Friday, June 22, 2012

On the road again ...

Driving to Georgia for a wedding today and really enjoying the books on tape, Cracker Barrel, seeing Cincinnati friends and sunny skies.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fat Girls in Swim Suits

There have been some CRAZY things going on around the internet. Like real cray. I thought I need to weigh in as well. It seemed to start from a blog post from one of my favorites GABIFRESH. She posted pictures of herself in a bathing suit, oh excuse me, a fatkini. From the words of Gabi:
As always, I truly encourage you guys to get to the beach (or a pool) this summer--don't let body shame keep you from having a good time! I don't expect everyone to feel comfortable in a two piece, but hopefully I can inspire some of you to take the plunge. I can't tell you how freeing it is to just have fun without worrying about what other people think.
Of course the world went crazy over a fat girl in a swim suit. This lead to an oxjane article about fat women and swim suits from the again amazing Gabi. The article also featured a photo slide show of women of all sizes wearing bathing suits. I loved it.

Then That Cortnie Girl posted a picture on of her in a swim suit on her Facebook, resulting in over 90 comments! Most positive, but of course, there was some body shaming as well. You can see her video response here.  

I thought, what a better way to celebrate my birthday (PS, yay I am 25, my brain is developed and ready to make some mad crazy sound decisions)  than to reaffirm my commitment to fat acceptance and the healthy at every size lifestyle then posting some pictures of myself in a bathing suit! It all really worked out perfectly, because I needed to pick a suit for my trip to Georgia this weekend anyways! 

Low a behold, a living, breathing obese person in SEVERAL bathing suits! Gasp! 

Here is me and all of my body, standing in solidarity with all other people that have been told their body does not deserve to wear a swim suit in public. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

What I Learned from the Races I Didn't Run

I am a runner. I like the feeling after a run, I like making training plans, and I like racing. This passion has not translated into completed races in quite some time. To get this post started let me recount some recent races I did not run.
Columbus Half Marathon - April 2010 

I hoped this would be my second half marathon and precursor to the full marathon in October. I ran more miles during this training bout than during my first, with a long run of 11 miles. At the time I had just started a research position at Ohio State. One of our community partners was hosting an event the same day as the race. I felt I should go to the community event instead. 

Cleveland Full Marathon - May 2011 

During the spring of 2011 I went through a lot of transitions. School to work, one job to another job and then to another. When I first arrived in December I had quite a lot of free time on my hands. Slowly my time was consumed by my graduate project, work, and various advocacy projects I was working on. I made it to a 13 mile long run, and again threw in the towel on marathon training. This time I threw in the towel to exercise completely. 

So now that you learned the stories of my "failed" races, here is what I learned from them ... 

There will be many more races. 

Training for a race causes me to fixate on a date. I focus on working hard some I can be successful on this specific day. When that date passes and I didn't complete my goal, I feel disappointing and empty. Then the sun rises the next day, I do a bit of googling and realize there are many more races to come, and much more time in my life to train for them. I am young, and I have many more opportunities to race. 

Its not you, its timing. 

Life is long, and growing up has many hurdles. Last year for me my hurdles included finishing school and finding a job. The year before that it was focusing on my research position.  I set my priorities and running just fell too far down the list. Sometimes even things I love need to be put further down the list. 

On another note, I believe you make time for what is important to you. If running is important to me, I need to choose to do less or certain things (advocacy work perhaps) and make room for running. To me, that means making a commitment to yourself, and activities that bring joy to your life and satisfaction.

You grew as a runner from the training, even without the race. 

The worst part about deciding to not run a race is the frustration you feel from putting in all the work and training "for nothing." Well, it isn't for nothing. Ilearned some much from both of my "failed" training attempts. I learned more about how my body responds to distance running. I learned how to effectively fuel, hydrate, and create training plans. I became more comfortable with double digit runs. Just because I didn't complete the races, I still progressed along my journey as a runner. 

Where to from here? 
Today I registered for two races, the Cleveland Half Marathon and Canton Half Marathon. As I continue to train and race I will bring with me the wisdom I learned from races in which I proudly crossed the finish line, and races I didn't even make it to the starting line. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Don't shame thin bodies, duh

You do not empower one person by oppressing another person. In the body acceptance movement - all bodies are accepted, period. 

This is NOT the answer. 
Sometimes in an attempt to empower people with fatter bodies, thinner bodies are put down. I have seen memes similar to the one above circulating Facebook and Tumblr. Memes like this are counterproductive to the body acceptance movement. I was glad to see this refute a few days later.

Phew, that is better.
Lets travel back to visit high school Ashley to learn more about accepting all bodies. 

 In high school I attended an event called Challenge Day. I know many schools around the country host these events, and it was even featured on MTV. This was a really powerful event for me, and I am glad more students get to have this experience.

Pink-haired 15 year old Ashley 
Challenge Day at my school included a "cross the line" activity. Statements were proposed and if you identified with the statement, you "crossed the line" by taking a step forward. The question was asked, have you ever been teased because of the the size or shape of your body?

The words stung as memories of being taunted on playgrounds, boys mockingly flirting with me to get a rise out of their friends, and being pelted with crab apples while walking home from school flooded my mind. I took a big step forward. I then looked from side to side and was suprised to see who had also crossed the line with me. A thin, blonde cheerleader stood on the other side of the line, tears streaming down her face. I had always thought she was so beautiful, how could she have possibly experienced the shaming that I did? There had even been times I assumed that if I had her body, all the pain I had felt from bullying would disappear. But then I remembered boys mocking her flat chest, height, and thin "boney" legs in the school hallways. I guess our experiences with our bodies were more similar than I thought.

I wanted to hug her that day but I never did. Therefore, I dedicate this post to anyone who has ever felt shamed about their body. This blog post is like an "internet hug" to all those who have ever felt like either of us did not that day. Be reminded no one should be shamed for being too big, too small, for having too many rolls, not enough breasts or the excess/absence of any other body part. This is an internet hug to any person who has ever felt devalued because of the treatment of others in response to their body.

Be reminded, ALL people and all bodies are valuable.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Letting go of Ashley the "Skinny Bride"

So are you still training for that race? 

No, I am no longer on the training plan I mentioned before. I stopped because I felt pressured to spend my fitness time in a more "productive" way. I started doing HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts, specifically Insanity. After a few weeks I stopped my Insanity workouts, and am now back on a running plan. 

If I didn't like HIIT and Insanity, why did I do it in the first place? 

This really is the tip of a much bigger iceberg in my journey of body acceptance. I felt I needed to do HIIT because these workouts are the fastest way to build muscle mass and lose body fat. If you are unaware, there is a really big day coming up in my life in which over a hundred people will all be staring at me. I felt pressured to "look my best" which pressured me to do workouts I don't like, and diet, which I don't want to do anymore. 

Well, I am officially done. Consider this a public service announcement on all issues of my body and my wedding. 

I, Ashley Thompson, am officially giving up my since childhood fantasy of being a skinny bride. Many girls have their dress, colors or flowers picked out for their wedding long before they have a ring on their finger. The only thing I dreamed about was being a skinny bride. I used to think marriage was a milestone that represented that your life was coming together. You were growing up, starting a new chapter of your life, and had a least some of your shit figured out. I thought that once I grew up, and had my shit figured out I would magically be thin, too. Now I realize that the together-ness of my life has nothing to do with the size of my body. Finally I feel ready to give up fantasizing about being something I am not, and learning to nourish and love what I am, body included. 
If this isn't what having your life together looks like, I don't know does. 

Compared to my current weight, I have weighed more, and I have weighed less. I have spent LITERALLY  spent the last decade of my short life dieting. For once in my life I am going to make a commitment to myself to nourish and take care of my body and love it, not matter what shape it may be. 

For friends and family who think commenting about my weight, or my exercise/eating habits is appropriate - stop. 

It has, and will always, negatively impact my ability to accept my body. Talking about my body does not motivate me to lose weight or improve my health. If anything it fuels self destructive behaviors. Trust me, I literally have a degree in health behavior, if there was a magically way to make people lose weight, I would have heard about it. Also weight loss is not the same as improved health. I am continuing my commitment to improve my health, I am just no longer using the amount of weight I can lose as my measure for success in this endeavor. In my attempts to lose weight I have picked up some healthy behaviors and some destructive behaviors.

All in all, I do have my shit figured out, it just looks different than I thought it would when I was younger. 

I have a job that I love, I spend my time reading about issues I care about, I have an amazing fiance that I am excited to start a family with, and I have my whole life ahead of me. I have yet to figure out the how-to-eat-without-dieting thing, but I am working on it. I do know that being obsessed with my weight has not improved my physical health and definitely has negatively impacted my mental health.

I do know trying to lose 30 pounds before my wedding will not help improve my ability to accept my body or improve my health. 

In case you are still a little confused, here is a recap: 
  • No, I am not dieting for my wedding. 
  • Yes, my body could change, but that is part of my current journey to find a weight I can maintain without dieting. 
  • No, you are never allowed to comment on my body or my physical activity/eating habits, even if you think what you are saying is a compliment. It is not a compliment, by the way. 
  • Yes, health promotion is still an important aspect of my personal and professional life. I have just learned that promoting health looks different than I originally thought and a healthy me might look different than I originally though. 
  • No, I have not yet learned how to eat without dieting, and accept my body, but I do now those two goals are what will lead to improved health, and happiness in my life - not dieting/weight loss. 
Phew, that feels good to get off my chest!