The one with the bathing suit

Remember that time I posted a picture of myself in a bathing suit online? You can click the photo below in case you missed it.

Well I do because it was the best/scariest thing I have done for myself. If you’re new around here or haven’t been paying attention, let me catch you up. I have under-fed and over-exercised my body for the majority of my adult life. If there was a fad diet, I tried it, Weight Watchers, South Beach, Whole 30, Gluten Free, Clean Eating, Grain Free, at one point 2 of my meals consisted of vegetable juice. Each one promising and never satisfying my desire to feel good about myself.  About 2 years ago my body had enough and I started having some minor health problems but they quickly began to add up. I went to see a dietitian because I thought I needed her help to tell me what else I could eliminate from my diet. At that time I had created so many rules around food for myself that I was probably only eating about 10 foods that I deemed “safe”. She wisely directed me to Intuitive Eating and encouraged me to feed my body, to really tune into what my body was saying and what my rules were around food. When I started to really do the hard work of getting rid of food rules that I’d held for the last 10 years I began to find freedom like I’d never known before. Freedom in being able to give my body what it was craving but it also opened my eyes up to so many other rules I was following.

I was suffering from self imposed rules and expectations of others in food, clothing, my job, where I lived, you name it, I had a rule about it. I’m still unraveling it all in therapy like a big bowl of spaghetti. When we get to what I think is the end, another piece of spaghetti leads us down another path. So when summer came around this year, I told myself I wasn’t going to spend another one afraid of putting on a bathing suit. What I have learned is that the best way to get past your fears is to face them whether that is white bread or chub rub.

So @kellieblogs and I took these photos and I was uncomfortable to say the least but I knew it was something I had to do for myself. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to share them with anyone. But when I got them back I sobbed. Not because I hated them but because I loved them so much. I might have a larger body now but when I look back at pictures of myself in a smaller body, I can see in my eyes how miserable I was. I know that person was eating as little as possible, following impossible food rules and forcing herself to workout and never rest. I did it all under the guise of health but when I am really honest with myself, it was all an effort to make my body smaller. To live up to the standards of health that our society puts on us but especially women. In our society we are shown through media and other influences that there is only one acceptable body type. In reality we are created in all different shapes and sizes. We don’t expect all dogs to be chihuahuas and we shouldn’t expect all human bodies to look one way. When I look at these photos, I don’t even really see my body, I see how I felt on the inside and how much my body and I have been through these past few years. I see the peace that I have found and the fact that I’ve worked so hard to get here.

Admittedly, I have felt like a fraud these past few years, posting on social media and encouraging women to embrace themselves as they are while behind the scenes I struggled with my own self worth and acceptance. I kept waiting for this point in my journey where I would feel like I had arrived so that I could share my journey with you. But my therapist wisely pointed out, if you wait for that you will never share you story. Share the messy middle, that’s where people want to meet you because they are in the middle of their own mess. So if you’re struggling through these same things I want you to know that I am right there with you in trenches. Choosing to love myself in a world that constantly tells me to change. Choosing to accept my body as it is. Choosing to step into my story and choosing to invite you into yours as well.

Whenever I share something vulnerable like this I always wonder if there is anyone out there who can relate and then I get flooded with messages in my DMs and inbox. I cherish every one of them because it reminds me we are not alone in our struggles.  I’m going to share some resources that help me in my journey but just know, you are not alone and don’t hesitate to reach out to me too.

Help with body positivity:

The Body Love Society

Disordered Eating resources:

Finding Balance Inc  

Body Bloved

Podcasts:

Eating with Grace

The Body Love Society

Nutrition Matters

As always, I want you to know that you are worthy and deeply loved.

xoxo,

Tracy

 

My thoughts on body positivity

 

LuLaRoe button down dress

I guess because it’s summer time, we’re all wearing less and putting on bathing suits; I’m seeing a ton of posts about body positivity and embracing the squish. I am all for that and I think we need to see more posts like that but I don’t want us to get body positivity wrong. It’s trendy now to be like oh I’m body positive but then still hate your body for everything it isn’t. I can say this because I’ve spent the majority of my adult life hating my body and trying to make it smaller. I went on every fad diet there was hoping the next one would be the thing that would save me, that would make me feel worthy, that would help me fit in. On the surface it looks good, it looks as though I’m taking care of my body, something that is highly regarded in our culture. But internally I was abusing myself constantly. The measure of our health should not just a number on a scale but it should also include your mental status. Something we don’t talk about often enough is how we are feeling and what our mental health looks like. There is a huge stigma in our society around mental health. As long as you are fitting into the thin ideal that our society has, no one cares about how messed up you are on the inside.

LuLaRoe button down dress

For years I hated my body and I mean hated. I’m sad when I think back on just how much I loathed my thick legs and rolly belly. Even at my smallest, I still had thighs that touched and a roll in my stomach.  I spent years of my life so distracted by how I looked and so focused on how to make myself smaller. What diet could I go on next, how could I work out more and all the while I was distracted by these things, I wasn’t fully able to do the work I was called to do. I wasn’t fully present in my own life. As Brene Brown says, I was hustling for my worthiness.  Something I’ve learned over the last few years is that there is no weight limit on your worth. You can literally show up just as you are, no make up, hair a mess and your worth does not change. You can gain 30 lbs or lose 5 lbs and it does not change your worth because your worth is inherent.

LuLaRoe button down dress

Bopo has become pretty mainstream these days which means that we can get away from the root of the movement. The movement was started to help women in bigger bodies find a place to feel accepted. I think we get so focused on loving ourselves but I don’t think the opposite of body hate is body love. My sweet friend Amanda reminded me this week that it’s okay to not love every part of your body, you can just be neutral about it. The opposite of body hate isn’t body love, it’s actually body neutrality. And that’s where I am this summer. I’m going to wear shorts and tank tops and bathing suits. I don’t love my thighs or my back fat and that’s okay. This summer I’m trying to not feel any way about them. They are just there, kind of like my fingernails or eyelashes. I don’t spend hours of my day thinking about how my toes look and I shouldn’t spend hours of my day thinking about how my thighs looks either. I have been called to do important work and these thoughts don’t allow me to be fully present.

LuLaRoe button down dress

So I want to encourage this summer, put on your bathing suit or shorts or whatever and spend less time thinking about your body and more time thinking being present. Enjoying your kids at the pool, holding hands with your SO, walking confidently out in the world. I know I’m going to put on my super cute new bathing suit and think about my plans for world domination or how I’m going to grow my business and how I can bless the lives of others. Let me say it again in case you missed it the first time, your worth does not have a weight limit. You are allowed to exist in the world exactly how you are.

 

You are worthy and deeply loved,

xoxo

Tracy

 

Why going to the doctor is hard for me

LuLaRoe Ana

 

This post may seem like a huge departure from my normal posts but I think it’s one that’s super important. It’s about why going to the doctor is hard for me. You see, the more I change and grow as a person, the more my brand and this blog changes.

More than anything this is a place for me to get it all out there, to tell my story and to heal. I sometimes get this overwhelming urge to share something even if it maybe feels off topic, it isn’t because it’s all part of this journey of self love and acceptance. And it’s part of who I am.

 

LuLaRoe Ana
photo by @kellieblogs

Why going to the doctor is hard for me.

It all started about 8 years ago, I went in for a yearly physical, blood work etc. At that time I was pretty intensely into Weight Watchers which for me meant severely restricting my calories plus training for a half marathon because I had to get those activity points in. I remember thinking that week, I can’t physically eat any less than I am already eating. Plus on top of that I was doing pretty significant mileage in training. 3-5 miles 4-5 times a week.

That’s a lot to put your body through especially when you aren’t adequately feeding it what it needs. But I was doing what I thought was taking care of my body. I had blood taken at a previous appointment so this was just the one where they go over your test results. The doctor came back in the room and said all of your blood work looks great, all of your tests came back within normal range except one thing, according to our BMI charts your BMI is too high. Have you thought about losing some weight?

Crushed, defeated, misunderstood, all feelings that were running through my mind. What I didn’t know then but I know now is that I was suffering from disordered eating. (You can read more about disordered eating here) There is a stigma in our culture about what an eating disorder looks like, an emaciated white girl who can’t eat or a girl who eats everything in the fridge and then goes to the bathroom to purge.

I didn’t know there were so many other diagnoses on and off the spectrum.

What my doctor also didn’t know at the time was that I was eating so little that my thoughts were constantly consumed with food. I would portion out the exact amount of food I was *allowed* to eat and then sit down for my meal. God forbid my husband try to sneak a piece of food off my plate, I would basically want to break his finger. I felt like an animal in the wild who was perched over their prey when another animal tried to get near their food, they snap. As crazy as that seems, this was my body’s natural reaction to deprivation.

What I also didn’t know then was I was starving myself…

…in order to fit into a very narrow standard of health.So when the doctor told me I needed to lose weight, I just lost it, right there in the exam room with her. Through tears I said, I don’t know how. She didn’t ask what my food intake looked liked, my exercise level, my stress, my sleeping habits, my self-care routine, my mental state, what my social life looked like, nothing. She was simply judging my health based on a number on the scale and a chart on the wall.

She continued on with the standard, just eat right and exercise. Well that’s what I’ve been doing I said, and her response was well just try harder. There it was, I would never live up, I would never measure up, no matter how hard I tried. That appointment and her words have been something I thought about every single day since. Doctors take a do no harm oath and in her defense I think she was doing what she thought was helping but in actuality it set me up for a lifetime of weight stigma, body image issues and so much more. Add to that the fact that every infertility specialist with the exception of our current one has advised me to lose weight to help us get pregnant. I have been given very few other options beyond that but that’s a whole other blog post for another time.

LuLaRoe Ana

Now through therapy I am able to see so many things that happened that day and leading up to that day were not my fault. But given my experience I avoid going to the doctor, even when I’m sick. I refuse to go to a GP because they have a scale so I end up getting half rate care at the minute clinic and do you know why I go there? They don’t have a scale and they never ask for my weight. But this past month I was forced to deal with my fears.

I got sick and not like the get some rest and drink tea kind but the kind where you actually need the good drugs. I let it go on for weeks because I didn’t want to go to the actual doctor and face my fears. I ended up feeling so badly though that I just gave in and went to the doctor. I walked in and there it was, the moment I had been dreading. “If you’ll just step on the scale for me”, the nurse said. Shakily I asked, “is it medically necessary for you to get my weight for today’s visit?” She smiled, “no, it’s not. You have the right to refuse”.

Relief ran through my body.

Yes, I would like to refuse. And just like that we were on to the next thing and talking about my symptoms and the reason for my visit. I guess more than anything, I want to share my experience with you so that you know that you have the right to refuse being weighed at the doctor. For years, I didn’t know that it was an option until my therapist informed me of my patient rights. I mean obviously there are times when getting your weight is medically necessary like when determining how much medication to give etc. Even if they do have to weigh you, you can step on the scale backward and ask not to be told your weight. This is what I do at the new infertility practice I am going to, there is a note on my file to not tell me my weight. I found out the hard way though, it’s always a good idea to remind them with each visit. Even if there is a note, they don’t always see it. It’s empowering to speak up for yourself and your rights. It’s also a radical act of self care.

I want you to know that you are worthy and deeply loved and a number on the scale will not change that.

xoxo
Tracy

Do you remember the first time someone called you fat?

Do you remember the first time someone called you fat or made you feel shame about your body?

I do. It was 5th grade, we were at a sleep over and I was the new kid. You should probably also know I was a new kid in a new country which makes being the new kid just that much harder. Not only do you have normal new kid anxiety but you are also dealing with a new culture, new expectations and new standards. I attended an English speaking school so thankfully there was no language barrier. We had just moved to Japan and I was finally invited to hang out with the popular girls.

There we were with our sleeping bags rolled out in a wagon wheel pattern. We laid on our stomachs, chins resting in our hands, giggling about boys we liked and teachers we hated. Then one of the girls said I’m going to ask a question and everyone has to answer truthfully. We all agreed. How much do you weigh? The girls started going around the circle and rattling off numbers. It got to me and I didn’t know mine because at that age, why would I know? Or care?

So they decided the only acceptable thing to do was to weigh me. They marched me upstairs to the bathroom and I got on the scale. There were a few other foreigners there but mostly Asian girls, they looked down at the number and started giggling and whispering to each other. Clueless, I looked down too only to realize that the number was significantly higher than all the numbers they had just minutes ago recited. In my mind I thought, Asians are built differently, smaller frame, more petite.

Americans are bigger boned by nature, women in my family especially were curvy. We’re just different, my mind said. The same way a chihuahua is made differently than a golden retriever. But it was too late, the damage had been done as I looked up and my eyes met their gaze. I felt a warmth come over me, it was the first time I felt shame over what my body looked like or what the number on the scale said. I wish I could say it was the last time but you know where this story is going because I am pretty sure you have a similar one.

LuLaRoe Shirley, LuLaRoe Lola, LuLaRoe Tracy Vazquez

I think that deep down I’ve always wanted to love myself, always inherently knew I had worth and value but other people, society, lack of extended sizes at stores, made me internalize that who I was wasn’t acceptable. That if I didn’t shrink my size, I wouldn’t matter because they didn’t make clothes for those people. Remember when designer jeans first became a big thing? I tried on the biggest size they had in 7 for all Mankind jeans and they barely zipped up.

I though to myself, I better not gain any weight or better yet, I should lose weight. If I don’t fit in these jeans, I won’t fit in. For years I put myself on crazy restrictive diets and over exercised to make my body into what I thought society wanted. I internalized the idea that clothing at the stores only went up to a size 12 therefore I must maintain that size 12 or force myself to get down to a size 10.

When in reality, I was doing damage to my body by not allowing it carbs, only drinking green juice, only allowing xxx amount of calories, despite being exhausted forcing myself to get up and run 3 miles before school all under the guise of “being healthy”. It took a huge life change, ahem quitting a steady paycheck, infertility issues and just general life dissatisfaction for me to finally turn inward and ask my body what it wanted.

It’s a process, it’s a journey, I’m still learning how to hear my body and allow what I denied myself for so many years. Slowly I’m learning that who I am and who I am becoming is who I was suppose to be all along.

LuLaRoe Tracy Vazquez, LuLaRoe Shirley, LuLaRoe Lolashout out to @kellieblogs for always making me feel like a champion

In my post Beauty and the {Instagram} Beast I talked about cleaning up your social media feeds, unfollowing anyone who makes you feel less than, not enough, unacceptable. For me that meant unfollowing some of my favorite celebrities, Busy Phillips, I love you girlfriend but I cannot hear about your Whole 30 or your Lekfit workouts for one more day. And then a huge second step to that is start following people who make you feel good about yourself.

Maybe they don’t look like you and that’s okay. Here is the thing, when you stop focusing on yourself and how you should look, you can start looking at and appreciating other people. Just like animals, people come in all shapes and sizes. You wouldn’t ask a dog to become a monkey just like you wouldn’t ask a tall person to be shorter. I have found through this process a whole new community of women who love who they are and rock their confidence.

Brené Brown in her book, Braving the Wilderness says this:

“But I’ve discovered something wonderful, the steps between the city gates and the wilderness are the loneliest. Where safety is in the rear-view mirror, new territory remains to be seen, and the path out to the unknown seems empty. But put one foot in front of the other enough times, stay the course enough to actually tunnel into the wilderness and you’ll be shocked how many people already live there. Thriving, dancing, creating, celebrating, becoming. It is not a barren wasteland. It is not void of flourishing, The wilderness is where all the creatives, prophets and system buckers and risk takers have always been, thriving. The walk out there is hard but the authenticity out there is life.”

I share these deeply personal and deeply vulnerable things with you not to solicit praise or fish for compliments but to let you know that I struggle too. Not to take anything away from the original intent of #metoo but I think there are so many of us that are struggling with our bodies in silence. If we bring light to those dark places, it loses it’s power. So if you’d like to reach out, I’m here. I’m happy to talk, cry, laugh, whatever you need.

More than anything I want you to know that you are worthy and deeply loved.

xoxo,

Tracy