Give Women A Break!

This past week held a lot of great news for women — and a lot of news that made me want to tear my hair out! I can’t understand how people don’t see that they’re belittling a whole sect of the population and that they don’t see anything wrong with that!

Yup, I’m on my soap box. Watch out.

First up, the lovely Melissa McCarthy. She earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last week, and I was so happy for her! I was definitely distracted by the beauty of her dress at the event — she looked gorgeous!

via CBS

via CBS

But when I started reading articles about the honor she earned, I started getting angry that all the sources wanted to talk about is that it looks like she’s lost weight. Wait … what? Why is that important? Why is it that no accomplishment in this life seems as important to some people as losing weight? If she had accepted the star and she was the same weight or, God forbid, had gained weight, would the honor be any less cool? No.

Sadly, the headlines in the British tabloids were the worst, as they usually are.

Daily Mail

via Daily Mail

Look at the words they use — “shrinking,” “one of the biggest female stars in show business … even if there is less of her.” And I love that they say she’s hiding her figure “in an unflattering billowing frock.” Really?

Really?

It’s time people got recognized for more than just their size.

Which moves me to my next issue — Tess Holliday. I think it is so, so awesome that People Magazine put her on the cover. Her accomplishments in bridging the gap between straight-size and plus-size models are so admirable, and now she’s on the cover of a magazine that usually touts weight-loss, bikini bodies and moms “getting their body back.”

But why do they have to call out her size, as if this number is the only thing that can describe her?

tess holliday

As Lesley said in her great piece at XOJane.com, her name almost always comes with the descriptor “size 22.” It’s kind of a shame that we can’t just call her model Tess Holliday. Do I need to start introducing myself with my size? Or my SAT score?

I don’t think we should be ashamed of the size we wear or the number on the scale, but I also feel this shouldn’t be THE THING that’s used to describe a person. Not to mention, as Lesley points out in the article, this also invites unfair comparisons. And we all need to stop comparing ourselves to others. 

The third piece of news that had me raging this past week had to do with another number — age. Apparently Maggie Gyllenhaal was passed up for a role because she wasn’t young enough to play a 55-year-old’s girlfriend. And she’s 37. Um … what?

As someone who just realized that this year’s high school graduating class was born the year I graduated high school, I may be a bit age-sensitive right now (ha!). But I just think this is ridiculous. I am grateful to work in an industry where age doesn’t seem to be an issue … but sometimes it is a “perceived” issue — that somehow if you’re younger, your ideas are fresher. Not to mention your salary can be lower, so you’re cheaper to have on staff. But Hollywood seems to have ageism locked up — especially when it comes to women — and it’s sad. Gyllenhaal is a talented actress, and saying she can’t play a 55-year-old’s girlfriend is completely ridiculous.

Finally, I had to address the high-heel fiasco at Cannes. As someone who has a lot of problems with my feet, sometimes heels just aren’t an option for me. And to turn away a whole group of women for not wearing heels seems ludicrous.

Apparently the dress code also includes “black tie” for men, and I know wearing a tie isn’t necessarily comfortable either. There must be a way for Cannes to evoke an air of glamour without having all of their attendees forced to wear what a certain group of people deem is “acceptable.”

It’s amazing to me that with all the strides we make — plus-size models on major runways and in ad campaigns, women like Mindy Kaling running and starring in her own show, are just two examples — that we still beat women down a lot more than we build them up. And the worst thing, in my opinion, is when other women do it to each other. I’m a firm believer in celebrating other people’s successes. And maybe if we concentrate on doing that more, news like this past week won’t be “news” anymore!

amy poehler

Posted in Body Image, Body Positive, plus-size, pop culture | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

The Next #stellarmiles Makeshift 5k: July 18

I know, I know what you’re thinking: a 5k? In July? Seriously, Jen?

Yup! Look, if I was able to start my #stellarmiles challenge last summer, we can certainly run or walk 3.1 miles on July 18 … as long as it’s early. Like, really early.

So I hope you will get ready to meet me at 7 a.m. on Saturday, July 18, and run or walk with me!

5k magnet Please let me emphasize the WALK portion of this #stellarmiles Makeshift 5k. I want to encourage everyone to challenge themselves with the distance of 3.1 miles, but know that walking the entire way, or part of the way, is absolutely 100% OK! If you want to run the whole way, that’s OK, too. The more, the merrier!

During the next couple of months, I will offer running and walking tips in my new monthly newsletter (subscribe to the right!) with links to other articles or inspiration. Look for more on this topic via my Facebook page or my Instagram account, too.

And don’t forget that if you’re reading this blog outside of where I live in Alabama, you can join in virtually! Tell me how your training is going, ask me questions, and then run or walk with me on July 18. I will do another Instagram challenge that day with a giveaway included! (Stay tuned to the blog to check out what my friends won by participating in the last Makeshift 5k! I’m slow getting this prize to them, but it’s coming!)

As I work on my goals for May to find balance between eating more healthfully and still continuing to exercise, I don’t want to let my walking/running ability slide. So having a goal like this Makeshift 5k to work on, in addition to going to my boot camp, spinning and yoga classes, will keep me on track and give me a goal to work toward.

Will you join me for the #stellarmiles Makeshift 5k on July 18? I hope so!

Posted in Fitness, Health, Healthy Eating, Running, Workouts | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Midmonth Update: Workouts & Food

onedayatatime

I am a few days late checking in with y’all on how my monthly goals are going.

This month I really wanted to focus on eating, and I am not doing too bad. I will admit to eating a few too many sweets — what is it about baked goods that makes me go weak in the knees? But more often than not this month I have turned to some fairly tasty, healthy snacks, namely The Good Bean’s roasted chick peas, dried apricots, fresh raspberries and portion-controlled cashews.

My weekends have been … OK. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I haven’t had some indulgences on the weekends, because I have. I do believe that if I keep myself in check during the week, I can still have a little leniency on the weekends and lose weight. But admittedly I need to work on my weekend food routine.

Another area I need to work on is preparing meals. I am a big fan of grocery shopping only once or twice a week for the items I need for all of my meals — but lately I feel like I’ve been at the grocery store every other day. I actually went last night, and I got the ingredients for meals for throughout the week. I will check in soon with some of the dishes I am eating for lunch and dinner, but this will be my week to stick to the plan and not give in to the ease of picking up food and bringing it home, even if it is a salad!

As for workouts, I’ve been pretty happy with my progress! I hit up Firm Body Boot Camp last week, spinning and yoga. The week before I was nursing my sore knee, so I focused more on my eating, but last night I went for a short walk/run, and thankfully I felt pretty good! I want to fit in at least two walks/runs and a boot camp class for the remainder of this week.

I really am learning that when I eat more healthfully and drink a ton of water, the weight comes off a little easier and I simply feel better. Of course, this is my biggest struggle, so I am taking it one day at a time. My workouts fuel that healthy attitude and make me feel stronger and less stressed. So finding that happy balance with food and fitness is my focus this month, and so far I’m pretty happy with how I’m moving forward.

Check in with me on what you’re working on during May! Are you making progress with your goals? We’ve got this!

Posted in exercise, Fitness, Food, Health, Healthy Eating, Workouts | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Shopping For Plus-size Swimsuits

Finding a swimsuit is never easy. Finding a swimsuit and being plus-size? About damn near impossible at times. I knew I had to have a new suit this year, with a week-long Florida vacation on my horizon. But I also knew I didn’t want the typical swimsuit I’d had in years past.

Baring your skin — whether it’s your arms, your thighs, whatever — is never easy when you’re not considered by society’s standards to be “ideal.” But I think everyone deserves the right to enjoy a day by the pool, or a walk on the beach, in something that makes him/her feel confident and, yes, a bit sassy.

So hence, my search began.

My gotta-have-a-new-swimsuit journey started about a month ago. I checked for plus-size swimsuit posts on some of my favorite blogs, like Gabifresh and The Curvy Fashionista. I sent Gchat messages to a friend who, luckily, was also searching for a new bathing suit. And perusing stores online became somewhat of an obsession.

Finally, I ventured out into the actual stores, hoping to try on some of the suits I had seen online. Sadly, Torrid didn’t have much of a selection in their stores. I worked on summoning my courage, building up my confidence, to finally try the scariest swimsuit of all: the plus-size two-piece. Unfortunately, neither Torrid nor Lane Bryant carried many of these in their stores. And the pieces I wanted to try on at Target were largely picked through, with very few sizes left to choose from.

(from top left) Target top and bottom, $28 and $23; Target, $28; Lane Bryant

(from top left) Target top and bottom, $28 and $23; Target, $28; Lane Bryant top and bottom, $60 and $50; Lane Bryant top, $70; Lane Bryant top, $65

All of these suits were strong contenders. The ruched bottoms from Target are high-wasted and very flattering. If I didn’t already own a pair of black bottoms that I like a lot, I would have bought these in a heart-beat. At $23, I still might! While I liked the two tops at Target, the top left didn’t have as much support as I’d like, and I definitely wanted to add the optional straps onto the middle tie-dyed tankini. The other three suits from Lane Bryant were pretty good — the orange/pink one had a decent amount of support thanks to the straps, but not a ton, and the bottom pink was a little snug throughout the stomach. The black-and-white striped top was my favorite, but too similar to the bathing suit I’ve been wearing for the past few years. And I loved the mini-skirt bottom — I have never tried this style before and, though I don’t care about having to bare my cottage-cheese thighs, I do like the little skirt!

Finally, though, I found my winners:

Lane Bryant, bottom $??, (left) top, $??, (right) top $??

Lane Bryant, bottom $50, (left) top, $70, (right) top $55

I loved the bright orange colors of the left tankini, and the top holds me up — hello, underwire! — and the wider straps are flattering and a little retro. I love the way it paired with the swim-skirt, too. Same with the … bikini top! Yup, I did it! I wanted to stretch my wardrobe this summer, and with this top, I am definitely stepping out of my comfort zone.

Of all the bikini tops I tried on, I had a good feeling about this one because of the coverage it provides. I’m shy about my back, but with the high-waisted swim-skirt, and the thicker bands of this top, I feel comfortable. I love the V-neck — very flattering — and the gold detail in the middle adds a little glamour.

If you’re venturing into buying a new swimsuit — especially if you’re plus-size — I recommend taking the time to try a lot of options on … even if it takes you a total of five hours, like it did for me! I also ordered more than $350 of swimsuits from Lane Bryant (shipped to the store for free!) before deciding on these two and returning the rest.

It took some work, but I’m happy with my purchases! Are you looking for a new bathing suit for the summer? Where do you usually have good luck?

Posted in Body Image, Body Positive, Clothes, Confidence, Fashion, plus-size, Style | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What I Want Now: Summer Clothes!

In 2007 when I moved to Alabama, I was overwhelmed by the heat. I had never lived anywhere with the humidity that we experience here in the South. Sure, I had vacationed in Florida lots of times, but Florida heat is … tropical. The heat in Alabama can seem stagnant at times. It can be stifling.

So, when I moved here, I immediately adapted my wardrobe to my new location. Capris, shorts and lots and lots of sundresses. At the time, I wasn’t really shy about baring my arms. It was hot — why would I layer on a shrug?

For some reason, that changed a couple of years ago. I started to feel self-conscious about my arms. They are … thick. I mean, look, I’m plus-sized. It is what it is. I should just accept that and dress comfortably, appropriately, for the weather.

And I’m trying to change my tune this summer. For some reason, it feels like a badge of confidence, stepping out in a sundress without wearing a shrug or cardigan. In the office, I still wear a light sweater most of the time because the air-conditioning is chilly.

But outside? Outside I’m going to try baring my arms. Loud and proud, I say!

With that in mind, and with a new bolder outlook for my summer fashion dreams, here are some items I would love to add to my wardrobe this season.

I am dying to try a jumpsuit, and this summer I will! A fellow local blogger who I greatly admire, Jeniese at The Je Ne Sais Quoi recently posted a beautiful cobalt jumpsuit from Eloquii. After seeing her rock this awesome look, I thought, I should try this, too!

This is another gorgeous option from Lane Bryant. I love the cutouts on the shoulders, which are mimicked on the back, too.

Target, $35

Target, $35

I stumbled upon these palazzo pants in Target today — they’re in the straight-size section, but thanks to Target going up to size XXL with most of their clothes, they should fit me, too. I love the crazy pattern and different blues!

This dress just screams summer office-wear to me! It could so easily go from day to night — just switch out your shoes or add on a pair of dangling earrings. This cut looks incredibly flattering, too.

I totally need this dress for casual days on vacation. You can easily throw this on as a bathing suit cover-up to go to lunch on the beach, or pair with dressier sandals and wear it out to dinner. A really versatile piece!

Finally, if I could have one thing included in this post, it would be this dress! The colors, the pleats, the silhouette. Perfect! And since I only have one maxi dress, it’s an addition to my wardrobe that surely expands my look.

What items are you hoping to buy for summer?

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May Goals

Well, it’s May 5 and I’m just now getting to posting about my monthly goals. Sorry for the delay this month, but I was a little busy visiting with my Dad this weekend!

At Talladega Speedway with my dad and husband on Sunday!

At Talladega Speedway with my dad and husband on Sunday!

I had a great weekend, full of lots of steps (and new friends on my FitBit! Hey, cousins!) and some yard work, in addition to my first Nascar race at Talladega.
Now it’s time to think about goals for May!

photo (16)

This month, I want to do things a little differently. I plan to post more often on Instagram and Twitter reporting on how I’m doing with eating more healthfully. I will try to post some of my meals or, when I’m struggling to make healthy decisions, insightful quotes to keep me (and us!) on track.

I’m also switching up my workouts a bit with a boot camp class that I want to attend twice a week. I also want to get in yoga on Wednesdays because it centers and calms me like no other exercise I’ve tried, thanks to my great instructor, Kelly. Also, I need the break to focus on stretching properly because I have been experiencing some knee pain this past week. I am going to ease up on running for a while and see how my knee feels. I will still walk, and I want to get to spinning, too, but I will wear a knee brace during each of those activities (probably boot camp, too), and ice my knee after working out.

So, this month I am not going to give you a #stellarmiles challenge. Instead, I am going to challenge you to track your steps daily and aim for 8,000 or more. On my FitBit, 10,000 steps is the daily goal, but I feel really good about my day if I reach 8,000. You can download apps to track your steps if you don’t have a fitness tracker. 

If after a week or so of rest my knee feels better, I will start running again, too. But I will count those in for my daily steps, instead of trying to reach 30 miles this month.

You all know from my last post that exercise makes me feel strong, more confident and more able to make healthy eating decisions. So just because I’m cutting back on running to show
some love to my knee, that doesn’t mean I want the workouts to stop. Hence the plan to go to boot camp, yoga, spinning and walk.

But this month my focus will be on food and how I feel. Food has always been my No. 1 struggle, and I need to focus on finding ways to deal with cravings more proactively.

My final challenge for May? Don’t step on the scale! As I said in last week’s post, I don’t want to weigh myself as often as I have been (multiple times a week is common for me). I plan to stay off the scale until the end of May. Then I will check in to see how things look, but before I do so, I plan to write down all the things I accomplished in May that I am happy about. This way I can keep the number on the scale in perspective! 

What are your goals for May? Tell me about them all, whether fitness and health related or pertaining to your career or hobbies!

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Food v. Fitness & How I Feel

Lately, I have read a few articles that make a lot of bold claims about what will lead to weight loss and/or better health. It seems the debate centers around this idea that you can’t lose a significant amount of weight through exercise only — you must also eat heathfully, too. Or, in fact, what you eat should be your primary focus.

I don’t disagree with this. Whenever I have lost weight, it has been directly associated to eating better. The problem is, some people are taking this message to mean that you shouldn’t worry about exercise at all, then, if your goal is weight loss.

Six years ago, Time wrote a controversial article titled “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin.” In the piece, the reporter says that exercise might even make it harder for someone to lose weight because working out stimulates appetite, making us hungrier.

In response to this article, Fitness Magazine counters the thought that exercise isn’t essential for weight loss, stating it helps boost metabolism and curbs emotional eating, among other benefits.

So, what should you do if you’re trying to lose weight?

Clearly, I am not an expert on the subject. I have struggled with my weight for many years, and probably will continue to do so for the rest of my life.

But here’s what I do know: You have to find what works for you.

Yes, you need to eat healthfully and, in my opinion, you also need to exercise regularly. I’m not saying exercise will necessarily help you lose weight. But I have found it provides a host of other benefits, such as helping me sleep better, feel more energized and it’s obviously a better hobby to indulge in than, say, something that keeps me sitting at a desk or on the couch.

I have recently come to a couple of conclusions about myself, my weight loss and fitness goals, and ultimately how I want to feel:

  1. My biggest struggle is with food, and it is something I will have to work on, daily. Call it a food addiction, call it “food issues,” I simply have trouble eating a consistently healthy diet. When you narrow it down, I need to cut down on carbs and sugar. I also need to permanently give up Diet Coke (again! Ha!). Finding the balance between eating intuitively, tracking what I eat, eating protein/veggies/fruit, and letting myself have the occasional treat — this is what I will forever have to work on.
  2. I feel best when I am exercising regularly. I make better food choices when I work out often, and I feel more in-tune with my body and more confident, as well. Having fitness goals, such as making it through a full boot camp class without skipping any exercises, or running a 5k faster, these goals help challenge me to work harder physically, while also improving my cardiovascular health. I do not want to give up exercise, even if it means I need a snack in the afternoon to make it through an evening workout.
  3. For my mental health, I feel I sometimes need to stop getting on the scale, stop actively trying to lose weight, and still continue to work on the two factors above — eating healthfully and working out — but doing so simply because it makes me feel better. I feel stronger physically and mentally when I am working on those factors, when I am eating better and I am more active. But trying to achieve some kind of weight-loss goal, or fit into a certain clothing size, actually drains me emotionally.

I think the reason I’ve come to these conclusions is because although I want to strive to be a healthier person, and that does include weight loss, I am tired of feeling like a failure. When I don’t lose weight consistently, I fear that I am not working hard enough. Even if I feel good, even if I’m happy about all other areas of my life and I’m pleased with how I’ve been eating or working out, if I’m not actually losing weight, then I feel that I’ve failed.

Carrying around that feeling of failure is not something I want to do anymore.

Now, I’m not saying that I’m not going to continue to work on my health, on losing weight or becoming more physically fit. What I’m saying is the scale isn’t going to be the ultimate measure of success anymore.

I want to focus more on how I feel — emotionally, mentally and physically — rather than just that so-called “ideal” weight or clothing size.

For me, this debate about whether to eat healthfully or exercise to lose weight isn’t the right debate at all. I think we should strive to do both as best as we can. We should try to eat foods that are good for us, we should try to move more — but we should do it for our overall health and how it makes us feel, rather than for the number on the scale.

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