a Positive Note - Online Newsletter!
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
- Size esteem advice from Karen Stimson, founder of
the Largesse organization www.largesse.net.
- Plus-size fitness tips. "Non-diet"
- Latest news from the weight discrimination battle
- 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!"
Carol Johnson, President
Largely Positive Inc.
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The Big Picture
By Carol Johnson
THE WAY WE WERE
Some of us were looking
at our high school yearbook pictures recently and we all
agreed, "We weren't fat!" Why did we think we
were? We were pretty, healthy, active girls - and
thinner than we are today. And yet I remember how I
felt. At perhaps 30 pounds over what the charts said I
should weigh, I was hardly a candidate for the circus
fat lady. Without realizing it, I was probably at my
"setpoint" weight - the weight my particular
body wanted to be. But we didn't know about setpoints
back then, and we didn't know about the physiological
factors that cause some people to be larger than others
- even though some of the research already existed. We
were told we were "overweight" because we ate
too much, lacked self-discipline and had little regard
for our appearance and our health.
These are not good things to believe about
yourself at a young age. Feeling this way erodes your
self-confidence and lowers your self-esteem. You end up
with a poor self-concept that, unbeknownst to you, has
been fashioned from inaccurate information. And a
self-concept, once formed, is mighty tough to rearrange.
Women in this society can spend years getting these
tightly tied knots out of their self- esteem. Wouldn't
it be better if they had never been put there in the
first place. But looking back now, there was nothing
wrong with our bodies. And that's exactly what they were
- they were OUR bodies, products of our unique genetic
recipes. But the diversity went unappreciated, and we
struggled to achieve a weight that fell somewhere within
the acceptable range.
In retrospect, we wish our bodies had been
explained to us more along the lines of: "Yes, your
body may be larger than many of the other girls, but
people are meant to come in all shapes and sizes. Your
body wants to settle at a weight it can maintain without
too much effort. It doesn't want to be forced down to a
size that can only be maintained through deprivation.
This doesn't mean you don't have a responsibility to do
things that will keep your body healthy like eating
right and exercising. The main thing to remember is that
you're fine just the way you are." I like Billy
Joel's words from one of his songs: "Don't go
changing to try to please me. I love you just the way
We all agreed we could probably have handled
the advice, "Why not just try to stabilize you
weight (after we were fully grown, of course)?" The
challenge would have been to allow our bodies to settle
in at their "setpoints" and not gain any more
weight. We feel that would have been doable. We would
not have focused on losing weight, but on keeping our
bodies healthy. Instead, we were put on diets, fed pills
and told we had "such a pretty face."
Is the same thing happening today? I'm pretty
sure it is. New diets are trotted out, diet pills are
making a comeback, and we are told that the new look for
fall is "taller, slimmer, sexier and smarter"
(apparently you can't be sexy or smart without being
taller and slimmer). Do you know a young girl who's
trying to cope with all this? The biggest favor you
could do for her is to give her the advice we wish we
had been given when we were that age. Explain the
physiology to her. Emphasize it's not here fault. Assure
her she's fine just the way she is. Tell her she has
"such a pretty face AND such a lovely body."
Tell her that if she does healthy things, her body will
find the weight it can maintain. Tell her that yes,
discrimination does exist, but it's based on ignorance
and intolerance - and that it will change when she and
others like her join forces to end it. Yes, we were fine
back then - if only we had known it at the time. But we
know it now!
Self-Esteem Comes In All Sizes!
hear a lot about it, but what exactly is
self-esteem? According to Nathaniel Branden, who
has written extensively on the subject and could
be considered the "guru of
self-esteem," it is "the sum of
self-confidence and self-respect. It reflects
your implicit judgment of your ability to cope
with the challenges of your life (to understand
and master your problems) and of your right to
be happy (to respect and stand up for your
interests and needs)." Healthy self-esteem,
says Branden, is based on six practices:
1. Living consciously: respect
for facts, being open to information, seeking to
understand both the world outside as well as our
2. Self-acceptance: taking
responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, and
actions; the virtue of realism applied to
realizing we are the authors of our choices and
actions. The question is not "Who's to
blame?" but always "What needs to be
4. Self-assertiveness: Being
authentic, refusing to "fake" the
reality of who we are or what we value to avoid
5. Living purposefully:
Identifying short and long-term goals and how we
will attain them - and going back to the drawing
board if necessary.
6. Personal integrity: Living
in harmony with what we know, what we profess,
and what we do, i.e. telling the truth.
You can see that these six principles
have nothing to do with how much you've
accomplished or accumulated, or with how many
awards you've won, or how many degrees you have
-- or with fitting into a pair of size 6 jeans!
Branden cautions that self-esteem is not based
on the acclaim of others, nor does it depend on
"knowledge, skill, material possessions,
marriage, parenthood, charitable endeavors,
sexual conquests or face lifts." The root
of self-esteem, he says, is not our achievements
but those internally generated practices or
values that make it possible for us to achieve.
It's living your life in a way that allows you
to respect yourself and others.
Self-esteem should be a constant, no
matter what your size. It should not yo-yo along
with your weight. But this is what our society
teaches. You can't get through a day without
catching the message from a talk show, a weight
loss ad, or a magazine article that extra pounds
make you an inferior person. It's difficult, but
you must start rejecting these illogical
messages. If you really stop and think about it,
you have to ask yourself, "Why should my
weight have anything to do with my
self-esteem?" If it does, then take it to
its logical conclusion, and anyone with
imperfections of body, lifestyle or character
would need to crank down their self-esteem.
This, of course, is ridiculous, so let's just
stop making our self-esteem dependent on numbers
of any kind - numbers on a scale, numbers on a
tape measue, or numbers on clothing tags - and
make it dependent on the fact that I am a person
of value to my friends, my family, my community
Style by Susan Weber
I Won't Wait Anymore For "Someday"
came across a wonderful poem called This
One's For My Girlfriends. It tells the
story of a woman who decides to eat dessert for
lunch in lieu of the more traditional menu items
-- like sandwiches and salads.
I've never been the kind of woman who avoids
certain clothes because they "make me look
fat". I figure that its not worth being
unhappy to look 10 pounds thinner! In fact, I'm
a big believer in developing a style that works
for you and wearing what you love
But, the poem got me thinking of the things that
I have always planned to wear
"someday" ... things that I have
always decided were not quite appropriate for me
now. They were either "too young",
"too old", "too bright",
"too kooky", "too boring,
"too sophisticated", "too
unsophisticated" . well, you get the idea.
Being a list maker at heart, I grabbed my pen
and pad and started jotting down all the items
that I had been waiting to wear. I proudly stood
back and read though my accomplishment. Then, it
hit me. "When will I ever wear these things
if I don't wear them now?" What was I
waiting for ... to be 90 years old? Did I think
that at 90 people would just laugh off my unique
apparel choices as the whim of a daffy old lady?
But, the more I thought about it, I would
probably be too daffy at 90 to fully enjoy
wearing them, let alone to remember where I
placed my list! So, like the lady in the poem
who ordered pie a-la-mode for lunch, I decided
to start wearing my list now. Here's my list and
my progress so far:
- Wear my exercise clothes to the grocery
store. I did it! I wore my leggings and
oversized tee on a recent grocery run. After
all my apprehension, I don't think anyone
- Wear my pajamas through the fast food
drive through. Wow is this fun! I drove
through my local Wendy's to get my favorite
salad. The teenage girl at the drive up
window seemed to be fascinated with my Power
Girls capri jammies.
- A two piece swimming suit. I should have
done this years ago! I bought a matching
swim top and shorts from Junonia and took it
with me on a recent cruise. It is the best.
No more struggling with wet suits on a wet
body in the ladies room!
- Two shoes that don't match. I did this;
but, I didn't really plan on it. It happened
when I got dressed early one morning without
turning on the light. Tip: If you buy your
favorite shoe styles in several colors,
consider putting out your matching shoes the
Still on my list:
- A hat with a 24" feather. I'm a big
hat wearer; but, a reaaaal long feather just
seems soooooo dramatic.
- A red feather boa. This is the closest
I'll ever get to being a cabaret dancer.
- Fur ear muffs. I want those real big ones
that look like dinner plates on your ears.
- A 6" red paper flower. You know, sort
of a Bozo The Clown meets Charro look.
- A real mink coat. I don't want to
sacrifice any animals; but, I'd love to know
how real fur feels.
- A top that doesn't match what I'm wearing
on the bottom. You know, plaid with stripes,
- A plaid kilt. The 1/8 Scot in me wants to
get these generous hips into my tartan and
march around with a couple of bag pipers.
- Rings on every finger. I want BIG ONES.
You know, the 15 carat fake stones. Sort of
- A pastel pink twin set with a pearl
necklace. This is so not me ... but it would
sure make my mother happy.
Well, are you ready to make your list? Or,
are you going to let that little bird continue
to sit on your shoulder and say "Don't wear
that now"? Go for it. Don't wait to do what
you want. You may be too daffy to enjoy it!
P.S. Anybody know where I can find a 24"
Ahead and Exercise - Just for the
"health" of It!
exercise can significantly lower the risk of
heart disease in overweight and mildly obese
adults, even if the physical activity does not
lead to weight loss, according to a pilot study
conducted at the Duke University Medical Center
in Durham, North Carolina. Study participants
saw a reduction in low density lipoprotein (LDL)
cholesterol-the so called "bad"
cholesterol-and an increase in high density
lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol-"good"
cholesterol-after 3 months of a controlled
exercise program. They also saw a decrease in
percent of body fat, even as their weight
The pilot study, led by Duke
cardiologist William Kraus, M.D., showed that
exercise alone can significantly improve risk
factors for cardiovascular disease. "We now
have the data for physicians who can tell their
patients that they shouldn't focus so much on
the scale," Dr. Kraus said. "These
patients should not become discouraged and give
up exercising, because our study shows that
these patients are getting healthier even if
they don't lose any weight.",
"This pilot study was a first
attempt to isolate the effects of exercise from
weight loss in a controlled fashion," Dr.
Kraus said. "We designed the trial such
that we can attribute all the beneficial effects
to exercise alone."
YOUR SELF ESTEEM By Holly Campbell-Bradley
(Holly was just recently crowned 2003
Global America Classic Woman and is a past All
American Woman Plus and Ms. Plus National
Achiever. She is currently Associate Producer of
the Miss Ohio Scholarship Program and is working
on a motivational seminar "Plus Size Women
- Attitude, Authority and Attributes." She
also writes for the online magazine Plus Size
Living, and will be featured in the upcoming
book "Look Like A Queen," published
under the Random House umbrella).
size woman is living in the best of times. I
work in a large retirement community where my
being a plus size woman isn't an issue. Senior
citizens don't care what size you are as long as
you treat them with dignity and respect. It
hasn't always been that way. In the 60's and
70's a woman had to be rail thin to be
considered attractive. Plump wasn't even an idea
in the head of designers! That didn't come about
until the early 90's. While growing up I wasn't
a plus size. I was a 10-12, although to a 16
year old that was just down right fat. It never
stopped me. I was a cheerleader, on kick-line
and did whatever I set my mind to.
Then came college. Forget it. All
self- confidence I had went right out the
window. Not knowing anyone and being in a
strange town could definitely add to the
freshman 15 (pounds). However, with me it worked
just the opposite. I lost 30 pounds, almost too
thin. I gained it and lost it -- well, you know
the routine. By the time I left college I had
probably tried 200 different diets. That is not
the epitome of health. Twenty one years have
passed since then, and I have realized that no
matter what your size is, you have to love
what's on the inside before you can love what's
on the outside. If you can't love
yourself at a size 18 or 20 then you could never
love yourself at a size 3. You are still the
same on the inside. So I've learned to love from
the inside out. Only you can start the cycle. If
you're in a relationship that doesn't allow you
to love yourself, then get out now. Anything is
better than not being able to love who you are,
without reservation. When you can stand in front
of a mirror and say, "I love me"
without any buts, or ifs, you have taken the
first step to better self-esteem.
I let someone take some of my
self-esteem away about 15 years ago. I decided
that I was the only person who could take it
back. I did and I felt it come back. So did the
other person and I gained their respect. It
changed my life. Now, I hope that I can help
others who are looking for the self-esteem they
lost. It feels great to have it back. But it
doesn't happen overnight. Nothing does that is
worthwhile. Take my word for it. I speak from
experience. I'm now 42 years old and finally I
have met the inner child inside me and we get
along wonderfully. Once you find and meet yours,
you'll be surprised, you'll actually become
friends. No matter what, believe in yourself!
America Classic Woman »
Do I Send My Check? By Carol Johnson
hearing about how much I'm costing society, as a
larger person. The most recent figure I could
find is about $99 billion annually. Is this to
make me feel guilty? Figure out my share and pay
it back? According to my calculator, this
amounts to about $1,053 per larger person, given
the contention that one-third of the population
is overweight (some estimates go as high as
one-half the population in which case my share
would be less). The U.S. population currently
stands at about 281 million. I would be happy to
send a check if the "fat police" would
agree to quit bugging me -- and if I knew where
to send it.
There is a not-so-subtle message
contained in these figures that fat people are
an economic burden on society. Even if this were
true, what are we supposed to do about it?
Scientists admit that obesity is a complex
problem, a problem not well understood. They
also acknowledge that a permanent cure has not
yet been discovered. What then is the purpose of
continually throwing these cost figures at us?
Don't we already have enough to deal with? We
don't look good, we are presumed lazy and
weak-willed, and now we get a bill for how much
we are costing everyone.
In fairness, I uncovered the annual
cost for some additional health conditions:
· Alcohol and drug abuse (1995 estimate): $276
· Tobacco: Greater than $100 billion per year.
· Cancer: $180 billion.
· Motor vehicle crashes (1994 estimate): $150.5
· Occupational injuries: $140 billion.
· Insomnia (yes, insomnia): $35 billion.
You can see that the economic impact
of most of these is more than that of obesity,
and yet we rarely hear about how much they are
costing the country. The point I am trying to
make is that we are all human, all imperfect in
some way, and all costing something to exist on
this planet. Larger people are not intentionally
trying to rack up bills for the country to pay,
and neither are people involved in auto and
workplace accidents or who suffer from cancer or
other diseases. None of us has made a conscious
decision to add to the national debt. I suppose
at some level we need to know the financial
impact of certain diseases and injuries, but not
surrounded by an element of "blame."
Instead of pointing out how much obesity costs,
can't we put more time and effort into providing
accurate information and fighting discrimination
- and into research that may someday find an
overweight people an extra dose of a hormone
that tells the brain when to stop eating appears
to curb their appetites by nearly a third,
pointing to a potential new treatment for
obesity. Scientists have discovered that giving
overweight patients a small dose of a hormone
can help tell their brain to stop eating. PYY is
vital to keeping a normal weight, and it turns
out that many overweight people have depleted
amounts of this natural hormone. Researcher Dr.
Steven Bloom discovered that PYY specifically
targets the parts of the brain that deal with
appetite. This, he says, is very different from
existing appetite suppressant drugs which affect
the whole brain and can cause side effects.
"This hormone, being a natural substance,
just affects the parts of the brain that deal
with appetite," Dr. Bloom said. "And
nothing else." Scientists are working to
develop a chemical copy of PYY that can be
turned into pill form, which might be difficult
because it must be infused -- much like insulin
-- and the body tends to destroy it. Still, PYY
has huge potential. One of the important
findings is that PYY infusions are maintained in
overweight people. One of the biggest obstacles
to treating obesity with hormones is a
practical, business issue. Hormones are natural
and can't be patented. And without patent
protection, there is little incentive for
pharmaceutical companies to develop such new
therapies. (Source: New
England Journal of Medicine, September 4, 2003)
There is no
"junk food" -- only a "junky
diet." Many nutrition professionals
increasingly feel that occasional high-fat,
high-sugar items can fit perfectly well into an
overall healthful eating plan without all the
negative, guilt-ridden connotations that the
word "junk" carries. Once a healthful
high-nutrient, high-fiber eating pattern is in
place, the occasional full-fat, full-sugar treat
isn't a problem, and taste preferences can
replace health concerns for our highly
palatable, highly pleasurable goodies. (Source:
Tufts University Health & Nutrition
Letter, September 2003)
surprise of federal health officials, diabetes
in the United States rose only slightly in the
1990s, despite a sharp increase in obesity. The
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study
found that diabetes rates crept up from an
estimated 8.2% of adults from 1988 to 1994 to
8.6% from 1999 to 2000, an increase of less than
5%. The CDC expected a larger increase because
obesity, which has been linked to diabetes, has
been rising quickly, climbing 61% during the
1990s. Health officials wondered if maybe
lifestyle changes, including healthier eating
and more exercise, may explain why some high-
risk adults have not developed diabetes. (Source:
addictive? No. With an addiction, the body
requires increasingly more of the substance to
which it is addicted. When the craving is not
satisfied, the body then experiences the
uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal. While you
(and many others) may have a strong desire for
sweets, it is unlikely that you require
ever-larger portions to meet your needs or that
you experience true physical withdrawal if you
abstain. Note, too, that your body can't
distingush the sugar in, say, a piece of fruit
or a potato from the sugar in a cookie. Yet few,
if any people, would report feeling addicted to,
or even experiencing an intense craving for, the
likes of an apple or boiled potato. (Source:
Tufts University Health & Nutrition
Letter, July 2001)
by...Unexplained weight gain? Irregular periods?
Infertility? Acne? Excessive Hair Growth? All
are symptom of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS),
a complex hormonal disorder that is related to
diabetes and affects millions of women
worldwide. Join the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Association for our 6th annual conference,
"Keys to Living with PCOS", October 16
- 19, 2003 at the Marriott Perimeter Center in
Atlanta. For more information or to register
or call (877) 775-PCOS.
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