Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Two Lives

I don't know how to not be the fat girl.
I've had this thing my whole life.
"You'd be  perfect for our group performance in the talent show...if you lost 10 pounds" I remember girls saying to me in 4th grade.
These same girls would quiz me on random pop culture or music lyrics and if I got them wrong they told me I would have to weigh myself in front of them.
I hated going shopping with my friends because I knew the stores they shopped at wouldn't have my size.  So I would try to shrink myself into corners while they laughed and pulled clothes off hangers.  I was the friend in the dressing room on the sofas that the store employees looked at with a "what are you doing here" look of disdain while I had to assure my size 6 friends they did not look fat in that skirt.
I would get uncomfortable at sporting events or amusement parks, scared that I wouldn't fit into the small seats.
I would always get shot gun when we were traveling in a big group...not because I have long legs like everyone claimed, but because you don't put the big girl in the seat everyone is squishing in to.
I was not the girl the boys asked out.  I was the tag-a-long while my friends were breaking boys hearts all summer.  I was the shoulder they cried on when the boys broke their hearts right back.  Me giving relationship advice was about as equal as a goat teaching a driving lesson.
I wore sweatshirts in the middle of Indiana summers because I was trying to use as many layers as possible to hide my shame.  In hindsight it's a miracle I didn't die of heatstroke.
I discovered a love of make up because it didn't have a size.  I used it to make myself seem good enough.  I mean I knew I wouldn't really be accepted but I wanted to try and look like I was trying.  I didn't want people to look at me in sweatpants, messy hair, no make up and think "of course...sloppy fat person".  I didn't want to be a cliche.  "You have such a pretty face" is something I heard a lot...and all I heard were those 4th grade girls "if you lost x pounds"

I have learned a lot of things.
I learned how to develop a personality first.  I started making jokes so I wouldn't be the joke.
I developed fortitude.  You kind of have to learn how to let things roll off your back when you've been teased since you were 8 years old.
I learned compassion.  I knew people made assumptions about me because of my weight so I learned to love others because I didn't know why they were the way they were or the things they were dealing with behind closed doors.
I developed confidence.  I'm not really sure how.  I think I finally just decided that I had more to offer the world than a number on a scale.  I was smart, creative, empathetic, nurturing, and kind.  That was what the world needed.

And now here I am.  I have lost 70 pounds (and still losing) and I have become more "acceptable" by society standards.  And I don't know how to do that sometimes.  I still walk through the plus size section at work thinking those are the only clothes that fit me (even though all of those clothes are actually too big for me now...weird).  I actually had a woman the other day ask me if I knew anything about plus sizes and I wanted to scream "yes! I used to be you!"
I still get taken aback when a guy asks for my phone number because in my mind I'm still that girl who watches their friends get asked for their number.  Swear to you I have actually turned around and looked behind me to see if the guy was talking to someone else.
I have lived 2 lives.  This one is definitely easier (which is completely ridiculous and our society should re-evaluate pretty much everything) but I wouldn't trade the first life for anything.  I love first Vanessa because she taught me how to be a good human being and develop all the qualities I want to have...and I love second Vanessa because she has the energy to share those qualities with others.
I am grateful.  I will know how to teach my children love.  Love of others and love of themselves.  I will know how to teach them hard work and how to dream big dreams because they can become reality.  I know how to show them that self worth is so much deeper than the shallow views of the world.  It is the spiritual and celestial potential that our Heavenly Father has for us.  I have become the person my Savior died for - because He did not die for me because of my jean size.  He died for me because He loves me and those deeper qualities I have.
Heavenly Father knew I needed these lessons in my life.  And again I'm so grateful.  I love my life and I wouldn't trade a single second of it.


Friday, March 13, 2015

The Big* Post

*pun in title not intended but also hilarious so I'm keeping it.

So this is a post I've wanted to do for awhile but I just kept putting it off.  I think I finally figured out why.  Because a part of me feels shameful about it.  Let me explain.
Back in September I made a decision about my life and myself.  I was pretty overweight and felt completely out of control of my life.  I had struggled with my weight most of my life but high school and college is when it got bad.  The summer before my freshman year my family moved across the country.  I had no friends and felt so out of place.  I probably gained 20-30 pounds in high school.  The year I went to college was a year of a lot of change for me.  I was again across the country...this time without my family, and while I was there my family went through the hardest thing that has ever happened to them.  My little sister passed away unexpectedly.  This was so hard for everyone and instead of dealing with it in a healthy way....I did the opposite.  I think I coped with everything in my life, including my anxiety, with food.  It's a strange thing when you think about it.  At what point did food become tied with emotions?  Our ancestors didn't do that....so why do we?  I don't think I ever knew why I did it but I did know I wanted to change it.  So back in September I decided it was finally time to make a change.  Not because I wanted to look like a super model (that will probably never happen and I'm 100% ok with that) but because I wanted to be healthy.  I wanted to live life to the fullest and experience everything this world has to offer.  In my life I've become a pretty confident person.  I know that I have a lot to offer.  I'm smart, I'm a hard worker, I have a pretty decent sense of humor.  I guess I just always knew that the person I was on the inside was not reflecting the person I was on the outside.  I really felt held back and tied down by my weight.
And let's just be really really honest for a second....our world does not accept overweight.  The world does things like "sympathize" with or feel sorry for people who are overweight but they don't ever really accept them.  They're still "others".  Have I mentioned that we live in a really weird world???
I would like to clarify that I am a firm believer that everyone should be happy with the way they look and who they are.  If you are 300 lbs. and you are comfortable and happy with  yourself....rock on.  Like I said...for me personally, it was mostly about health (even though I also hated being in pictures..the vain part of me needs to make that known)  I knew I wasn't healthy which was not making me happy.
So I made a change.
Now for the scary part....yes.  Pictures.  This is the reason I've been putting this post off.  Even though most of my friends and family saw me like this....I know I wasn't happy and I felt out of control so obviously....I don't want to post those pictures but I'm going to do it anyway...

There it is.  The reveal. 70 pounds gone.  A lot of people I've met since I've done this so they don't even know this about me.  I feel like I've lived 2 completely separate lives.  This has been the greatest journey of my life.  I have learned so much about myself...that I am strong, that I am dedicated, that I can do hard things.  This has been the hardest work I have ever done (and I'm not even done yet) but also the most rewarding. You know how nice it is to be able to shop in a regular store and KNOW that they have my size?  I can even shop in the JRs department....if you've always been able to do this....you definitely take it for granted.  All the silly insignificant stuff aside.. I also discovered that our physical bodies are so connected to our spiritual bodies.  When I started working on my body, I could feel the connection to my spirit so much stronger.  I was able to change a lot of things in my life, strengthen my relationship with my Heavenly Father, and I even went through the temple (the happiest and best day of my life).  

I have learned that nothing is impossible.  I am a regular person.  I am not a celebrity who had a trainer and someone cooking for me every day.  I busted my butt and I changed my entire lifestyle.  I can actually do a spin class now without wanting to puke (I know) and I'm even planning on doing a 5K.  My goal is to run a marathon someday (I actually like running!  I know....I've become one of those people). I have learned how to deal with emotions in healthy ways.  Instead of soothing emotions with food I go to the gym or walk outside or meditate.  I did have the support of my good friend Lindsay who I have to thank for all the help and motivation she gave me (she helps people...if you want her info let me know because she might be the greatest human being alive).  It is not too late to do the things you want to do.  Life is short!!!  Live it to it's fullest potential!  I really am so in love with my life now and the energy I have to live it.  If you are waiting to change something in your life...whatever it might be...DO NOT WAIT.  Do it now.  And I promise you are so much stronger than you think you are. 


Friday, March 6, 2015

This One's For You

To any girl reading this:
I've been thinking about my life and all the lessons I've learned and I thought....if I could share anything I've learned in life...what would it be?  What advice would I give my sisters? It's taken me a lot of heart and hurt to learn the lessons I have on
 1. Friends
 2. Boys
 3. Yourself

Who you invest your time into should be willing to invest the same amount of time in you.  You should never feel like less than who you are with your friends. Don't feel like you have to compete with your friends.  If you ever feel like someone isn't supportive of you or they are not happy for your happiness...they are not your friend. You should never feel like who you are isn't accepted with your friends.  Sometimes your friends will be the worst...and sometimes so will you.  Look deeper at people.  Forgive.  Friendship takes so much forgiving and someday you'll need the same forgiveness that you give.

A part of me wants to write "boys are dumb" and leave it at that....but you already know that.  I think the main thing I've learned when it comes to boys is that no matter what...they can't define you.  One day you might give your heart to someone who just doesn't know what to do with it.  This will hurt.  This will hurt so much.  It does not mean that someone someday won't see the depth of the love you have and be willing to swim deeper rather than stay on the shore.  One day you might realize that the boy you love isn't the boy you are supposed to love.  That's ok too.  It's ok to say no to something or someone.

Whoever you are is the perfect person to be.  Sometimes you will feel like you're too loud or too quiet.  Sometimes you will feel like your heart could burst with all the love you're capable of sharing.  Sometimes you will feel like your heart could burst with all the love that you feel will never been reciprocated.  Sometimes you will cry or maybe you will never cry.  Sometimes you will be best friends with everyone and sometimes you will need to be alone.
All of this. Every single thing is ok.  It's ok to feel and be all of these things.  Be who you are.  Love yourself and never apologize for what that might be.  Love with everything you have, laugh too loud, dance too much.  Live life on your own terms.  Anybody who is worth having in your life will accept who you are.  Every single part of you.  Don't waste time on those who don't see you and appreciate everything you have to give.


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