Eat What You Want, When You Want

I recently wrote a piece for the second issue of my Self Care Zine about how I practice intuitive eating as a part of my own self care. I’m not a writer by any means, but intuitive eating really played a huge part in my own fat acceptance and helped me make peace with my body, so I wanted to share my experience. Here is my piece in its entirety:

In our a diet-centric culture, it’s easy to internalize toxic ideas about weight and assign moral value to food. We’re taught what we should and shouldn’t eat, and when to eat it. Our media is plagued with headlines like, “24 Foods You Should Avoid at All Costs,” “10 Diet Foods that Actually Make You Fat,” and my personal favorite “The Baby Diet: How Eating Like a Toddler Could Help You Lose Weight.” We associate the feeling of guilt with food.We label salads as a “clean” food and pizza as “dirty” or off limits. We set designated free days or cheat meals. We describe good foods as real food and bad foods as sinful. You get the idea.

The truth is, food is neither good or bad. It is merely energy your body needs to function and survive. When we assign moral value to food, we also end up assigning moral value to ourselves for eating it. This is a dangerous way of thinking that can lead to disordered eating habits, extreme dieting, and physiological changes that can negatively affect both your physical and mental health.

I am fat. I’ve always had a complicated relationship with food. Five years ago, I made the decision to start making peace with my body and mending my relationship with food. When I first started getting into fat acceptance, I came across the Health at Every Size (HAES) movement and it was life-changing. According to the HAES website, the movement is “based on the simple premise that the best way to improve health is to honor your body. It supports people in adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being (rather than weight control).” It was through HAES that I discovered the concept of intuitive eating.

When we subscribe to strict diets, we are basically saying we don’t trust ourselves to make good decisions. Honoring your body includes trusting your body to make nourishing food choices. Intuitive eating is a hunger-based approach to eating: Listen to your body and eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re full. It takes the focus away from the dietary aspects of nutrition so we are not limited to eating good foods and avoiding bad foods. In the book On Eating, author Susie Orbach lists the five keys to intuitive eating:

  1. Eat when you are hungry
  2. Eat the food your body is hungry for
  3. Find out why you eat when you aren’t hungry
  4. Taste every mouthful
  5. Stop eating the moment you are full

The concept may sound like it should be common sense, but when you have a history of dieting or following socially imposed rules about eating, it can be quite difficult. I have spent so much of my life dieting and consumed with restricting calories that I struggled with recognizing my body’s internal hunger/satiety cues. To remedy this, I’ve dedicated a huge part of my own self care to the practice of intuitive eating.

Over time, I was eventually able to stop viewing food as the enemy and start viewing it as something enjoyable, nourishing, and satisfying (on so many levels). I no longer feel consumed by counting calories or obsessing about gaining weight. I am able to enjoy eating without guilt. I’ve noticed that a lot of times when I think I really want something, I actually don’t want it at all. And I feel healthier, happier, more present, and more energetic.

This is merely an account of my experience with intuitive eating. Please note that I am not a medical doctor. I encourage you to do some research (there is so much information out there!) and/or consult a qualified health care professional before making major changes to your diet. Good luck!

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Merbabes for Extra Credit

il_570xN.524745429_r6aoLast year, I put together a body-positive coloring book called “Big-Bellied Merbabes.” It was a project inspired my obsession with mermaids and “Fat Ladies in Spaaaaace” by Theo Nicole Lorenz. It was mostly a low-stress project for fun, as most of the design and illustration work I’d done that year did not allow for much creativity. I rounded up a bunch of my friends to model for me, printed out a bunch of copies, and spent some quality time with a long reach stapler.

I figured I’d just sell a few copies at my artist alley table at GeekGirlCon ’13 and gift the rest to friends. I ended up selling out of my first run of copies by the end of October! I was not expecting the coloring books to receive such a tremendous response. Just goes to show how thirsty we are for body-positive media!

Fast forward a year later when I received a message from a friend (who had previously told me he was using the coloring books to teach body diversity in his class) saying he was offering extra credit to students in exchange for a colored page from the book! I wanted to share a few of my favorites:

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How awesome are these?! I’m so stoked that this coloring book is being used as a tool to teach kids about body positivity! Hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

PDX Adventures

pdx

My best friend Amber and I have both been itching to get out of town and since I’d never been to Portland before, we decided to take a day trip yesterday. We left early in the morning and the drive down was really spooky; the fog was so thick that it felt like we were in a horror film! Luckily, we managed to make it to Portland safe and sound.

We started our day at See See Motor Coffee Co. where we met up with the lovely Shawna of Chubby Cartwheels. We’d never met in person before but have been following each other online for awhile. I’ve been a fan of her work and was super stoked to finally be able to meet. We talked a bit about the fat positive community in Portland and she gave us some great advice about the community we’re trying to foster in Seattle. I’d love to collab with the PDX Fats and hope we can collab on an event. Shawna is the sweetest, most down-to-earth babe and I can’t wait until we can hang out again!

After coffee, Amber and I tried to hit up Moonshadow Magick Pagan Shoppe but they weren’t open. According to their hours, they were supposed to be open but there was no one in sight and no one answering the phone. Total bummer. Amber was scrolling through social media and found out that The Wild Unknown was vending at the Give Good Gift Holiday Pop-Up. She’d been wanting to get her hands on their Tarot Guidebook so we decided to head over to Union/Pine and check out the event.

The show was small and super Pinterest-y (not really my aesthetic), but it was nice to see the strong community support of local artists and small businesses. I was looking forward to getting my photo taken with Hipster Santa but alas, he was nowhere to be found. Much to Amber’s delight, we found The Wild Unknown table and she proceeded to throw down some bills for their Tarot Guidebook.

I’ve been wanting to check out Fat Fancy for freakin’ ever, so that was our next destination. Driving around in that area sucked but it was totally worth it. Fat Fancy was everything I hoped it would be and more. The store was super cute and stocked with an impressive assortment of clothing and accessories for fat babes. I was in heaven. After trying on a bunch of tops, I finally settled on a half sleeve velvet baby doll top. Total 90s Nancy Downs witchy vibes. Definitely my aesthetic.

We were famished from shopping and grabbed a quick bite to eat at Pizza Schmizza before heading back to Belmont to meet up my friend and former Los Angelean Sheli. I’ve known Sheli since the indie rock show-hopping days of my youth. We enjoyed the same bands, had many mutual friends, and shared an interest in graphic design. A decade later and we both somehow ended up in the Pacific Northwest. Life is funny that way.

Anyway, she drove us all over Portland pointing out the hip bars, restaurants, and art galleries. I definitely took some mental notes for future visits. We also returned to Moonshadow since it was down the street from her house. The variety of merchandise was impressive and I did find myself drooling over a few things. Unfortunately, the employee (or owner?) managing the shop that day seemed uninterested in making a sale. I went up to the counter to buy a smudge stick and stood there awkwardly trying to get his attention. He looked over at me and then turned back to his computer to tend to his Facebook. Nice.

We ended our Portland tour at Salt & Straw, where I’m pretty sure I had the best ice cream of my life. Cinnamon Snickerdoodle gets two enthusiastic thumbs up from me. I can’t stop thinking about how damn delicious it was! After ice cream, Amber and I got back on the road and headed home. Our little day trip was a success: I got to spend some quality time with Amber, met up with some wonderful people, did some shopping, and familiarized myself with the area. Next time I visit, I definitely want to spend more than a day. Looking forward to my next trip!

Winter Blues

Depression is different for everyone. For me, it results in staying in bed or napping throughout the day with little to no willpower to get up, isolating myself from people I care about, never leaving the house, and overeating. I’ve managed to get my depression in check for the better part of this year by forcing myself to organize fun events for my local meetup group, PNW Fattitude, which required me to leave my Tacoma bubble and socialize with strangers. I also combined medication and therapy consistently for 8 months straight. But money started getting tighter and I had to cut back the amount of sessions with my therapist. And life got pretty chaotic in October when I was forced to move out of my apartment on short notice so I haven’t seen my therapist at all in over a month. Plus, I think my meds aren’t helping as much as they used to so life has been ROUGH.

These days, I’ve been holing up in my new apartment binge-watching tv shows on Netflix and sleeping in my recliner. Actually, I’ve spent the last week falling asleep in my recliner while watching tv at night. My sleep schedule is completely out of whack: I used to have no problem getting to bed by 10 or 11 p.m. and waking up at 7 a.m. But these days, I haven’t been able to get to sleep till about 4 a.m., which makes me super exhausted and unfocused at work. I’ve even caught myself dozing off in front of my computer a few times.

I also suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder on top of my general depression, so winter is especially difficult for me to power through. Being away from my family during the holidays has always been tough, and moving even farther south from my friends has made feel extra isolated and lonely. Another thing that has been causing me stress is money, or lack of money. The move really zapped my bank account and now I’m paying more rent, utilities, and now pet rent! My health insurance premium doubled and I have an entire unpaid week of vacation for Christmas, so that’s cool. I really hope Santa gets me a raise for Christmas because it would be nice to not have to stress out over whether or not I’m going to be able to pay my bills.

Despite this, I’ve been considering getting a light therapy lamp as a Christmas gift to myself.. that is, if I find myself with a sudden surplus of income this month. I don’t know anyone personally that’s used one, but I’ve read so many positive reviews online. My vitamin D levels are already massively low (I take Ergocalciferol for it) so a happy lamp couldn’t hurt, right? If I had readers, this is where I would pose a question asking if anyone has used one or has any recommendations but alas, I have yet to even tell anyone I have this new blog so…

On a better note, I’ve convinced my best friend Amber to come along with me on a day trip to Portland tomorrow. I’ve never been to Portland (only driven through it) but I’ve been itching to get out of town and Amber’s been having a tough time at home so I think this will be good for both of us.

Anyway, I’m going to make some lunch and try to gather enough willpower to fulfill some Etsy orders. And maybe even drag myself to the post office! Hoping to be somewhat productive today.

First Post

My first blog was on LiveJournal in 2002. For eight years, I documented my impromptu adventures in Orange County, late night celebrity encounters in Los Angeles, indie rock shows, life in art school, boyfriends, breakups, and the occasional tryst.

When I moved to Washington in 2010, I became involved with the Doctor Who fandom on Tumblr and decided to leave LiveJournal. Unfortunately, I got sucked into reblogging everything on my dash and personal posts became far and few between. (Now my Tumblr is mostly social justice posts and cat pics.)

During my first year in Washington, I was unemployed, living in the middle of nowhere (Silverdale), and friendless. When I wasn’t trying to find a job, I was either napping or binge-watching tv shows on Netflix. Suffice it to say, my life wasn’t as exciting as I hoped it would be. And since I didn’t have anything substantial to write about, micro-blogging via Twitter and Instagram became more appealing and I ditched long-form blogging altogether.

I just moved to South Tacoma, which might as well be another state since the majority of my friends live in Seattle and hardly ever make the drive down. I don’t blame them. There isn’t anything fun to do around here. But life has been pretty shit lately and living so far from my support system has me feeling extremely lonely. I decided to start blogging again as a way to work out my feelings and document this trying time in my life. And hopefully find support and make new friends along the way.

Who knows how long I’ll be able to keep this up but I’m super committed to getting back into blogging. If you’re reading this, I hope you don’t find my life too terribly boring. Welcome to my blog. I hope you decide to stick around!