May 8, 2009

Better tUesday: What Happens in Dallas, Stays. (But not on my butt) PART THE ONETH

It’s not news to you, Best Beloveds, that I am mentally ill on the subject of _____.

There are a multitude of things that could fit in that blank.
Joss Whedon.

But the queen mother of ALL my mental illnesses is the terminally co-dependent love-hate triangle I have crafted out of food, my own body, and a BUCKET full of grade-A crazy.

We have discussed here, nigh unto DEATH, my unending and revolting belief that my dress size is intrinsically connected to my value as a person. Like, if we were going to pick half of humanity to walk into the sea like lemmings, and if I was once again a size 8, I would believe that I definitely should be picked to cling to this mortal coil. If I was wearing a size twelve (and THIS VERY SECOND I AM SITTING HERE ON A SIZE TWELVE BUTT, God Help Me, Beloveds) I should absolutely be E-lemming-nated. If I was a size ten? Tough call. Could go either way, really.

This is ME specific. I WOULD NEVER consider something as ridiculous as PANTS SIZE when deciding what OTHER people should have to lemming on down into the Atlantic. If it were up to me, I would choose who had to walk into the sea based on things that actually matter, like, does this person consistently use bad manners, has this person ever tried to perpetrate Genocide, and is this person now or has this person ever been a dentist? Answer yes to any of those and you would be beach-bound, Beloveds, so sorry.

I wouldn’t even ASK your pants size, because in my Rational Mind, I know pants size is NOT EQUAL to value-as-a-person. Unfortunately, when it comes to me, how I see and value and rate myself, Rational Mind is seldom allowed to have the driver’s seat. In fact, in the VW Peace Van of my brain, Rational Mind is quite likely to be tied up in the trunk, or, on particularly bad days, shot dead and tied to the roof rack like Bambi’s hapless Momma.

I decided to STOP.

Quit laughing. I really mean it, this time. Or, well, not STOP, exactly, but try to change my focus. Try to REFOCUS on stuff that actually matters. Yes, yes, as I indicated yesterday, I have decided to go on ahead and grow as a person. Maybe even grow up. IT COULD HAPPEN. I want to be better. In heart. In mind. In spirit. And yes, in body.

AND YES, FINE, I am unhappy with my body right now. But Lord, When have I ever been happy with it? Even when I am fit and in my size eights, I wish I was a six… LE SIGH. I am 41. I need to stop being 13 about this. I need to focus on what’s inside---kindness, my relationships with God and my fellow man, and, yes, how my body WORKS, not how it looks. It’s about HEALTH---about putting down the butter and walking away not because if I do so, I may FINALLY get to do runway in Milan, but because I want to see my kids grow up. All the way up. I want to hold my grandkids. I want to be eighty and crabby and cheat at the bingo.

I was already thinking about all this when The American Heart Association contacted me and asked if I would like to be a SPOKESMODEL for their BETTERU program. It’s part of GO RED FOR WOMEN. You can see their little button on my sidebar now, there, to the right, under the thumbprint link of the new PB cover for The Girl Who Stopped Swimming.

DIGRESSION: To be fair, The AHA didn’t use the word SPOKESMODEL. *sigh* They asked if I would be one of their “bloggers.”
They said, “Um…okay. Well. We have Andie McDowell for that. We actually need, you know, BLOGGERS.”
I said, “BLOGGER, SPOKESMODEL, PO-TAY-TO! PO-TAH-TO. I will be a, um…blogging spokesmodel!”

See, I am a child of the 80’s, and if you say ED MCMAHON to me, I do not say PRIZE VAN as a 90’s kid would, much less JOHNNY CARSON as a 70’s kid might. I say STAR SEARCH! Back in middle school, I watched Star Search religiously on Saturday mornings.

My friends and I even played Star Search, even though I CANNOT sing and I dance like a spastic penguin being electrocuted. We didn’t care about those competitions anyway. When we played STAR SEARCH, we were always, in our minds, 6 foot tall, 100 pound blondes with C cups and tease-able coils of PUFFNORMOUS hair , wearing spangled thigh-slit gowns and trying to make the words “STAR SEARCH RETURNS AFTER THESE MESSAGES” sound dirrrrrrrty. /end digression

Anyway, I said yes. I said yes because heart disease is the number one killer of women, and EIGHTY FREAKIN’ PERCENT OF IT is absolutely preventable. I said yes because my mom has hypertension, and I still need a mom. I said yes because I have delightful children, and they still need a mom, too. And yes, to be completely HONEST here, I MAY have said yes VERY SLIGHTLY PARTIALLY because IF I follow the 12 week BETTERU program, I will not only get healthier and live longer etc etc blah blah personal growth…I will probably go down at LEAST a dress size.

HEH. Baby steps to better priorities, Beloveds. BABY STEPS!

BAH, we didn’t even get to Dallas and the bondage gear. And I am out of time.


Posted by joshilyn at May 8, 2009 6:35 AM

Take it from someone who is a size 6 -you would be rescued way before the 6s or 4s. Women would be the organizers (you know men wouldn't) of any lemmings runs -therefore anyone size 6 and under would go, 8s if they needed more. I have had women dislike me on size alone.I am over 40& gaining weight; but instead of sympathy; I get eat S**T and dieeeee looks.

Posted by: Judy Black at May 8, 2009 9:11 AM

OH! I hope not! Surely the vast majority of women are not that petty and jealous? I wouldn't lemming ANYONE other than me on basis of size, be they big or be they little. When it comes to dress size, I think most women tend to be harder on THEMSLEVES than they are on other women.

If your girldfriends are that jeaous of you and THAT petty -- Trade 'em in!

Posted by: Joshilyn at May 8, 2009 9:26 AM

I am still very much looking forward to the bondage pictures. (I'm not sure I want to think about what that says about me.)

Posted by: Mir at May 8, 2009 9:36 AM

Is it bad that now if someone said ED MCMAHON to me, I would no longer think PRIZE VAN I would think FORECLOSURE?

And I think you would make a much better spokesmodel than Andie McDowell. ::nods::

Posted by: Dani at May 8, 2009 10:11 AM

I don't want to think about the fact that it makes me LIKE what it says about you, Mir. If that made any sense.

Posted by: Brigitte at May 8, 2009 10:12 AM

It did make sense, Brigitte. To me anyway. I feel the same.


Posted by: Joshilyn at May 8, 2009 10:22 AM


To all of it. The BETTERU and the bondage gear. (Although possibly not the puffnormous hair.)

Posted by: RuthWells at May 8, 2009 10:24 AM

Purely from a math perspective:

larger number = greater value.

Problem solved.

Posted by: Melisa at May 8, 2009 11:40 AM

Just so you know, that is exactly how I would have handled a roach.

Posted by: JulieB at May 8, 2009 12:12 PM

I would like to point out that the size 0 through size 4 women, or at least the ones that are not dying of cancer or AIDS or starvation in Biafra or possibly just the inheritors of skinny genes, are probably way too crazy and neurotic and evil to worry about. Give me a woman of substance every time.

Posted by: kmkat at May 8, 2009 12:26 PM

Joshilyn, how timely for my life. My cholesterol is 271, I *am* a size eight and I pretty much cry every time I think about my body. I'm 34. It doesn't get better from here. I run 20 minutes a day, do yoga on the weekends, and go do prolonged cardio&weights whenever I can. Maybe I'll get a trainer this summer.

And yet, I know, I can do all the "right" things, and my body will do whatever the hell it wants.

Posted by: elizabeth at May 8, 2009 12:26 PM

My darlin' what I wouldn't give to be a size 12 again!!! I was smokin' hott!! I was also 21 and just about the most self-centered creature on the planet. Now I'm 37 and a much better person. My point is that at 21 I was really pretty on the outside, but not so much on the inside. I think you are fab no matter what size you are! ;-)

Posted by: Heather P. at May 8, 2009 12:58 PM

Ur WAY better than Andie... Andie who???
From one size 12 ass (that used to be an 8 too)to another, I COMPLETELY understand the mental illness number about this too. Your speakin' my size 12 number honey!

Posted by: Les at May 8, 2009 12:58 PM

Perspective: I am 42 and sitting on a size 14 butt.

Wanna trade? :o)

Posted by: CityGirl at May 8, 2009 1:03 PM

Wow! BETTERU! I want a better me, too!! I wouldn't mind the bondage gear, either, although the REST OF THE WORLD would probably protest; I am currently wearing a size 16/18.(<--I have just edited that sentence TWICE; I can't stand how "I am a size 16/18" looks, it sounds so PERMANENT, and part of me is still convinced that I'M JUST PUFFY TODAY, so I had to change it to say "I am CURRENTLY WEARING a size 16/18," so that I can cling to the belief that tomorrow I will wake up and magically be ME-as-I-see-me again. ANYWAY.)

I OUGHT to be a size 12, and, so help me, if I ever find the woman who traded bodies with me, I will corner her and demand that she take this blob BACK and give me my size-12 body back!! (You are not the only one who has been being 13 about this subject. And I am 42, albeit a very youthful--read: immature--42.)

I LIKE Andie McDowell, I really DO, but, with your talent for words, they really should have chosen you for First Spokesmodel. You will be TODALLY AWWSUMMM either way.


P.S. Elizabeth, I apologize in advance if I am being too nosy. (I'm kinda known for it, so just kick me under the table.) You are 34 and wear a size 8, and exercise (it sounds like) in every spare moment. You have spoken with your doctor about your cholesterol, right? And have gotten some recommendations about possible medicine to lower it, right? Lifestyle-wise, you are my hero; that cholesterol number HAS to be from genetic, totally-not-your-fault factors.

Posted by: Jennifer at May 8, 2009 1:23 PM

if you want a mental illness comparison then i suggest Kirstie Alley's Fat Actress. believe you me you'll feel right as rain afterwards.

umm, you pretended to be Miss California when you were younger? with fake boobs and hair that we know of, but probbably also fake lips and teeny tiny waist and maybe nose and other parts? cuz you know, parts is parts and spokesmodels have oddles to choose from in order to make the rest of us feel like merde every time we look in the mirror.

Posted by: debra at May 8, 2009 1:35 PM

I *love* that you are going to blog for AHA. i won't bore you with my "conversion" story but I did lose a dad to the disease and am trying my ownself to live be a cranky old lady. So thanks.

BTW I do have a size 8 butt and I swear to you when I got here to this very size I started to hate my post-baby stomach bc it pooches out now that my butt is smaller. You can *never*, *ever* win. So healthy is the very best goal, I'm thinkin.

Posted by: Beth at May 8, 2009 1:41 PM

HEE Beth you are full of smart and wise. It is like WAR GAMES. When it comes to body image games, *robot voice* the only way to win is...NOT. TO. PLAY.

Posted by: Joshilyn at May 8, 2009 1:49 PM

Oh Joshilyn, I am so with you on this dress size issue. I can truthfully say I am not swayed by the beautiful models on the mag covers, it's the vision of my out of shape tummy jiggling in the mirror which causes me anxiety. Just spent a few days with my bestest gfs from high school who are all slender and in shape. Though most of us have had weight/shape fluctuations through the years, it is now my turn to lose what to me is a hefty twenty pounds. My doctor assures me my weight loss efforts will pay off when we get my thyroid meds right but in the meantime I get more and more frustrated with a scale which refuses to budge. I look forward to checking out the BETTERU program; I feel certain you will keep everyone entertained with your honesty and wit.

Posted by: Kim at May 8, 2009 2:35 PM

I am so glad I am not the only person who has crazy body image issues. I will grow as a person if you will!

Posted by: Alison at May 8, 2009 2:44 PM

I would say my mental illness number could beat up your mental illness number because while we are in the exact same size 12 boat (that ought to be size 8), I refuse to buy clothes with that wretched number in the back. I can just imagine it tsk tsking as it looks me up and down from behind. I won't do it. So I will continue to wear what used to be my fat jeans every stinking day until that leprechaun comes with my three wishes. I promise to save one for world peace but mark my words - I will live in this peaceful world with lots of money and a teensy tinsy bum.

Posted by: Em at May 8, 2009 3:02 PM

I think it's too late for me to grow as a person, except, uh, outwardly. But good luck!

PS I also think you would be a better spokesmodel than Andi too.

Posted by: edj at May 8, 2009 3:04 PM

Joshilyn- I am with you on this 100%. Yes, the vanity in me wants to be a hot young thing, but the truth is, I want to walk my dog without being out of breath. I want to be in decent shape before having kids so that it will be easier to lose it afterwards. My grandmother died when she was 41 of a heart attack. I know how hard that was on my mother, and I refuse to do that to my kids. We're in this together girl!

Posted by: Lauren at May 8, 2009 3:20 PM

Em My mental illness number is UNAFRAID of yours. I too refuse to buy larger clothes, so I am wearing a fsat jeand and a few emergency clothes from the garage that NEVER GOT SENT TO GOODWILL. Heh. Even though I gained this almost a YEAR AND A HALF AGO! I refuse to give in and get clothes that fit.

Posted by: joshilyn at May 8, 2009 3:56 PM

Bondage pictures?

Heh, just said that out loud and my dog's ears perked right up. Possibly because I said it in the same tone usually reserved for TREATS!

Um, Andie who? You'd do the ta-da and spangle thing so much better, I agree. And here's to cranky old lady-dom - I hope to get crows feet on my crows feet as well as braid beads into my old-lady chinny hairs so I can rattle them at passing children, then cackle madly as they flee the hell off my lawn. I'll be 40 in a few weeks, and apparently 40 is the new 25 so it might be a while before old lady-dom accepts me, but I'm still disgruntled at not being a size 8 in time for my 40th.

Thank you for the reminder that they're all just numbers. Arbitrary, meaningless numbers, even! It's not like there are dollar signs or other interesting symbols that allow us to gain access to more chocolate, coffee or books associated with the darn things.

Grr. Argh.

Posted by: inkgrrl at May 8, 2009 6:14 PM

In preparation for turning 50, I began a 260-day plan in which I worked out for 7.5 months. I toned up, but wasn't losing weight, wasn't getting that flat tummy that would make turning 50 tolerable.

Then I learned the secret just in time... Calories do apply to me! I thought they were just for other people! Breakthrough! I cut back to 1,200 calories and by golly, there went the tummy roll!

Maybe it was sheer determination to win,I didn't get hungry, had no cravings.

Posted by: cheryl at May 8, 2009 7:28 PM

Way to go! Blogging spokesmodel is pretty spiffy. And "Puffnormous" may be my new favorite word.

Posted by: Holly at May 8, 2009 8:09 PM

Numbers are hell, aren't they? When I quantify myself with age, weight, dress size, income, it's easy to sink into anxiety and depression. It's an endless battle for me - food = happiness, comfort, security, but it also equals weight gain which equals anxiety, which leads to more food...

About a year and a half ago I thought I was having a heart attack. I went to Urgent Care, had the tests, and learned I was NOT having a heart attack, but they weren't entirely sure what was wrong. Two weeks later, still issues. Two MORE weeks, and my new (totally awesome) doctor confirmed that my gallbladder no longer worked. Finally, seven weeks after the first issues, seven weeks of essentially the BRAT diet (bananas rice applesauce toast), I had my gallbladder removed. Then I decided that if I could do THAT for two months, I could certainly commit to eating healthier. And I did. I lost 75 pounds in about 7 months. I walked daily. I felt fantastic. I still had another 75 - 100 pounds to go, but hey, I was getting there. Then I lost my job (with all sorts of attendant issues), and the depression monster took over. I stopped exercising and started eating. I gained 25 pounds. Now I'm standing at the center of a teeter totter, trying to balance the immediate comfort food gives me with the knowledge that healthy foods and exercise will probably do more for my brain chemistry in the long run.

Okay, TMI, but what I'm trying to say is - I know about body issues and I know about losing weight and lifestyle changes. You can do this. Remember that everything you eat, everything you do, is a choice. Own your choices, live with them, be aware of them, and forgive yourself for them.

And I'll leave the pulpit now...

Posted by: Sandi at May 8, 2009 9:09 PM

Jennifer, the gastroenterologist is monitoring my cholesterol. If God allows, we would like to have a child next year, and all the cholesterol drugs are contraindicated in pregnancy. I simply have too much on my plate to manage pregnancy until after the summer, so we're trying fishoil and flax seed and everything natural possible until next year. Thanks for your concern.

I really advocate the 20 minute run (or bike,or whatever). I feel better afterward, if nothing else. And it's only 20 minutes....

Joshilyn has CLEARLY hit a nerve with so many of us.

Posted by: elizabeth at May 8, 2009 9:41 PM

Okay, here's numbers for ya.

I'm going to be 53 in a few days, I'm a size 22 (and when I was at my absolute model thinness -- and I really was, 5'9", 118 lbs, but broad shouldered -- I wore a size 12), my cholesterol and blood pressure numbers are low, although I'm watching my blood sugar numbers carefully, and you know what, ladies? I'm fine with it. I wouldn't mind losing a few pounds, and I probably should, but I'm healthy, and I'm happy, and I'm loved.

Does it make me clinically nuts to be okay with being larger? Maybe. But I'm absolutely batty crazy about so many other things, quite frankly my weight has had to take a back seat.

I've been following the original Schwartzbein nutrition program for a while though, and it helps keep things on an even keel.

All that being said, I'm so PROUD OF YOU, Joss, for being a spokesmodel/blogger for the American Heart Association! You are going to be an inspiration to us all, even if you are going to be consumption-waif thin!

Posted by: Fran at May 9, 2009 12:33 AM

This is so exciting! I just got on the better me wagon a few weeks ago. My mom and my aunt on my mother's side both have diabetes and they have both been very overweight since I can remember. Even though I'm very young I knew that I needed to set up habits now to keep me from following down that same path. So I started going to the gym. I was listening to a Joyce Meyer podcast while exercising. She was talking about health and wellness etc. And she said, "I decided that I'm not going to let a piece of pie control my life." That really hit home with me and I decided that too.

Here's to deciding!

I thought you'd like that little tid bit. And I just think it's so exciting when other people are on the same track at the same time.

I can't wait for part the TWOETH.

Posted by: Nik at May 9, 2009 7:18 AM

Since when are pink socks bondage gear?

Posted by: rams at May 9, 2009 10:11 AM

Kudos to the person who said, "Purely from a math perspective: larger number = greater value."

That's so logical that even Mr. Spock would like it. If only it were true...

Posted by: Trace at May 9, 2009 11:37 AM

From another person who was orphaned way too soon (and who would love to see size 12 again) - congratulations, Joshilyn, on being chosen as a spokesmodelblogger. You'll be great.

Posted by: Sandra Leigh at May 9, 2009 12:34 PM

I have NEVER had a size 8 butt, so I don't know the loss of that. . .HOWEVER, I DO have a brand, spankin', new portrait made of me with my children last weekend, and I. am. fat. As in--I weigh three pounds more than I did when I had my second child. . .and he weighed 10 1/2 pounds, and I gained 50 pounds all told. I need to do healthy. . .and I need to lose weight. Now that you are a spokesblogmodel, I can't wait to embrace the healthy.

Posted by: Roxanne at May 9, 2009 10:48 PM

Hey Joshilyn,
Lemmings don't really have a collective urge to jump off cliffs - they were spooked by Walt Disney's cameramen (in the 1950s) in order to get a good wildlife movie. What does that tell you about the values/sizes/images we've all been trying to live up to since film and television took over the world?
xx Jennie

Posted by: jennie at May 10, 2009 4:54 PM

Elizabeth, I am glad you are working with a doctor. The nosy-do-gooder-me just needed to ask out of fear that you were trying to ignore it (I should have known better, that is me with my weight!). I hope all of your efforts are successful, and wish for you what God wants for you.

I have started walking a mile and a half, at about 3 mph,as many days a week as I can make myself. My goal is three days a week.I have such a long history of starting The Grand Plan That Will Fix Everything Forever, then giving up after a week or two, that I am trying to make small changes on a regular basis instead.

Joss, I just went back and read some of the posts that you used as evidence of your "mental illness." Either you are NOT mentally ill or I AM--in SPADES!!! I have actually thrown up on a dentist, and screamed so loud at a palmetto bug/waterbug/HELL-NO-those-are-ROACHES!! that my Significant Obstacle--erm, Other--came running with a .45, convinced that I was being killed by an intruder. Thank God that I am not the only one; perhaps all of these reactions are just NORMAL????

Posted by: Jennifer at May 10, 2009 5:44 PM

It is my goal to cheat at bingo in my eighties too. And be crabby, especially to authority figures. And eat a lot of chocolate, because when you're in your 80s, who cares what the size of your butt is? When it's covered in purple polyester, no one really looks.

Posted by: jen at May 10, 2009 7:25 PM

With everybody in the same size 12 it's no wonder I can't find anything decent to wear! So I'll try the BETTERU with you, even though my BP and cholesterol are pretty mellow, not bad for 44 (for 3 more days anyway). Unfortunately, so is my metabolism!

Although you make a much better spokesmodel than Andi, we'd rather read your blog than hers!

Posted by: Patti at May 10, 2009 9:10 PM