Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Weighty Issues and Other Updates

Whew!  I'm having second thoughts about the theory that my schedule would be more free once the girls were all in school. :}  I think my life actually just got crazier and busier instead.  At least, that's how it feels right now in these first few weeks.  I know that once I get used to the new schedule and establish my routine, things will be a bit easier.

I realized a while ago that I've been so busy with doll and toy reviews over the course of the summer that it's been ages since I've just had a heart-to-heart chat with all of you.  I also need to work on some doll photography other than review photos.  I've been missing my outdoor photo shoots.  Of course, we've had a problem with our sprinklers in the front yard, so the plants are rather dead right now. :{  I'm hoping to get some great pictures when the rainy season hits again and the lawn is a bit more attractive. ;)

At the beginning of the year, I made some changes to this blog and delved into the worlds of Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  Now that I've had some time to get used to the updates and see how things work, I've made a few decisions.

First off, some of you might have noticed that my "Sponsors" tab is missing from the top of the blog.  My quest to find sponsors this year hasn't been overly successful, although I was able to review some products in exchange for a month of free advertising through passionfruit.com.  The problem is that the passionfruit.com site just updated and is no longer a free service.  And since I never actually made any money there, it didn't really make sense to pay for it.  For that reason, I decided to remove my sponsor option altogether for now.  I have few enough people interested in trading goods for advertising that I don't need a third party website keeping track of things for me anyway. ;)

This year I did enjoy the thrill of having a company contact me to review its product for the first time (my Zelf, Buttershy). :)  They just found me through Google, so I suppose if I keep at it and try to be patient, eventually more offers may come my way.

I realized something through all of this.  For a while, I was so focused on trying to make this blog a financial success that I lost sight of what made it so fun in the first place: my interaction with my followers and readers.  I've had several opportunities to reach out to some of you and be a listening ear when you needed one.  I've made many friends and acquaintances through this blog that I never would have met otherwise.  I've done my best to create a site where doll lovers and collectors of all ages can come together and feel welcome.  These are my goals.  Even if I never get another offer for reviewing free product, I will be content, because this blog is about meeting people and learning about dolls.  I don't want to lose sight of that and end up with a blog that is mercenary and impersonal (not saying that all sites that have a financial return are that way).  :}  It's possible that in the future I may try other ways to bring in some sort of financial profit, but for now I'm just going to leave things the way they are. :)

For the time being, I've also removed my "Wishlist" page from the top of the blog.  I'm trying to clear and condense some of my pages so I have room to add a few pages.  Those of you who are dying to know what I'm still interested in adding to my collection can access my wishlist board on Pinterest, "If Wishes Were Horses..." :)

I've also decided to just enjoy Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter to the best of my ability, getting the word out there about my blogs without stressing over particulars.  I could spend all day on the computer if I tried to do everything I was "supposed" to do to "properly" advertise and reach out.  The thing is, I already spend plenty of time here at my little computer desk.  I need to make sure it doesn't take over my life. :}  I would like to thank all of you who have liked or followed me on each of the sites.  I've enjoyed learning about each of them and getting to know even more people by branching out to these social media platforms.  Those of you who haven't stopped by to visit me on other sites can go directly to them by clicking the links on my left sidebar.

And now I suppose it's time to move on to another subject:  the elephant in the room...or perhaps I should say the elephant on the blog. ;)  Whatever the title, I'm referring to my non-existent updates on my weight-loss journey (or lack thereof).

I would love to say that the reason I haven't said anything for a long time is because I'm exactly where I want to be weight-wise and health-wise.  Of course, as you've probably guessed, that is not the case.  Let's just say I'm back to square one after some ups and downs over the past year.

It's hard for me to be honest about this particular struggle in my life.  I like to consider myself a strong, determined person who can accomplish something when I put my mind to it, and I am never more aware of my failings than when it comes to weight loss...or parenting. :}  In fact, I suppose I could broaden the spectrum and say that most areas involving self-control are those that I really find challenging.

While I'd rather just gloss over this and not address it, I feel it's an important thing to discuss.  I'm sure there are others out there going through similar struggles.  I also feel that with the rampant use of sites like Facebook and Twitter and the current cultural obsession with weight loss and healthy eating, it can be very easy to fall into obsessive, unhealthy behavior when it comes to our bodies.

How easy it is to move from a desire to be healthy and eat wisely to a desire to be a slender, attractive young woman that turns heads every time she walks by!  How quickly I find myself comparing my body to those of every other woman I see, especially when I'm feeling discouraged by my lack of progress with my weight.  You know what I mean.  "Well at least I'm not as big as she is" or "At least I have a better-proportioned figure than that gal".  How tempting it is to fall prey to the lie that life would be better if only I were skinnier (or richer, or smarter, or...well, you fill in the blank).  

The truth is, obsession of that kind is unhealthy, no matter what it is about.  Another truth is that if I'm not content as a size 16, round-faced woman with cellulite-covered thighs, I won't be content as a size 4 supermodel, either (I'm not foolish enough to attempt to ever be a size 4, by the way...not with my height and frame). ;)  Oh, sure, at first fitting into pretty much any dress on the rack and feeling slim and beautiful would be awesome...but eventually those same issues of obsession, of constantly looking to others for approval, or of comparing myself to others and finding flaws with them or with myself would all come creeping back.

True joy doesn't come from having a perfect body, a beautiful home, a handsome husband, unlimited funds, or even the fulfillment of a life-long dream.  The truest joy and contentment can only be found in Christ and His redemptive work on the cross.  Without that, everything is futile.  Only when I spend time communicating with Him through prayer and Bible reading, only when I rest in His promises and let Him live through me will I be truly content.  How quickly I lose sight of these simple truths!

This doesn't mean that I'm going to throw in the towel and forget the whole weight loss idea.  I don't like feeling out of control with my eating and sitting around like a bump on a log all day.  Those two things need to change.  But the other things that need to change are my expectations and my outlook.

First, I need to realize that reaching my goal weight is not going to solve all of life's problems.  If that's all I think about and work towards, I'm going to be a pretty miserable person to be around.  And if I can't learn to be content now, then there will always be something else that I'm unhappy with, no matter what size or shape I am.

Secondly, I need to stop looking to others for standards of beauty and acceptance.  I am "fearfully and wonderfully made", a unique creation, precious and loved by the Almighty Creator God.  I cannot expect to look like anyone in Hollywood, Bollywood, or Disney films (animated or otherwise).  I don't need to worry about how other people perceive me, and if, by God's grace, I'm a self-controlled person who is letting Christ shine through me, I will be attractive to others whether I'm a size 8 or a size 28.  And even if I'm not, what matters most is what God thinks of me, and in His Word I am told over and over again that I am special, loved, and one-of-a-kind.

When I was younger, I had this odd way of viewing my life, as if I were the star of my own movie.  I acted as though everyone around me was watching every word, facial expression, or decision I made.  Maybe that's why I so desperately craved approval from everyone around me.  They were my audience and my fellow actors and actresses, so their approval was vital.  I think I also had watched or read too many stories where a young ingenue was "discovered" and whisked away into stardom.  I was sure if I just sang in the right place at the right time, I would be discovered, too.  Weird, I know.  Artistic people can be like that. :}

I realized the other day that sometimes I still act like I'm starring in "The Life of Beast'sbelle".  (And I'll admit it...I'm still waiting for the day when everyone will suddenly break into spontaneous song and dance around me, like they always do in the musicals.  Sigh.) ;)  Which is completely ridiculous.  Since when was the storyline of the entire world all about me?  How silly and conceited is that?  And if I'm not the center of the universe, then why on earth does it matter what other people around me think, especially if they're people that don't even know me?

My husband thinks I'm beautiful, and he tells me that almost every day, especially when he knows I'm struggling with body issues.  My children look up to me (another important reason to adjust my perspective-I don't need to give them body issues of their own).  My friends and family love me and accept me no matter what size I am.  Since when did everything depend on appearances anyway?  I think God had something to say about that, didn't He?  "...God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart."  (I Samuel 16:7b)

Our society has gotten so concerned with healthy eating and weight loss that it is easy to look at yourself or someone else with a weight problem as a project instead of a person.  And come on, I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels judged when I decide to splurge one day and order french fries at the restaurant. ;)  I know that I definitely need to lighten up and get my thinking in line.

That being said, I do want to do my best to eat right, record what I eat, and get regular exercise.  This month I really want to work on incorporating that into the craziness that is my life.  I just want to make sure that my focus is on being healthy and taking control of my eating, not on being skinny. :}  I also want to make sure that weight loss doesn't become the only thing I think about.  There's so much more to life than spending every moment obsessing over how many almonds I've had or whether I've consumed too many carbs.

I know I've said similar stuff before.  Maybe you're thinking, "Hasn't she figured this out yet?"  I wish, believe me.  As painful as it is to have to keep reminding myself of the same things over and over again, my hope is that this honest look at some of my inner struggles might encourage someone else going through the same thing.  Keep your chin up.  You're not alone.

I may never be able to maintain my goal weight.  I may never excel at my Turbo Jam DVD.  I may never fit into my wedding dress again (not that I really need to...I've just always thought it would be a nice "Yay, I did it" kind of accomplishment).  I'm 99.9% sure I will never like broccoli.  But by God's grace, I hope that someday I will learn to be a woman who is self-controlled and content.

And with that, I think I'll head to bed.  It's been a long week and it's only Wednesday night. ;)  I have more doll-related fun to share with you in the following weeks (I think I have about 75 posts in various stages of completeness in draft...ridiculous, I know).

Until next time, this is Beast'sbelle, signing off! :)

18 comments:

Aileen said...

Thank you, I needed to hear this today. It's comforting to know that no matter how low I feel about myself, God thinks I'm beautiful.

Kristina said...

I so understand where you are coming from regarding your weight. Being a stay at home mom is a blessing for me, but it also makes it harder for me to maintain a healthy weight since I have access to food ALL THE TIME! When I was working it was easier since I was busy and I ate less. In just a few weeks (3!) I will have the joy of an infant, in addition to my 3 year old and (not so joyous) task of losing the baby weight. I have always despised exercise, but I have found something that I really enjoy. I take Selah yoga at the local community center. I know classes are more pricey than workout dvds that you do at home, but I admit I am lazy. I need a teacher to push me so that I don't get 10 minutes into something and say "Ugh, this is hard/not fun. I'm done for today!" Anyway, Selah yoga is yoga from a Christian perspective. I actually enjoy it! It is challenging, but it works really well to tone and stretch and increase flexibility. Good luck on your better health/ weight-loss journey!

BlackKitty said...

How true you said that happiness doesn't depend on the way you look! An unhappy person will find something to be unhappy about no matter how good they look. I remember a while ago I really hated my face and I tried to imagine what my life would be like if I looked pretty. Knowing me, I'd have to obsess over every little pimple, check my hair roots every day to see if they need recoloured, spend a lot of energy to maintain all the beauty (makeup, shaving, manicure). Is it worth it? My time is better spent with my family and friends than in front of a mirror.
However, there's a difference between pretty and healthy. If you feel you should lose weight, go for it! Did you check with a doctor? I knew a girl who was kind of chubby in school, and when she got thinner, it turned out her kidneys were floppy and she had to put back all the weight to support them. Some people are stockier by nature - find out what your healthy weight is and allow some slack for all the pregnancies. Good luck!

beastsbelle said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone. :)

Aileen, I'm glad you're able to take comfort in that fact as well. :) It's nice to know that we are loved unconditionally by our Heavenly Father, isn't it?

Kristina, I completely agree! Being a stay-at-home mom with 24-7 access to food has been a huge challenge for me as well. :}

I've heard of Selah yoga before. I have problems with my knees, so I usually try to find something that doesn't involve kneeling of any kind. I really like Leslie Sansone's walking videos (although sometimes she can be a little too perky when I'm feeling cranky about exercising). ;) Turbo Jam has worked pretty well as long as I'm careful when I twist.

I would LOVE to have some sort of gym membership sometime, but it's just not a financial possibility at the moment. So for now, I just need to do what I can on my own, walking, exercise DVDs, and whatever else I can come up with. I also tend to be the type that thinks "if I only had that exercise equipment or could take that exercise class, everything would be different", so I have to watch that "magic bullet" mentality, as we call it in our family. ;) Yes, having a gym membership and the accountability it provided would definitely help, but it would still require me disciplining myself and getting over there. ;) While I'm waiting for that opportunity, I can practice discipline here. I completely understand what you mean, though. :)

Hi BlackKitty. :) Thanks for stopping by.

I have a fairly good idea of what my healthy weight range is. Last year, when I did Weight Watchers, I had an appointment with my doctor to discuss such things. I have realistic goals set. I'm not planning on being a toned, trim exercise instructor type, for sure! ;) I definitely can do better than I am right now, though. Like I mentioned in my post, the main thing I want to work on is getting my eating under control, as I tend to be a compulsive overeater, and getting more exercise.

Great tips, though...thanks! :)

OurAGAdventures said...

I really needed this right now. You probably don't understand why,it's not about the topic, but I just really did. Thank you so much. This post means the world to me. I just haven't been feeling like I'm"good" enough lately. :)

I sometimes think I'm a character in a storybook, on my way to the happy ending. ;)

Most of the time, I break out it song, it's typically "Wouldn't It be Lovely" from My Fair Lady. Doing everyday things, watching TV, making my bed, I just start singing and dancing.

He will always be proud of us doing what's right, not what size we wear.

beastsbelle said...

Hi OurAGAdventures. I'm glad this post was helpful to you. :)

Lol...I've been known to break out in song myself from time to time. :)

Hope you have a great week.

akasailorsea said...

Hi Beast'sbelle,

I've been lurking through your blog for the past few days. I'm really enjoying your blog!

I'm also working on loosing weight and eating healthier. I get jealous of my prettier, skinnier friends a lot, but their lives aren't necessarily better than mine. I think its human nature to want to emulate the good qualities (or supposed good qualities) of others, and that's not necessarily a bad thing (as long as good qualities are actually good qualities). But its important to remember that in the grand scheme of things, there are so many more important things than being the prettiest or skinniest.

Alexandra said...

Thank you so much for sharing this...it is such a blessing! <3

beastsbelle said...

Akasailorsea, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. :) I agree that it's definitely within our human nature to want to emulate good qualities or just plain fit in. ;) It's also within our nature to be discontent with our lot in life if we're not careful. I agree, there's definitely more to life than focusing on being the prettiest or skinniest. :)

You're welcome, Alexandra. I'm glad you found it so. It's always so nice to hear from you. :)

Barb the Evil Genius said...

I can totally relate. I finally started walking last year, lost a little weight, gained a little more flexibility, and then I fractured a bone in my foot. In sitting around babying it all winter, I gained more weight than I originally had, and it's been hard getting back into exercising properly. The only thing I am thankful is that the fracture healed on its own. Usually they require surgery and metal screws, according to my doc!

All AG said...

I really needed this yesterday and especially today. (I don't know if you got my comment yesterday, but I am so sorry if you didn't want to post it). I feel like nobody cares. I finally had a chance to tell my feelings about someone, and they just abandon you like someone else. I thank you so much for making my day today.

-All AG

beastsbelle said...

Yikes, I'm sorry to hear about your injury, Barb. I'm glad it wasn't as bad as it could have been. It is frustrating getting an injury like that and having it set you back, though. :(

All AG, I'm so sorry, I didn't get your comment. I'm glad you posted again, though, because it made me check my spam folder, where several non-spam comments had been waiting for over a month! :(

I'm so sorry that you're going through a rough time right now. I know how that hurts. I'm glad my post was an encouragement to you. You'll be in my prayers. :)

Freja said...

You are totally right! I know from exsperience..
I have been skinny most of my life.. people often commented on it, allways told me to eat more. And fitting into clothes wasent easy either.. I was drowning in most of my pants and it was a hunt to find annything in size extra small. I was unhappy, and I wanted to gain weight. Last year I finally started gaining weight, because og my boyfriends help. Now I think im fat.. sometimes I wanna loose weight again, starve myselvf, exersize more. I have to keep reminding myselvf, that when I was underweight I wasent happy either. And I must not go back into my unhealthy habits even if im mad at myselvf.

beastsbelle said...

Thank you for commenting, Freja. It's always a good thing hearing from a different perspective. It's so easy to think that all of our body issues will be solved by having a smaller body, but you've helped remind us that this is not the case. Thank you for being so open and sharing what was on your heart. :)

Tam said...

The whole 'living in your own movie starring you' is SO familiar! Now I don't feel so bad! And where ARE those dancers anyway?! Is there anybody who IS happy with their weight? I'm surprised you have time to eat out of boredom or 'at home Mom-dom': You seem to find so many things to do! I have a metabolism problem so over the years I have put on so much weight that last year I was more than twice the size I was when I met my husband! It was no longer a case of being perfect, but health and just being a size that I could find clothes and also be someone my children and husband could be proud to point out.(Yes, hopefully they'd be proud of me for other reasons.)Dieting is an all or nothing thing for me though, so I can't cheat at all without falling off the diet wagon completely. I did it for 3 months a few years ago and lost around 40 pounds, but over the years they came back. I find weighing myself everyday helps. It's not obsessive. It's just easier to cut back for a day if I've put on a couple of pounds and get back where I was, than to take off more pounds that have snuck up on me. Last year I lost 40 pounds by sticking to 1000 calories a day,with less than half coming from fat. (I also have to make myself eat three meals a day to kick start my metabolism.)Very little dairy or fruit juices.It helps that I don't eat meat, because the soy or quorn meats have alot less fat or calories to begin with. I ate a lot of raw veg,and drank at least a half gallon of water with lunch and dinner, which makes you feel fuller.Maybe you could start by cutting out a little meat. If you get the good soy meats or Quorn you will hardly notice a difference, but the fat and calories are WAY different. Good luck!

beastsbelle said...

Thanks for stopping by and sharing, Tam. :) It's always such a blessing hearing from others who are going through the same thing.

It seems that for each person, there are different things that work and don't work when it comes to weight loss and getting healthy. I think it's important to figure out what works for you as an individual. It sounds like you've done just that. :)

One thing that's been really helpful for me is having "Friday Dessert Day". I don't have any sort of dessert any day but Friday. When Friday rolls around, I can have any dessert I want (within reason, of course). ;) This has really helped me to stay strong during the week because I know I can have something special on Fridays (and it doesn't have to be the low-fat Weight Watchers ice cream bar). ;)

My hope for this month is to incorporate low glycemic eating as much as possible and try to document what I eat. When I don't keep track of what I eat, it's very easy to consume more than I need to.

I've found for myself that weighing once a week is best. I'm one of those who DOES become too obsessed if I weigh every day, and the result of my daily weigh-in can affect my mood for the day. ;) When I weigh every week, I still have a pretty good idea of how I'm doing, but it doesn't become the only thing I think about. (In theory, anyway.)

Another thing that I need to remember is that every good change I make is important, even if it doesn't feel like I'm seeing the results I want to. :}

Thanks again for stopping by. I'll be praying for you as you continue your weight loss journey as well. :)

Bettina said...

I've been enjoying your blog, being a doll and toy lover myself, and came across this post (I know a bit late, lol!).
I haven't read the previous comments, but wanted to say that food is not supposed to be this complicated. There will never be a diet that will work and leave you satisfied. The secret is to eat the food that the Creator put on this earth for us....fruit, vegetables, herbs. We must eat natural, not fake man made foods. The meat is injected with toxins, a lot of our food is genetically modified- and it will take too long to explain what that does to our dna. Look at pictures of groups of people from the 50's and 60's, they are all thin. The food has changed, we need to get back to the garden, so to speak. I don't want to tell you to try the 'raw food diet' as it may be tough if you are in a colder climate, but take a peak at Rawfoodrehab.ning.com. It's a community of people trying to get their health back, and you can get an idea of true healthy eating. It's a transition 'diet' if you want to call it that, which means it's a good start to move you in the right direction...but basically, the more closer to the earth you eat, the weight will drop off. Trust me on this. I just turned 50 now, and I weigh less than I did in my 20's, and I'm thinner than most of the students at the University I work at. You can also check out 'theliferegenerator' and 'daradubinet' on youtube for recipes. Even if you just eat fruits and veggies half the day, you will notice a massive difference in how you feel. Blessings to you,
bettina

beastsbelle said...

Thank you for the tip, Bettina. :) This sounds similar to the way my in-laws have been eating. They stay away from processed foods and focus on fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. It's really made a difference for them.

I still struggle with my love for foods that are NOT so healthy, but I'm trying to take one day at a time and change things little by little. :)