perspective

Skinny

Words have power. For good or for bad, they are powerful.

Throughout our lives words pick up nuances.  Some might say they carry baggage. Words are weighted down with history, and these can be different from person to person. It reminds me of deciding on a name for a child, looking through the books and lists…  Names evoke memories of the Jacobs, the Maxes, the Jennifers I once knew.  Some leave a bad taste simply because of the scowl across the playground one boy gave me in second grade, or the girl who taunted me in seventh.

With that in mind, I’ll share a word that has pulled the rug from under me for a while now. A word I never thought I’d hear anyone say about me.  A word that, as an adult, I honestly never wanted to hear.

Skinny.

But now I hear it pretty often. It jars me when someone says it.  Could be just me, but it never comes across as a compliment. It carries a reproach. Maybe it’s the words that often come before it:  too skinny, so skinny.  They always sound like it’s something extreme.  Like I’ve gone too far.

You’re starting to get too skinny, Beth.

When are you going to stop?  When are you at your goal?

You’re so skinny.  Do you eat anything?

(Reminder, I want to say…you are speaking to a person who has weighed more than 300 pounds.)

In high school, even college and beyond, I used to look at the skinny girls with envy.  I longed to be them.  I didn’t think about healthy or unhealthy.  I just knew skinny was a good thing to be.  It’s what people liked and wanted. Skinny meant pretty.  Desirable.  Choose-able.  Worthy.

Now, when someone says I am skinny, it makes me think I am slight.  I am weak.  I am a pushover. In my mind, I’ve traded my fat for muscle, not just a lower number on the scale. I work hard for how I look, and I choose it in many different ways every day.  I’d like to think what I’ve lost in fat I’ve also gained in confidence, but words like skinny set me back on my heels.

I’d rather hear someone say she is so lean.  She is so strong.  So fit.  So healthy.  Skinny, in my mind, doesn’t cover any of those things.

Stepping back, I think about the people saying these words.  Do they mean to hurt my feelings? Do they know the word stings?  Probably not. Are some speaking out of concern? Do they worry for my health?  Maybe. Are they speaking out of jealousy, as some close to me have suggested?  Perhaps.  For all I know, some may see it as a compliment, but I don’t hear it that way.  Such is the way of words.  Sometimes what we mean gets lost in translation, even when we think we are speaking the same language.

In the end, it doesn’t matter much.  I have learned in recent years that I can’t control other people’s actions, including what they say.  I can only control my reaction to them.  So I feel the sting, step back, then let it go and move on.

I’m the one who has to live in my body for as long as it lasts.  There are a handful of trusted people that I listen to in earnest. Their thoughts matter to me and I take them seriously.  Everyone else may either be speaking from their own agenda or may not know me well enough to have an informed opinion. So, they are taken with a grain of salt and the benefit of the doubt.

And I can watch my own words more carefully when it comes to the bodies, minds, and health of others.  How do I know what others are going through?  How can I keep from stinging them, wherever they may be on their path?  Words have a power.  Speak carefully.  Speak generously.  Ask questions.  Watch my mouth as much as I can. Who knows how often I hurt people with my words without even meaning to?

You can imagine my smile when I opened this gift from my daughter at Christmas.  She has seen me at my heaviest.  She has seen me do the work transform myself mentally and physically.  She took such care to make personal gifts for so many in our family.  She texted me about a month ago to ask me for a photo of my first tattoo.  She chose one word for me, and it is one that makes me proud, and makes me want to keep going.

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Choose your words to build people up, to make them feel brave.  Capable.  Strong.

health

Who’s Got Time for Sick Days?

It’s the final days of December which means 1099s, W2s and a million other time-sensitive duties for a roll-your-sleeves-up kinda girl boss who gets shit done daily. All of which causes friction with overlapping sports and holiday break time for the teen. Chaos ensues around scheduling on the home front. Add in a new puppy with training needs and you get a full plate. A very full plate that requires careful planning and execution daily.

That means every minute, every hour and every day is pretty much scheduled, leaving no down time. Enter the flu and strep going around your community and the feeling of “oh no, I’m gonna get sick” eating away at your mind!

Weather changes from below freezing one week to 70 degrees the next. Cold mornings, warm afternoons, and then bone-chilling cold when the sun drops. All perfect backdrops for getting sick. Boy, I sure don’t have time for a set back like being sick.

Getting sick means changing my routine. Missing the gym in the morning or not eating perfectly. When sickness hits so does a case of crankiness, and nobody likes a cranky person around them!

I managed to survive strep thanks to a shot in the buttocks and some antibiotics. I then dodged the flu bullet for now despite a few close to me getting sick.

Packing up the holiday decorations. Restocking the pantry and fridge with healthy eats that are macro-friendly. Getting my goals set for 2020, this year being a big year for many reasons. ‘Tis the season to not be sneezing because there is just to much to be done personally and professionally. Can you relate?

I didn’t even add in the fact that during the holidays you spend extra time with family that can in some ways cause a different kind of stress. Time to get my mind right to tackle 2020 with vim and vigor.

It was not at all fun playing catch up during such a critical time of the year. Let this be a lesson learned to everyone that self-care is very important. Keeping a routine schedule of sleep, healthy eating, good hydration and physical fitness can be a great first defense against the flu as that time of year approaches when germs are airborne. A good winter coat for the climate you are in is a good second defense, along with some vitamin C. And for you clean freaks, don’t forget Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, and good old Lysol.

On a side note, I am a big baby and could have had it a whole lot worse this winter but I will plan better next time. Maybe only travel to warm climates in the winter and maybe schedule some days off to have a cushion for the crazy January brings each year. Days off is self-care, right?

On the business side it was a record-breaking year amidst the chaos. I guess it’s true I thrive under pressure. Nasal pressure or board room pressure? I guess it’s all the same. Girl bossin’ and hustlin’ 2020 away.