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Maintaining in Both Worlds

I’ve gotten into the habit of using my personal Facebook account as my voice instead of my blog, and that needs to get rectified.  I want to share my thoughts and ideas with the world not with a limited group of friends!

One of the things that has crossed my mind lately is how awesome I feel in my skin. I’ve had a lot of personal road blocks this year, but right now I am in such a good place I need to share it with you all.  I found my goal has slightly changed as far as my clothing size.  Naturally, I’d like to feel lighter, stronger, and ultimately reach a healthier weight goal, but I also realized that losing more weight may hinder the natural curves of my body.  In the past when I’ve gone down one pant size lower than my current size 16, my ass got lost.  I have such a larger bone structure that I literally have to lose my ass to fit into a size 14.  I can feel my sit bones protruding and it’s actually uncomfortable sitting on hard surfaces.  If anything, I should maintain my booty for seat comfort alone!  I’m hoping glute exercises will help me keep the meat on the bone as I continue on my journey, but it seems when I get to a certain point of losing weight my body pulls from the areas I quite rather appreciate, like my derriere.  Does it pull fat from the rolls in my belly or my double chin, not so much!  But, I digress, that is a subject for another post entitled “Embracing the Rolls!”.

So for now, I’ll keep up the regular exercise and well as drink a milkshakes every so often to make sure I keep my curves nice and full.

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My Milkshake bring no boys to the yard because I’m still single.

Another reason I’m enjoying this time to maintain my shape while sharpening up the curves a bit with some yoga/cardio/pilates 3-4x per week, is because I’m wearing the perfect clothing size for a woman who loves to shop.  I’m 5’9″ and wear a size 14/16 in plus.  I also wear a L/XL in non plus sizes (depending on the store).  This is an awesome size to be because I get to shop IN BOTH WORLDS.  I get to wear clothing especially made for larger curvier ladies at Plus Size stores, as well as the higher end sizes at non-plus sized stores.  It’s quiet magical to say the least. I truly do find some items that fit me  well at shops like NY&Co., H&M, Kohl’s and TJ Maxx since they carry up to XL as well as some plus sizes,  but I tend to shop at more plus size specific stores like Lane Bryant because the clothing really caters to my curves.  (Please see my Curvy Fashion Page for a list of Plus Size friendly  stores.)

I recently invested in the Scalloped Boudoir Lace Dress in size 14/16 from Kiyonna, a high end plus size designer, to wear to a wedding last November in Manhattan.  Kiyonna’s designs are not cheap but they are simply stunning as well as durable and well worth the cost.  She is actually one of the only plus size designers who starts at size 10 instead of 12, which reaches a wider range of women but ultimately leaves out sizes lower than a size 10.   I wore this dress to two Halloween parties as well as the intended Manhattan wedding and I’ve gotten wonderful and genuine compliments on how classy and well made it is for my shape.

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Manhattan Wedding November, 2013

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Halloween Party #2 in Philly Oct. 2013

Halloween Party #1 at Artworks Trenton, Oct. 2013

Halloween Party #1 at Artworks Trenton, Oct. 2013

Needless to say, I got my damn moneys worth out of that dress.  I’ve been asked where I purchased the dress as well as the designer, both in person an on Facebook, by numerous women.  Being one who is not ashamed of being a plus size lady, I simply tell the gals who are clearly not more than a size 8 that it’s from  Kiyonna, a plus size designer for sizes 10 and up.  I do feel bad if it’s not available in their size, then I think about the clothing items I find online and in stores that only go up to a Large and I know by the cut I will never be able to squeeze my T&A in that item.  C’est la vie!

So, let’s wrap up.  Where am I on my journey to Health and Wellness?  Well, I’m taking some time to maintain my weight and health where it is now.  I’m not going to obsess over losing weight, even though I’m only half way to my “set” weight goal.   I feel if I can maintain at the half way point and find it’s not the end of the world difficult, then when I do reach my goal I won’t sabotage myself like I have in the past.  My tattoo artist (he lost 100 pounds!) gave me some advice regarding my journey to health & happiness.  His advice was NOT to set a weight goal and just do your thing, be healthy, be active, until you feel you have reached your goal.   For some of us, that sounds awesome and for others it sounds like a train wreck.  You know you.  You know if you need structure, goals, a plan or if you can change your mindset for the better and ride it out until you find your  healthy weight.  I’ve gone the regimented plan before and it works only temporarily for me.  Once I hit that goal, I seem to self-sabotage in order to find that other “goal” I need to reach.  Maintaining is not fun for me.  There is no prize at the end, except perhaps living a longer healthy life and not feeling like crap.  But that’s apparently not enough for me! So we’ll see if having no goal in the back in my mind (for now) is either worse or better.  Commence Happy & Healthy Kate Experiment #53983404.

I’m still leading an active life, I’m not counting calories or cutting back on any certain food, but I’m just trying to be more aware of portion control and what my body is telling me.  Do I still overeat? Yup.  Especially with the holidays surrounding me.  But as weird as this sounds, I don’t overeat as much or as often as I used to and to me that’s a small victory.  I’ve also realized a setback won’t be as huge in my crazy mind as if i was trying to lose weight.  Maintaining is just as challenging as losing weight for someone who has struggled with the scale their entire life, so once I master the art of maintenance I think I’ll finally have the knowledge I’ve been lacking in the past throughout my yo-yo dieting to finally live life at a healthier weight, whatever that may be.

Focusing on strength instead of weight has also really helped my overall mindset regarding my health.  On some level it feels great to fit into a lower dress size, it shows your hard work is paying off, but for me I’m at the point where I am OK with the number printed on my clothes.  Why?  Because I feel healthy, I feel great in my clothes, and I look damn cute.

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TJ Maxx – Owl Sweater in XL

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Skinny Fat?

One of my student workers was kind enough to tell me that she enjoys reading this blog because she is also trying to lead a healthier way of life.  She spoke about how she defines herself as “skinny fat”, a term I’ve heard a lot of lately.  I can understand the frustrations of not feeling healthy in your body, so we chatted briefly about the subject.

This skinny fat phenomenon is defined as an individual who has a slender build but is not toned and has a high amount of body fat for their smaller frame.  Or as my student worker describes it, “I look fine while fully clothed (with small arms, legs, and neck), but I have a muffin top and I won’t be showing my body off in a bathing suit anytime soon.”   I think of it as those “before” and “after” ads where they showcase a naturally slender or athletic male or female with some extra body fat, and then the perfect super fit results after using a certain product.

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I strongly dislike those infomercials with obviously staged before and after photos and find them quite misleading.  I believe these ads are similar to “skinny plus sized” models.  It must be quite easy to showcase a perfect “after” body when the out of shape “skinny fat” body has the socially acceptable attractive proportions and underlining potential for total fitness.  Though plus sized models may not be considered “skinny fat” because of their toned bodies, it is very similar in model land.   You never, or rarely, see a model above a size 12 or 14,  shorter than 5’10”, without a perfectly toned and blemish free body.  It’s similar to a six foot size zero model being featured in an ad instead of a popular size 8.  The way (most) advertisements display both men and women is one of the many ways media feeds our body image struggles.  I’m not saying make all models larger and more in line with average body type, but mix up the pot a bit!

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Just a couple of Debenham’s diverse models

If anyone is mixing up the pot these days, Debenhams is cooking up some socially inclusive soup!  I do feel that more and more companies are using diverse and realistic models for their ads and getting the recognition they deserve.  The Debenham Lookbook that includes beautiful models of all sizes, races, ages, and body types and the Sweden based H&M’s recent advertisement spread pleases me to no end.  Oddly enough, they are both International companies.  (Isn’t America the one who gets a bad wrap for being large and in charge??)  There is an ongoing fight for body acceptance at any shape or size, one I’ve been fighting for my whole life, and one day it would be nice to see the fight end and everybody just get along!

But I digress.  Back to the subject at hand.

The “skinny fat” phenomenon is important to be aware of for naturally slender individuals.  It’s crucial to keep an eye on body fat and your overall health at any body size.  There are plenty of unhealthy skinny people out there as well as healthy overweight individuals.   This is why am a firm believer in Body Fat % versus Body Mass Index.   I will always be defined as Overweight in the BMI category, even at my goal weight, but my current 32% Body Fat is actually in the high “average” range (on more detailed charts) but falls into “obese” on other charts (not taking height and age into account).  I just take this discrepancy as just another reminder that I am above average in every way.  : )

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H&M embraces the soft and curvy

H&M Quiet Integration of Plus-Size Model Gets Loud | PLUS Model Magazine.

I love reading articles (like the one above) about how companies are using a wider range of body types, ages, and ethnicity to market their products whether in store or in print.  I especially love it when it’s one of my all time favorite clothing stores, H&M!

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I think what I love most about the new softer model in the above ad is she looks curvy and healthy and still has some adorable flabby flesh in her midsection.  Most plus sized models are toned and probably photoshopped to be a larger version of a “perfect” model.  The stomach is one of the toughest place for most women (and men!) to lose weight once they get past 30!  I think most women can relate to the image of the model on the right.  Seeing this woman embrace her “average” shaped body and own her sexy & healthy body in a bikini, most of the female population will hopefully learn to do the same.

The buzz with this H&M ad right now is how it’s not loudly displayed as a “plus sized” photoshoot and the company did not set out to draw attention to this choice in models.  The swimwear is not labeled “plus sized” swimwear and there is no obvious label on this advertisement spread to that effect aside from the subtle + sign after the H&M.  The larger model is an above average model sized woman, a size 12 standing at 5’10”, which has always been the size labeled as “plus sized” in model land.  A size 12 is actually one size below the American average size of 14.  The model, Jennie Runk, actually gained weight to become a model in the “plus sized” category but hopes one day that the term “plus size” doesn’t exist anymore. I love that mindset.  I bet Kate Moss is rolling over in her grave…oh, she’s still alive (and actually looks much healthier these days yay!).  All in all, this is one great step towards body acceptance.  I’m yet again pleased with the marketing decisions being made by this trendy and affordable company.

A while back my social media feed blew up with the photos and articles about the Swedish store with plus sized mannequins.

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I naturally approved of this body size variety, but realized they are not the pioneers in larger sized mannequins.  Lane Bryant has been the leading fashionable option for curvy girl fashion forEVER and use appropriately sized mannequins to showcase their 14+ sizes.  I think it’s not recently recognized because they have always been a “plus sized” clothing company, but they too should be applauded for traditionally showing their clothing on average body sized mannequins.

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