Fat Shame Update

When I wrote "Fat Shame On Me", I was in a foul mood. I was pissed at myself. I was mad at my body and even more so at my mind. Only someone who has fought the battle of the bulge knows how it feels to be so tied up in that sticky web of feelings: so much anger at yourself, sadness about what a deep hole you've dug, embarrassment about the fact that unlike a smoker or drinker, your bad habits are on display for the world to see:

Step right up, folks, and take a gander at my Fat Suit! Yep, my once fit body is now encased in five year's worth of financial stress, relationship angst and parenting insanity. All those days I decided getting to the gym or out for a walk sounded like too much work? Behold my belly fat. The two or five tubs of artichoke dip from Costco that just happened to fall in the cart, along with the 500 oz. bag of pita chips? Let the wonder of my behemoth butt sink in.

Okay, I know. Harsh, right? But that's how I was feeling after stepping on the scale that night. I did a lot of moaning, even more weeping, and had some intense conversations with friends who have been down this path.

And then, I did something about it.

I made an appointment for a physical. I needed someone else to see what I was seeing, both on the scale and in the flesh. I needed numbers and advice and reassurance that it's not too late to do something to change. I needed a follow-up appointment so there's a date in the future that I can look forward to. I needed someone to hold me accountable.

I got all of that. Plus some.

Since I wrote that post, exactly three weeks ago, I've made efforts big and small. I've decided to become kinder to myself, to show my body the same consideration I show my children and my friends. I LOVE YOU, NO MATTER WHAT. I saw this quote making the rounds on facebook and instagram:

I decided that the fight I was having with my body was a lot like the ages-long fight I've been in with my ex-husband. My body, like my ex, could do no right. It was oafish and lame and despicable. It wasn't worthy of my time nor was it worthy of my love.

I'm not saying I love my ex-husband. What I'm saying is that I no longer hate him. And once that hate lifted, I noticed his existence was no longer like a rock in my shoe. I wasn't reminded of him every time I took a step. Even though he truly done me wrong, I decided to mentally forgive him so I could mentally move on.

My body deserves that, too. In fact, since I am stuck with this body, I think it deserves even more forgiveness, more grace and way more love than my ex-husband does. Bodies don't leave, you know. They tend to stick around.

For the past three weeks, I've been working hard. Walter (my dog) and I have been out every single day, for our beloved long walks. Between 3 and 5 miles at a time, these walks have done wonders for both of us. He no longer has the "I give up" look about him, and I am feeling the mental and physical benefits. I consider these walks the warm-up I need to get me ready to face the gym again. Yes, I am one of those people who are worried that I'm too fat to go to the gym (they've never seen overweight people at the YMCA, ya know).

(On this note: can we break away from the fat talk to discuss music? I need some song suggestions! Let me know your favorite workout music. It doesn't have to be fast paced or anything, believe it or not I get just as much out of a Natalie Merchant song as I do some of my favorite Public Enemy tunes. Hit me up, people. I have something like 400 songs in iTunes and I still find myself hitting "NEXT" all the time.)

The exercising part, while requiring boat-loads of motivation, is nowhere near the mental struggle that is THE EATING PART. I did decide to cut way, way back on the carby, starchy comfort foods that are my kryptonite. This is really hard, people, because not only am I a descendant of hearty, potato and beer loving Irish people, I live in a land that is cold and gray for six months out of the year. This is Minnesota, and it's February. We crave things like hash browns and Beef Stroganoff with wide noodles and bowls of pasta dripping with pesto. It's the time of year when I want to fill a bathtub with my famous mashed potatoes (secret ingredients: cream cheese and love), put on a scuba mask and eat my way through it.

So it's more protein, less carbs. I still need my vanilla granola on my yogurt, but when I make baked potatoes with dinner I make one less and instead roast up a ton of cauliflower or Brussels sprouts or butternut squash (yeah I'm sure one of those is a starch but BABY STEPS okay?). I am trying to keep grilled chicken on hand to chop up into salads, and have discovered that a bowl full of scrambled eggs with chicken sausage, spinach and extra sharp Vermont cheddar is just as good for dinner as it is for breakfast.

One of my awesome readers passed on some incredible Paleo information and has a blog of her own, Our Paleo Playbook, which I have been perusing in my spare time.

I've tried to stay off the scale because I know that those numbers can be a-holes. My weight can fluctuate 5 pounds from morning to night so those daily weigh-ins aren't the best motivators. What I have been doing is a weekly weight check, not unlike the days of Weight Watchers. I've even been taking pictures of the numbers, not for any sort of public flogging, but to let myself see some tangible proof that what I'm doing is having at least some effect. To give myself a timeline of sorts, to look at when I'm really struggling.

As of this morning, three weeks after that fateful wake-up moment in my bathroom and a little over a week after sitting in my doctor's office and facing my BMI...

There are 9 pounds less of me. It's not a Biggest Loser moment, there were no gasps from the audience and no trainer behind me pumping their fists in the air, but I did smile a little. And then, I looked in the big bathroom mirror and told that woman who was looking back at me two things.

"I'm proud of you" and

"I'm glad we're friends."


  1. Black beans and brown rice fills me up for dinner, enough that I don't crave sweets as much afterward. Eating sweets at night and soft drinks are my weaknesses so I focus on avoiding those two things and I try not to worry too much about everything else. And FYI: the paleo diet was rated as one of the worst diet fads of 2014. "Experts" recommend getting to know your body and metabolism and do what works for you. I try to eat as healthy as I can stand to and then move more, particularly movement that makes me sweat or breathe heavy... that includes a lot of fun stuff! heh heh

    Also, I LOVE that you do what I and my BFF call "tell it to the mirror." My shrink recommended this and when I laughingly told BFF about it she said "Oh I do that all the time!" So tell yourself all the good things in the mirror... even give yourself a lil kiss!


    1. Hi Deb! I wonder why the Paleo diet was rated so poorly? Is it unhealthy?? I should look into that. I do know that when I lighten up on the grains my heartburn tends to disappear. At the time of my physical, just over a week ago, it was so bad it was waking me up at night. Haven't had it in several days so it leads me to believe they trigger something in me. Either that or sugar...

      I love beans! How do you prepare your beans and rice? That always sounds so yummy. I have some heat-and-eat bowls of brown jasmine rice from Costco that I should use up.

      LOL@ the "fun stuff". I would VERY MUCH LIKE THAT. We'll see if loving myself helps me in that department, too ;)

      All hail the Mirror Talkers! We're not crazy!!

      Thanks a bunch for reading and for the info. Much appreciated!

  2. I have been working a version [my version] of a Paleo/low carb 'diet', and I have never felt better! The things you do with a diet is what differentiates it from a 'fad' diet, which I was not aware that the Paleo diet was. I was under the impression it has been around for a while and I just 'found' it. (lol) Perhaps it did see a spike in popularity in 2014, but that isn't why I did it and so that doesn't have a bearing on me. I had come across info about Paleo, and I was interested. I liked *most* of the concepts, and decided to use it in conjunction with a common sense lowering of carbs overall. Basically, I've cut the white stuff out of my diet as much as possible (bread, potato, pasta and sugar), but I still allow myself rice, dairy (I've cut that down too), alcohol, and of course all veggies, fruits, meats, fish, nuts and seeds. When I do serve italian, I eat angel hair, one time. Same thing with pizza....if we order in, I have one piece. I don't beat myself up after, because tomorrow it's salad and protein only.

    I have lost about 7 pounds, but the gurgly/bloated feeling I had pretty much all the time in my stomach is gone. My energy is up a bit, which is great because I still workout 1 hour a day, which I have always done. Really, this 'diet' I'm on is the best and most successful thing I've ever done for myself in this regard. The key is, make what you do your own thing. :)

    1. Donna, I have friends who have done the paleo thing for ages, although I do think it did become super trendy last year. Interesting comment about the dairy. I was talking to another low-carb enthusiast the other day and dairy came up. I wasn't aware that some people do eliminate that as well...kinda choked me up because I love my Greek yogurt in the morning and also, CHEESE!!!

      I think the hardest thing is, is learning to be gentle with yourself and like you said, not beating yourself up. Over the past three weeks I've been faced with lots of temptation...including a giant tub of Red Vines that a friend dropped off as a goodwill gesture (we had a little spat). That is something I would have inhaled, just a few week ago. I mean, like, taken fistfuls and shoved down my throat. Last night I brought it into the house, told the boys about it, and walked away. I just kept picturing myself in that doctor's office, and the numbers on the scale, and how badly I want to feel good again. I won the battle last night, but there's still a war. And I know there will be battles I lose.

      And hallelujah, amen, YES to the bloated feeling! Besides the agonizing heartburn I was getting, the bloated stomach thing was the most troubling thing. I got myself convinced that I had some dark, slow-growing tumor festering inside me. (imagination for the win) Just three weeks and I'm feeling soooo much better. Our bodies tell us lots of things, don't they??

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and to offer your suggestions and sharing your tale. I love to hear this stuff!!

    2. I think the key is always to tweak those diets to fit your own needs. Otherwise you set yourself up to fail. I started my version of low carb/gluten free on Dec. 1st. I'm down 17 lbs and feel sooo much better. No more heartburn, gas or bloating and my chronic eczema is slowly improving too. I'm OK that I'm not losing as fast as die hard Atkins fanatics. I care that I feel better and my pants feel loser :)

  3. Made a commitment last August, joined the local gym, decided to get a once a week trainer. That was something new. I've tried for years to lose weight. I've lost 27 lbs since then. Resistance training and counting calories is the only way I'm successful. I've tried all the fads and the problem with them is that you can't eat that way forever. You can however count calories forever, because once you know how "expensive" something is, you can make a decision. You can have whole days where you decide to ignore it, but get back to it the next day. I've got a long way to go. But I guess I didn't gain it overnight did I? By the way,you may want to check out Dietbet.com. There you canbet on yourself to lose weight and everyone who meets their goal is a winner. I've won several. You can share your blog there too. :). I joined a 6 month transformation bet that is over at the end of February. It helps me stay accountable and motivated. :)

    1. Way to go, Stephanie!! 27 pounds is wonderful. In fact, a couple of years ago, that's exactly how much I lost on Weight Watchers. So pissed that I gained it back.

      And I hear you, regarding the reality of fad diets and points and all that jazz. Like you, I find it way more realistic to just keep a tally in my head of what I've "spent" and how much I have left to spend, daily.

      I am so proud of you!!!!

  4. You are awesome! I had to start pulling myself out of that "let's warm up by eating tons of carbs" pit recently, too. Although now I'm thinking of checking out that artichoke dip you mentioned...

    If you do Costco, check out their kale salad mix thing-y in the produce section - it makes you feel very virtuous while chewing it.

    1. STEP AWAY FROM THE ARTICHOKE DIP. It's so, so good. Tastes like shame.

      And the kale salad...is this the one with sliced up Brussels sprouts?? LOVE IT. I like it best after it's been sitting in the fridge for a day. Weird but it just tastes better to me then.

      Thanks so much for reading!

    2. That's the one. Yes, it tastes better if you let it sit in the dressing for a day. Not quite so chewy. My kids have all refused to eat it again, so now I have to eat two bags of it myself.

  5. Great job! Small steps that are sustainable are what works. Find the exercise regime that you like. You dog will need to be walked every day forever so that's a great choice. BTW, there are lots of overweight people at my Y (including me) so don't feel like you can't go.

    As for the nutrition part of your diet, again you have to find what you can do forever. I did a weight-watchers type of diet about 12 years ago. I didn't change what I ate per se, but I ate less. I needed to eat dessert every day (still do) so I budgeted those points/calories into my day. Carbs are not evil, but chose good ones.Fiber is key. I lost 25 pounds and have (mostly) kept it off for 11 years.

    1. Thank you so much!! I've been at my Y off and on for 14 years. At one point, the trainers were all so proud of me for losing a crap-ton of weight (after my divorce)...I think that's part of the reason I'm kind of ashamed to be there.

      And yes I am right with you as far as finding something that can be done forever. That was my issue with Weight Watchers (which I think is a great program)...I can't do points my whole life. Just can't do it.

      Congrats on taking it off, and keeping it off. Sometimes I think the latter is the real struggle.

  6. I LOVE YOU! I love how raw and real you write. I am in awe of your honesty in sharing the struggle and the victories!!! I've been reading for awhile now (btwn 1 and 2 years) and I look forward to the next entry. Wishing you the very best in the journal to wellness!

    From another woman on the journey of life.

    Beth in GA.

    PS - I am still cracking up about the shower massage post, by far one of the best & funniest!

    1. Oh Beth, thank you. This warms my cold and hungry heart. I so appreciate you being here!

      Glad you liked the shower massage one..can you believe I still haven't had it installed?? I'm dyin' over here!

  7. i just found your blog and i think that we must become best friends.
    not sure if you do spotify for music, but there are some great playlists out there for working out. i love it!

  8. This is awesome and losing the weight is great but I think it's even better that you are feeling good about the choices you are making! I bet the walks are helping your mind and body. Keep kicking ass!

  9. Oh! I almost forgot- when I was writing a comment to your "fat shame on me" post, I realized I was missing taking better care of myself too. So you inspired me to FINALLY sign up for that yoga class I've been meaning to take for about 3 years. I am so excited to spend some time moving my body in a whole new way. Thank you!

  10. Can I say how excited I am when I see a new post from you in my Bloglovin! I found you through a mad Google search as I started my journey through the divorce process... But I keep checking in because I feel good when I read your writing. Thank you so much for your humor, your authenticity, your voice.


  11. I think it's awesome that you are taking charge; but I think it's even MORE awesome that you are being kind to yourself and your body. The negative talk in our heads does far more damage than whatever number is on that scale can do.

  12. You are the BEST! I really get excited when I see you have a new post and I can't wait to read it. I think 9 lbs is FANTASTIC, Good Job! Your question was about playlists, try skinnymom.com I don't know her, I just follow her. She has recipes, exercises and lots of playlists.

  13. Hi Jenny,
    It's your friend Blanca Lyon all the way in California.
    I wanted to tell you that I'm really proud of your progress.
    I actually am on Jenny Craig. And I shut you not, I went in for my week 1 weigh in. I lost 4lbs & was so excited that I drove through my favorite burger joint & scarfed a burger, fries & diet coke all while reading this blog.
    God I love you Jenny. You are real. As real as they come.
    Thank you for putting yourself out there. You make me feel like I'm not alone in this world.
    Love you & am seriously so proud of you!

  14. You've already lost 9 pounds?? Way to go Jenny! SO proud of you. I feel ya about cutting back on my beloved carbs -- but after a smallish health scare last fall (my ob/gyn was actually more worried than I was, but we thought I might be getting type 2 diabetes because my sugar level was high), I thought "OK, I guess I really showing the sweet stuff and other simple carbs way too much love, I'd better cut back if it's making me sick." My diabetes test (same one they give you when you're pregnant, with the super-sweetened orange kool-aid stuff) turned out perfectly normal, but I noticed I'd been feeling better with the diet changes I'd made. So I've kept them up -- don't eat white carbs except a couple times a week, and small portions (unless it's before a long run -- I need the fuel!), have a lot more fruits and especially veggies, and nuts and seeds, and MUCH less dessert. I WILL NOT give up dairy or alcohol in moderation so can't do "classic" paleo, but I pretty much eat the same way as your friend Donna, above. My energy level is a lot more even, throughout the day -- physically and mentally, and I could swear I even feel happier more of the time. And I'm doing better at keeping MY irritating extra pounds away too! Greg's absolutely down with eating the same way, so that's really good. He's been saying too much sugar is evil for ages now, and we really don't miss it much.
    So congrats again on taking such great care of yourself -- and most of all, on being MUCH nicer to yourself. You deserve nothing less!!
    Oh, and btw...I made your MIL's lentil curry for dinner tonight (my adaptation, with more spices). Greg had requested it!

    1. Oops -- forgot to add in my recs for motivational workout music! I don't actually listen to music most of the time when I'm working out (except the last third or half of a marathon...you would not believe the difference it makes to have Led Zeppelin cranked up on my iPod then!!! Or, maybe you would...) But I like to make sure I have something good and motivating playing in my mind. So, here are some sample playlists:
      -- I'd been meaning to put together a personal Best of the '80s one anyhow, so it occurs to me these are all good workout songs...in fact I did work out to them (stationary bike and free weights) back in high school and college:
      -- The Go-Gos: We Got the Beat, Our Lips are Sealed, Vacation, Head Over Heels
      -- Prince: Let's Go Crazy, Baby I'm a Star, When Doves Cry, Take Me With U, I Would Die 4 U, and all of Controversy. Oh, and Kiss.
      -- INXS: The One Thing...and probably a bunch of their other songs whose names I've forgotten
      -- Modern English, I'll Melt With You
      -- Tears for Fears, Shout
      -- Simple Minds, Don't You Forget About Me (of course)
      -- The Romantics, What I Like About You (I actually hear this at some point along the course of the Twin Cities Marathon, every year, and it is always the kick in the ass I need!)
      -- The Jam: The Gift
      -- The Cult: Electric
      Hopefully I haven't duplicated most of your existing workout music! :) Oh, and two great old faves that never ever fail to make me push it up a notch or three: Led Zeppelin -- Rock & Roll (you're shocked, right?) and Golden Earring -- Radar Love.

      Enjoy, and good luck!! (But please be sure your Achilles is healed before going all out.)

  15. Try using the "My Fitness Pal" app - it is great for keeping you on track with the food and exercise. It will seem like a pain initially, but once you put in some meals it's easy to click on it and you get an idea of how many calories you need to stay within each day. And keeps you accountable. I haven't invested in the fit bit idea yet because I simply don't have the money - but I hear it's a great way to keep track and be encouraged. Good luck - wishing you all the best on this next journey

  16. Here are the suggestions you asked for. They'll move you, in different ways on different days, but they will. :-)

    I Feel Alright - Steve Earle
    And She Was - Talking Heads
    Idaho - Bodeans
    I'm A Woman - Koko Taylor
    Good Feeling - Flo Rida

  17. Congrats on an amazing start! My mum and. I both found a book called 'Why we get fat' to be a total motivator! I'd recommend highly! Also Paleo means so many things but it's really just about eating real food - I love www.nomnompaleo.com for realistic and easy recipes for the family. They have yet to notice they've 'gone Paleo'. Keep the faith sister. You've got this!

  18. She's On Fire by Train
    Bring on the Day - Charlotte Martin
    Pump it - Black Eyed Peas (Anything upbeat by them)
    Beach Boys

  19. "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson (featuring Bruno Mars) is the BEST current car dancing song...so it must be good for the gym, too!

  20. Way to go. Not just for the 9 pounds but all of the little decisions that are adding up to a real lifestyle change. You will thank yourself for it, and you're also modeling great behavior for your kids (those at home and those at school). You're showing them grit and determination and that sometimes it's a long game rather than a quick fix. All of that is wonderful. Feel really good about it!

    Songs, these are my go-to in my workout mix:

    Lonely Boy - Black Keys
    Short Skirt, Long Jacket - Cake
    Just like Heaven - Cure
    Modern Love - Bowie
    September - Earth, Wind and Fire
    Freedom - George Michael
    These Days and Times Like These -Foo Fighters
    Do-Wah-Doo - Kate Nash
    Gimme Sympathy - Metric
    See A Little Light - Bob Mould

    More by Metric, Michael Jackson, Tegan and Sara, etc etc.
    Can't Hold Us - Macklemore

  21. Exactly!
    I just knew you'd come out swingin!
    Diggin the badass attitude.
    Lovin the success.

  22. Changing lifestyle is big bad hard. We went paleo exactly four years ago, and have modified it for us over time. We do have some rice, and lentils and beans, now and then. But hardly ever wheat or junk food.

    The thing to watch out for is the psychological aspect that denial of favorite foods creates. It's twofold ... you really miss the food, and sometimes you find yourself being a bit of a recluse, feeling sorry for yourself, because so many get-togethers (hey, let's face it ... ALL get-togethers!) of friends/family include food.

    I don't obsess over "pure" paleo anymore, except perhaps wheat. And I don't have that "gluten free" crap very much ... just a few brands of cookies I have for a treat. If you've ever had gluten-free pizza, you know what I mean. Ick!

    So don't obsess, eat less overall, appreciate each bite, enjoy life and don't deprive yourself of situations where There Will Be Food. Just nibble. I can stretch two tablespoons of wine or 1/4 cup of coconut milk ice cream out foreeeeeeeeever .... teeny bites and lots of "yummmmmms."

    Once you realize that you comfort yourself with food, it's easier to go "hey, go do something else that comforts you!" Also, do not read or watch TV while eating. Deadly habits form that way.

    Sorry to sound preachy ... you're doing a great job! I'm just sharing my lessons learned the hard way so you don't have to go through that!

  23. i like to listen to marvin gaye when i walk. it's very thought provoking and takes me out of my poor me mentality. his music speaks to all who are oppressed, and it's oppression that makes us hate ourselves. it's paradoxically uplifitng somehow, perhaps empowering is a better word. now, not to be preachy but two more things: first, 9 pounds is too much to lose in one month. don't set yourself up for failure. focus on portion sizes. i find that works more than any fad. make yourself a small portion of whatever the hell you really feel like eating and tell yourself, i can have more if i'm still hungry. that way you are loving yourself always. often the small portion will satisfy you, if you eat it slowly and purposefully, and especially if you have to go through the whole process again to fix yourself another portion. i'm no skinny minnie, i feel your pain, but it's a lifelong thing. changing that hate to love of yourself was the key, now keep that feeling even when you have a bad day. it's really ok. love every pound, every bite, every step. every day. this life is all we have.


  24. 9 pounds-that's a great start!
    I come from German heritage, so I hear you-we love our carbs and sweet foods!
    I am starting gradually too...there's a million diets out there and a lot of them are fads, but I'm now 2 weeks into eating cleaner and less sugar.
    As you know, sugar (specifically fructose which is the bad sugar) is in a lot of foods and at levels too high for our body to effectively process.
    So I'm cutting way down on sugar, and (mostly) cutting out food that doesn't serve my body well nutritionally. Yep, like cake, chips, and a heavy reliance on carbs.
    For what it's worth I've been reading Sarah Wilson's book and blog called I Quit Sugar. What I like about her is she simply explains the science behind this, and she advocates eating protein and fat instead-so for example avoiding low fat versions of food (because they are usually pumped with sugar to make them taste better) and gives great options you might not have thought of.
    And yes, you can still drink wine and beer!
    Good luck!

  25. Good on you! I'm officially convicted, need to make my physical appointment. Amazing how we excuse putting those things off as we rush our kids into everything they need straight away! On another note check out the Jabra Up3 and Up24. Hubby got one for Christmas after researching Fit Bit & the Up line and the latter seems to be simpler to use out of the gate (so my friends that have that one tend to use it more religiously). Also I've noticed it on clearance at Target and Costco has a really good deal on the Fit Bit and the Jabra... Much cheaper than elsewhere w/extra bands. Good luck & proud of you! 2015 is the beginning of the whole new Jenny season!!!

  26. I'm on a similar eating journey because I've been feeling fatigued, bloated and heart-burny for ages so I asked my Navy SEAL little brother to help hold me accountable (ugh) and as for great, easy foods for lunch/dinner he had me try making whole grain rice, quinoa ("keen-wa") with black beans. You do 50/50 rice/quinoa in the rice cooker, add a little butter to it, then take garlic, onions and whatever else is your seasoning poison and sautée for a few then toss a can of back beans (juice & all) into the sautee pan and mix together till the beans are warm, then throw it on the rice/quin mix not actually tastes awesome, is super filling (great leftovers) and the quinoa has a ton of protein and no gluten. I'm not a die hard no-gluten person but have found a lot of my bloating and ickyness seems to correlate directly with how much carby, gluten crap I eat (a LOT!) so did this meal with O'Mission Gluten Free beer (tasty!!!) and felt proud even though it still tasted like comfort food!!!

  27. That quote made me tear up a bit. Yes, your body deserves your love. It houses your soul and your mind and that counts for so much even if the body part hasn't always done what you've wanted it to. I'm glad you're taking steps that are making you feel good. You would have so much fun on pinterest. You can find so much great stuff and the healthy bloggers have turned that place (for better or worse) into a healthy food porn Heaven. It does NOT have to be all or nothing. I say meal by mean, not even day by day. I've always gotten myself in trouble with an all or nothing outlook. "Be reasonable" is my motto.

    Love you and all the honesty you bring to this blog space.

  28. Oh, and I say go for podcasts and you'll forget you're exercising. Most are free. And with music I'm always waiting for the song to end.


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