When your car overheats, you take it to be fixed.
When the washing machine stops working, you call the repair guy.
When your life breaks down you… go to 7/11 for ice cream and sit on the couch watching reruns of NYPD Blue while eating Haagan Daaz without thinking of your health.*
*Actual real true story.
My name is Sarah. I am 37 and a half years old. I am single. I am creative and smart and loyal. I am passionate, musical and hard working. I am (very) overweight. There are parts of my life that are truly wonderful and there are parts… that are not.
Last June I had a realization. Sitting in New York City hospital room next to my vibrant mother who was hooked up to tubes and beeping machines after having completely (no, really, completely) unpredicted heart surgery while holding my cell phone in my hand waiting for news about my dad who was, consequently, also in a New Jersey hospital after a fall down the stairs that was prompted by unsteady walking he’d adapted as a side effect of intense chemotherapy used to treat his Multiple Myeloma.
It hit me like a ton of bricks; I was going to die one day. I had no idea how soon, or when, but as I contemplated the well-being of BOTH my parents at the exact same time, the idea of my own mortality became very, very real.
It hit me like a ton of bricks; I was going to die one day. I had no idea how soon, or when, but as I contemplated the health and well-being of BOTH my parents at the exact same time, the idea of my own mortality became very, very real.
And suddenly, all the things about my body that I knew in theory weren’t right – all the aches and pains and signs that I wasn’t living in more ideal health—became spray painted in neon on the walls of my mind.
My knees. My lower back. The flights of stairs that looked like the Himalayan mountains. The reality that my body had limitations that kept me from doing some things I’d wanted to. All of these things and more became crystal clear to me.
For the last six years, I have had the joy and pleasure of working in the plus size fashion industry and, in turn, have been part of the body positive movement encouraging women to feel beautiful at every size and shape. Body positivity is a beautiful thing; I truly love it. My realization has NOTHING to do with being body positive. Rather, it’s about life. More specifically, staying alive and living the quality and kind of life I desired to have.
I would never, EVER rob anyone of the joy that comes with being free in their own skin. I am. I wear what I want, I bare my arms and my midsection and I go through life pretty much focused on defining my own sense of self worth instead of placing that value in the hands of others. I would never, EVER say that body size has anything to do with validity in life because it doesn’t. All bodies deserve to live in a world where they feel free, accepted and beautiful.
As a woman of size, fifteen years ago I never would have dreamed of a world where other gals like me would be comfortable wearing bikinis and proudly showing their statuesque curves in form fitting clothes. I never imagined a size 14 woman would grace the cover of Sports Illustrated. I never imagined such a thing as Social Media where I’d be flooded with pictures of beaming, smiling beautiful women feeling brilliant in their bodies. This is an AMAZING and truly wonderful thing.
At the same time, I believe there is a health reality that comes with being larger that we simply don’t talk about. So I’ll say something that may lose me some “cool points” but, I am totally ok with that…
I believe there’s a reason why so many outspoken Fatshion / Body Positive advocates are young. And that reason is simply, because, an obese body at 25 feels a lot different than it does at 35. And a hell of a lot more different than it does at 45. At 25 your body has simply had less wear and tear so your size effects you less… By the time you start getting older, if you haven’t been paying attention to the health and wellness of your body (as I have not) than there is a real chance that things might start catching up with you.
Do I think you can be overweight and healthy at the same time? First off, I’m not a doctor and I would never claim to be. So, let’s just get that out of the way. My personal feeling, however, is yes AND no. I personally believe that ones level of health is tied to a variety of factors including genetic makeup, age, activity level and the degree to which you are overweight.
For all the women ready to take up arms against me, saying “I’m fat and I’m healthy” please know that I believe you, and more so, it doesn’t matter to me!! Your body is YOURS to do with as you please. And part of living in this life is being able to make decisions for yourself and only you. As long as you feel good and at peace with who you are in life, I am here to support you and show you the mutual respect that all persons deserve between them. I am not here to make a big, sweeping bucket statement about health and obesity and the general population.
This is not about all of you. This is about me. And I believe I am not living a healthy life. But this is in more ways than one…
I’m want to dispel the idea that a summary of my “health” is determined only by my weight. Instead, lets wrap our heads around the idea that being a “healthy person” has to do, instead, with ones overall lifestyle. What you eat, how you move and, even more than that, how you think about things and your mental state.
To me the idea of “wellness” is a 360-degree puzzle that encompasses my entire life. Not only asking myself if I am eating foods that fuel me the way I need to be fueled and moving my body more so that it becomes more free to do the things I want it to do… but am I making the emotional choices I need to make to become a more satisfied and peaceful person? For example, are the relationships that I am in supporting and building me up to be an authentic version of myself? Or do they drain and deplete me and leave me questioning my personal life tenents?
The reality that I needed to start drastically living in greater physical health blossomed to life inside me in the summer of 2015. But the idea that I needed to be making better emotional choices didn’t bloom for months after that…
We’ve all heard the (maudlin) idea that, if you take a frog and throw it into a pot of boiling water it will immediately jump out, sensing the life threatening hot water. But if you place that same frog in tepid water and slowly, slowly, slowly turn the heat up… It will boil to death as its body adjusts to its surroundings not realizing till it’s too late (or, frankly, never realizing at all) that its little amphibian life is in danger. We’ve all heard this metaphor. But, what if this same concept applies when it comes to the choices we make in our own personal relationships? Our lives in general?
Obviously, comparing life to death by way of boiling water is dramatic; it’s a metaphor, it’s supposed to be in order to make the point. But, if you’re anything like me, maybe you’ve found yourself making the same mistakes time and time again in your personal relations and wondering why different results haven’t yielded? And the pain from making those same repeated mistakes builds up, slowly over time, till you realize you’re in a pretty big rut.
…if you’re anything like me, maybe you’ve found yourself making the same mistakes time and time again in your personal relations and wondering why different results haven’t yielded? And the pain from making those same repeated mistakes builds up, slowly over time, till you realize you’re in a pretty big rut.
My “ahha moment” came while listening to a Gabby Bernstein lecture. In it, she talked about the idea that relationships are actually “assignments from the universe” sent to us for teachable and learning moments. To be specific, her book Miracles Now states that “Relationships are assignments for optimal growth and healing.”
I can hear some of you groaning. That’s ok. The idea of the Universe being an actual living thing that has forces effecting your life IS a weird idea that I only somewhat wrapped my head around. But then I started to think. As I reflected, I realized, if I were truly being honest with myself, when it comes to dating and my personal relationships, I have made a lot of the same mistakes with the same types of men. The same thing with bosses, some friends and, in general, the ebbs and flows we all face every day. It became clear to me that I was repeating my own patterns and getting mad when my actions didn’t result in different outcomes. And as Gabby spoke… I realized that the Universe was sending me assignments that I was failing to grow from. Like she said, I was facing the same issues, the same assignments, time and time again. And I would KEEP facing them until I learned to do things differently.
Which brings me to where I am now. Six months away from my Official Scary Age (you have one too, right? I mean, I think that’s pretty normal) and 30 months away from turning 40. On one hand, an eternity away… on the other? Pretty damn close.
And so I decided it’s time for me to to make some big life changes. And I’m going to do it openly, publically and vulnerably. (Holy shitballs, Batman, this is TOTES scary!) My hope is that there are other women out there (and maybe even some men) who can relate to the th
ings I will go through. And, together, we can share that growth.
This isn’t about becoming skinny. Frankly, I don’t ever see myself being a thin person. What this is about is living a life in a state of health that allows me to become the things I want, do the things I want and feel the way I want. I want to live more freely. I want my body to propel me forward and not hold me back. On an emotional level, this is not about racing to the alter, though I believe I would, eventually ,like to be in a relationship that leads towards marriage at some point in time in my life. This is about me living in a state of mind where I am thriving, peaceful and open. When I do hit roadblocks I want to have the tools to sort and address the issues with more balanced ease.
This is about living and what living means to ME.
And so I am launching a quest. To be greater and more healthy when I turn 40 than I was when I turned 30. No chasing numbers on a scale. Instead, I’ll be looking at the greater health of my life on a whole and making changes to become more active and and more strong, both emotionally and physically. Turning 30 was a huge life milestone. And so will be turning 40. And it’s coming. It’s not here yet but I can see it in the horizon… And I want to be ready for it. I want to kick its ass with humor and grace like a badass beast of babealiscous awesomeoness! I want to greet 40 stronger, more healthy and more happy and more greater than I’ve ever been before.
A few general housekeeping notes before I go.
If you currently follow me on SarahPlusLife you can be assured that this content will not be forced on you. I will be keeping the two separate so, if your focus is on plus size fashion and general life inspiration, you can stay focused on that. If you chose to be part of this experience, you can. Easy peasy.
- I’m going to share some stuff that’s pretty raw and hard. And I’m doing it knowing that not everyone will agree with me. That’s ok. This is about being authentic to ME and my process.
- To any future ex husbands or employers reading this (grin) know that this is a conscious choice I am making as a woman. Over the last two years and, especially the last year, I have come to believe that part of my living a purpose-filled life means embracing the idea of being radically vulnerable. So, to any men I may meet in the future… you can relax, I will NOT be sharing your names or information though, if you teach me something about myself there’s a good chance I will share that. Lastly…
- Talk to me. No really. Talk to me. I want to hear from you. Respond to my blog comments, Facebook and Instagram posts. Talk to me on social media. Because as much as this is about me…. It’s also about connecting with you. If I wanted to just “get healthy” I could do it private where my successes (and failures!) would happen in the comfortable privacy of my own life. But… maybe, just maybe, there is someone out there in this big wide world who is like me. Someone who is equally as scared but equally as passionate about becoming more healthy. And for that person… I’m sharing my journey.
If you have made it this far… than you. I can tell you right now that I have no idea what the next few years of my life will bring, but I have an open heart and an open mind and I am ready for the journey.
PS. What do you think about My Story? Can you relate? I’d LOVE to hear from you! Please chime in the comments below. I will try to reply to you all!! I’d love to hear from you.