Sunday, August 28, 2011

Step Six

Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character

I wanted to get caught up on the Steps. We should be on Eight, so I have a bit to do.

Six is a tricky step in some ways, and one that is hard to separate from Step Seven. In my experience, Six is not an event, but rather a process – sometimes it takes time to become willing. I usually hit Step Six and become entirely willing to have ME remove all my defects of character. If I could have done that, I would have a long time ago.

As I grow in spirituality, I have more and more issue with the idea of a God outside myself (my favorite saying is “God is not in me like a button is in a glass of water; God is in me like the ocean is in a wave.”) So, what does Step Six look like if I am part of God or trying to be God Expressing? A Buddhist friend of mine decided that LOVE would be her higher power. I can really get behind that idea. I allow love in. I allow it to change me, to improve me. I allow love to rule my actions rather than fear. And all I have to do is be willing.

So, what does Step Six look like in terms of body acceptance? For me, it meant being willing to have a complete paradigm shift – that’s all! No, really – for me it meant being willing to have my whole reality change. For so long, I believed fat was a bad thing and I was bad for being fat. Step Six meant that I had to be willing for this idea to change: that I had to be willing to believe that I was good, that my body was good, and that I was lovable even though I’m fat, an absolutely revolutionary idea.

Self-hate has been, by far, the biggest character defect I have let go of in this process. Step Six has meant a willingness to love all of myself exactly as I am, warts and all. I have always wanted to be different, to be someone else. As part of the Step process, I had to learn to love myself right here, right now.

So, how do you work Step Six? Here is one possible way:


Carefully review your 4th Step. Have you left anything out? Thank God (love, the Universe, etc.) that you know your higher power and yourself better after the 4th Step. Ask yourself “are you ready to let go of the things that no longer work for you?” If you answer no on anything, ask for willingness. Allow yourself to be filled with willingness.


1. Write a list of character defects
2. Put a star or a check by those that you are willing to let go


I am willing to let go of those things that no longer serve me. I am willing to love myself and my body as I am.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Believing the Lie

I have been working on being self- and fat- accepting for over seven years, and today was the first time I realized gaining weight was no big deal. Being ok with being fat is not something that happens overnight. Being ok with gaining weight takes even longer.

At the same time that I quit dieting, I became very sick with a thyroid disease which made me gain a lot of weight fast. Where most people go through the trying to devour the world phase in months, because of the thyroid disease, it took me years. I gained 100 pounds during that time. I prayed and prayed for God to take me to the size I could best serve, but it was a hard time, a time when I was very scared.

A couple of things happened at the same time, and I’m not sure which was the turning point. I finally got my medication stabilized. At almost the same time, I realized I had set up yet another “I will be too fat when…” scenario. You know, those mind games we play with ourselves: “I’ll just die if I hit 200 (250, 300, etc.) pounds;” “If I had to wear a 26 (20, 30, etc.), I would never leave the house;” or “I couldn’t show my face if I had a double-chin.” Mine was, “I will be too fat if I can’t buy clothes in brick and mortar stores.” In response to this thought, I started eating – a lot. So, I made a choice. I was not going to be scared of fat any longer. I decided to give myself full permission to eat. There are folks out there who can’t buy clothes in stores. I guessed I needed to know what that was like.

And my eating IMMEDIATELY went back to a healthy level. I didn’t gain any more weight. In fact, I lost a little. I settled into a set point that tends to range between 275-295 (as best I can tell. I only weigh a couple of times a year) and size 24-28. That was about 4 years ago. Though I lose and gain within that range, I have not moved out of it in years.

Yet, I still got excited when I lost weight and still became disappointed when I gained. But, I continued to practice loving myself. I continued to thank God for self-acceptance and to practice detaching from my weight. I came to understand that the idea of "I'll be happier if I was smaller" is a lie.

I think the desire for thinness and the fear of weight gain is kind of like the desire for a drink for an alcoholic. An alcoholic can, even after long term sobriety, continue to hold a little glimmer of that internal desire to drink somewhere in the back of their mind. Every once in awhile, while watching a beer commercial or seeing a non-alcoholic friend drink, the thought might dance across the alcoholics mind: “Maybe I could drink normally now.” If the alcoholic is in fit spiritual condition, they know that thought for the lie it is. If they are not in good spiritual condition, they might just believe the lie and drink.

So, if we are in fit spiritual condition, we can see the idea of “I would be happier if I were thinner” as the lie it is. When we are healthy in spirit, we can see weight gain as just the natural ebb and flow of fat in our bodies. Or we can look for physical causes behind it – without getting depressed or upset.

I don’t know if I will ever completely get rid of the desire to be thinner. Today, I know that, if I were thinner, it wouldn’t bring me the things I thought it would. Oh, and by the way, I am INCREDIBLY grateful that I am the size I am today. I would never have known how a death fat person felt, such an important element of my life, without being one myself.

Thank you, God, for my fat today. And may I accept whatever changes happen in my body without depression, upset or excitement.

(I wrote this last summer. The excitement at losing weight and the upset at gaining get a little less all the time. At this point, though I still feel them, they really barely affect me.)

Saturday, August 6, 2011


I have been dealing with a weird kind of burnout. I wanted to write. I wanted to support FA. I wanted to be vocal about my beliefs, but I simply was having trouble doing so. I didn’t have the energy to deal with all the negativity that comes my way in the course of being a fat activist. I just didn’t have it in me to take the knocks that come with speaking out.

Some days, this fight just seems too hard. I get tired of the looks: you know the “you believe WHAT?” looks. I get tired of explaining that fat really isn’t the horrible, horrible thing people have been led to believe. I get tired of trying to show folks that everything they have been told is a lie. Some days, I get tired of being a fat advocate, and I just want to give up.

But I don’t – I don’t give up. Instead, I try to figure out what is wrong. When we burn out, something else is usually going on. For me, I’ve had some major upheaval in my life which left me feeling vulnerable and alone. In such a situation, when regular life is already taxing, activism can feel like an incredibly heavy burden.

I have been told, “we are all leaky tires. If we don’t get refilled, we end up flat.” I have found that to be true. Burnout is usually a sign that I am flat and need refilled. Here are some of the things I have learned to do when burnout looms:

*Take a break. Actually, I’ve learned that I need to completely avoid all things fat (well, as much as that is possible) for five days to a week out of every three months. I take a break from Fat Acceptance. Usually, after about four or five days, I’m chomping at the bit to get back to FA.

*Meditate. I go through periods where I meditate every day and periods where meditation seems almost impossible. When I am down – whether it be spiritual, emotional, physical or mental (or a combination) – spiritual connection can refill me.

*Go to my support groups. I need god with skin on: a spiritual community. Part of why I’m burned out now is that, because of this upheaval in my life, I have to build new spiritual communities. And I have to explain to each my viewpoint on fat, which takes time and energy. Being primarily an extrovert, I get much of my energy through connection with people. Not feeling connected, I have been tired. However, I am seeing myself become part of new communities quickly; this helps tremendously.

Burnout is a real part of any activism. I have chosen to make FA a huge part of my life. Because of that, I need to be doubly aware: if I don’t take care of myself, I will eventually not be able to keep speaking out for fat. I don’t want that – there are too many people to help.

Have you dealt with burnout? What helped?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Step Five

Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

For some reason, I’m having issues writing up Step Five. In some ways, this has been a traumatic step for me. In other ways, it has been a place of great healing. There is a saying that I have found to be true: “we are only as sick as our secrets.” In Step Five, we let out all our secrets, we let out all of our shame.

My first fifth step was not a good experience. It wasn’t horrible, just not good. This was an Al-Anon fifth step with a Al-Anon member. That first fifth tends to be filled with shame and blame, and all my shame centered around my drinking and the bad behavior I had during that time. First off, I did a life story. She didn’t give me any response during the telling of that story; she just provided me a list of my character defects at the end. She didn’t comprehend my issues, though she did her best to be accepting. I walked away feeling a little better, but not really feeling lightened.

My second fifth, my AA fifth, was different. I did my fourth the AA Big Book way. We talked about each incident. She explained how I wasn’t alone. She helped me see my part clearly. Now, that was freeing.

I don’t think I really felt comfortable giving a fifth step until I had taken one, though. People tend to have a few common worries with fifth steps: will they think I’m awful, will they still love me, and will they tell anyone. I found that this amazing thing happens. First off, I have never walked out of a fifth thinking someone bad or disgusting or loving them less. Instead, I am usually filled with an incredible love for them. Secondly, I seem to have a magical forgetter on most things. I cannot tell you how often a sponsee has said, “I told you in my fifth step,” and I didn’t have a clue.

Today, if I have an issue, I make sure I talk to someone about it because I truly do believe I’m only as sick as my secrets. Also remember, we can only change us, never someone else. So, if you have someone who knows how to see your part (if it is only accepting that they are an asshole), that helps tremendously.

To work Step Five, simply tell someone your secrets, ideally someone who can help you work through them: a counselor, a minister, or a sponsor. I encourage you NOT to tell someone who is involved with your life like a spouse, a family member or a close friend.

Sit quietly. Focus on willingness and courage. Allow them to infuse your very being. If you don't know who to talk to, ask for someone who can play this part for you.

I am willing to heal my secrets.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Sorry, folks, for being gone so long. My life has had some tremendous upheaval in the last month, but it should be getting back to a new routine shortly. I recommit to at least a post a weak. And I’ll go back and talk about Step 5 this month as well as Step 6.

Right now, though, I want to talk about the desire for more. I have had a few big changes this last month, including starting to become much more physical and having access to healthier foods. Where I was sitting at the top of my set-point range, I have dropped a little weight. The amazing thing: even with the years I have in Fat Acceptance, give me a little weight loss, and I find myself wanting more.

I often hear newbies (and some long-timers) to the Fatosphere say “I just want to reach a healthy weight.” I think we fool ourselves when we say this. For me, a little weight loss always leads to the desire for more. It’s almost a drug. If I allow myself to focus on it, I will be consumed by the desire for more and more and more. I can never have enough weight loss to satisfy my ego.

I have seen this scenario in my past. During a break-up, I lost an incredible amount of weight – down into the normal range (which, for me, is quite thin). For the first time in my life, I was normal weight. However, my body is built with hips and thighs. So, I went to Weight Watchers to “lose that last 10 pounds.” I remember being shocked when they discouraged me from the program. Couldn’t they see I had more to lose? (Just an FYI, the weight came back on really quick soon after.)

Part of this is the desire to be accepted can be very seductive. When you are fat, it can be a challenge just to leave the house. Fat prejudice surrounds us. I am a confident person, yet I still deal with fat prejudice regularly. Some days, I do long to fit in. But the truth is: I would not give up who I am and what I am doing for anything or anyone. That longing may be there and may strike me for a moment, but overall I am content to be who I am, and a big part of that is FAT. So, for me, this is one of those lies my ego tells me to get me into insanity (dieting and weight loss behavior).

I will probably only drop a little fat; if I go to the bottom of my set point I’ll drop about 10% of my body weight. If I focus on weight loss, I will get disappointed and stop my healthy activities when the weight loss stops. If I focus on how I feel, then the healthy behavior can continue long after I have stopped losing weight. This scenario is why HAES is such an important concept. Good things are going on in my body. I am getting more active and eating healthier. If I start focusing on weight loss, health usually goes out the window.

What I am doing right now is practicing separating those feelings from the desire for weight loss. My focus is to enjoy the healthier body, whatever weight it settles in at. So, how do I do this? Well, for now, I am affirming the positive changes in my body without affirming weight loss. When I look into the mirror, I say to myself “I am getting stronger,” “I have more energy,” and “I am feeling healthier,” rather than focusing on any aspects of a smaller body. I remind myself that I love the feeling of being healthier, rather than reminding myself that I love the feeling of weight loss.

Healthier bodies are good things. We just have to watch out for the desire for “more.”

Monday, May 9, 2011

Activism to relieve frustration

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
~Mohandas Gandhi

Though we are still being ignored and laughed at quite a bit, we are starting to encounter some fights over fat rights – especially from those who make their money trying to eradicate us. I am at a busy time in my life, so I am not getting to be as active fighting fat hate as I usually am. So, lately, I have found myself very, very frustrated at all the fat hating talk out there, especially from the experts who so badly want to force us back into the shadows. I find myself being eaten with anger and frustration from the inside. I cannot live there today.

Somewhere along the line, I was taught that, to be less upset about a subject, do something – anything – about it and you will feel better. In a way, fat activism has become a necessary part of my life. To keep from imploding or exploding at the myriad ways fat people are told they are less than, I have to do something every day. And it helps even more if I am getting a little positive feedback for that activism. That is one of the reasons I write for the Fatosphere: because I know that I just might help someone who wants it desperately, who wants to understand this. I want to pass on the gift I have been given.

Marilynn Wann is an AMAZING woman and, I wish I lived in San Francisco to take part in the incredible fat positive stunts she sets up (see Not Blue At All for the latest incredible Feat of Fat Love). But I am not in that city, and I am not in the place to generate such activism. Yet, I do not have to do such incredible things to help this cause. Every time I refuse to hate myself in a public setting, every time I speak up against fat hatred, every time I tell a fat friend that their body is beautiful, I help spread the message of self-love.

I have to remember that remarkable ideas, ideas with truth, spread. They may spread slowly, but they spread. Loving ourselves no matter our size is a remarkable, revolutionary idea that will spread with time. Slowly but surely, our voices will grow to where they can no longer ignore or laugh at us. Slowly, but surely, if we stay with this, we will win. It may be a long way down the road, but WE WILL WIN.

If you find yourself frustrated today, take a deep breath, come to the Fatosphere for reassurance, and keep fighting the good fight – even if the fight is only within yourself. We can do this – if it is only one fat person at a time – we can do this.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pleasure and joy

I'm not posting a lot right now because of some things going on in my life. However, I'll try to keep posting at least once a week even in the midst of the craziness.

A post by Zaftig Zeitgeist, Abstinence does not work, got me thinking about an old post uploaded before most of you were around. So, here is a reblog of my post "Practicing Joy" with references to the holidays taken out:

Think of how much time we WASTE on dieting and body hating. We are this incredibly blessed nation; we are one of the few that have too much. So, we assuage our guilt by not allowing ourselves to enjoy any of it. What if we decided to be grateful for the girth god gave us and concentrate our energies on service, love, and imagination instead? What if we quit hating our bodies and choose to create instead? How many problems could we solve with the $58 billion spent on trying to be thin every year? Where would we be able to go? What would we be able to do? We could change the world.

Many of us have allowed the fear of fat to suck the joy out of our lives. We no longer enjoyed food, instead wallowing in the guilt of being “bad” if we eat a carrot because it has so much starch in it – only feeling virtuous if the food we eat is so laden with fat-reducing and sugar-reducing chemicals to where it tastes like a sewage treatment plant at worst and nothing at best. We have allowed this fear to take the joy out of our bodies: keeping us from enjoying movement, from loving our own rolls and lumps, from enjoying sex with our partners.

What would happen if we took back those joys? Imagine enjoying every bite of every bit of food you put in your mouth. Those “forbidden” items that your body and soul so craves, gobbling them down quickly and in large quantity so that no one would know you were being “bad.” Instead, try delighting in each mouthful, each bite. You may find that you eat less; you may not. You will find your life sweeter.

Imagine enjoying the feel of your body. If you crave sex, imagine enjoying it by yourself or with your partner. If you want to dance, dance. If you want to sleep, sleep. Imagine allowing your physical needs to get met.

Now, many people believe that, if we allow ourselves to enjoy life, we will become hedonistic. I was hedonistic at one point in my life: selfishly taking everything I wanted. Trust me, it doesn’t feel good emotionally or physically, and most especially, not spiritually. Enjoyment is not hedonism -- it's simply appreciating the many gifts God gives us.

Do we really think that God wants us to feel deprived all the time? As a recovering alcoholic, I seldom feel deprived of alcohol, usually only when I am in a bad place to start with. I don’t believe in a god that desires an ascetic lifestyle; I believe in a god that wants me to be unbelievably happy. So, I am going to enjoy. I’m going to enjoy my body, and I’m going to enjoy my food. I hope that you will do the same.