Tag Archives: Weight

Size is Just a Number: Plus Size Shopping & Body Confidence

The list of crazy things I’ve done to avoid people knowing what size I wear is pretty embarrassing (remember my cutting the tags off of my clothes post? *blush*) I’ve always been the “token big girl” amongst my friends, I can remember a skinny friend asking me what it meant when there were “xx” in front of the “L”… like seriously I had to stand in old navy and explain to her that there were sizes past large called xl, xxl, xxxl, etc. Yeah. Yesterday I posted a video of me in the dressing room trying on clothes… it was so liberating to discuss sizes without feeling ashamed.

Being in the dressing room with Amanda from Fashion Love & Martinis was soooo refreshing, it made me realize that shopping is something I do alone mostly because I feel my size makes the experience awkward with some people. I could say to Amanda, “hey can you grab me a 2x?” and not freak out because she knew my size.

So we came home and had a chat about what its like to be a big girl shopping for clothes:

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome & Weight Loss

Hello Cece,

I have been reading your blog for about 6 months and very much enjoy your writing and perspective … but I am always bothered when you bring up the topic of PCOS for a number of reasons.  Mostly because I have severe PCOS.  I am on metformin (insulin support), spironolactone (testosterone inhibitor), and birth control.  One of my ovaries was completely destroyed by scar tissue before I was even diagnosed.  If my condition gets any worse, my endocrinologist has suggested that I go on a special-mix hormone injection on a bi-weekly basis as I’m pretty much maxed out on the pills.  So please do not think that this email is coming from a lack of understanding.  Trust me.  I understand.

But PCOS does not make you over-weight.  In fact, being over-weight can actually TRIGGER the symptoms of PCOS, i.e. many people’s symptoms lessen or completely disappear if they lose weight.  Now I am not going to claim that losing weight isn’t more difficult when you have PCOS – most doctors now (finally) agree that it is.  However, it is not impossible – and I think that it’s important that the public voices of the PCOS community are quite clear on that point.  Many of your readers could be one of the lucky ones that can get real symptom relief upon losing weight.

Before I realized I had PCOS, I was a sugar addict (which obviously is the key driver for gaining weight with PCOS).  Upon diagnosis, I was 175 pounds, i.e. over the healthy BMI zone – I’m 5’6 btw.  I then started taking my medication, working out, closely monitoring my calorie intake, and working with my endocrinologist to set up a PCOS-friendly diet (i.e. no sugar, no white starch).  I lost 40 pounds and am now back into a healthy range on the BMI scale though by no means rail thin.  So I STILL have severe PCOS … but I’m no longer overweight.

I am not writing this to judge those women who want to lose weight and have a hard time doing so.  I understand what it feels like to not be happy with your body and have to struggle twice as hard as others for every pound lost.  But a message of hopelessness to PCOS women is not a responsible one and I encourage you to confirm my email with a doctor and adjust the messaging on your blog (and monitor commenters accordingly, who are sometimes misinformed on PCOS to an extreme level).  You owe it to your very loyal readers to share the truth about their situation.

I don’t mind if you post this letter, though I’m guessing that you won’t.

Take care,
Jess

Hey Jess,

I’m surprised that you think I wouldn’t post your letter, I think you make an interesting point.

Every persons weight/weight loss story is different and every PCOS story is different. I love that you’re bringing up another side of PCOS. I also appreciate that you’re willing to share your personal story.

My understanding of the connection between PCOS & Weigh Gain is that one can trigger the other, but there are mixed opinions about which does what. Its like the old adage “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” but that’s just scratching the surface of what triggers PCOS. I’ve met people with PCOS who are super skinny, so there’s not a 100% proven cause. But at the end of the day I am not a doctor, so I’m not qualified to debate PCOS. I can only talk about my history and experiences.

When I share my stories on TBGB, I never have the desire to send a “message of hopelessness” as you say. I’m kind of sad that you’ve interpreted my writing that way because I live my life just the opposite. The spirit of this blog is that being over weight is not the end of the world. For me, having PCOS is not the end of the world either.

Every Wednesday I talk about my weight loss and work outs… and when I gain weight I never blame PCOS. Weight loss with PCOS is possible, sometimes it just takes a little more dedication… its all about choices.

Hopefully your letter will shine some light on another experience and influence different thoughts, but I don’t plan on monitoring my readers comments. I like when people to speak their minds (as you did in your letter) and I also think its important for my fellow PSP’s to feel comfortable on TheBigGirlBlog… this is a safe space.

Anyway, congrats on your weight loss 40 pounds is a huge accomplishment!

-CeCe

CeCe@thebiggirlblog.com

40 Days No Bread Week One: PCOS

Its been one week since Ash Wednesday. One week into the Lenten Season. One week since I’ve had any bread.

Giving up bread for Lent is something I’ve wanted to do before, but I was pretty sure that I would fail miserably. I’ve tried the jump start portion of the South Beach diet (where you don’t eat carbs for two weeks) and fell off the wagon in four days.

For years I didn’t know why I needed carbs so much. Then when I was in high school I mentioned to my doctor that I only had my period every three months. That, combined with my weight and some other issues (that I’m not quite ready to discuss here) made her run some tests. A few days later she diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

Poly-what?

Yeah, I know. Most of the people who know about this are the ones who have it. And if you do have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) you know its a random condition that can cause a myriad of issues from acne to infertility… oh yeah it also causes weight gain and makes it very difficult to lose weight.

My relationship with bread (and carbs in general) runs deep. Its quite literally in my blood to crave carbs. Another symptom of PCOS is insulin resistance, which means your body is toying with the idea of being diabetic.

“Insulin allows glucose to travel from the bloodstream into the cells. When we eat foods high in refined carbohydrates, insulin levels surge to remove the sugar from the blood and get it into your cells. This mechanism works very well for the most part. But if insulin spikes too often from a diet rich in the high-carb foods that trigger insulin secretion, your cells respond by decreasing the reactivity and number of insulin receptors on their surfaces. Eventually, this prevents glucose from getting into your cells, leading to high blood sugar and depriving your cells of the energy they need to function. This is why many women with insulin resistance experience carbohydrate cravings, fatigue and weight-gain — their cells are literally starving for energy, even when plenty of glucose is available in the blood. Down the road, your body’s capacity to generate insulin appropriately becomes depleted, and the result is type 2 diabetes.”Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP

So, here we are seven days without bread and if I didn’t understand the brevity of my sacrifice when I started, I am beginning to. All the salads, grilled chicken and omelette’s in the world will not satisfy me 100%. There have already been two birthday celebrations in my office with all the chocolate and red velvet cake a girl could ask for. But I’ve wiped the drool from my chin and remained strong!

This had nothing to do with weight loss, I really wanted to give up something for Lent that would encourage me to pray and depend on God more. (Um, yeah… I’ve definitely whipsered some lunchtime LORD, help me’s this week.) There have been some other interesting side effects that I’ll get into in another post, but for now I’m just trying to eat small meals and healthy snacks so that I don’t get super hungry and do something crazy like eat a muffin in one gulp. I think this would be hard for anyone, but the PCOS just adds another element for me.

P.S. Have any of YOU been diagnosed with PCOS?

Fat Girl Flashback: Fourth Grade

When I was younger I would hear stories about kids being teased because of their weight.

When I would hear those stories, I would think about how awful it was for those kids who were made fun of, but I would also wonder what made me different because, although I was a big kid, those things didn’t really happen to me.

At age nine I was best friends with the most popular girls in the fourth grade. The leader of our group was Riley Baker. Riley was beautiful, all the boys were in love with her and she had the type of personality that made you want to do whatever she said. We called ourselves the Red Sisters because of a blood oath she convinced us to take one day after school.

If Riley was the queen of the fourth grade, recess was when she held court. Everyday after we shared our goldfish crackers, sandwiches and caprisuns we would roam the playground. We felt we were too old to play on the jungle gym like the 2nd and 3rd graders but we also knew we were too young to make our way over to the softball field where the 7th and 8th graders hung out.

So we walked… waiting for something to happen. When nothing did, Riley would make something happen. Sometimes it was flirting with boys, sometimes it was lying on the grass listening to Nirvana on her Walkman. Then there were the afternoons when Riley’s claws would come out. There were two girls that she hated and both were on the chubby side. If Riley crossed paths with either of these girls, the Red Sisters would stand in silence as Riley tore into them; criticizing their clothes, their bodies, their hair and anything else she could think of. The Red Sisters never added any insults, we were actually cool with both of the chubby girls when Riley wasn’t around, but our silence spoke volumes.

These girls had it rough because if they cried it would only bring them more negative attention. On the other hand, when one of the girls got fed up and told a teacher what Riley was doing to her, it was even worse. Riley was put into detention for 3 days and gave the Red Sisters strict orders to pretend the girl didn’t exist.

I can remember feeling bad for the girls but feeling relieved that Riley was my friend. I also remember feeling confused because I knew that I was actually bigger than both of these girls who were being teased about their weight. I knew it was twisted, but I was grateful that Riley and the other girls looked past my size and still allowed me to be a Red Sister.

When Riley returned from her stint in detention, we went back to sandwiches, goldfish crackers and caprisuns followed by walks, boys and Nirvana. Riley had a new boyfriend and hadn’t harassed anyone in a while so things felt pretty normal. One day, we decided to roam a little further across the school yard and found ourselves chatting in front of a brick wall outside of the 6th graders classrooms. We were waiting for something to happen, but as usual, nothing did.

The bell rang, signaling the end of recess. We all stood up to head back to class, the other Red Sisters turned the corner and Riley, who was in front of me, abruptly turned around. Suddenly it was just the two of us standing against the brick wall.

“You need to lose weight,” she said.

I felt like she had punched me in the stomach.

“I-I… I know,” I stammered.

I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t. I wanted to tell someone, but what was the point? I wasn’t sure if I was going to have to plead for my place as a Red Sister, but before I could think of anything to say, Riley turned on her heel and headed back to class.

I stood against the brick wall, alone.

“CeCe…”

I turned around and Mrs. Arcane the 6th grade history teacher had her head poked out of her door.

“Yes, Mrs. Arcane?” I said, nervously wondering if she’d overheard what Riley said to me.

She took a deep breath “You know, with friends like that… you don’t need enemies.”