comes across your threshold that diet talk is not permitted. There are so many other things that can be talked about with friends that do not include the words Macro, Keto, Paleo or inches. And when someone attempts to cross this boundary, or change the setting on the thermostat, it is ok to call them in and say “ We have decided that we do not want this type of talk happening in our home. I would be more than happy to sit down at another time so we can talk about why we feel this type of talk is harmful to ourselves but right now I would just love to sit and talk about other things”. You can set your thermostat to safety, meaning that you can create a space where you and your family feel safe from unwanted comments about bodies or food choices. And finally you can set your thermostat to peace. Peace with food, peace with bodies, peace with yourself.

And much like the fight over the thermostat when someone finds a room too hot or too cold, there will be people that attempt to bring the temperature from outside in. To that I say- you guard your thermostat because it is your space and you deserve to live in the temperature that you will thrive in- even if it doesn’t match the temperature of the world.

Until next time…be Unapologetically you, while I be Unapologetically Me…..

Body Image work is life long work....

I have started writing this post multiple times.  I really wanted it to be about back to school and kids and talking about bodies but I keep getting stuck.  I haven't really had that happen before so I decided to check in and see what is up with my brain.  It's not that I am not passionate about what I was planning on writing about.  It's not that I don't think it is important because I really truly do.  And it's not that I don't think anyone would read it...because if I am going to be completely honest I think that with every post I write.  I think it is because I had an experience recently that has been eating at my brain a bit and maybe this is the place to dissect it.  I am going to be be completely honest...I have no idea how this is going to go.  And I really hope I find a point to what I am writing that someone else will find useful.

I am always reading books about body positive work, the politics of bodies and diets and pretty much anything I can get my hands on in this realm.  Recently I just finished "Landwhale" by Jes Baker (which if you have not ready you must!! So vulnerable, so amazing, so enraging) which is a memoir of living her life as a fat female.  So many components of this book were eye opening and having lived with thin privilege my whole life this book told stories that I needed to hear.  It was while I was reading this book that I had an appointment with my specialist for Crohn's disease.  I have recently started a new medication,  is a biological that I inject every 8 weeks and it treats both my Crohn's and Psoriasis.  At my appointment the doctor weighed me.  He does every 6 months and it is the only time I ever get weighed.  I don't decline because I know it is part of disease that my weight can fluctuate based on disease activity and he uses it dose my meds properly.   He made the comment that the meds must be working well as my weight has increased by 10% in 3 months.  Now as a person who spends her life wanting to eradicate fat phobia and make everyone comfortable in their bodies I was super pissed at myself for the reaction of "Seriously?!? Is that right??"  Here I am- a person that is supposed comfortable in their own body having a moment of "no..I did not gain that weight"  I- to be completely honest- don't remember much of the rest of the appointment as I was having an internal struggle with my gut reaction.  This is where I go back to "Landwhale" (READ IT!).  Jes talks about moving away from body love and body positivity to body autonomy.  Meaning that it is unrealistic to love our bodies every day, but we can work to accept that this is our only one.  We can be allowed to not like how they look  or how they are moving through the world- often times because the world is not built for all bodies- but we can learn to get through those moments.  Reinforcing that idea helped me, for a couple of different reasons.  First being that I was so pissed at myself for having any negative reaction to the comment that I was a grumpy ass for a few days.  I questioned all that I have written and said.  I noticed that my pants were tighter (noticed or projected I am not sure) and instead of telling myself to get new ones I had a couple hours (undershooting I think) of mental gymnastics of how to get my body back to what it was.  And I was disgusted with myself.  It was only when I was working on a lecture for school on self compassion that I seemed to snap out of it (not sure that is the right phrase).  My body is healing.  My body is absorbing food- all the food- for potentially the first time in years.  The psoriasis that covers 70-80% of my body is no longer visible or causing me pain.  And I was upset that my butt was bigger!  I sat here staring at my laptop wondering if I was only able to do the work I was doing because I was a "normal" clothing size.  Would or will I be brave enough to do it with a larger body- as the likelihood of my weight continue increase more is probable- or will I fall back into the depths of diet culture and rationalize my behaviour.  I can  honestly say I have never been more pissed off at myself nor have I ever questioned myself so much.  Both of which I think were good outcomes to be honest.  

I look at the work of fat activists, now these are amazing humans.  They not only put themselves out there to help others heal their relationships with their bodies they do it in a time where social media is rampant and trolls are everywhere.  The backlash they receive for merely existing is insane let alone that they live unapologetically in their bodies.  I realized that my message of "bodies need to be accepted at all sizes" is received in a different way because of my thin privilege(which is f'ed up)    This privilege has allowed me to have a voice that I am not sure I fully deserve to have.  (Yet I do believe that using my thin privilege to provide access to more marginalized voices is important and to this I will try to do more).  I want to showcase their work in a way that can bring more light to this topic and the amazing work that they do.  

The other thing that happened when I started working on this is that it became very apparent that this work is never, ever done.  Our bodies change all the time.  They age.  They get sick.  They heal.  And really as long as we have a body that means we are alive that in of itself is amazing!! Which means that one must always be doing the work on their bodies.  We must always be checking in to see what we are saying and thinking about ourselves.  And we must continue to challenge those thoughts and grow with our bodies.  My body didn't need food restriction or increased exercise.  My body needed me to say "heal from years of this disease", "do what you need to do so that I can continue to live my life".  My body needed me to say "thank you for continue to exist".  My body needed me to say "Who gives a flying fuck what you weigh!"

I am always learning, always changing.  I only know my own lived experiences and a bit about others from my learnings.  I feel that this experience opened me up to the realization that more work needs to be done in the world and in myself.  I am not even close to where I want or need to be.  I will continue to work on myself as I hopefully assist others on their body work.  

Until next time...be  unapologetically you while I be unapologetically me

ps....for those of you living in the GTA check out the Nourished Circle Retreat, link at top of page.

The day I taught my 10 yr old about diets...

If you follow me on social media you would know that recently I posted a very excited statement that my child didn’t know what a diet was. (It was one of those "OMG look at what my kid did moments"...with her adding "that sentence is Insta worthy...you are weird," to crash me back to earth). After my fist pumping, jump screaming excitement dissipated I realized that I needed to ask a few follow up questions as well as figure out how to manage the next few years of her life now that I had essentially taught my 10 year old what a diet is (my version of diets which may or may not have included an “s” bomb in my description). 

To save the backspace button on my phone (typing this in the car as we drive to a rugby match-parental multitasking at its finest) I am going to refer to my child as E ( the younger is e- smart right?!?)   So this started a few months ago when E was learning about puberty in school, realizing I truly wanted to control the conversation about body sizes and abilities I decided to pick up Sonya Renee Taylor’s book “Celebrating your body! (And all it’s changes) (FYI E and I are going to write a review of the book when we are finished...maybe not so much a review but a gushing post about how you all need to read it.)   I chose this particular book for a few different reasons. I LOVE Taylor’s work-(have you read “The Body is not an Apology” yet?)- as well as loving the diversity of bodies depicted in the pages. So, we were reading it together, stopping anytime E had a question or wanted clarification or to say for the 100th time “ so you get hair where??” when all of a sudden she says “ we need to stop I just don’t understand” I guess my face asked “what?” because she then said “ the books says diets are not good for your body and I do not know what a diet is...so what is it anyways?”  I started to laugh. Which I can tell you that you should not laugh out loud while reading a book on puberty with your child. After dealing with her anger at me laughing (she thought it was at her) I explained that her not knowing what a diet is, is perhaps in the top 5 moments of my adult life.We proceeded to talk about diets, who might do them, has she heard anyone as school talk about diets or needing to lose weight (the answer to that was yes but she said she never wanted to talk about that so often left to go do something else hence missing the details). We had somehow managed to get through the first 10 years of life without learning anything about food manipulation. I reached over and kissed her saying “ you are perfection”. The reply “I know we all are”. In that moment. I had hope. I had hope that this generation might not be getting the same messaging about their bodies as I did. I had hope that people were becoming more aware of how they talk about their child’s body to them. E already talks about everyone’s body being different and embracing these differences. Or was this hope false because I work my ass off to be inclusive off all bodies, abilities, genders, races in all aspects of my work and personal life (and I make mistakes in this area all the time but am trying to learn and grow and show my kids that is ok)

After our talk I sat back and thought about it some more. Yes there is no body talk in the house but there has to be more.  There has to be more than that for her to not really understand what a diet is.  As I thought about it I realized that my stance on body talk has truly helped her be shielded from it.  Pretty much everyone in my life knows my views on bodies, diets and how we talk about these things.  I do think that most people in my life do not talk about their diets or body talk around me (and therefore my kids) because they know that it will end up being a conversation instead of a flippant remark.  I kinda feel like this has helped form a force field of sorts around my kids.  It's not a perfect field and I know that the dark side will likely be able to find a weak spot and weasel in at some point but for now it seems to be working to hold diet culture at bay.  It just goes to prove to me how important it is to talk about our own bodies in a neutral or positive way at home.  How important it is role model these behaviours.  

But diet culture is a shape shifting villain that rivals Thanos (my first Marvel reference??...hmmm) in strength and determination.  I know that it is every where and as they get older they will see it too.  I hope the base that we have been working to build around bodies and how we treat them will hold.  I hope that this base is safe and warm and is comfortable enough to come home to when needed.

In the meantime we have talked more about diets.  I told E what they mean and why people used them.  I talk to her about the culture and how people think that their lives will be better if they lose weight and so they pursue this dream without living their lives in the moment.  We even talked about how people use "health" to fat shame and encourage people to diet.  To which my almost 10 year old looked me straight in the eye and said...." you mean people think that you can determine someones health by looking at them??...That makes no SENSE!!"

And that is why I have hope in the future....

Until next time by Unapologetically you...while I be Unapologetically me..

summer weather means...

Last Monday was the start of summer here in Canada...well kind of.  It was Victoria Day on Monday or as many call it May 2-4 the first long weekend of the summer.  Which is when I start to believe that we are done with snow and ready for some summer sun.  In fact my family spent Saturday swimming at my brothers house. Watching the kids jump happily in and out of the water brought my brain to the part I dislike the most about summer.  The onslaught of ads and discussions about "getting that beach body" or "get swimsuit ready". I firmly believe that you get a beach body by putting it on a beach and to be swimsuit ready you need to own a swimsuit and put it on.  But I am aware that is not the case for most.  In fact I had a vivid flashback to a picture of myself to a time that I didn't think I was "swimsuit ready"  

For years my mom had a photo in her kitchen window of my brother and I on a family trip to Florida.  I was about 10 or 11- not much older than my daughter is presently- and I was in my favourite blue and pink bikini.  My brother was shirtless in his swimsuit and aviators (everything makes a comeback!) and flexing his arms-likely imitating some wrestler.  He looked calm and relaxed and clearly comfortable hamming it up for the camera.  I however have this weird look on my face as I am clearly sucking in my stomach for the picture.  My arms were at an odd angle as I tried to pull my belly button closer to my spine (thanks Cosmo for that tip).  WTF!! When did I learn to suck it in for the camera.  I honestly do not remember.  I do remember lying to a friend in high school when she asked me why I was sucking in my stomach for that picture.  My response " I wasn't I was just thin"  and the stupid part is that I was thin.  My body was perfectly fine as it was and I was supposed to be enjoying this amazing trip that I got to miss a whole week of school from but instead I worried about what I looked like on the beach.  This is something I do not want for my daughter or son for that matter.  I watch her now, carefree running around in her bathing suit, and I think "how do I protect her from this" (now she is a gymnast-which will be a whole other post someday I am sure)  But I know what I can do at home.  Talk about bodies in a positive way (which we do), not diet (there are no good or bad foods here, just food) and show her that I love my body and I am not ashamed of it (this is likely the hardest one as we all have days this is hard).  So I wear my bikini's- they fit me the best as I am long in the torso and they are way more comfortable than one piece suits(thought why did I feel the need to justify why I wear bikinis?)- without a T-shirt.  Stretch marks from 2 pregnancies, an 8 inch scar down my stomach from a bowel resection surgery 10 years ago, and skin covered in auto immune psoriasis (scars and active ones) be damned.  I need to show my kids (both not just the girl) that my body is fine just the way it is.  And if anyone has a problem with that then that is their problem and societies problem.  Not mine.  And especially not the problems kids need to be facing.

So yesterday to further push myself even further into presenting my body as is, I joined (figuratively as I don't think there is an actual thing to join) the #SportsBraSquad by running in my sports bra.  (Sports Bra Squad was created by Kelly Roberts and documented on her blog RunSelfieRepeat.com)  I am attaching a photo for proof.  Please see that there was no sucking in of stomach.  So to the 10 year old me...nothing you have accomplished in life was because you sucked in your stomach on the beach that day, you accomplished it because you are determined, smart and caring.  And none of that has to do with how you look in a swimsuit

And one final note on my sports bra run.  An elderly lady was walking towards me as I ran on the sidewalk of a busy street.  She signaled for me to stop and I worried something was wrong with her.  She said "You are amazing for dressing appropriately in this heat!! Good job"  and off she went.  Sometimes it just takes a little comment to make you brave enough to take a selfie of your stomach and put it on twitter....and always remember the reverse is true. 

Until next time be unapologetically you while I be unapologetically me....in my sports bra!

Running.....

So I like to run.  I do not run fast, not even close.  I am sure I look like I am staggering down the road at times because I don't get enough rest (KIDS!!) and I likely drink more coffee than water so I get a bit dehydrated but I run.   I do not run for weight management or weight loss.  I do not run to give myself permission to eat whatever I choose ( I feel I am allowed to eat whatever I choose regardless of my physical activity that day).  I run because it makes me feel good.  Not just physically but mentally.  I struggled with postpartum depression after both of my kids.  It was not a great place to be living.  But running helped.  It was meditative for me.  It allowed me time to take deep breaths, to look at the sun (or rain I kinda like running in the rain), to listen to music that had swear words (!), and to feel like I was moving forward at a time in my life when I felt stuck and alone.  I have continued running since.  In order for me to keep "moving forward" and not just give all my time to my kids I sign up for races.  I have no expectation of winning and sometimes the goal is just to finish but I show up at these events knowing that the last 12 weeks of training for this was more for my mental state than the time I get when I finish.  

Almost 2 weeks ago I ran in the Goodlife Toronto Half Marathon.  For those of you that do not know the half marathon is 21.1km (13.1 miles).  I had been sick leading up to it and was actually going to withdraw but I decided that I need to be a positive role model to my kids and finish what I signed up to do.  So I went alone to Toronto very early on that chilly Sunday morning and as I waiting in my starting corral - the last one as I mentioned I am slower- I looked around at all the bodies standing with me.  There were women and men of various ages and sizes standing all around me talking to each other.  Many were talking about being nervous, hoping they finished, some talked about how chilly it was, 2 men were discussing the breakfast they were planning on having after in great detail (sausage, bacon and eggs if you are wondering) but one woman's voice stuck out to me.  I heard her say to her (I am assuming) friend that " I didn't lose enough weight to be here". I almost screamed "WTF! You are about to be a total badass and run 21.1km down one of the coolest streets in the world.  How can your last thoughts on that be about your weight?!?!"  But I didn't yell that because the horn went off and the crowd surged forward.  I spent about the first 3km really wondering about that voice.  Wondering if she was enjoying her run.  Wondering if she noticed the CN Tower from our vantage point.  Wondering who she was so I could find her and tell her that she is a rock star for setting a goal and making it to that start line. 

I had kinda forgotten about that comment as the race was very difficult for me that day and I had my own moments of tears on the course (full disclosure- actually following a training plan is important- doing half the plan then not running for 3 weeks prior to race is not advisable).  But I was reminded of it yesterday when the email came saying "your race photos are ready". So at larger races there are usually photographers on the course taking your picture to commemorate the experience.  I looked at the photos and thought "Man you do not look pretty when you run" and " you really do not have runners thighs".  Then BAM!  I totally had to WTF myself!   My realization of "wow you looked at your physical self in that moment not the internal struggles you were going through at that time" was disconcerting.  I did what I spend so much of my time trying to get others not to do.  I shamed my body when it carried me 21.1kms over 2hrs and 36mins!!  It was F'ing amazing!  My body did not let me down that day my brain (and lungs asthma is a pain) did.  So I have realized that no matter how long I have been practicing self love or body acceptance I still will throw down some self hatred when vulnerable.  I should never have judged the woman on the starting line for her comments-even a tiny bit- because she was likely being vulnerable in the only way she knows how in our weight obsessed culture.  

So I am going to continue to work on myself while I work with others to overcome body shaming and issues with self worth.  And this coming Sunday I am going to lace up my running shoes once again, toe that starting line (from the back of the pack) and run 21.1km all the while reminding myself that my body is badass and it carries me through this race and this life and it deserves to be honoured.  I may even buy a race photo to remind myself of that...

Until next time be unapologetically you will I be unapologetically me