What Not To Say To A Fat Friend

Jumpstart photo

I know, I know. Where’ve I been? Working (The Mary Sue keeps me too busy to blog during most of the day), Incredible Girl-ing, applying for this year’s writing fellowships with Adam (and revising the scripts needed to do so), and for the past week, I’ve been trying to pay closer attention to my health by participating in the Fit Girls’ Guide 28-Day Jumpstart Challenge, a program I heard about through a friend that’s designed to get you eating cleaner by cooking healthier food, and doing regular exercise. The battle for health and fitness has always been a difficult one for me, but here I am, trying again, because I know how important it is not only for my health, but in order for me to live the kind of life I want to live. Also, I need an excuse to try and cook more, because I’ve always wanted to, but I’ve also always been lazy. 🙂

My schedule during Week One last week was uncharacteristically busy, which meant that I was waking up, working, and had some sort of meeting or obligation in the evening that I’d come home late from and have to get to bed right after – meaning that I had no time to make any of Nerdstrong‘s classes, or do the prescribed FitGirls 30-minute workout on every day save one. Still, my food game was pretty much on point, and even though I ate things that weren’t on program, because I was eating out at these meetings/obligations, I made healthier choices for the most part, and I was proud of myself. The Jumpstart is a group challenge, meaning that you’re part of a community sharing with and encouraging each other on Instagram. You’re supposed to take pictures every day – of your meals, of your workouts, etc – to hold yourself accountable and to allow from encouragement from the group, and because I’m me and like to share, I also shared the photos and progress on my Facebook and Twitter in addition to Instagram, because why not?

Well, here’s why not.


Me after my one and only workout last week. SWEAT!

Not a week into the program, I had a couple of well-meaning friends, acquaintances, and family members commenting on how I could improve. They were supportive of my efforts and want to see me achieve my goals, of that there’s no question…but not a week in, and people were already giving me suggestions as to how I could be doing things “better.” And as we live in a society that encourages people to constantly be dieting, everyone has their own “thing that works,” their own tips and tricks that they swear by. Never mind that everyone is different and has different metabolisms, body types, personalities, schedules, issues with food, etc. So many people felt comfortable giving their two cents in an attempt to “help.” The thing is: I never asked. It’d be one thing if I were crowdsourcing weight loss advice online, or if I’d gone to any of these people directly and said “Hey, I see you’ve done something that really works for you, can you tell me about it?” But here I was – already doing a thing – and even that wasn’t enough to deflect commentary on what I “should” be doing, or “could be doing better.” This has happened before, during other attempts of mine to get healthier, but it wasn’t until now that I really noticed how negatively it affected me.

After a couple of those moments of unsolicited advice, I started to feel down and say “Fuck it” in my head. I decided to stop sharing my progress on Facebook and Twitter (limiting it to Instagram), and over the weekend, while I didn’t overeat, I also wasn’t particularly concerned about what my meals looked like or how “clean” they were.

Could I just ignore people’s unsolicited advice? Sure, I guess. But here’s what people really need to understand about people dealing with being overweight. As I’ve written about before, people are overweight for any number of reasons. Sometimes it’s genetic. Sometimes, it’s just sheer lack of mindfulness coupled with our society’s tendency to deliver us food fast, and with the most amount of calories for the least amount of money. And sometimes, people overeat because they have an eating disorder.

As I’ve written about before, compulsive overeating, or binge eating, is a disorder the same way that anorexia or bulimia are.  And so it’s not just a matter of “eat less, exercise more.” There’s other stuff going on, and one’s relationship with food is very different than it is for those who don’t deal with that. Yet, just as well-meaning people make the mistake of telling someone with anorexia to “just eat something,” while ignoring the myriad psychological things that are going on, people feel free to tell people who binge eat either what to eat, or when to eat, or when not to eat, without taking into account that individual person’s needs, wants, or issues.

For me, binge eating has a lot to do with control. I’ve noticed that the times in my life where I’ve eaten the most are the times when I feel like my life is the most out of whack, and food is one of the few things I have any power over. So, whenever anyone tells me what I should eat or not eat (and I didn’t ask them, and they’re not a medical professional), my reflex response is to eat whatever I damn well please. My response in these instances has gotten better. I don’t sneak food the way I used to, and when I eat “whatever I damn well please,” I’m better equipped to stop mid-stream or to make choices that are only partially unhealthy (ordering fried food at a diner) and not completely unhealthy (going to 7-11 and buying a pint of ice cream, cookies, and a package of cupcakes to eat on the walk home).  Still, the impulse is there. I don’t know that it’ll ever not be there. All I can do is figure out how best to handle those moments when they crop up.

However, there’s something all of you can do. If you really want to support someone who’s trying to get healthier with regard to food – KEEP YOUR SUGGESTIONS AND OPINIONS TO YOURSELF UNTIL YOU’RE ASKED. By all means, cheer people on – I have amazing friends and family who are constantly rooting for me, and even the folks who’ve given me the unsolicited advice have cheered me on, and I’m so grateful for that. A kind word goes a long way, and the phrase “you can do it!” never gets old. But keep your suggestions on how they can improve, or what they should or shouldn’t be eating to yourself unless you’re asked for your opinion. You’re not a doctor. I don’t care how many diets you’ve been on, or how much weight you’ve lost, or how much research you’ve done on the internet. All that shows anyone is what worked for you. Everyone is different physically, and everyone’s specific food issues are different.

Me? I can overeat ANYTHING. If all I have is salad stuff in the house, I’ve been capable of making 3-4 salads in a row, piled with ingredients and dressing. I’ve been able to have several bananas in a row. I can pound back yogurt like it’s nobody’s business. So, what I’m trying to work on is repairing my relationship with food – all food. Which means that it’s unhealthy for me to categorize foods into “good foods” and “bad foods,” because anything can be a bad food for me. So while yes, I’m trying to get into the habit of cooking healthier food, it’s not so much about eating “good foods” so much as it’s about rewiring my brain to recognize that I have even more food options than I’ve ever given myself, and that I should explore them. It’s not about a deprivation mentality, it’s about having all the options in the world and then choosing what makes your body feel better. And yes, my body feels better when it has more nutrition and less ice cream. But that doesn’t mean that ice cream is completely off the table. It just means that ice cream can’t be THE SOLE REASON I LIVE AND BREATHE. (BTW – I haven’t had ice cream in a good long while) It’s less about telling myself what I “can’t have” and more about just being more mindful of what I eat, and making every choice a purposeful one. Am I actually hungry right now? What will actually satisfy me as opposed to just being a temporary food Band-Aid. And also, it’s OK to like food. Food isn’t “just fuel.” It’s not. It has cultural significance, it’s comforting, it’s a part of all of our celebrations and observances, and that’s okay. The thing is, there are people who can have it be that, and are capable of stopping eating when they’re full, or who don’t constantly think about the next time they’re going to get to eat, or who don’t feel the need to secretly stuff themselves with baked goods when no one is watching. And there are people who do exactly those things.

I’m one of them. Or rather, I used to do those things, and I now do them less and less as I find different ways to cope with things and actively pursue things that make me happier than any food ever could. And I’m not trying to blame the people who give unsolicited advice. After all, I had these problems long before you told me I should lay off carbs, or how many fruits I should eat. All I’m asking is that you understand that I’m simply working on trying to have a normal relationship with food. With all food. I’m trying to eat in a balanced way as a habit, and I’m taking steps to learn what balanced means. I ask you to understand that your well-meaning advice could be the very thing that triggers another binge for me. And I ask you to understand and trust that if I need help, I will ask for it, difficult though that is.

And, I wanna thank all my wonderful friends and family for all their support! I want you to know that even if you’re one of the people I’m talking about, I know you have my best interests at heart, and I’m so grateful that you care! 🙂 And to those of you who’ve been non-stop fonts of encouragement, THANK YOU, TOO! Knowing that I have people in my life who love and care for me is actually one of the things I focus on to remind me that I don’t need to eat to feel full. 🙂



Pound By Pound: Thank You For Being Beautiful


Me at the Incredible Girl teaser shoot last night. I play Cupcake Dominatrix. :)

Me at the Incredible Girl teaser shoot last night. I play Cupcake Dominatrix. 🙂


Last night, as I walked through Sanctuary LAX wearing dominatrix garb during the shoot for the Incredible Girl teaser last night, a woman I’d never met stopped in her tracks and, completely earnestly and with no agenda, said “You are SO beautiful. Thank you for being so beautiful!”

That being the nicest thing a stranger’s ever said to me, I didn’t quite know how to respond! I said “Uh….thank you?” Then, mustering up some Cupcake Dominatrix (my character in Incredible Girl) confidence, I said “I aim to please.” 🙂

This totally reminded me that, no matter what I weigh, I’m actually gorgeous right now. And I have to say that during the shoot, as I caught glimpses of myself in mirrors dressed in fishnets, boy shorts, and a corset, I was rather pleased with my reflection. It’s easy to forget that it’s possible for you to look amazing when you spend most of your days away from other human eyes while toiling diligently at your writing in your apartment in your pajamas, so it’s nice to be reminded when you’re walking around in the world.

Anyway, despite having been too busy with writing-related stuff to work out the past couple of weeks, I did do my monthly measurements on the 12th. Here’s where I am right now:

Teresa September Stats (9/12/14):
Weight: 267.8lbs (-5.4lbs from last month / -9.4lbs since start)
Upper arm: 19 1/2″ (+ 1/2 from last month / -1″ since start)
Bust: 50″ (no change from last month / – 1/4″ since start)
Waist: 45 1/2″ (+ 1/4″ from last month / + 1″ since start)
Hips: 54 1/4″ (-1/8″ from last month / + 2/8″ since start)
Thighs: 33 3/4″ (no change from last month / +1/8″ since start)

So, apparently I’ve lost weight from areas on my body that I don’t regularly measure? I guess my calves and fingers are getting super-skinny right now. 😉

I will get back to working out. I haven’t been eating completely crazily, but I did have The Boy have to step in and warn me away from a bad habit (ie: eating ice cream too regularly). The Boy gave me a heads-up when it looked like I might start going overboard, and even though I got defensive, I eventually took what my better half had to say under consideration and realized that The Boy only did this out of concern for my health, and I was then able to stop and course-correct before going too far down a bad road.

Thank you, My Love!

Still, despite all this, I know that The Boy thinks I’m beautiful. Apparently, so do strangers in dungeons. 🙂

And so do I.

And I think you are, too. Yes, you. You reading this.

Thank you for being so beautiful. 

POUND BY POUND: Day 18 – Getting Out of a Funk

Wearily back in the saddle.

Wearily back in the saddle.

So, I haven’t exercised in three days. Come to think of it, I haven’t done much else either. For reasons I can’t explain, I’ve been in a bit of a funk the past few days. I’ve been inexplicably exhausted, not being able to haul my carcass out of bed before 10:30AM, I’ve been bored by everything, haven’t written much and couldn’t even bring myself to blog, and I’ve spent a majority of my time playing Tetris, watching the FX show The Bridge on HuluPlus (PS – it’s a great show), and generally not doing anything productive. Not to mention the fact that I seem to be suddenly afflicted with allergies from Hell. I’ve sneezed more in the past week than I have in my life, I’m congested, my throat’s been scratchy, and my nose constantly feels like I’m breathing through dust. I’ve taken both Claratin and cold medicine, and neither seems to have helped much. Thank God I had a work date at the Burbank library w/my new friends Jenny, Renee, and Alex on Tuesday. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have done any writing at all.

Until today. 🙂

Last night, I realized I couldn’t let my funk go on for much longer. So I started winding down for bed at 11PM, the way I do on my best days, meditating and journalling. Then I went to bed at a decent hour, and was miraculously not only able to wake up at 6AM this morning, but I wrote 5 more pages of script (which seems to be my average in 2 uninterrupted hours).

Day 18 Finish Screen

Day 18 Finish Screen

Then, I got back to DailyBurn, which in three days has come back around to the workout I did three days ago – Stability and Mobility 2. I definitely felt it, coming back into a Level 2 workout after not having exercised at all in three days. I got a bit worried when I started to feel a twinge in my chest while doing lunges, so I pulled back and stopped going as fast as I would’ve normally. That’s the thing. Every time you stop, it’s that much harder to get going again.

But the point is to get going again, I guess.

I’ll be blogging more later, but I’ll end this one here. I’m just glad that I was able to get back to it. Every time I sweat up a storm like I did this morning, I know I’m doing something good for myself. I need to remember that feeling.

POUND BY POUND: Day 15 – Weekends Off!

Starting Level 2!

Starting Level 2!

This past week, I started a new writing schedule that’s been working really well for me, but that’s also got me waking up earlier in the morning. However, despite going against my nature and forcing myself to be a morning person, I find that I’m more efficient throughout the day and getting a lot done.

Yet, it’s because of this that my weekends have become much more precious to me. On weekends, I don’t want to set an alarm, I don’t want to do anything “productive,” and this weekend I decided not to do DailyBurn. At first, I worried, because I thought I would backslide and get lazy again. But this morning, I got up, did my writing, and did my DailyBurn workout automatically. My work is tied to my exercise, and vice versa, as I’ve started a morning routine that I can keep up with. So, regular exercise continues to be a habit despite my taking the weekend off.

Today, I did True Beginner Day 15, which was the start of Level 2 – Stability and Mobility 2. Remember that challenge I’ve been wanting? Yeah, well I”ve got it! This certainly kicked things up a notch, and I was dripping with sweat by the end!

Day 15 Finish Screen

Day 15 Finish Screen

Later this morning, I’ll be walking to work, and later this week, I may be hiking and going back to jogging at my jogging partner’s request.

Also, I’ll be going shopping to buy the food I need to take part in the DailyBurn Ignite challenge. Stay tuned! 🙂

POUND BY POUND: Day 12 – DailyBurn Is Better!

Another workout DONE!

Another workout DONE!

I guess the Exercise Goddess heard my concerns about DailyBurn yesterday, because the site was working normally today! The “Day” matched the correct workout and everything! Here’s hoping it stays that way.

So, I’m on Day 12 of the True Beginner program and did Core 1. Like a BOSS.

This weekend, I’m going to figure out what other regular exercise I can do. I need to kick what I’m doing up a notch. When I’ve figured it out, you’ll of course be the first to know. 🙂

Day 12 Finish Screen

Day 12 Finish Screen

Keeping this one short and sweet, because I’ve got a busy day. See you all again tomorrow!

POUND BY POUND: Day 11 – DailyBurn Glitches

Worked up another sweat!

Worked up another sweat!

This is the first time I’ll ever have anything negative to say about DailyBurn



So, I told you about needing to change my time zone on my account. I figured that would be the end of any scheduling issues in my program. However, when I tried to do my workout tonight at around 6PM or so, it said that I was on Day 12, which would’ve been Core 1 again. Now, I just did Core 1 yesterday, because I had to flip it with the day before due to the time zone error, so I wasn’t about to do it again. I double-checked my time zone, and sure enough, it’s now on Pacific. So…why is it telling me that it’s tomorrow?

Here’s my program calendar, which shows the entire True Beginner program:

TB Calendar

As you can see, today (the 21st) is Day 11, yet the 22nd is highlighted (the dotted line around the day) for some reason as my “current” workout. So, my finish screen looked like this:

TB Day 11 (NOT Day 12!) Finish Screen.

TB Day 11 (NOT Day 12!) Finish Screen.

Also, 715 calories burned?! I’m sorry – I definitely worked hard – but where is that number coming from? There’s no WAY this workout burns 715 calories on ANYONE. Unless you’re doing the moves with 20 lb weights attached to your arms and feet or something.

Since I’ve completed the True Beginner program once before, I’m not too concerned about it. I’m just going to stick to what the calendar says no matter what the day counter says. I just don’t understand why the site is glitching like this all of a sudden. I’ve never had a problem like this before. I’m wondering if they’re doing maintenance, and hopefully all these kinks will be worked out soon?

Anyway, I did my workout. Huzzah. And for those of you following along, The “Day” in the titles of my blog post will always be the correct number, no matter what my Finish Screen photos say. *sigh*

POUND BY POUND: Day 10 – Right Workout, Wrong Time Zone

Down on the mat (or the towel) working my core!

Down on the mat (or the towel) working my core!

So, I just finished my DailyBurn True Beginner workout today, and I realized that there’s been a glitch in my day-counting! When I worked out last night, I did it a little after 9PM, not realizing that my DailyBurn account was set for Eastern rather than Pacific. So it gave me Day 10’s workout on Day 9, because it thought I was working out after midnight! In my photo and my blog post from yesterday, you saw Day 10 on my finish screen for Strength and Cardio 1 as well as in my post title (I’ve since corrected the day in my last post)!

When I just went to workout now, and got the same workout as yesterday, I got confused, but then looked at my DailyBurn calendar, figured out my mistake, and corrected the time zone on my account. So, from now on, all my days should be correct!

What I did today was do the workout I should’ve done yesterday, which was Core 1. Whenever I do this workout, I feel it in more and more of my core. I feel the workout spreading from the top of my rib cage all the way through my thighs, which I think is a good thing, considering that one’s “core” is the largest muscle group in the body. Each time, I try to do the exercises a little more deeply than last time, and I guess it’s paying off?

My REAL Day 10 Finish Screen.

My REAL Day 10 Finish Screen.

Anyway, just wanted to keep you updated on today’s workout. Off to run some errands and write some more!