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On a Positive Note - Online Newsletter! )
 December 8, 2003 December 2003 
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.
  • 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 - Lessons We Can Learn from Reindeer

By Carol Johnson

  I've been thinking a lot lately about Rudolph -- no not Valentino -- the reindeer with the big red nose. If anyone knows about being teased and discriminated against, it's him. Here he was with this big red nose, and, as we have been told, "all of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names." They wouldn't even let him play any "reindeer games!" He probably went around for a long time thinking, "Why did I have to be cursed with this big red nose? It just makes me stand out and look different!"

  And I'm told he tried everything to get rid of it - - color remover, nose liposuction, nose reduction pills, nose calisthenics. But nothing worked. A couple times his nose did get smaller, but it always grew back -- bigger and redder than ever! Researchers dubbed it the "yo-yo nose syndrome." He always dreamed of doing great things, but felt he had to wait until he had a nose of normal size and color. He was at his wit's end when Santa came and asked for his help guiding the sleigh. At first, he was dumbfounded. He was so accustomed to viewing his nose as a limitation and a disadvantage that he never stopped to think about how to use it to his advantage. You know the rest of the story. They couldn't have made the journey without him. He showed the others that even though he looked a bit different, that difference could be put to a positive use. He ended up as "leader of the pack" and even went down in history. And so can you. But not until you stop letting your perceived imperfections hold you back and prevent you from achieving your full potential.

   Make a list of the positive things living in a larger body has taught you:

  • Strength of character (it's not easy living in this thin-obsessed society -- if you're doing it, you've developed a great deal of inner strength).
  • Feelings of physical strength and power.
  • Better at fending off and recovering from illness.
  • Less prone to some diseases and conditions such as osteoporosis.
  • Greater sensitivity and tolerance to those who are different in any way.
  • Creativity -- I've seen larger people develop many creative solutions as they try to fit into a world designed primarily for thin people.

  Continue to make your own list. As for me, I realized I am here to make a difference and to join together with other size acceptance advocates in making this world a better place for ample-bodied people. And through this process, I have traveled, I have had to develop speaking and leadership skills, I have met many wonderful people. I have had to meet and respond to challenges I never would have encountered as a thin person, but this has enriched my life in so many ways.

Instead of beginning the new year with yet another resolution to go on a diet, ask yourself:

  • What has living in a larger body taught me?
  • How can I use this to my advantage?

Then every time you have a negative body thought, stop and replace it with a body thank-you, with something positive your body has taught you, and begin compiling a "Positives of Being Plus" list.

Book: Self-Esteem Comes In All Sizes!

Snowflakes

Why not think of your body as a snowflake?

  Did you ever look at a snowflake under a microscope? Each one is uniquely shaped, and each one is beautiful. It's the same with each of us. Every time I see an article advising "how to camouflage your figure flaws" I want to scream - because I now realize that I don't have figure flaws - and neither do you. My figure is simply shaped differently from yours. Like a snowflake, I have my own unique shape.

   So it is with most things in nature. No two are alike. We seem to be able to appreciate and applaud this concept of diversity in everything but the human body. Why is it that we have no problem in seeing the beauty in a bouquet of multi-colored, multi-shaped flowers, but when people come in different shapes any sizes, we regard it as a problem in need of correction?

  Here's what I'd like you to do. Go out and buy some of those snowflakes used for holiday decorating - the kind that sparkle (like you!). Pick one that you especially like and attach your name to it. Hang it where you can see it regularly as a reminder that you are - like the snowflake - beautiful, sparkly and unique!

You CAN Survive The Holidays With Grand Style!

  You've spent all year working on your self-esteem and developing your grand style. Now, don't lose it in the often stress-filled last months of the year! Here are a few tips to get you, your self-esteem and your style, through the holidays. Don't let your dress size get in the way of your holiday style.

1. Not comfortable on the ladder hanging holiday house lights or decorating your Christmas tree? Hire a neighborhood high school kid for an hour and let him or her create your show of holiday spirit. You'll get your decorations ... and he or she will make some holiday dollars. Don't go without the makings of a special holiday memory just because it is uncomfortable for you to implement!

2. Have a holiday portrait taken of yourself to include in your holiday mailings. You don't have to spend a lot -- look for discounted sitting fees around the holidays or get an appointment at Penny's or Sears. (No, you don't have to sit on a little chair with Elmo or use the same holiday props and backdrops as the 4 year old kids!) Be sure to wear something you want to see yourself in for 20+ years - not just something that makes you look "slim." (Yes, the camera makes us look heavier; but, if we're already plus or super sized, what's 10 more pounds?) This is not the time to try a new hair style or color. Above all, be sure the portrait reflects your style. Use a formal photographer for a more formal pose, or ask a photographer for a more casual outdoor pose. Have fun with the photo -- wear a hat or take your favorite pet!

3. Looking forward to holiday concerts; but, can't deal with the cramped seating? Consider matinee performances (they are often not as fully attended, so you more room to "spread out") and always look for aisle seating. Still not comfortable? Ask for a chair to be placed in the handicapped seating area of the theatre.

4. Make holiday airline traveling easier. Reserve an aisle seat. Avoid the back row of the plane (the seats don't recline.) Take your own airline seat belt extender. Let your style shine through the holidays.

5. Buy holiday clothes now while the selection is good. QVC (or watch their cable TV channel, Lane Bryant (the stores, not the catalogs) and Target are great sources for reasonably-priced, plus size, handknit holiday sweaters and vests.

6. Looking for that perfect red or black size 32 dress for the office party? Check out Silhouettes and Making It Big.

7. Red or ivory shirts are great to "holiday-up" a pair of black slacks or a black skirt already in your closet. Add a pair of velveteen skimmer flats from Kmart or Wal-Mart for less than $10. Can't find the perfect red or green holiday camisole? Try a solid color charmeuse tank top from the lingerie department at Lane Bryant.

8. Found a beautiful holiday pendant but the chain is too long? Hang it on a velvet ribbon or cord from the fabric store.

9. Don't be afraid to create memories that incorporate your unique style. Confetti in your holiday cards. Bake dog and cat treats (holiday magazines have the recipes). Give indulgence balls as hostess or office gifts. (Just fill craft store mesh ornaments with a scented tea candle, a few Hershey kisses, a bubble bath capsule, a tiny sachet pillow, a pair of dice, a few stickers or a gift certificate for ice cream or a bagel or a burger.)

10. Don't let the after Christmas sales get the best of your Grand Style -- or your common sense! Remember, if it didn't look good on you when it was full price, it's not going to look any better when it's half price.It's hard to show your style when you are stressed out.

11. Avoid the malls. Go once to see the decorations and to give yourself a "shot" of holiday spirit. Then, come home and use catalogs, the internet or television shopping. Don't forget to try their "bill to/ship to" option and have your selections shipped directly to your family and friends. Some even gift wrap!

12. Having multiple get togethers at your house? Have them all within a 4-5 day period and serve the same menu and wear the same outfit at each. Then, you only have to cook, shop and clean the house once!

13. Don't diet. Besides the fact that diets are bad for your health (and you'll gain the weight all back - - plus more!), this is not the time to try a new eating routine. As with the other 11 months of the year, concentrate on eating healthy. Try snacking on something healthy before you leave for the holiday party -- It will make it easier to resist that 5th piece of fudge. Your dentist may be out the New Year cavity payment; but, your healthy body with thank you for it!

14. Set practical objectives for family gatherings. You can't solve 20 years of family problems in one dinner conversation. When Uncle Harry harasses you about your weight, tell him "Thanks for caring" and then change the subject.

15. Don't wait until January to get your stressed out body moving. Start walking. Put your favorite holiday tunes on the Walkman and walk ... don't stroll ... walk. Around the block. Around the mall. Or, walk in place in front of your TV - but keep moving. Movement is a great stress reliever.

Looking for my annual holiday gift suggestion list? Just click here!

http: / /www.grandstyle.com/giftideas.htm


Happy Holidays!

Secrets of Thin Women

  I came across an article titled "Secrets of Thin Women." These types of articles always amuse - and irritate - me because of the implication that we larger women are clueless when it comes to weight management strategies. Here are some of those "secrets" - followed by my responses! How would you respond?

Secret: "I force myself to eat breakfast."
My response: I don't force myself, but I do eat breakfast every morning - usually cereal with fruit and a glass of juice.

Secret: "I bring my own lunch to work."
My response: So do I - just about every day.

Secret: "Most days I eat a salad at lunch. Then one day a week I splurge at a fast food restaurant."
My response: The lunch I bring to work is usually a salad, with some meat or cheese as protein. And most weeks I don't even splurge one day a week at a fast food restaurant.

Secret: "The best way to keep pounds off is to make dinner at home."
My response: My husband and I make dinner at home almost every night - and I would throw in a "secret" of my own - we plan these meals ahead over the weekend, and cook ahead as much as possible.

Secret: "I allow myself one of three things - bread, wine or dessert."
My response: I rarely have wine or dessert with any meal, but I often have bread.

Secret: "I limit myself to about 100 calories of candy sampling each day."
My response: There are days I don't eat any candy at all, and when I do, I have a "snack size."

Secret: "I always have some string cheese on hand for an afternoon snack."
My response: I also have a protein snack in the afternoon.

Secret: "I eat a little lighter during the day if I know I'm going out for dinner."
My response: Me too!

None of this is news to me - and it probably isn't to you either. Once again, the assumption rears its ugly head that larger women are ignorant slugs who either don't know or don't care about what they eat. I resent the idea that I must be taught how to eat right by the svelte among us. I suggest another article. I would title it: "We Know Your Secrets!"

Give Yourself the Gift of Confidence
By Chenese Lewis, Miss Plus America

  Chenese is the reigning Miss Plus America. With her title the platform she has chosen to promote is Positive Body Image. She emphasizes that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and discredits stereotypes by being a confident, beautiful and intelligent full-figured woman. Chenese is also a plus size model, actress, and freelances as a writer. For more information concerning this dynamic young woman, private interviews, or public appearances, email missplusamerica2003@yahoo.com and visit the pageants website at www.missplusamerica.com.

  I recently watched an episode of "Extreme Makeover", a new show that provides "extreme" makeovers by including everything a regular makeover does plus plastic surgery. The show claims it can "change your life and destiny, and make all your dreams come true". On the particular episode I watched, a woman got rhinoplasty, fat injections in the face, lower eye lift, face and neck lift, pre-hairline brow lift, erbium laser of the mouth and nasolabial, photofacial, breast augmentation, liposuction of thighs and whitening of her teeth. Out of all the episodes I've watched before, this one stood out because of a comment the woman made on the show. After her transformation was complete, she stated that after she went through all of the surgery, she realized she wasn't so bad after all, because all of the people that loved her loved her as she was before.

  After I heard this woman's statement on the show I yelled to the television "I could have told you that!!!" The only thing she was lacking was confidence. Confidence comes from within; therefore if you rely on your external appearance to justify who you are, you will never be truly happy, because you will always find something wrong.

  One of my most valuable secrets that I can pass on to someone about confidence is to look your best, because when you look your best you feel your best. The thing that gets people confused is thinking that looking your best is a certain size or shape. I do not have to lose 30 pounds or get the fat sucked out of my thighs to look my best. Someone else may think so, but I don't, and I don't live my life to please other people. My definition of looking your best is by being body conscious and being comfortable in the skin that you are in. Being body conscious means to not be in denial about your shape, accentuate the positive, and camouflage the negative. People of all sizes have to do that. You must also be comfortable in the skin you are in and remember that beauty comes from within. How horrible would it be to transform yourself into something that you are not and the person you are trying to impress isn't impressed??? What one person considers beautiful, the next person might not, the only opinion that should matter is your own.

  The most attractive feature anyone can have, regardless of their shape or size, is confidence. A confident person is someone that accepts who they are and aren't afraid to be themselves. Confidence can make you more attractive and appealing than anything else could ever do. No one is perfect and no ones body is perfect. I think obsessing over it is a waste of time. So take my advice and do some really "extreme" love yourself just the way you are!!

Health at Every Size
What Me - Exercise?

  If you're exercising out of fear, anger or to self medicate, you may get the job done; however, over the long haul, you'll find it hard to maintain. Research shows a correlation between the depth of what motivates someone to exercise and how consistent their exercise will be. As you ask yourself why you exercise, challenge the reasons you come up with. Those who are active and exercise for strong and deeply convicted reasons, such as self-improvement, health, relaxation and enjoyment very often succeed.

Exercise Excuses: The Big Four

1. "I'm much too busy": You're really not. All it takes is 30 minutes -- and exercise experts now say you can break it into three 10-minute stints. Write exercise appointments in your calendar and treat each one as you would an important meeting. If your excuse is that exercise gets in the way of your social life, combine the two: rather than meeting friends at a bar, take an exercise class with them.

2. "I'm too intimidated": Consult an exercise physiologist or personal trainer for ideas. Find an exercise phobic friend and brave the gym together. Get over the feeling everyone is looking at you -- they're too busy doing their own thing. And even if they are, so what?

3. "I never see any results": This is one of the major problems with how exercise has been promoted. Often weight loss is the only goal, and if you aren't losing any -- or as much as you think you should -- you give up. You need to formulate other goals -- and have more than one. Has your blood pressure improved? Cholesterol gone down? Do you have more energy? Can you climb a flight of stairs and not be out of breath? You are much better off charting your progress using a variety of health-related goals, rather than the singular goal of weight loss.

4. "I can't find anything I like": This is because we define exercise too narrowly -- usually as working out in a gym, doing calisthenics or jumping up and down in an aerobics class. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. We need to quit talking about exercise, and talk about movement. Anything you do to move your body is good for it. So now you've expanded your definition of exercise to include everything you do that doesn't involve sitting in a chair (and even that's not altogether true, because there's a form of exercise called "chair dancing"). Chair dancing actually provides a balanced aerobic, toning and stretching workout while comfortably seated on a chair. If you have physical limitations that make it difficult to exercise in a standing position, why not consider chair dancing? For more information, call 1- 800-551-4FUN or write to Chair Dancing International, 2670 Del Mar Heights Rd., Suite 183, Del Mar, CA 92014.

It's a Wonderful Life!

  Open the pages of almost any magazine this time of year and you'll find an article on coping with holiday stress. Larger women often have the added stress of attending holiday festivities and family gatherings with people who heard us pledge last year that we would shed four dress sizes by this holiday season. Then there's the stress of accompanying our spouses to company parties, or seeing friends and relatives we haven't seen in years. It becomes more and more tempting just to avoid it all and stay home, but don't watch the holidays from the sidelines! We simply must get rid of the mindset that keeps us hidden away until a new body emerges. The body you have will do just fine.

Sparke and shine! This is not the time to avoid buying clothes until you lose weight. Buy something smashing in a bright, festive color. Just make sure it fits you comfortably right now. If it's too tight, it won't be flattering and you'll be tugging at at all night. And remember that a positive, upbeat attitude is your best accessory. Stride confidently into the party, with a smile on your face, knowing you look terrific, and you can't lose.

Don't EVER apologize for your weight or call people's attention to it. Apologies are used to right a wrong, and you haven't done anything wrong. Don't discuss your weight - or anyone else's. Weight is a boring topic. Talk about the interesting things you've been doing this past year. Ask others what they've been doing.

Get into the holiday spirit and take the focus off yourself and your weight by attending a holiday concert, a play, the local adaptation of the Nutcracker - or throw your own party and make it a reflection of your own style and personality. Finally, turn thoughts of your weight into thoughts of others. If you really stop and think about it, the size of your body is unimportant compared to the needs of people less fortunate. Take needed items to a homeless shelter. Adopt a family. Visit an isolated older person and take him or her a care package. Don't let the holiday season pass you by. Get right in there and be a part of it!

NOTE: Research Round-Up will return in the next issue. We wanted to make this holiday edition
of On a Positive Note as festive as possible!

Live Large!

  Another tool is now available to help you in your quest for body peace and acceptance.

  Live Large! is a powerful collection of affirmations, ideas and actions to help women love their bodies, regardless of their size or shape. For all women, and especially those who struggle with weight or poor body image, it is an appealing, easy-to-use guide to "living the life you want in the body you have."

  Organized in a one-page-at-a-time format, readers can absorb and practice each of these 140 messages, such as "I am grateful for every day I live peacefully in my body" and "I know what is important for me to do, and I do it." Purchase at www.gurze.com - makes a great holiday gift for just about any woman, as we all struggle with these issues, no matter what our size or shape!

  About the Author: Cheri Erdman, Ed.D. is a leader in the size-acceptance field and author of Nothing to Lose: A Guide to Sane Living in a Larger Body. Dr. Erdman has led retreats and workshops on body image for over twenty years and has been interviewed by NPR, Ricki Lake, the Chicago Tribune, and People Magazine.

Happy New Year: Your Largely Positive Calendar for 2004

  Each month has its birthstone. But did you know there are also Largely Positive "stones?" And the good new is that you can have them all! Here is our Largely Positive calendar for the coming year, complete with a gem for each month:

January: Is for Jewel. Each of us is a unique jewel, and your smile is the sparkle and shine. Do it as often as possible.

February: Is for Friends. Choose those who affirm and accept you. They too are jewels.

March: Is for Mahvelous because, dahling, you look "mahvelous" with your luscious curves and sexy strut. There are many adoring eyes focused on you - let your eyes meet theirs!

April: Is for Appreciation. Appreciate your body for the things it does for you - at any size: arms to hug, eyes to see, ears to hear, lips to kiss.

May: Is for Masterful. Everyone has something they do well. Discover your talents and master them.

June: Joie de Vivre. Webster's defines the phrase as "keen or buoyant enjoyment of life." Do it! Don't let anything, especially your weight, hold you back.

July: Is for Just Fine: You're just fine the way you are and don't ever let anyone tell you differently.

August: Is for Amuse. Let life amuse you. Don't take it or yourself too seriously. Lighten up!

September: Is for all the "Selfs": Self- confidence, self-esteem and self-respect. These are not prizes for weight loss. They are your rights - at any size.

October: Is for Opportunities. They're all around you. Don't shut them out. You don't need to be thin to live your life to the max!

November: Is for Now. Now is when you live your life - not in the past, not in the future. Now is all that we have.

December: Is for Dazzle: Dazzle them this holiday season with the beauty that radiates from a "largely positive" attitude!

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