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On a Positive Note - Online Newsletter! )
 May 28, 2003 May 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 www.largesse.net.
  • 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

Do you have the "hiding-from-summer" syndrome? Symptoms include:
Wearing a trench coat when it's 90 degrees Refusing to bare anything but your hands and face Going to the beach in an outfit more suited to ski trails Trying to get a tan through pantyhose

  I hope you're not a victim of this syndrome, but if you are, I understand. I used to suffer from it myself. Many large women feel most comfortable when they can cover up their bodies with layers of clothing. They're relieved when the weather becomes cool enough to truly require a jacket. I was always looking forward to "next summer" because by then I'd be thin and could participate in all the fun-in the-sun activities in skimpy little frocks. But, of course, the "thin summer" never came for me (although I do recall squeezing into some size-14 hot pants for one week during the summer of 1966).

  Summer is such a glorious, carefree time. Don't let it be something else you put on hold while you're waiting to be thin. Get out there and enjoy those sunny days and starry nights! And to those of you who wear coats in summer, I know how exposed and self-conscious you feel without them. But trust me. The coat isn't fooling people into thinking you're a size 10. On the contrary, it's probably just calling more attention to you because it looks so silly in the sweltering heat. I'm not suggesting you go out and buy a bikini, but here are some suggestions that may help you enjoy a coatless summer:

  Buy a bathing suit that has a matching skirt. I have a black maillot that I pair with a long black gauze skirt. It suits my poolside modesty level. And I didn't buy black to look thinner. I bought it because it looked sharp and up to date. I also have a bright purple suit with a gold sunburst in front! Let your legs see the light of day in an easy-fitting skort or loose-fitting shorts that come to the knee. Top it with a loose, V-necked tee. Look breezy in a gauzy, loose-fitting sundress. Try one of the brighter colors, such as orange, turquoise, lime green or fuschia. Accessorize it with a colorful necklace and big earrings. Add a big-brimmed hat. Pair some slouchy white pants with a tank or tube top and top it off with a big shirt. Roll up the sleeves. Paint your toenails and show off your feet in metallic sandals. Tight clothing is uncomfortable and a constant irritant in hot weather. Just think "light, loose-fitting" and you'll be sure to have fun in the sun! Just don't let summer slip by unnoticed because it means shedding a few layers of clothes. You have just as much right as anyone to catch some rays!

Book: Self-Esteem Comes In All Sizes!

Give Yourself a Self-Esteem Makeover

  Women's magazines are fond of the "makeover" feature, which usually involves selecting several women and giving each a trendy, new hairstyle; new makeup palette; and the latest in fashion. I see nothing wrong with this. It can be fun, but what if it's your self- esteem that needs the makeover? A positive attitude is your best accessory, you know. You can't shine your brightest unless the glow starts from within. Do you feel the need for a self-esteem makeover? Proceed as follows:

  1. Wipe the slate clean! Just as makeup artists start with a clean face, you must start with a clear mind. Are you continually playing negative tapes in your mind? Eject them and insert new tapes! You may have to make a conscious effort. When the critical tape starts playing, picture yourself hitting the "stop" button and insert a new, positive tape. Just as your face must be well-scrubbed before new makeup can be applied, your mind must be uncluttered and open to a new way of thinking.

  2. Do not use your weight to measure your self-worth. What does weight have to do with self-worth? Weight is a number on a scale and is determined not by how much willpower you have, but by a complex array of physiological processes that occur inside your body. Your self-worth is the sum of everything that makes you special and unique - not your thigh and waist measurements! Add up your assets, talents, accomplishments, how you treat others, how you treat yourself, the contributions you make to your family, friends and community. Now you have self-worth.

  3. Count your blessings. You have a lot of things to be thankful for - a home, a loving family, friends you enjoy, a job, a sunny day, the knowledge you've acquired - even things like shoes, a coat. Many people don't have these things. A mind that counts blessings has no room for self-pity. So you don't wear a size 2? Neither did Eleanor Roosevelt!

  4. Don't use "all or nothing" thinking. No one is a "total" failure. You do most things right. Just because you sometimes make a mistake or take a wrong path does not make you a "total" failure. It makes you human. Besides, the president of CBS was recently asked for his secret to success. His answer: failures - because how else would we learn?

  5. No one starts from zero. You probably eat pretty well a lot of the time, and it's doubtful you are spudsing on the couch 24 hours a day. We can always make improvements, but consider the glass half full, not half- empty! Didn't you eat some fruits or vegetables today? Didn't you get some activity? Think about what you can "add" to all the things you already do well and go from there. It is an unfortunate trait of our society that we continually take people to task for what we consider to be unhealthy habits, and fail to praise them for the many things they do to try to maintain their health.

Grand Style by Susan Weber

  Look out ladies. It's that time again. Warm weather ... the time of year that a lot of curvy women hate. No more hiding behind baggy clothing. This is the season of bareness. Bare necks, bare legs and, the scariest of all ... bare arms. But don't panic. Here are a few thoughts to get you through any seasonal fashion crisis you may be feeling:

1) Buy a new white shirt and white pants. Even if you decided to buy no new warm weather clothes, the ketchup and mustard stains in last year's white shirt and pants will never come out. Just toss 'em. Don't spend a lot - this year's picnics will give you the stains to toss in September! Check out Target, Wal-Mart, Lane Bryant and Blair for great prices.

2) Simplify. Remove from your closet all the clothes and shoes that you don't (or can't!) wear. Give them to the local women's shelter. Stop squeezing your fluffy arms into those skinny sleeves! Also, only keep what you really love to wear - give away anything you didn't wear at least 20 times last year.

3) Give up trying to dress to look thinner. Instead, concentrate on feeling great, showing your individual style and staying cool ... even if it means sleeveless dresses!

4) Buy basics. If you are going to buy this season, spend your money on basic colors and styles. This is not the economy to be buying trendy styles and colors. Look to Lane Bryant, Roamans, Making It Big and Just My Size for 100% cotton and rayon shirts, twill skirts and pants.

5) Jump into Spring with joy. Buy yourself a girlie-girl treat. Get a haircut. Buy a new pink lipstick. Get a pedicure. Buy a sun hat. Learn to ride a bike. Take your kids (or grandkids!) to the pool or shore.

Enjoy this great new season. Get out there with your family and friends. Remember: Your personal style is what you do and how you do it -- not just what you wear.

Susan Weber

grandstyle.com: Plus size style, shopping, size acceptance and resources

Size Esteem by Karen Stimson

  Like many women, I've written poetry since I was a young girl. A number of my poems are about my experience of being a person of size and the emotions that go with that. Over the years, writing poetry has become a form of self-affirmation for me, a way to grow in size acceptance and work toward size esteem. From time to time in this column I would like to share one of my poems with you. This poem is one that I read on National Public Radio and has been widely circulated in the size acceptance community. It was included in my 1996 chapbook entitled "Room to Grow", published by Largesse Presse. I like to think of it as a kind of anthem for size esteem, and hope you enjoy it. Please come visit Largesse on the web at http://www.largesse.net.

As always, I welcome your feedback by email at largesse@eskimo.com. Until next time--

Karen Stimson, Co-Director
Largesse, the Network for Size Esteem

An Angry Fat Woman Is a Dangerous Thing

An angry fat woman
is a dangerous thing

When we stop
at your fat-
phobia disguised
as jokes

When we stop
for evoking
your fears
or your fantasies

When we stop
to convince ourselves
that half a banana
for lunch
is eating normally

When we stop
letting you dump
your body-hatred on us
because you're never
thin enough

When we stop
giving you permission
to define us
we begin to get angry

And when we begin
to count the cost
in dollars and non-
of a lifetime of trying
to play it your

When we begin
to honor the truth
of our own
over the lies you've
taught us

When we begin
to nourish our bodies
with food
and our spirits
with love

When we begin
to move freely
work out
make love

When we begin
to realize
that we are
just the weigh we are
we become powerful

Anger is power
Power is freedom
Freedom is dangerous

An angry fat woman
is a dangerous thing

30 million
angry fat women
can be very dangerous



Karen W. Stimson 2002

Research Round-Up

  OK to Nuts: The news has been dribbling in, a study at a time for years now, but a critical mass of research has been reached and experts agree that nuts no longer need to be avoided. On the contrary, they are beneficial to health and should be a regular part of your diet. Researchers from Pennsylvania State University reviewed 16 major studies and found that eating nuts regularly would significantly reduce the incidence of heart disease. The researchers concluded that eating an ounce of nuts more than five times a week could reduce the risk of heart disease by 25% to 39%. The Women's Health Study recently suggested that higher nut and peanut butter consumption (at least five ounces per week) might even lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. The total fat content of nuts is indeed high (about 48% to 74% of calories, not containing chestnuts), but it's mostly unsaturated fat rich in oleic acid (a monounsaturated fat)-a fat profile linked to lower low-density lipoproteins (LDL's or "bad" cholesterol), lower blood pressure and protection against clogged arteries. (Source: Environmental Nutrition, February 2003)

  Think Positive: Optimistic people appear to recover faster from surgery, have less heart disease, and have better mental health than pessimists. Better still, studies out of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, indicate that optimists live longer than pessimists as well as enjoy a higher quality of life, reporting better physical and social functioning, more vitality, less pain, and fewer limitations due to physical and emotional problems. But just how does a positive attitude lead to better health-and a possibly longer life? Researchers are looking into several mechamisms.

Pessimists tend to take a fatalistic-and hopeless- view, seeing circumstances as being out of their hands. Thus, they see little point in trying to affect health outcomes with changes in their own behavior. But optimists, not only believe good things will happen but also believe that they can make good things happen. That is, they regard their health as something they have control over and therefore may engage in more healthful behaviors, such as exercising, eating a healthful diet, drinking alcohol in moderation, not smoking, and preventing sun damage.

Is it possible for less optimistic people to reverse their outlook? Martin Seligman, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and past president of the American Psychological Association, says that people can in fact "learn" optimism. The key, as he explains in his recent book, Authentic Happiness (Free Press: New York, 2002), is to undo pessimistic thinking by recognizing and then disputing negative thoughts and beliefs-in other words, by arguing with yourself. (Source: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter: January 2003)

  Those With Diabetes May Benefit From Daily Multi: A simple daily multivitamin/mineral supplement may dramatically reduce infections in people with diabetes, according to a North Carolina study. Researchers randomly assigned 130 middle aged adults-one-third with type 2 diabetes-to take either a daily multi (similar to many commercial brands) or a placebo for 12 months.By study's end, participants without diabetes reported a similar rate of colds, flu-like syndromes and other minor infectious illnesses, whether they took the multi or placebo. But among those with diabetes, only 17% taking the multi reported illness in the previous year (with none missing work), compared to 93% falling ill in the placebo group (and 89% missing work). The researchers believe the multi may have corrected borderline nutrient deficiencies, which occur more frequently in people with diabetes and are linked to impaired immune function. (Source: Annals of Internal Medicine, March 4, 2003)

Health At Any Size

  More evidence that exercise can improve your health without significantly altering the number on the scales:

  Body-Image Building: Six weeks of weight training may be all it takes to alleviate self-consciousness about one's body. In a study by psychologists Pamela A. Williams a the University of Houston and Thomas F. Cash at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, 27, women and 12 men took a six-week weight-lifting class for three hour long sessions per week. Unlike a control group, tests showed, they significantly improved both their strength (by 16 percent in the upper body and 29 percent in the lower body) and their body image. The dread of one's body being observed or judged lessened dramatically, especially for those who hoped that such a class would be a good way to meet people. "It is unlikely that in only six weeks their physiques became so much more muscular that other people would notice a difference, "Cash remarks. Their feelings about their looks improved probably because they became focused on "what the body can do rather than just what it looks like," he says. (Source: Allure/May 2002)

  Health versus fitness: Jeffrey Potteiger, PhD, director of the Health and Human Performance Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University as well as a spokesperson for the American College of Sports Medicine, says the difference between moderate and intense exercise essentially comes down to the difference between health benefits and fitness benefits. If you want fitness benefits, he notes- better lung capacity, changes in body composition, and other factors that can make you a more competitive athlete-then you have to exercise intensely and work up a sweat. But most of the health benefits are gained at lower levels of exercise intensity. "It does get a little muddy," he concedes, because if you improve your body composition by increasing your proportion of muscle through vigorous exercise, you are also providing more of a hedge against conditions such as heart disease. But it's a matter of "diminishing returns," he says. You get much more benefit to your health going from doing nothing to moderate activity than going from moderate to very taxing activity. You won't get to the Olympics training at a moderate pace. But you'll be protecting your body from the life-threatening diseases that Americans tend to fall vulnerable to as they reach middle and old age. (Source: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter: December 2002)

  Reducing inflammation:Recent studies have provided evidence that inflammation, as measured by C-reactive protein levels, plays a role in the development of atherosclerosis and that exercise may have a beneficial effect on reducing inflammation. The study found physical activity to be negatively associated with C- reactive protein level, suggesting that its protective effect against cardiovascular disease may operate, at least in part, by reducing inflammation. However, the benefits of exercise may not be limited to more vigorous exercise; although less pronounced, reductions were also noted in participants who engaged in light and moderate forms of physical activity. (Source: Healthy Weight Journal, March/April 2003)

What Is Health?

  Newspaper columnist Dr. Peter Gott has offered a very interesting and thought-provoking deinition of health. See what you think:

  In an editorial in the February 2003 British Medical Journal, the author defines "health" as more than simply the absence of physical disease. "The World Health Organization's definition of health as complete physical, mental and social well-being understandably causes raised eyebrows. Human health can be nothing to do with perfection. Humans are highly imperfect creatures. But the WHO definition does acknowledge there is more to health than physical completeness and an absence of pain. Indeed, the physical aspects of health may be the least important. It is possible to be severely disabled, in pain, close to death and in some sense "healthy"? I believe it is. Health has to do with adaptation and acceptance. We all will be sick, suffer loss and hurt and die. Health is not to do with avoiding these givens but accepting them, even making sense of them. The central task of life - believed people in medieval times - is to prepare for death"

  Health fundamentally may be an attitude. "More and more of life's processes and difficulties - birth, death, sexuality, aging, unhappiness, tiredness, loneliness or perceived imperfections in our bodies - are being medicalized. Medicine cannot solve these problems. It sometimes can help but often at substantial cost. People become patients, stigma proliferates, large sums are spent. The treatment may be poisonous and disfiguring. Worst of all, people are diverted from what may be much better ways to adjust to their problems."

  Good health is not automatic; it's a gift. If we could learn to accept its wider definition, we could probably advance to a higher, more realistic plane and experience more enjoyment out of life, despite imperfections. (Source: Ashtabula Star-Beacon)

Assumptions by Carol Johnson

  I spoke recently to the Wisconsin Public Health Association about the concept of health at every size. I asked the group what adjectives are usually associated with the word "fat." At first they were reluctant, but I told them to go ahead - I would not be offended. So they started to make a list - "fat and stupid," "fat and ugly," "fat and lazy," "fat pig," ""fat and slovenly." We could go on, but you get the point. The word "fat" is never associated with any nice or pleasant words. How often do you hear "fat and attractive," "fat and energetic." The words "slim," "trim," "sleek," "slender," all have very positive connotations. People are never "trim and stupid."

  The problem with these words that are used to describe larger people is that they go much deeper than size and shape. They become assumptions about a person's character and lifestyle. Thus it is assumed that all larger people are eating excessively, that they are lazy, that they are weak-willed and not too bright. The end result of all these unfortunate, incorrect assumptions is a whole lot of prejudice and discrimination.    I can often sense the disbelief and skepticism when I tell people that I do exercise and that I eat a diet laden with fruits and vegetables. They feel that if this were true, I would certainly be thin. But we know from research on the biological and physiological determinants of weight, that our very best lifestyle efforts may not be enough to render us all thin.

  It is hard to know what to do about these prejudice- producing assumptions, and I would welcome suggestions from readers for publication in a future "On a Positive Note." I do feel that we must make a much greater effort to disseminate accurate information on issues of size and weight, but that is often difficult. The media is just as skeptical as the general public. So what do you think? Email Us Here and share your suggestions and opinions.

Thoughts on Exercise (We all need a little humor!)

  • It is well documented that for every minute that you exercise, you add one minute to your life. This enables you at 85 years old to spend an additional 5 months in a nursing home at $5000 per month.

  • My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was 60. Now she's 97 years old and we don't know where the hell she is.

  • The only reason I would take up exercise is so that I could hear heavy breathing again. I joined a health club last year, spent about 400 bucks. Haven't lost a pound. Apparently you have to show up.

  • I have to exercise early in the morning before my brain figures out what I'm doing.

  • I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.

  • I have flabby thighs, but fortunately my stomach covers them.

  • The advantage of exercising every day is that you die healthier.

  • If you are going to try cross-country skiing, start with a small country.

  • And last but not least: I don't exercise because it makes the ice jump right out of my glass.
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