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On a Positive Note - Online Newsletter! )
 May 6, 2004 May 2004 
In this Issue
Dear Carol,

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.
  • Self-esteem and body image advice from Chicago-area therapist Corinne Kalat.
  • 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 Vowels of Self-Esteem.

Your weight is not a measure of your self-worth! But how do you disconnect the two in a society that bombards you daily with messages that thin is in and fat is not where it's at! Just practice your vowels! The vowels of self-esteem, that is!

Attitude: if your attitude says, "Hey, I like who I am," others will too! It's like a boomerang -- the signals you send out are going to bounce back to you.

Education: Educate yourself about issues of size and weight so you can separate fact from fiction. Being big doesn't mean you lack self-control. It means your physiology simply produced a larger body.

Image: pay attention to your image. When you know you look your best, you're at your best. You don't have to wear a 10 to be a 10!

Outside: Look outside of yourself to what's happening in your family, your community and the world around you. Don't put your life on hold waiting to attain the perfect body.

Unique: You are a unique, wonderful person just the way you are. Your weight is a minor part of your unique blend of talents, attributes, accomplishments and abilities.

So when your self-esteem needs a pick-me-up, just remember to say your vowels!

Book: Self-Esteem Comes In All Sizes!

Ask Susan! By Susan Weber

What Length Jacket Should I Wear?
Dear Susan: How do I know what length jacket would look best on me?

Instead of just trying to find a length that covers your "lumps and bumps", concentrate on achieving a look of proportion. Even though a longer jacket can make a 5'8" woman look taller, it can overpower a shorter woman and make her look even shorter! Here are a few tips to help you find the right length for you:
1. Evaluate jacket length from the front, not the back. If your jacket rides up over your rear end the problem is with the size (it is too small), not the length!
2. Your jacket or your skirt should be about two-thirds of the length of your overall look. Try long jackets over knee length skirts and shorter jackets over long skirts.
3. Your jacket hem should not be at the widest part of your body ... you'll just look wider! Instead, go longer or shorter.
4. The longer the jacket, the narrower your pants or skirt should be.
5. Shorter women tend to look overwhelmed in long or full jackets.

How Can I Build A Wardrobe Without Spending A Fortune?
Dear Susan: I'm going back to work; but, my closet is filled with real casual clothes. Can I build a Spring office wardrobe for under $500?

To build a year-round corporate wardrobe, start with classic styles using one main color with two or three accent colors. For example, navy as a main color looks great with red, white and taupe as accents. Then, when the seasons change, just add some separates in heavier weight fabrics. Start with ten basic pieces and you can build your Spring office wardrobe for less than $500:
1. Single breasted navy blazer that you can wear year round at work or with your jeans on the weekends. (about $75)
2. Matching navy skirt. To balance your body shape avoid slim skirts in favor of a-line or softly gathered skirts. (about $45) 
3. Matching navy trousers. Wear with the jacket or with the shirt or tops. Look for soft pleats in front - side pleats add width. With a nice waist, let a wonderful belt enhance your trousers, particularly if you wear a vest or jacket. (about $45)
4. Khaki trousers or taupe slacks. Look for easy care, no wrinkle fabrics. (about $35)
5. White shirt. Looks great with your navy skirt or with your full skirt/pants suit --- and with long vests and slacks/trousers. (about $25)
6-7. Two solid tops in either taupe, red or white. Perfect with your pant/skirt suits or with your more casual slacks. Avoid knit shirts unless they are very good quality and banded at the neckline. V-necks will lengthen your neckline and minimize your bust. Elbow length sleeves are cool and cover up fuller arms. (about $45 or both)
8. A very long (e.g. 36") sweater or vest. (about $35)
9. Low-heeled leather loafers or pumps. (about $50)
10. Earrings. To keep from emphasizing your bustline, avoid necklaces that fall with 4" above or below your bust. ($15-$50 depending on metal)
Get a great haircut and manicure to finish off your professional look. You can add to your wardrobe later with more solid tops (perhaps long sleeves this Fall for colder weather), skirts or slacks in colors to match your tops, additional pumps or boots, and a great coat.

Help! My Pantyhose and Tights Don't Fit!

Dear Susan: It seems that if I get pantyhose or tights to fit my thighs, the panty is so big that I can pull it up to my ears! Am I buying the wrong size or the wrong brand?

Pantyhose are one of the most difficult items for us curvy women to select since we are forced to rely on height and weight charts on a sealed package to make our decision. Here are a few tips to help:
1. Always read the size chart. Not all brands use the same combination of height and weight for a specific size. You may wear a larger or smaller size in a particular brand or style. Some have more "give" than others ... the size chart is always the best guide.
2. Follow the size chart exactly. If you don't fit within the height and weight charts, don't buy the hose. If you are outside the weight range, your thighs will take up too much of the length and the crotch might end up mid thigh. Or, you will have to pull the legs too much in order to get them on and up, causing the hosiery to weaken and run.
3. Select the style that meets your particular needs. For busy lifestyles or if your legs are extra slender below your knees, consider the smoothness and support you get with higher concentrations of Lycra or Spandex. For fuller thighs, look for control top pantyhose with higher levels of thigh support.
4. If you tend to wear out the seams in the crotch and inside thighs in your pantyhose, consider wearing a pair of bike shorts over your hose to cut down the friction.
5. Be careful when washing your hose. Handwash or use a lingerie bag in the washing machine to keep your hosiery looking their best.
6. Once you find a size and style that works, buy a lot of pairs in a lot of colors!
Some sources: Berkshire, JustMySize.com, Legacy (QVC.com) and Lane Bryant stores.

Why Can't I Get Anything I Sew To Fit?
Dear Susan: I love to sew and I really enjoy the beautiful fabrics that I can't seem to find in my size in ready-to-wear. But, even though I buy the right size pattern, the top never seems to fit exactly right. What am I doing wrong?

Even though two plus or super sized women may have identical bust, waist and hip measurements, their bust shape, back fullness, shoulder slope and arm width can make their garments fit very differently. So, start with the right size pattern based on your "basic" measurements and then make adjustments for your specific body challenges. There are really five ways to do this:
1. Purchase a pattern specifically made for larger bodies. Check out the GrandStyle pattern resources at grandstyle.com/cloth03.htm.
2. Read any of Barbara Deckert's terrific books on plus size sewing and learn how to make the required changes before you start cutting. Or, if the ill fitting clothes are already hanging in your closet, take an alteration course or read an alteration book such as Gale Grigg Hazen's book Fantastic Fit For Every Body and then "nip & tuck" where necessary. Both books are available at grandstyle.com/gsbookse.htm.
3. Have an experienced seamstress test a pattern for you out of an inexpensive fabric (e.g., muslin). Then, once the test garment fits great, cut it up and use the pieces as your "pattern."
4. Purchase a plus size sewing mannequin on which you can make required changes or make a custom mannequin out of duct tape. The instructions are at leanna.com/DuctTapeDouble/. Making a duct tape double is a fun way to spend an evening with a girlfriend!
5. Purchase a pattern customization software such as DressShop from livingsoft.com and develop your own patterns.

By Corinne Kalat, LCPC, CADC, TAS

Corinne (Cory) Kalat, LCPC, CADC, TAS is a licensed therapist in private practice in the western suburbs of Chicago. She offers counseling for people of all shapes and sizes. Her areas of specialty include self-esteem, body image, women's issues, nicotine addiction, and helping clients to make positive life changes. In addition, she offers workshops, seminars and retreats on various topics and issues. She can be reached at crkalat@aol.com

  I was delighted to accept Carol Johnson's invitation to write an article for this wonderful newsletter! My name is Corinne Kalat (most people call me Cory) and I am a counselor, therapist and trainer. I am 48 years of age. Most importantly, however, I am a big beautiful woman! I feel absolutely wonderful about who I am physically, emotionally, mentally, socially and spiritually....but it wasn't always that way... and that's why the title to this article is "From The Outside Looking In."

   As I lived my life in the perpetual search for a thinner (translate "more acceptable") body, I always looked to the outside of myself for validation, acceptance and affirmation. I was unable, on most days, to give those positive messages to myself, no matter what I did, no matter what else I may have accomplished. I had a big body that was unacceptable to society, to other people in my life, and most importantly, unacceptable to me.

  My journey to self-acceptance and self-love started about 8 years ago. I had been married for almost 10 years to Wally. In October of 1996, Wally died very suddenly. As I completed my grieving process, I started to encounter size- acceptance information and messages. I started to explore that possibility that perhaps "they" were wrong and maybe I was ok just the way I am! What a concept!

   I realized that my belief system also involved the judging of others based on their size. And because I got my own validation from outside of me as well, I knew I needed to start there - on the outside. I started paying more attention to my thoughts and feelings and how I judged others the same way that I judged myself harshly and based on body shape and size. I started to notice the diversity and beauty in people of all sizes, shapes, color and interests. Once I was able to see their beauty, I was able to start to see my own.

   My self-confidence started to grow, slowly but surely. Previously, accepting and loving myself and my large body was a concept that was just too foreign to me. But I "tried it on", much like one would try on a pair of shoes or a jacket and experimented with this new way of thinking. Sometimes I would act more confidently for an hour or two...or on a certain occasion...or for a certain event. Practice, practice, practice!

  After a while, it became easier and easier to give myself positive messages, interrupt the negative messages, and believe that I am a good, valuable and worthwhile person regardless of the shape or size of my body. I started to listen to myself, my own inner wisdom, and to honor my thoughts, ideas and needs.

   I noticed that when I treated myself well, others treated me the same way. When I'd slip back into my old thinking that "I'm not ok", I noticed that others treated me likewise. This was very empowering information it allowed me to decide not only how I wanted to treat myself but how I wanted others to treat me. I realized that the messages I was giving to myself were filtering out to other folks and the messages were about how I wanted to be treated.

   It was a new way of living for me! After all, I had spent my whole life feeling that I was unacceptable and undeserving. To change the way I live my life was new, different, exciting and frightening. Over 40 years of doing things one way is more than just time it seemed like an investment. To let go and give up all those ways of being, doing and thinking seemed pretty scary at times. But it was also liberating! It seemed like a whole new world opened up for me.

   I decided to really experiment and attend a NAAFA weekend that was filled with workshops, seminars, activities, dances, swimming. I was petrified! I decided to throw caution to the wind. I packed my bags with clothes and other items for the weekend my suitcase was full and could only hold one more thing a positive attitude! There was absolutely no room in there for negativity! I met so many wonderful people that weekend and still keep in touch with several of them. I learned so much about the size-acceptance movement that weekend. Most importantly, I learned a lot about myself and I was certain that I did not want to go back to my old way of living life judging myself, criticizing myself, disliking myself. I was willing to let go, really let go, of my old ways and start living my life -- RIGHT NOW!

   Today, I accept all of me and take good care of myself - physically, emotionally, mentally, socially and spiritually. I embrace myself and love myself regardless of mistakes I might make or faults I might have. Perfection is unrealistic. I strive to make positive changes in my life while also knowing that I am ok, especially physically, just the way I am.

   Taking care of my physical needs is really important to me and to the messages I send to myself. For example, I started to get massages on a regular basis from a massage therapist. Before scheduling my appointment, I spoke with her by phone. I wanted to discuss the fact that I am a big, beautiful woman, whether she was experienced working with larger folks, and if she was comfortable working with those of us with abundant bodies. It felt great to be so accepting of myself enough to discuss this issue openly. We had a great chat over the phone and she is now my regular massage therapist.

   Also, I recently took an exam for the counseling work that I do. As I arrived at the test site that day, I noticed that the room was set up with those chairs that have the desktop attached - not exactly comfortable for an abundant woman! I walked right up, head held high, smile on my face, and asked for what I needed -- I told the registration person that I was a big, beautiful woman and needed a big beautiful place to sit for the exam. They were very accommodating. (Once again, I noticed that because I felt ok about myself and about asking to get my needs met, other's responded to me in a way that was helpful and respectful.)

   Sometimes I feel like I want to sing (although I sing in the key of "off" -- that's not a criticism of myself -- just reality -- trust me on this one!!) out loud..." there's no stoppin' me now, now that I've found my way..." I have since remarried a wonderful man named Steve, accomplished some important professional goals (obtained my Ph.D., became licensed as a counselor, certified in addictions and certified in nicotine addiction). I focus on what I can do (and remind myself that everyone, regardless of their size, has limitations) and tell myself every day that I deserve to live a good life that is filled with happiness, peace, pleasure, hope and love...and that I am the person responsible for giving myself this life that I want to live.

   The way that I live my life is my choice. I spent too many years on the outside looking in -- seeing others having fun, feeling good about themselves, accomplishing their goals, and getting what they want out of life. I needed to look outward to accept others and that led me to accepting myself. Today, I look inward for validation, acceptance and the positive messages I want and need. I have more energy because of these choices and I am no longer "weighed down" by my own negative attitude. This way of living gives me freedom and empowers me to live fully, joyfully and abundantly. I invite you to do the same!!!

What Are the Causes of Obesity?
By Barbara Corkey, PhD

Barbara Corkey is president of NAASO (North American Association for the Study of Obesity). She wrote this column for their most recent newsletter. Once again, it illustrates the fact that we don't know all that we think we know. Obesity is a complex phenomenon that is still being dissected.

   In my last message I urged a call to action to mobilize resources against the obesity epidemic. Understanding the causes of obesity is critical to solving this problem. We do not know the causes! Though you may hear answers from many, if you demand the evidence it is just not there.

  And, until we learn the answer we must consider all possibilities, dig a little deeper, find things that have changed but have not been evaluated as possible links to obesity. These include anything that may have changed since the onset of the epidemic. The steep incidence curve that began after 1980 in children is of particular interest owing to the consequent morbidities. What changes occurred around that time that could play a role? Decreased activity and increased food density and portion size have received recognition as possible causes. And there may be other environmental changes including food additives and food treatments.

  We use an increasing number of food additives and colors in our increasingly colorful food supply. Although the FDA has stringent requirements for all food additives including food coloring, their testing does not include assessing the effect of these substances on the development of obesity. Perhaps it should and could be easily incorporated in the testing program.

  In view of the enormity of the problem of obesity, the enormity of the failure to understand and reverse this problem and the billions of dollars already being spent to ineffectively treat obesity in the US, it is critical to underscore what we do not know. The failure to understand this disease must be acknowledged so that going forward there is open-mindedness to find the answers.

  To find out more about NAASO and its actvities, click on the link below.

NAASO Web Site

Peptide PYY May Hold Some Answers

[Here is yet more evidence that the ultimate unraveling of obesity will probably come through physiological channels]

  An infusion of a peptide from a naturally occurring gut hormone reduces caloric intake in obese individuals for at least 24 hours, according to a study reported recently in the New England Journal of Medicine.

 Researchers in the United Kingdom enrolled in the study 12 obese individuals and 12 lean individuals. In separate treatment sessions the individuals received infusions of the peptide YY3-36 (PYY) or a placebo. Participants were offered a buffet lunch 2 hours after each infusion. During the lunch, compared with caloric intake after the placebo infusion, caloric intake after the peptide infusion was reduced by a significant 30% and 31% in larger and lean participants, respectively.

  In addition, cumulative 24-hour caloric intake was significantly lower in both groups after the peptide infusion than after the placebo infusion.The PPY infusion was associated with a reduction in circulating levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite. Before infusions, fasting levels of endogenous PYY were a significant 40% lower in larger individuals than in lean individuals.

  A deficiency of PYY may play a role in the pathogenesis of obesity, and this peptide may therefore be useful for treating obesity, the researchers conclude. "The administration of exogenous PYY or stimulation of the release of endogenous PYY may be an attractive therapeutic option for obesity," they write.

Inhibition of Food Intake in Obese Subjects by Peptide YY

Distortions of Science

  As the societal hysteria over obesity continues to mount, some plus-size experts are having a problem with how it gets reported. Here are two points of view:

From Kelly Bliss, plus-size fitness expert:

  "Notice that the scientific research does NOT say that Obesity kills (the media says that). Rather science says 'A poor diet and physical inactivity caused 400,000 deaths in 2000.' The media has changed 'poor diet and physical inactivity' to 'obesity.' That is awful because it makes people focus on body size instead of lifestyle choices. According to this way of thinking, a THIN person could eat crappy food and sit on their butt all day, and they would not have to worry about morbidity or early mortality. This is such a disservice to thin people. Likewise, according to this incorrect way of thinking, a FAT person who walks 5 miles a day and eats healthy might as well give up - because they will be dead soon anyway. This is such a disservice to fat people. I wish people would focus on WHAT PEOPLE EAT and HOW MUCH THEY EXERCISE instead of focusing on body size." [Find out more about Kelly Bliss at www.kellybliss.com ]

From Paul Ernsberger, PhD, Dept. of Nutrition, Case Western Reserve School of Medicine:

  "I don't really have a problem with ads that encourage more physical activity. I don't really have a problem with the JAMA article the '400,000 deaths' [due to obesity] hysteria is based on -- the article talks explicitly about getting more physically active and eating healthier.

  "The problem is Tommy Thompson's press release on the JAMA article, which thoroughly confuses 'obesity' with 'inactive lifestyle and unhealthy eating.' What are the hidden messages? I see these:
1. Inactivity and poor diet are only a problem because they cause weight gain.
2. Only obese people need to do anything about activity and diet. Thin people can do whatever they like.
3. The only reason to increase activity or eat healthier is to lose weight. If your exercise program and diet choices aren't making you thin, there's no reason to keep following them. You may as well do whatever you like.

  These are real messages that people are getting from the anti-fat media blitz and from these ad campaigns. The net result is that more and more 'overweight' or obese Americans will give up on efforts to improve health altogether in a rising tide of fatalism." [Find out more about Paul Ernsberger, PhD at www.cwru.edu]

Dire Warnings About Obesity Rely

Big Kids Need Cool Clothes

Try: www.heymomitfits.com Clothing Designed With Your Plus Size Child In Mind!
Try: www.acplace.com Click on Girls Plus Size Clothes and Husky Boys Clothes.
Try: www.gap.com Gap.com has girls and boys plus sizes.

  Some tips for helping larger children with their attire:

1. Don't let the child hide out in oversized T-shirts and baggy pants -- it isn't cool or flattering, just sloppy. Instead go for leg-flattering styles like flares or bootcut.

2. Do let the child wear styles and colors that he or she likes, but use some common sense. A plump girl donning Britney-type midriff-baring tops may be exposing herself to mean-spirited teasing. Instead, let the child choose a tight-fitting tank (just like her peers wear) but layer it with an unbuttoned sleeveless shirt.

3. Some big kids tend to look older than their biological age (and some of the plus size clothing makes it even worse), so pay extra attention to keeping age- appropriate haircuts, accessories, shoes, etc.

4. Items that aren't size-specific (accessories, shoes, jewelry, backpacks, handbags) are the best way for overweight kids to feel exactly like their peers. Go overboard here!

5. Neatness counts with all kids, but for larger kids who tend to gravitate toward sloppy oversized T-shirts and jeans, details definitely count: clothing should be ironed, free of stains or tears. Shoes should be spick and span and grooming spotless.

Eleventh Annual Abundia Retreat

The Eleventh Annual Abundia Retreat will be held June 11, 12 and 13, 2004 at Lasalle Manor in Plano, Illinois. The cost of $325 includes lodging, meals and all workshops. The weekend will feature:

Personal growth workshops on topics such as body image, self-acceptance, creativity, and stress management.
Movement class.
Massage (extra fee).
Entertainment by local celebrities.

Abundia retreat attendees will be the only guests on site and all activities are available to the group, including swimming pool, volleyball, canoes, tennis and peaceful trails. All activities and workshops are optional. Nothing is mandatory.

For more information, or to register, contact Barbara Spaulding at 847-705-9256 or barbspaulding@hotmail.com

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