Category Archives: health at every size (HAES)

On sickness, sacrifice and where I’ve been lately

“Just hold still,” the nurse said impatiently as she attempted to swab the back of my throat. My head was cocked at a strange angle, making the whole procedure rather difficult.

“But I don’t have—uurgh. Fine.”

It was December 1999, and I was sitting in the infirmary at my tiny college. The infirmary had exactly two remedies for any situation: a strep test, and a referral to the town doctor’s office for a mono test. Unfortunately, I’d walked in the door with neither ailment: My head was cocked to the side because I couldn’t straighten it. The muscles in my neck had gotten so knotted from tension they wouldn’t move.

Since I was young and without transportation or insurance, I went through all of exam week like that, writing and showering and sleeping with my head cocked to the side. A friend finally lent me her heating pad and with its help I was able to massage my neck muscles out of their cramp.

That was my first encounter with stress-related injuries.

The next year, I caught the flu the day before exams. In both semesters.

In my third year, I had my first desktop computer and was inordinately proud of it. (My roommate, who had to share the phone line with my dialup Internet, was not as impressed.) Due to the way our dorm room was configured, I spent that year sitting on the bed with the computer keyboard on my lap and the mouse on a mousepad next to me on the bed. And gave myself a repetitive strain injury that would haunt me for the rest of my life.

It seems that I have the exact combination of factors needed for stress-related injuries and illnesses: a not-particularly-robust immune system, muscles that tighten immensely under strain, and a workaholic, high-intensity, overachiever personality.

When I was younger, I shrugged it off. A little flu or chronic pain never hurt anyone, right? At a little over 30, though, my body is simply letting me know that it’s done. Sure, I could continue to juggle a full-time job and two time-consuming hobbies and a family and pets and et cetera forever, but increasingly I’m not willing to pay the price in pain, physical and mental.


Which brings us back to why I disappeared a few months ago. I developed another chronic, painful muscle injury and started getting sick again. I had strep throat for the first time since childhood and was sick for most of September and October. At this moment, I have the type of cold I only catch when I’m super stressed out.

Cutting back is hard. Our culture values the workaholic. Even at my relatively casual and progressive day-job office, working way over 40 hours simply so you’re not see as the office slacker holds strong.

This is particularly prevalent in the small business resources available online these days. Can’t find your audience? Well, you should be using Twitter and Facebook and a blog and a newsletter and and and. If that’s not working, then there are expensive blogging courses that promise to solve all your problems, as long as you’re willing to dedicate four hours a day to blogging. And so on. It’s a vicious cycle and it becomes so easy for you to blame yourself if you can’t squeeze out yet another ten minutes a day for yet another social media channel or blog technique or whatever. It’s so easy to lose sight of why you’re there.

I’m here because what I have to say about body image and weight and health is important. But it’s not more important than my own mental and physical health. And now that I’m not 21 any more, I’m discovering that packing every single minute full of activity isn’t as satisfying as it used to be. It’s nice to be able to read a book, or take a walk, and not stress over the fact that I haven’t written a blog post yet this week, or retweeted my latest post the prescribed three times at peak traffic hours. Beyond being nice, it’s increasingly necessary; my body just won’t let me overachieve while sacrificing it any more.

I’m not saying goodbye, not closing up the blog or the From Lindley, with Love jewelry lines. But I am accepting my limits and scaling back. The shop will likely move solely to Etsy. I love my current e-commerce site, but it’s expensive to maintain in both money and time. The blog may actually see more posts from me soon, since I’m more likely to post when I don’t feel the pressure to “do” every social media site in existence along with it.

Some days, scaling back feels like defeat. But increasingly, it feels like relief, the realization that I don’t have to work through pain and stress to feel productive or valuable. May we all, individually and as a society, reach that conclusion and find peace with it.

You Don’t Have to Be Pretty

Today, I want to share this amazing quote from Erin at A Dress a Day.

You Don’t Have to Be Pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female”.

I’m not saying that you SHOULDN’T be pretty if you want to. (You don’t owe UN-prettiness to feminism, in other words.) Pretty is pleasant, and fun, and satisfying, and makes people smile, often even at you. But in the hierarchy of importance, pretty stands several rungs down from happy, is way below healthy, and if done as a penance, or an obligation, can be so far away from independent that you may have to squint really hard to see it in the haze.

But what does you-don’t-have-to-be-pretty mean in practical, everyday terms? It means that you don’t have to apologize for wearing things that are held to be “unflattering” or “unfashionable” — especially if, in fact, they make you happy on some level deeper than just being pretty does. So what if your favorite color isn’t a “good” color on you? So what if you are “too fat” (by some arbitrary measure) for a sleeveless top? If you are clean, are covered enough to avoid a citation for public indecency, and have bandaged any open wounds, you can wear any color or style you please, if it makes you happy.



A Better Way to Make (and Keep) New Year’s Resolutions

This year, I’m not making any resolutions.


Okay, okay, I wasn’t very good at making them in the first place. I was really into New Year’s resolutions for a while as a teenager, but I’d forget them a week later. Oops.

For me, the danger is random, middle-of-the-year, out-of-nowhere resolutions. Early last December, I spent a weekend cleaning out our townhouse’s basement storage room. After tossing out several trash bags’ worth of junk and taking TWO carloads to the Goodwill, I swore I’d never bring useless stuff into the house again.

Yeah, of course I’m not going to keep that resolution. I like stuff. I accumulate it at an astonishing pace. I also usually do know when it’s time to get rid of it, but when it comes into the house it’s never useless (until a year later when I haven’t done anything with it). So even though I don’t tend to make my resolutions at New Year’s, I’m totally familiar with the process. And be honest: Have you ever made a resolution that stuck?

Let’s do it a different way this year. If you knew there was a way you could make those changes and have them actually last, wouldn’t you be all over that?

Read the rest of this entry

Stay Sane and Happy this Christmas



This morning, I did something shocking. I logged into Google Reader, clicked on All Items, then chose Mark as Read.

Over 2,500 blog posts, gone with a click.

I’m a compulsive reader. If it’s in front of me, I’ll read it, including cereal boxes and warranties. In digital form, it’s even worse: around 300 subscriptions in my Google Reader, hundreds of e-books on my hard drive. My husband’s been known to ask me only half-jokingly if I read the entire Internet that day.

With all that practice, I’m a lightning-fast reader, but even I can’t process the entire Internet. When I’m trying to absorb hundreds of blogs, I also can’t participate – I’m too busy dashing off to the next blog to comment.

Gradually, the unread posts piled up. And up, like a basement full of clutter that’s never quite out of mind.

I expected to feel guilty when I deleted those posts from my reader. All those resources and wisdom and knowledge, gone. Instead, it was freeing. It’s a fresh start, leaving me mental space for joy and extra peace to spend on dealing with the holidays.

What can you do to free yourself for the emotion and stress and excitement of the holidays? Here are a few ideas.

Free Teleclass: Health at Every Size for the Holidays

If your holidays are like the rest of us who aren’t fictional — you know, a mess — you’re going to love Golda Poretsky’s free teleclass, HAES for the Holidays: How To Navigate Food, Family & Fatness Better This Holiday Season.

Golda describes the course as:

Whether you come from a family of constant dieters or one where cleaning your plate is the best way to show love, navigating your way through the holiday season can feel more pressured and stressful than anything else.  In the end, you may find that you’re overeating or undereating just to please members of your family.

Wouldn’t it be fabulous to have more fun this holiday?  Wouldn’t it be lovely to have the tools you need so that you can have a really joyous holiday season?

Register to get a recording of the class that you can listen to any time.

The Gift of Receiving

Another lovely piece from Golda:

Many of us have become accustomed to over-giving. We over-give of our time, our brainpower, our emotional energy. We do this all year long, and then heighten our over-giving for the holidays, where we buy more presents for others than our budgets really allow, we make food that we don’t really like in order to please others, we endure lots of parties we don’t want to attend, etc. etc. etc. It’s as if we’re all suffering from “Over-Giving Syndrome.” Amazingly, we do this at the time of year when the nights are the longest, when our bodies are telling us to rest more, to dream more, to restore our energy.

Giving, when done out of a true desire to give, is indeed beautiful and wonderful. But you can’t get to that point of pleasurable giving until you’ve really received.

Handle Awkward Questions with Grace (and/or Fire)

Reagan at Dances with Fat has a great set of answers to questions that pushy relatives are likely to ask at family gatherings. This is my favorite:

What are you doing about your weight?

  • Moving it through space with grace, power, and joy
  • Dressing it in fabulous clothes and taking it out on the town
  • My weight is fine, what are you doing about your rudeness?

Take Care of Yourself for the Holidays

More great advice on how to stay sane, from Manolo for the Big Girl:

I can’t turn on my computer or television without being assaulted by messages that I’m going to gain gigantic amounts of weight this winter if I don’t stop being so greedy at the same table I’m supposed to fill with homemade goodies until the legs give out. Every ladymag in the universe has a picture of the perfect pie, cake, or souffle I’m supposed to make, alongside a reminder that gaining a single ounce from eating it means I will die well before my time, alone and unmourned as Scrooge in the vision shown him of his potential future. Every year some fanatic out there starts a campaign to make Santa skinny so that he can use his role model status to shame those who carry more meat on their bones.

But you know what? We can opt out of the insanity. We can spend this special time of year failing to hate ourselves. We don’t need to create the false dichotomy of too much food  that we are not allowed to eat. You know what we can do?

We can take care of ourselves.

Rest Ye Merry, Fat Ladies

I plan to do some of that self care myself, so I’ll be a little scarce ’round these parts till after Christmas. We’re driving down to North Carolina on Friday – have to be on the road by 1 p.m. or sit in hours of traffic jams! – and will be coming back to Virginia the next Tuesday.

In the meantime, here are some photos from last year’s celebrations. I hope your Christmas and new year are full of delights.















How to Survive the Holidays

Ah, the holidays, when picture-perfect families gather around the fireplace as snow gently falls outside. The women of the family, all smiling and attractive, gather in the kitchen, chatting as they cook. Shortly, they’ll carry a grand feast to the table, where perfect, inoffensive small talk will ensue. And on Christmas morning, the cheerful, well-behaved children will tear into their perfect presents with shouts of glee.

What, that’s not what your holidays are like? Yeah, me either.

If your holidays are more like the rest of us who aren’t fictional — you know, a mess — you’re going to love Golda Poretsky’s free teleclass HAES for the Holidays: How To Navigate Food, Family & Fatness Better This Holiday Season.

Golda describes the course as:

Whether you come from a family of constant dieters or one where cleaning your plate is the best way to show love, navigating your way through the holiday season can feel more pressured and stressful than anything else.  In the end, you may find that you’re overeating or undereating just to please members of your family.

Wouldn’t it be fabulous to have more fun this holiday?  Wouldn’t it be lovely to have the tools you need so that you can have a really joyous holiday season?

Because I’ve been a mess myself this week, I didn’t get the word out as soon as I wanted. The class starts in, um, two hours. However, Golda is awesome, and she says:

Note: Everyone who registers will receive a link to listen to the recording of the class, so you should still register if you can’t make it live!

So. Go! Register! Listen! Be less stressed out this December!