How We’re Using the Word “Fat” in Our Home

Let me start by saying I used the word fat many times before and have come to even accept it over the past few years. I’ve been plus sized long enough to be content with the size I am, focusing more on my health than the scale. It’s been a very good journey for my mental health and has taken a lot of time and intention. So while many in the body positive community are working on taking back the word fat and changing it’s stigmas, for now you won’t find me mentioning it at home. Here’s why:

Whether I like it or not the word fat carries a very negative stereotype along with it in our society. It’s more than just a descriptive word. Instead, people use it to mean unhealthy, lazy and sometimes even unattractive. It’s often used as an insult, erasing any form of understanding or acceptance. Some people have health issues that keep weight on, others may be too busy shuffling in life to ever hit the gym and still some are happy with who they are and want to live a life of freedom from limitations. There are so many different reasons why you may view someone as overweight but that doesn’t mean they are lazy or unattractive. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I make it a point to find beauty in everyone I cross paths with.

Here’s the thing, I have a little girl which means I have an important responsibility to help her grow comfortable in the body she’s in. When everything around her will tell her she’s not good enough as she grows up, I want her to know she’s hearing lies. She is good enough, she’s worthy because she’s uniquely her. Just think about the countless ads we run into everyday sending messages like, “You’re eye lashes aren’t long enough, buy this serum” or “Eat these protein bars and you stomach will become flatter.” It all consists of marketing schemes to make you feel one way so you’ll purchase a certain product and we buy into it everyday. Heck, I fall for it constantly. It’s just a normal part of our world now. I want to combat that for my daughter’s sake as much as I can and the place that I have the most control is in my very own home.

Photo by Lucky Locket Photography

No longer will my daughter hear me picking myself apart in front of the mirror or see me comment about my weight. She won’t hear me complain that I’m too fat. Instead, we’ll live in a home of acceptance and body positvity. She’ll either hear remarks of confidence from my mouth or simply nothing at all. Because as our mothers have always said, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. That goes for us talking about ourselves as well. The best way for me to help my daughter find pride in her own body is for me to start with mine. No, it’s not perfect and it never will be but I will not tear it down for her to see. She’ll be raised in a home where her mother enjoys the food she eats and doesn’t dwell on calories or pounds. She’ll grow up in a home that doesn’t focus on the word “fat.”

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Say Something

Austin City Limits Festival ACL

It’s almost time for the Austin City Limits festival again. Last year was my first time going and I had a blast. I can’t believe how fast this year has gone by but I am excited to say that I will be attending ACL again this year. I don’t know how I’m going to pull off festival wear this year pregnant but I’m sure going to try! While there are a lot of good memories I have of last year’s festival, there is also one that still bothers me to this day.

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I was with my dad and that’s probably why I decided to behave myself (thought I don’t think he would have minded too much if I hadn’t.) We were waiting for the one person I wanted to see most that year take the stage. I realize it was a year where Mumford & Sons and Radiohead were headlining but they weren’t who I was most excited about. I wanted to see a much less known musician named Jack Garrett. He’s insanely talented, a one man band. We got there early so I could be up close to the stage. There weren’t many people congregating yet, just a few millennials sneaking a smoke. As time passed, more people gathered behind us. I remember specifically two younger guys who were behind my dad and I a little to the right of us. Because the crowd still wasn’t sizable yet, I could clearly hear their conversation. One guy started off talking about how lucky the other one was to have hooked up with some girl they knew the night before. He made the remark that she was really cute. Normal guy conversation, no real red flags yet until the guy who had hooked up started talking. I remember his exact words to this day because they infuriated me. He said, “Yeah, shes’ cute but kind of fat though.” Um, excuse me? Did a guy who had gotten lucky the night before really just call that poor girl fat? Especially after his friend found her cute? I stood there fuming. Obviously, they both realized a plus size women (who was probably much bigger than the girl in question) was standing right in front of them. And yet still he had the gall to say that?

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I didn’t know what to say or do and figured nothing would help anyway. They were probably drunk and I certainly wasn’t going to change their mind. That memory has stayed with me for over a year. Every time I think about ACL, I think on that moment. Should I have spoken up? Unfortunately, that’s not the only moment I’ve encountered like that. About a month ago I was looking at items by the fitting room in Marshalls. A woman came out talking to her friend and said, “Can you believe this is a size 18? I don’t normally wear an 18 but this dress is all off on its size. I mean, only elephants wear this size normally.” You guys, my jaw literally fell to the floor. I wear bigger than an 18 so basically this woman is a few feet away basically calling me an elephant. It took everything in me not to march up to her and say, “Well, this elephant doesn’t appreciate you insulting plus size women out loud in this store!” Alas, I didn’t. I took SEVERAL deep breaths and walked on. What held me back?

To be honest, I’m a pretty non-confrontational person unless I really have to be otherwise. I don’t like causing scenes or upsetting people. But there’s a part of me who thinks that this kind of negative talk needs to be put in its place. There is absolutely no reason why people should be insulting each other based on size. When you really step back and look at it, it’s ludicrous! You have a problem with me because I weigh more than you? If that’s the case, we have a lot of work to do America. I want to start saying something when I hear this again. I want people to understand stand that what they are saying is hurtful and unnecessary. What are your thoughts on this? Do you say something?

It Finally Happened!

Cinderella Birth Announcement

Just months ago I shared with you all my struggle to once again build our family in Fears, Tears and Pregnancy Woes. By that time we had been trying to conceive for several months with no success and since much wasn’t different from the previous pregnancy, I had begun to contemplate if the extra weight I had gained was the culprit. After visiting my OBGYN, I learned that wasn’t at all what was going on. I just needed more time. Little did I know that in two months time everything would change.

Ladies, let me stop right here and tell you, if you have a doctor that currently addresses your weight and makes you feel uncomfortable about it, get a new one. I’ve had doctors like that who don’t understand the constant struggles that come with it all. I’ve dumped them immediately. My OBGYN is so supportive and never mentions my weight as a problem factor. Instead, she presents practical solutions to help with whatever is going on, even if it’s for me to change my diet so I can get my cholesterol down. Weight is never directly addressed and that makes me feel so respected and cared for by her. Find yourself a doctor that makes you feel the same way.

In early June, I found out I was pregnant. I’ve waited a few months to announce the news to make sure baby is healthy. I had a slight scare last week when I began spotting at 14 weeks. I was luckily assured that nothing looked unusual and was put on pelvic rest meaning no sex or exercise for a week. I am extremely excited for our new adventures with the baby and in October we will find out the gender. However, because I am much heavier than I was in the first pregnancy, I am trying to be more aware of my body.

Plus Size Pregnancy

While I don’t always do a great job, I’m trying to maintain a healthy diet with low sugar. I’ve been craving Asian food like crazy so carbs have been a challenge but the morning sickness has kept me from overeating. I’ve also been trying to make a point to exercise more, even though I’m insanely tired. That is, until I was put on temporary pelvic rest this week. I used to hate exercising but believe it or not, I’m more than ready to get back to it. I’ve finally gotten into a habit that my body craves. (Never thought I’d say that!) My goal is to not gain pregnancy weight due to me being reckless this time around. This pregnancy will be more controlled so that I can actually fit into my wardrobe when it’s all said and done. I plan to track any successes I have so that you all can keep it handy in case you find yourselves in the same boat.

I’m looking forward to this new adventure going in with more knowledge than I’ve had before. I hope it will be a time for redemption where I can truly give my body the TlC it needs.

Thoughts After Episode 4 of Project Runway Season 16

It was around this time last year when Tim Gunn flooded headlines stating that designers really need to pay attention to plus size women. There are 100 million women that are larger than a size 12 and yet, most retailers don’t have anything above that. He blamed fashion designers and the retail industry for the lack of diversity in the plus size market. Designers seemed to be afraid to step outside of the box and retailers didn’t feel that plus size women were spending money on what they provided. With which Gunn retorted that of course we weren’t spending money. Most of the clothes available to us are hideous!

One Project Runway alum has not been afraid. In fact, he’s made his name known for doing what other designers wouldn’t, designing red carpet worthy pieces for plus size women. Christian Siriano has designed two collections for Lane Bryant that have both been amazing and has sent plus size models down his runways.

Project Runway has been one of my favorite shows since I was in high school. I’ve seen every single episode of every season multiple times. Each season they have featured a “real woman” challenge where designers have to create clothing for average body sizes instead of the 00 to size 2 that they are used to. Each season they groan when this happens. Designers seem to really hate designing for the average woman. Perhaps it’s because there is more of a challenge to provide a flattering silhouette. No matter what the case may be, the real woman challenge has made a big change for season 16.

Episode 1 opened up with a huge announcement and if I’m going to be honest with you, I got really emotional about it. Heidi introduced that one size does not fit all. Designers would have to work with models from size 2 to 22! I can’t tell you how excited I was to hear this news! Designers would go through a series of challenges working with bodies of all shapes and sizes. This means they’ll soon feel comfortable with plus size women and hopefully translate that into designs for the retail industry. For now, some of the designers aren’t comfortable. You can see they are afraid of curvier figures. In fact, many began using their designs to hide the curves. But what I love about this season is that the judges won’t stand for it. Nina Garcia urged designers to celebrate every size instead of camouflage it. And those who have embraced this have come out with some beautiful pieces.

Tim Gunn and Project Runway are making great strides in the fashion industry to get designers to finally notice a group of women they have ignored for far too long. Perhaps it’s working because this year’s New York Fashion Week is the most diverse it has ever been. Michael Kors featured Ashley Graham down the runway. Prabal Gurung, J. Crew and Who What Wear are a short list of designers who also decided to showcase plus size models this year. I can’t wait to see the fashion industry evolve. It is past time!

Conquering Sleep Apnea Part 3

Jillian Pedersen Sleep Apnea

And so, the final part of our saga is finally here. I had gone through all of the initial research and finally gotten my prescription to get my CPAP machine. Things were wrapping up and I was excited to get sleep like I hadn’t had in years. The first step was setting up an appointment with the CPAP provider. They would have me try on different mask options and show me how to use the new machine. It took a couple of weeks to get me in but once there, things went by quickly.

I was brought in and told how the machine works. I was kind of surprised by the level of care needed to keep it well taken care of. First of all, there’s a humidifier attached to it. This keeps your mouth and nose moist while the air is pumping through the machine. This means you need distilled water to keep everything coming into your body pure. I had to go to the grocery store to pick up two gallons to start with. You can set the level of moisture you prefer but the amount of air is recommended by the doctor. There are several pieces to the machine that have to be taken apart and cleaned with soap and water daily. I have to admit, I haven’t been very good about that. It’s a lot to ask of a busy mom who is already cleaning dishes and laundry on the regular.

Then there’s the mask. There are several different types. Some go under your nose, others cover your whole face. It was recommended to me to get the larger of the options since I was new to the whole process. I ended up with a mask that my nose sits on top of. Air pumps into it from the bottom and the mask covers my mouth completely. I look like Bane from Batman when I have it on. I’m not going to lie, it’s intense and not very sexy. There’s a really long hose that attaches to the mask and the machine. It’s where the air comes through but definitely complicates the tossing and turning routine I like to do when having my night’s sleep. The first time I tried it all on in working order, I was in the office with the medical supplier. The air pumps in strong and, before I knew it, I was light headed. I think I panicked a little due to the fact that the mask feels a little claustrophobic and having so much air in such a little space made me forget how to breathe.

The first night alone, I put on the whole ensemble on an hour before bed. I wanted to have time to adjust and get my breathing right. It took a long time and I eventually settled on breathing through my mouth. I just couldn’t get a handle on all of the air blowing on me like that. If it took a long time for me to adjust through the breathing, it took much longer for me to find a comfortable position to drift off to. If I moved wrong, air would blow hard on my face and that’s not fun to wake up to. Plus the mask doesn’t really lay on your pillow well and the hose meant I wouldn’t have a chance to find the right position. Needless to say, I did not get a good night’s sleep. I woke up freaked out half of the night from excess of air and gave up around 2AM. Ripping off all of the equipment was just what I needed to remain sane for the next work day.

Day 2 I was ready to try again and while the breathing situation in this new style got simpler, the comfort level still wasn’t there. I kept waking up and again, gave up in the middle of the night.

After that, I tightened my mask and that helped a lot. The air stayed where it was supposed to and didn’t wake me up by blowing on my face from shifting. The only downside was the tight mask was well, tight. It was something I’d have to get over if I was going to really get some rest. I eventually was able to sleep through the night with minimal waking up. I’m still having trouble but with a week in, I can tell things are finally getting better. I’m hoping I’ll see a dramatic improvement in energy level soon and it will all be worth it.

So there you have, the ups, downs, research and trials that lead to the hopes for a good night’s sleep. Hopefully this will help eliminate the work for the rest of you. My wish is that you’ll be able to look at my journey’s bumps and refine them in your own for a smoother transition.

Conquering Sleep Apnea Part 2

Jillian Pedersen Sleep Apnea

My last post ended with me finding out that I did indeed have sleep apnea and that there were a few options available to me for treatment. This post is a lot more technical in nature but I feel it’s necessary for those who are about to go through the process. It’s a sticky situation and if you go into it with more knowledge than ignorance, you’re more likely to have a smoother transition than I did. I knew nothing and that meant I’d have to do my research.

I’m always uncomfortable looking into something I don’t understand in the slightest bit. And for me, health care and insurance is well out of my comfort zone. The first thing I had to figure out was what would be covered by insurance. How much was this all going to cost me? Before I had ever even taken that test, I had learned that my insurance would only cover at home tests. Now everyone’s coverage is different but this was a specific stipulation of mine. I had already taken one at home test but I was worried about anything in the future. What if my doctor refused to acknowledge the test I had just shoveled out $300 for? What if they demanded me to take a test in a lab, something I wasn’t covered for? I knew this issue of not breathing in my sleep was important enough to combat but there was a lot of fear of the unknown so I prayed, and made a doctor’s appointment.

Remember those options they presented me with for solutions? Well, the oral device came with cons. It could get your jaw out of alignment with regular use and I wasn’t sure if it would be covered by insurance since it was in the dental realm. The CPAP machine was covered but there were some details I didn’t really know about. I figured I’d go for the CPAP and cut to the chase. In order to do that, I needed a referral from my doctor. That part was easy enough but I’d have to go to a ear, nose and throat doctor to get my actual prescription for the machine. While all of this may have been necessary, it was frustrating to be bumped around from one doctor to the next, all the while missing critical hours in my work day that I would later have to make up. The new doctor that was going to give me my prescription wasn’t the warmest man I had ever met. He was actually fairly abrasive and seemed ready to shuffle me on as soon as he could. He said with my level of apnea, I really didn’t need a CPAP. He recommended I get an oral device and lose some weight. (What a gentleman huh?) I told him my concerns with the oral device manipulating my jaw. He assured me it wouldn’t be a problem and sent me on my way. So, as if I didn’t have enough doctors appointments under my belt, I had to go back to the dentist to discuss this oral device.

I learned that I would need to get a check-up before progressing with this oral device. They’d need to see if any work would need to be done before they custom made my device. You see, this device was very expensive at $3K to be exact. That meant I wouldn’t be getting a new one anytime soon. If any work needed to be done to my teeth, it would need to happen first before the mold was made for the device to perfectly fit. Upon my exam I learned I needed sealants and my wisdom teeth out. Each came with its own hefty price tag. That meant lots of money spent, lots of work done and lots of time passed before I’d get any treatment for my sleep apnea. It just didn’t make sense. This option was not the one for me. So, again, I called my doctor’s office and asked for a new referral to a new ear, nose and throat doctor. I was not going back to that other guy again.

Ugh! I know what you’re thinking… yes, it was a lot of back and forth. Trust me, the last thing I wanted to do was to continuously go through this loop of never ending insanity. I had to get help though and this was the only way to do it so I went to my new referred doctor. He was much kinder and I really liked his nurse. Shout out to nurses, they have often been the reason I have stuck with a doctor. I told him EVERYTHING I had been through and it wasn’t long before he put in a prescription for me to get a CPAP. Finally, I would get what I needed. I was getting somewhere! Now I only had one more place to visit before I would be sleeping comfortably. I’d need to iron out the details for my CPAP but I was so very close! Stay tuned for Part 3 coming soon.

Thanks, But I Don’t Need Your Advice

Jillian Pedersen Thighs and Lows Blog

It’s happened to me for years and I know I’m not alone. Lately, I’ve been pretty open with my need to lose weight due to doctor’s orders. It’s funny how people feel this overwhelming need to give you unsolicited advice when you share something like that with them. I have a few friends that are happy standing on the sidelines but, for the most part, I’ve found the majority of people that have heard my recent news are full of weight loss tips I never asked for.

Here’s the thing, I don’t mind advice. I love getting help from all sorts of different sources so that I can make the most educated decisions possible. However, I’d prefer to ask for the advice. Over time I’ve learned that for some reason people assume that if you’re overweight, it’s because you don’t know how to live healthy or lose the weight. This stereotype is so frustrating and it’s absolutely not true. I know how to lose weight- eat right and exercise- it’s that simple. It’s just I don’t want to put in the major commitment it takes. I’m a busy woman and don’t have a lot of time on my hands. That’s my personal reason for my current weight and I know many of you out there have your own battles with health issues that come into the mix.

I will never forget this moment, mainly because it was absolutely devastating at the time. I was at my step-brother’s funeral. He died young and we were very close. I was an absolute train wreck. A couple of aunts from his side of the family came up to me at one point and started feeling my belly. I told them that I wasn’t pregnant and instead of apologizing, the went on to give my weight loss tips. Frankly, I’m surprised I didn’t spontaneously combust.

Friends of plus size women, do us a favor and don’t give us your thoughts unless we ask. There’s a good chance we know what’s going on but there are more factors to the situation that you simply don’t understand.

When You’re Not Healthy

Photo by Lucky Locket Photography

Photo by: Lucky Locket Photography

I think it’s pretty obvious I love the body positive moment. It’s basically what this whole blog centers around. I love that women are forming a community to build each other up, when we’ve been so often encouraged to do the exact opposite. My number one goal is to love the body I’m in, no matter what size. Why? Because I know its struggles and its victories; I know its beauty and its flaws. If I can’t find value in it after all it’s done for me, then I am completely missing its purpose.

I’ve always felt that if you’re a plus size women, you’re happy and you’re healthy, then there’s no need to change unless you want to. But what about the moment you realize you’re plus size and you’re happy but you aren’t healthy? That’s the reality that hit me this past Monday morning. A reality I just wasn’t ready for.

I recently shared with you that I’ve had trouble getting pregnant. As I’ve gone through month after month of disappointment, I’ve started comparing what is different about my body now from the first time I conceived. The main thing that stood out was my weight. I’m 40 lbs heavier and that’s a pretty big difference. I started wondering if that was my main hangup so I decided to schedule an appointment with my OBGYN. As I rambled off some weird symptoms I’ve been experiencing recently, she decided to run some lab tests and get to the root of the problem. I didn’t know what all of these tests included but I was happy someone was taking the time to crack the code and see what the issue was. She also reassured me that my weight was most likely not keeping me from becoming pregnant again.

When I got the routine call Monday morning to hear my lab results, I expected a overview of my results, all ending with an all clear. You see, these things are pretty fast so when the nurse asked if I had a minute, worry hit me like a ton of bricks. After listening to a bunch of medical gobbledegook, I was able to pull a summary from it all. It contained the first warning signs of something much bigger if I didn’t nip it in the bud right away. Basically I learned:

  • I have too much fat in my diet
  • It is effecting my cholesterol in a negative way
  • I need to change my diet and exercise more if I want to help this issue
  • I’m vitamin D deficient

Cholesterol. Last time I checked, that was an issue seniors dealt with not a 29-year-old woman with her whole life ahead of her. If I’m happen problems now, what does that say about my future? The news terrified me. Needless to say, I’m thankful my doctor ordered those tests and I have the information I need to fix things now. What if I had gone on not knowing what serious repercussions would follow my ignorance?

So, for now I’m eating low carb, sugar and dairy. Oh, and I’m exercising as much as I can with a packed, unpredictable schedule. I won’t lie to you, right now it’s a struggle. Every move I make is completely intentional with the hopes that my health will get better over time. The thing is, yeah, I’m plus size and I’m happy but I’m not healthy. I have to make changes whether I like it or not.

You Ain’t Your Weight Interview

You Ain't Your Weight

I had the honor and privilege to be part of Jenna Free’s Speaker Series for You Ain’t Your Weight. I was one of 21 speakers who got to share my thoughts on body positivity because my ultimate goal has always been to love the body I’m in right now, no matter the size. Jenna’s vision is similar and she hosts a program that encourages people to ditch the diet and be mindful about their eating habits.

She believes that if you truly listen to your body and fuel it with good things, you’ll find the weight your supposed to be at. It doesn’t really matter what that weight lands at because it’s the one your body chose. I love this concept because it completely focuses on health and what your body needs. You can find out more information on this in her Facebook group.

During our interview we discussed how society has long defined what beauty is and how we have the power to change it to a healthier outlook. We desperately need something that is more realistic and accepting so we can start appreciating all the amazing things our bodies are capable of. No matter if you are thin or overweight, your body is an incredible vessel. When we realize this and place our worth beyond what we see in the mirror, we can become unstoppable. Hear more about how to find confidence in your current state and what you can do to take on the beauty standards of today:

Fears, Tears and Pregnancy Woes

Daniel Grove PhotographyDaniel Grove Photography

It’s a fear. Not one that I usually have. In fact, I’ve never really had a fear like this but I can’t ignore it. It creeps in every month around the same time. I know what I need to do but it’s nagging me. Maybe if I just try one more month I won’t have to face it. Maybe there are more solutions I’m not aware of yet. And still I wonder how many more months I’ll let pass with these small hopes until I run out of time.

My husband and I have been trying to have a baby for several months now. With our daughter, it was easy. It didn’t take much for her to join our world but this time it’s different and I don’t understand why. A good six months or more have passed with no reward and I’m beginning to wonder what’s wrong. To top it off, my daughter’s constantly asking for a sibling or telling random strangers that she has a brother or a sister. I feel this invisible clock ticking louder and louder likes it’s going to off in a huge explosion any moment. My daughter’s three-years-old and I don’t want her to be too much older than her sibling. I want them to play together well but all those desires are nothing with an empty womb.

I know it’s all in my head and I’m being dramatic. Perhaps you’re thinking that I’m putting too much worry into this. I probably am but I can’t get rid of this anxiety. I feel like I have this narrow window of time and I’m not going to make it. There’s nothing more defeating than feeling like your body isn’t able. I’ve held in the tears month after month when I’ve discovered all my efforts were for naught. And so the solution of visiting the doctor comes from my husband each time he sees me slip into a depression. But I can’t go to the doctor, I know what they’ll say and I don’t want to hear it.

You see, there’s one big difference from my body before my daughter and my body after– about 40 pounds. That’s a lot of extra weight when you’re thinking about your health. Don’t get me wrong, I’m completely body positive but I feel loving your body includes taking care of it. Sometimes that means making better choices. I’m scared my new weight is a factor in all of this and the fact that I haven’t been able to drop it in 3 years is completely discouraging. I don’t know if I can do what it takes to turn things around but maybe this is the motivation I need to get back in the healthy zone. Since my weight gain I’ve gotten sleep apnea, neck tags and aches and pains. To me, those are little warning signs that I need to address my weight for the right reason, not my vanity but my health.

I know a lot of plus size women have gotten pregnant and that I may be overthinking this all but I also know that every body is different. Mine may not be as resilient. So now comes the question, will I face my fear?