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On a Positive Note - Online Newsletter! )
 February 17, 2003 February 2003 
In this Issue
Dear Reader,

Welcome to Largely Positive's online newsletter, "On a Positive Note." The newsletter that promotes health and self-esteem for people of all shapes and sizes. The newsletter will regularly feature:

  • The latest research on size and weight.
  • Opinion column by Carol Johnson, author of the book Self-Esteem Comes In All Sizes.
  • Style tips from plus-size fashion consultant Susan Weber, www.grandstyle.com 
  • Size esteem advice from Karen Stimson, founder of the Largesse organization.
  • Plus-size fitness tips. "Non-diet" nutrition advice.
  • Latest news from the weight discrimination battle front.
  • Answers to your questions on weight management, self- esteem, body image, and relationships.
  • And how you can "live large" in a society that "thinks small!"


Thanks again for signing up for the free "On a Positive Note" newsletter. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact us. Now "on with the show!"

Positively Yours,

Carol Johnson, President
Largely Positive Inc.

Privacy is important to us; therefore, we will not sell, rent, or give away your name or address to anyone. At any point, you can select the link at the bottom of every email to unsubscribe, or to receive less or more information.

The Big Picture

By Carol Johnson

  The title "When Food Becomes a Substitute for Sex" jumped out at me from the pages of a woman's magazine. In a study of patients undergoing psychoanalysis, 47.7 percent of those who were large said they used food to avoid sexual relationships. While I don't want to deny or minimize problems such as these, the majority of large women are not in psychoanalysis. Many are enjoying intimate relationships and robust sex lives. Once again, we make the mistake of generalizing the legitimate problems of a minority to the majority.

  Researchers at Chicago's Michael Reese Hospital were actually startled to find that large women had a stronger sex drive than thin women. They had started out with the opposite hypothesis: that women become large and stay that way as a means of insulating themselves from the give and take of mature sexual relationships. When psychologist Colleen Rand scrutinized psychiatric evaluations of both patients awaiting weight loss surgery and others in psychoanalysis she concluded, "There are no data which indicate that the obese individual has significantly greater or fewer sexual problems than nonobese individuals." In a more recent study, Cornell University researchers found that body weight is not associated with most aspects of marital quality; indeed larger women were happier with their marriages.

   Once again, you must think for yourself. Don't accept theories which may or may not apply to you. Always say to yourself, "Am I buying into this because I've heard it for so long or because it really applies to me?" There are so many myths associated with larger women. This appears to be yet another one.

  February is a month typically associated with love and romance. If you are in a relationship, why not buy yourself some sexy, plus-size lingerie and surprise your mate? If you're not in a relationship, love yourself enough to just go out and buy something that makes you feel like a million bucks!

Book: Self-Esteem Comes In All Sizes!

A Love Note

  When I was writing the chapter on relationships for my book, "Self-Esteem Comes In All Sizes," I wanted to show that there are many men who find large women appealing. I asked my friend Wendy's boyfriend, Charles, if he would write about his love for her. I also asked my friend Kari's husband, Chris. Both were delighted to have the opportunity, and I thought that the month of February, containing, as it does, Valentine's Day, was the perfect opportunity to share what they wrote with readers of this newsletter. Charles' note is a little longer, Chris's a little shorter. Both tell quite a story.

"What I Love About Wendy"

  She makes me laugh. She laughs at me.She is considerate of my feelings about things. We trust each other, giving each other the freedom to be alone, with other friends, doing whatever we would like to do or have to do in our individual lives. She is attentive to her appearance, and wears a perfume that is absolutely wonderful. It has imprinted itself onto my memory, and I want more of her.

She is intelligent.

  She is interesting to listen to, and I want to hear about her day, her children, the things that are bothering or pleasing her, and her ideas about nearly everything. She listens to me and my superb ideas about all things! We listen to each other, giving attention to the one who needs it the most at the moment, and truly conversing rather than monopolizing our talking opportunities. We are like all other people -- a mixture of strengths and shortcomings. I see in her strengths that I admire, have very positive emotional responses to, and find inspiring to me. Her shortcomings are minor and don't bother me. This is not a "love is blind" evaluation, but is probably the essence of "compatibility." Our particular mixture of positives and negatives seem to be complementary. She can help me when and where I need it, and I can do the same for her.

  We respect each other's opinions, philosophies, politics, desires, and general likes and dislikes. We do not ever require the other to change a deeply held feeling about anything. She does not complain about herself. She does not complain about much of anything. Negative things that go on around her may be observed and commented on, but this is not the same and whining and complaining. It also does not preclude her from voicing a dislike for something.

She is affectionate.

  She likes me and shows it. I see it in her eyes, in a light touch sometimes, in a short friendly message on my answering machine. Getting home after a day in the world is brightened immensely by her friendly voice. She is sexy and she acts sexy and flirtatious with me. I find her irresistible. She is kind to me and others.

She is said to be a "large" woman. I guess I didn't notice.

Now on to Chris...

"For my wife, Kari..."

  Love, honor and cherish until death do us part. Nothing about size, shape, or cellulite. Eighteen summers have passed since that promise was made. She creates a bit more shade. She pleases me as before and we laugh. What more is there?

From: Self-Esteem Comes In All Sizes!

Grand Style -- BIG Jewelry
By Susan Weber

  I'll go to great lengths to find beautiful jewelry. Usually I'm forced to. Good looking necklaces, bracelets, pins and watches are hard to find in my size. Still, I refuse to give up on wearing the gorgeous pieces I see in the stores or on my skinny friends, just because they're not quite long enough. And, neither should you! Here are a few simple ways to stretch your jewelry options:

  Need to lengthen a bracelet or necklace? Add a length of gold or silver chain and tuck the necklace extender under your collar or scarf. Tips: To keep a bracelet from rotating on your wrist and showing the extender, just add a charm where you connected the extender. When calculating the length of extender chain to buy, be sure to add in the length of both clasps so your extender won't be too long. Shopping Ideas: Look for faux 14K gold or silvertone chain "by the inch" at shopping mall stores and kiosks that sell chains. . Miles Kimball (414-231-4886) offers a package of necklace extenders in silvertone and goldtone for less than $5. QVC.com (888-345- 5788) offers 2" and 3" necklace extenders in faux and real sterling silver and 14K gold. Is your favorite watch too tight? Your jeweler can often add up to 1" to the length by changing the clasp or adding links, adding a clasp extender or by ordering a longer strap or watchband.

  Want a loose-fitting 9" bracelet? Buy an anklet. Or, have your jeweler make two 9" bracelets from an 18" necklace. Tip: Link-style necklaces are easier to adapt than herringbones; so, jewelers will usually charge less to remake a link necklace into a bracelet than they would charge for remaking a herringbone necklace. Shopping Idea: Imperial Gold (a 14K and 18K jewelry retailer who sells on QVC.com) will lengthen their pieces for the "per inch" price of the original item (e.g., an 8" bracelet purchased from QVC for $80 can be lengthened by Imperial Gold for $10 an inch plus a minimal handling charge).

Desperate for one of those chic, long chain-link necklaces? They make us look so tall and lean when worn with monochromatic skirts and tops! Buy two necklaces and join them together for the length you need. Example: Two 24" chains linked together produce a long, elegant 48" chain. Stuck with a pendant hanging on a too-short chain necklace? Replace the too-short chain with a satin cord or ribbon. Shopping Idea: You can purchase satin cording and ribbon by the inch at any fabric or craft store.

  Favorite pin look too tiny on your ample-sized shoulder? Pin it on your hat! Or, keep it on your shoulder by looking for two other pins that are about the same size and wear all three as a group. Tip: Save time putting on multiple pins by pinning all pins onto a piece of backing fabric which you can pin on in one step. My favorite backing is a mini crocheted doily (e.g., 2-3" heart or doily) which you can by at most fabric and craft stores. Don't let your curvy, bountiful body keep you from wearing the jewelry you love!

Susan L. Weber
The meeting place for women size 14+.
.... info to live large ... shop ... resources

Size Esteem -- A Valentine You Can Give Yourself

By Karen Stimson

  How are you planning to celebrate Valentine's Day this year? If you have a special person in your life, perhaps you will receive a gift of flowers, candy, lingerie, or a night out. But whether you have a sweetheart or not, there's a gift you can give yourself for Valentine's Day. It doesn't cost anything, and it's something you will use every day of your life, something that will make your life so much richer and happier. And best of all, it's truly one size fits all! The gift you can give yourself, at Valentine's Day or any day of the year, is size esteem--loving your body just as it is right now.For those without someone to share this holiday for lovers--whether you have recently broken up with someone or are still waiting for the right person to find you--it might seem like the worst time to try on body- positive emotions. Being alone on a day when romance fairly screams at you isn't conducive to feeling good about yourself or your body. It's hard to look in the mirror and see how truly beautiful you really are when all you can think about is how lonely you feel. Your self- esteem and size esteem can really take a beating if you buy into the myth that without that perfect "other half" you are worth less.

  And with Valentine's Day arriving shortly after the end of the blitz of diet-related advertising coming at us from every direction each January, it can only add to the cultural propaganda that no matter what shape our body is in, it's not good enough. But Valentine's Day is actually a great day to begin working on size esteem because of its association with the heart as a central symbol. While it has become traditionally associated with love and romance, dictionary.com lists the following among the most common definitions for the word "heart":

--The vital center and source of one's being, emotions, and sensibilities
--The seat of the intellect or imagination
--Courage; resolution; fortitude
--The most important or essential part

  The Love Your Body logo heading this article, which was created by Largesse, the Network for Size Esteem, incorporates a heart that reflects these definitions. It's a way to help us visualize size esteem in our lives, and Valentine's Day is a great day to start this process! The heart in the logo is blue, rather than the traditional red or pink, because blue represents tranquility, calmness, and clarity. These are qualities that help us see the truth that everyBODY is beautiful. The heart is not "perfect"; it has irregularities and ragged edges, because none of us sees our body as perfect. It doesn't quite meet at the bottom because loving our bodies is a goal we are always reaching toward and working on. The rainbow stripes on the heart represent diversity, because people come in all shapes, sizes and colors, and every one is beautiful. The heart reflects the light as our bodies reflect our pride in who we are and what we can do. The logo is meant as an affirmation, a way of reminding ourselves daily of our worth, beauty and strength, and a way to share this empowering vision with those we care about. Largesse offers a range of products bearing this logo, from t-shirts to clocks, totebags, and other items for people of all ages. If you'd like to visit our online store, just click on the Love Your Body logo above, or go to our homepage, at www.largesse.net .

  Whatever you do on Valentine's Day, please remember that the person you need to love first is YOU, and that includes loving your body, warts and all. If you don't think you are worth loving, no one else will. I'd love to have your comments on anything I've written here. You can email me at largesse@eskimo.com. Until next time--


Karen W. Stimson, Co-director
Largesse, the Network for Size Esteem

Research Round-Up

Ephedra Unsafe

  Physicians studying adverse reactions to the herb ephedra said the dietary and bodybuilding supplement is unsafe and should be restricted, CNN reported Feb. 4. Even when taken in recommended doses, there were 1,178 adverse reactions to ephedra reported to poison-control centers throughout the U.S. in 2001.
  In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recorded nearly 100 deaths of people who had taken the herb. As a result, the Bush administration has called for a review of ephedra's safety. "It comes down to a risk-benefit ratio," said Dr. Stephen Bent of the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, one of the authors of the report. "The benefits for ephedra are not at all well-established. It is a minimal benefit that goes away when you stop using the product. And the risks are really substantial." Ephedra is a stimulant that can increase heart rate and cause blood vessels to constrict. The study is published on the Annals of Internal Medicine's website and will be published in the journal in March.

The Brain's Role in Obesity

  Weight regulation involves systems to encourage eating and systems to suppress it. A small study in the July 2, 2002, issue of NeuroReport found that larger and lean people's brains used about the same amount of glucose. But the larger people's brains concentrated significantly more glucose near the parietal somatosensory cortex on both sides of the brain. These regions receive sensations from the mouth, lips, and tongue and play a role in taste perception. The researchers suggested that larger people may be more sensitive to taste and other sensory aspects of food, which could lead them to strongly prefer the most palatable foods. Brain scans also revealed that larger people had fewer of one kind of dopamine receptor, the D2 receptor, in an area of the brain called the striatum than lean people did. This result is important because dopamine is not just any old messenger chemical. It is a crucial part of the brain's "reward pathway." When a person eats, has sex, or does something else pleasurable, dopamine levels increase and stimulate the reward system. Because of the deficit of D2 receptors, the reward system is often understimulated. So people overeat in an attempt to feel satisfied.

 Knowing the biology gives larger people a better idea of exactly what they are battling. Also, society constantly sends the message that larger people lack self-control and discipline, which can lead them to believe they can't do anything about their weight because they are personally flawed. Placing part of the blame on biology can free people of guilt and self-loathing.


  Ghrelin was discovered in 1999 by researchers studying the body's production of growth hormone. Recently, a flurry of research has focused attention on another aspect of ghrelin-it appears to be at least partially responsible for promoting hunger at mealtimes and for the long-term regulation of body weight. It may help explain the development of obesity, as well as the difficulty of achieving long term weight loss by dieting. Scientists have long been studying the biochemical processes controlling the feelings of hunger and of satiety (or "fullness"). Researchers have also discovered that ghrelin levels in the blood rise just before meals and fall rapidly after meals, at least in lean individuals. Some evidence suggests that the pattern of ghrelin levels in larger individuals may differ -showing, for example, less of a falloff after eating, perhaps thereby fostering continued feelings of hunger. Also, ghrelin levels have been observed to rise during periods of food restriction. Such findings suggest that high levels of ghrelin before meals make us want to eat at mealtimes and that increased production of ghrelin during starvation is the body's way of encouraging us to eat. In addition to increasing food intake, administering ghrelin seems to decrease the metabolic rate and the breakdown of fat, thereby promoting weight gain through various mechanisms. The intriguing findings made on ghrelin so far have fueled speculation that treatment may someday be developed to counteract the hormone.

Health At Any Size -- No One Starts From Zero
   Shape up America! Americans getting fatter! Obesity is an "epidemic!" People are eating poorly - not getting enough exercise! Health-wise, we seem to be on a national guilt trip. Is anyone doing anything right? Of course we are, because some conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, are showing a drop. But we get no praise for what we do right - only condemnation for what we do wrong.

  No one starts from zero. Everyone makes good choices daily. Instead of focusing on the not-so-good choices, why can't we take what we're already doing that's sound health-wise and build on it? I encounter many large people who don't seem to be aware that they do anything positive, or that there is anything positive about them. There's little motivation when someone gets to this point. But if I feel generally good about myself, I want to treat my body well. A foundation of self-esteem is solid, while a foundation of self-esteem is solid, while a foundation of self-loathing will crumble every time.

Today I did these things:

  • Ate high-fiber cereal, a banana, and orange juice for breakfast.
  • Ate a bunch of raw vegetables and some fruit with my sandwich at lunch.
  •  Had a "balanced dinner" with all the food groups. 
  • Snacked on V-8 juice. 
  • Went to my water aerobics class. 

But I've also done these things over the past week:

  • Ate a few candy bars.
  • Dined out on Mexican cuisine. 
  • Enjoyed an ice cream cone. 

 Perhaps it might have been better not to have done the latter three things, but then again, maybe not. Had I denied myself, I might have ended up eventually eating an entire pound of candy or a gallon of ice cream. There's nothing wrong with eating for pleasure and occasionally using food to comfort and soothe. It's a problem only when it becomes your only coping mechanism. You are already making many good choices-when you choose to drink skim milk, when you choose to buy fruit and vegetables, when you order a low fat item from the menu, when you walk Fido around the block, when you take the stairs. It is also important to remember that your value as a person does not depend on the sum total of your healthy behaviors. If you think of yourself as a pie, your physical status is but a small piece of the pie. The other pieces encompass your inner qualities, your talents and accomplishments, your relationships with others, your contributions to your friends, family and community.

In light of this: 

  • Evaluate your eating habits over a week's time. Use a yellow highlighter to spotlight the good choices you have made. Note where you could have made a better choice, and write in what that might be. Try again next week. And don't think you'll make all your healthier choices in one week's time. But even if you make one "better choice", you've added another positive.
  • Do the same with movement - and remember every movement counts, whether you're doing errands, vacuuming the carpet, or going up and down stairs.
  • Start by adding on to what you already do. Can you park further away - walk to do some of your errands? (I realized I could walk to the drugstore). Can you put on music and dance while you're dusting? Keep adding until you've got about 20 minutes of vigorous activity three to five times a week. Start viewing yourself as more than a number on a scale. In addition to health choices, keep a small spiral notebook with you for a week and note the positive things you do: the favors and kindnesses, accomplishments at home and work. Don't forget the things that are less tangible, such as being trustworthy, tolerant, and generous. 

 As I said in the beginning, no one starts from zero. So quit scolding yourself for your "transgressions." Instead, congratulate yourself on your successes and add to them!

Health at Any Size Web Ring

The Surgeon General: Fat Is Preventable
  I am disappointed with our Surgeon General. Recently he called obesity "an epidemic" and "a health catastrophe" that already has killed millions. Excessively fat people, he said, are walking time bombs who often end up with life-threatening maladies such as hypertension, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. He then said that obesity "is almost entirely preventable through proper diet and exercise."

  That statement is simply not true. There is no doubt that supersized portions and sedentary lifestyles have played a part in recent increases in obesity. But there is much more to it than that. Researchers will tell you that there is no such thing as "simple obesity." It is a very complex condition, not yet totally understood. When I was only six months old, the doctor told my mother I was overweight. She became even more careful in my feeding, yet I proceeded to develop as a chubby toddler, a chubby child, a chubby teen. Every precaution was taken with me. Clearly, something was going on other than food.

  We now know that there are variety of physiological and biochemical interactions that contribute to a person's weight. We also know that there are different "types" of obesity with different contributing factors. It is disturbing to think that our Surgeon General does not know about this, or if he does, disregards it.

  I plan to email the Surgeon General to voice my concerns with his stance. If you would like to do the same, go to the website www.surgeongeneral.gov and click on "contact us." If you would rather take pen to paper, the address is: The Surgeon General, Office of the Surgeon General, 5600 Fishers Lane, Room 18-66, Rockville, MD 20857.

A Body Valentine
   Let's send a Valentine and a note of thanks this month to something we never think to thank: our bodies! We're so hard on our bodies. They're never firm enough, lean enough, shapely enough,

  But did you ever stop to think that your body has done a pretty good job of helping you to appreciate and negotiate the world around you?

  So instead of sending hate mail to your hips or lashing out at your thighs, why not say: "Thanks legs for getting me around." "Thanks arms for allowing me to hug my loved ones." "Thanks eyes for letting me see the beauty of nature." "Thanks ears for being a pathway for the sounds of a symphony." and even "Thanks derriere for providing a pretty nice cushion!"

Video Victory for Larger Women

  A size acceptance friend of mine, Cheri Erdman, Ed.D., (watch for her new book to be announced in this newsletter!) emailed me to tell me about this film. She said: "I haven't seen this film yet but a friend who saw it called me to tell me about it and says it's wonderful. She found a copy to rent at Hollywood Video."   SECRET SOCIETY tells the story of Daisy, twenty years old and plump as a dumpling, and her adoring (and unemployed) husband Ken. Struggling financially, Daisy finds a job in a canning factory where she notices that her boss Marlene, radiant and heavy-set, grants special privileges to a group of equally chubby female factory workers.   Soon Daisy learns that the women are part of a "secret society" of sumo wrestlers who are gaining strength and self-confidence by learning how to love -- and use -- their large bodies. When Ken discovers his wife has joined the group, Daisy must choose between the life she has always known and the possibility of achieving something extraordinary.

Here are a couple reviews:

"A charmingly eccentric and offbeat comedy!" - Variety
"Wildly imaginative with plenty of humor!" - Box Office Magazine

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