Blogging Takes Balls

I must be honest with all of you, when I decided a month ago to begin this blog, I was a little bit afraid.

While I wouldn’t exactly say that I am a particularly secretive about my life, I will say that I struggle with the idea of being an open book. I am not a perfect person (shocker!) and while I make sincere efforts every single day to be better, I am always falling short of my expectations. I make mistakes. I take detours. I make choices that others probably wouldn’t consider ideal. As much as I really want to tell you all that I don’t care what people think of what I say or do, doing such just wouldn’t be honest.

I have been blogging off and on since I was a teenager, but for the most part, I never had the figurative “balls” to keep my writings public for any extended period of time. My first real foray into public view was probably when I began losing weight on SparkPeople. I participated in discussions in their various communities and I sporadically blogged my successes and failures. In my writings there, I tried to be as genuine as possible. The importance of being true became even more significant to me once people had read my motivational blog entry about weight loss success and I was voted a “SparkPeople Motivator.” I had no idea why anyone would want to read my story or use me as a role model, but if some people could be helped through my experiences, then I wanted to be as candid and as sincere as possible.

There were many people who heard exactly what I was saying and I received literally hundreds of comments and SparkMails about how inspirational my journey was to others. I couldn’t believe it. Me? Inspire you? Get out of town.

The problem, however, was that there were plenty of individuals who only took what they wanted to from my story. Over and over again I would be literally in tears, or completely livid due to comments or messages I had received where the person had completely missed my point.

In my article I recounted an incident where I was humiliated by a restaurant worker because of my size. I said in plain English that being trashed by someone didn’t inspire me to lose weight, but instead just made me bury myself further in the hole under an entire pack of Oreos. That it made me feel like the rest of the world thought I was less of a person because I was heavy and instead of encouraging me to do better, it only reinforced my opinion that I was hopeless. I said that despite this event’s proximity to turning my life around, it wasn’t the catalyst…my “healthy tipping point”, if you will. It was just another day in the life of someone who assumed she “would always be fat”.

Despite my insistance that being ridiculed, for me, isn’t a motivator, there were certain people who just couldn’t get away from the idea. For every person who said that waitress was the worst person on Earth, there was another one who told me that the miserable hag had done me the biggest favor. They said, “Isn’t it great that you were once again emotionally beaten into the ground? It made you lose weight!”

News flash, people: If people publicly ridiculing me could produce weight loss, I would’ve been the skinniest 6th grader in history.

Even recently when I wrote about being a “Beautiful, Grown Woman” I got responses about how great it was that I had lost the weight and finally became pretty. I was floored. Am I speaking in another language, or something? Some weird, crazy internet language where everything I say means the opposite?

In addition to people sometimes completely misconstruing the point of my writing, there is also the pressure I put on myself to be the best for my readers. While I certainly am not one of the “high rollers” on Spark, I get traffic, and I wanted to be what they wanted me to be. The person who never gives up. The person who pushes on when times get rough and frankly, the person who doesn’t put 20 pounds back on because of her ongoing battle with emotional eating. When I’m struggling, I don’t want to post about it. I don’t want anyone to know. I want to be a superwoman for you all. I don’t want you to think I’m phony.

Here’s the truth: I’m not fake…..but I’m not a superwoman either.

These are the struggles that blogging and public weight loss have left me with over the last three years. When I talk about these feelings, most people have no idea what I’m talking about, so my friend Maya has had to bear the brunt of my emotions on the matter. Maya was actually the one who introduced me to SparkPeople in 2007, and more recently, had been the person who turned me on to ideas that come from Healthy Living Blogs.

(read: Oatmeal with awesome toppings and Green Monsters! I’m in love! ❤ )

She has talked me down from my rants many times, reminding me that I can’t control what others take from my writings. Some people will get where I’m coming from, while others are hung up with their own problems and only see what they want to see. She reminds me that no one will think I’m a fraud because I, like everyone else, have demons to battle. She reminds me that people have liked following me because I am real.

She’s sounding kind of smart, right now, isn’t she?

It’s true though.

When I think of what draws me into the healthy living community, it isn’t just the fact that these people run marathons, cook amazing food, blog three times a day, take beautiful pictures and still have time for their significant others. What draws me in are their bad runs, kitchen blunders, cell phone shots and the way they admit that life, is in fact, hard. These bloggers do achieve amazing feats, but they’re normal people, just like me.

I love them for that.

When I read the Marie Claire article that ripped so many of my favorite bloggers apart, I was enraged. Not so much at the idea that there may be readers out there who get the wrong idea about these women, as I think that is a real issue. Even from the small taste of the public eye I’ve had, I know first hand that no matter what you do, some people will get the wrong idea. I was incensed by the idea that instead of creating an open dialogue where both sides of the issue could be discussed rationally, the so-called journalist decided to wage a personal attack on 6 very real women based on a few examples taken out of context and medical professionals who were most likely paid to say what would best support her exceptionally weak thesis.

All I want to say to “the big six” (how ridiculous is that handle?!) is:

Keep doing what you’re doing.

You all inspire me to do better and to keep it honest and real.

And I am grateful.

9 thoughts on “Blogging Takes Balls

  1. I had no idea of your background in blogging except for your introduction of yourself and the last few posts. I came here after reading a comment of yours on PW’s site. PW is the only blogger I followed until I started following you. I read the Marie Claire article and came away so very glad that you seem to have a much much healthier outlook on weight loss/exercise than the Big 6. Admittedly, I have only read that article and have not read their own blogs. They do sound extreme. So are you saying here that it is only a matter of perception? You do not think they are extreme in their eating and exercise habits and the article is taking things out of context and is incorrect?
    And just for the record, no matter what anyone else says, I know this is true: Anytime someone says something nasty/negative to someone to ‘inspire’ them it will never ever get a positive response. It is outright wrong of anyone to humiliate someone else for any reason. I am so sorry that there have been people who are unkind to you in person or as commenters. Unfortunately, there are always going to be people who are nasty like the waitress or clueless like the person who said it was great you ‘finally’ got to be pretty. Ignore them and listen to the rest of your friends and readers who are positive. I like your writing style and am glad you have an open blog.

    1. That’s the thing…the “big six” DON’T have unhealthy eating or exercise habits. While I don’t read all six of them regularly, I do read some of them everyday and the practices described in that article are completely out of context.

      Caitlin from Healthy Tipping Point didn’t starve herself after running 22 miles….as documented on her blog, she ate an entire loaf of bread and some pasta. She is an athlete and trains for marathons, and thus, she promotes eating to properly fuel her body. She tells her readers that she eats 1800-2800 calories a day when she is in training and running such extreme mileage.

      The article talks of these people having the occasional beer….Kath from KERF brews her own beer at home and is seen sampling beer almost everyday on her blog.

      All of the bloggers mentioned picture their food multiple times daily on their sites and their plates NEVER look as empty as the pictured plate on that article does. Their plates are heaped with healthy, solid food choices. They don’t shun carbs and push away treats. They incorporate them into their lives. If anything, reading their sites reinforce the idea that eating healthy doesn’t mean starvation or boring diet foods. It means eating REAL food. Non-processed, good food.

      With some banana pudding thrown in for good measure!

      I am saying that this “journalist” set out to create a scandalous story and pieced together comments and actions taken out of context to get it. I don’t disagree that there ARE unhealthy blogs out there. Dangerous ones, even. But I don’t think these ones qualify. That’s why I am royally pissed that this journalist didn’t present a fair article, where we could discuss both sides.

      Anyway, these are my opinions. I encourage you to read the rebuttals from the bloggers in question and read through their entries and see if you still feel the same.

  2. Aww.. you’re making me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. ❤

    In all seriousness though, I believe, and have always stuck by the idea that your imperfection is what makes you so inspiring to the people who have read your story. From the very beginning it was pretty clear that your story resonated in a way that the perfect "I lost 100 pounds and now I'm running marathons!" stories failed to; precisely because you did NOT have perfect results. You did NOT feel 100% great every day, you did NOT stay on plan all the time, you did NOT drop weight steadily without any setbacks, you were NOT always positive despite those setbacks, and you did NOT hide it. To the hundreds and thousands of people who read your article, it made you human, like them, and it made the results you had achieved seem attainable. It helped to reassure those who were clinging to their last fiber of hope that yes, it is possible to succeed without having to be perfect all the time. People need to hear that.

    People like you, Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point, etc. show both the joys and struggles of living a healthy lifestyle. I think it's important to get that out there. Yes, for every balanced blog there are several unbalanced ones and that is something that needs to be discussed, but I agree with you wholly that the Marie Claire article went after the wrong people to prove its point.

  3. Hey! I loved your response! And I loved that you gave your background info on how you got into blogging! I was livid with the Marie Claire article. I think you said it best about why there is such a huge group of people involved in the healthy living “blogosphere”

    “When I think of what draws me into the healthy living community, it isn’t just the fact that these people run marathons, cook amazing food, blog three times a day, take beautiful pictures and still have time for their significant others. What draws me in are their bad runs, kitchen blunders, cell phone shots and the way they admit that life, is in fact, hard. These bloggers do achieve amazing feats, but they’re normal people, just like me.”

    I mean, I personally love that sometimes Tina from CNC sits on the couch with her hubby and eats a few spoonfuls of raw cookie dough straight from the Pillsbury tube! I don’t care how you spin it… the way that article was written was just so wrong. And I’M sorry… but last time I checked Marie Claire wasn’t exactly the poster child for healthy body image and self-esteem issues. I think that’s why there’s such a community amongst the readers of all these wonderful blogs… we can all relate to eachother. Unlike the dolled up and airbrushed Hilary Duff or Vanessa whatshername, who are so often featured on the cover of this magazine, which then furthers the unrealistic expectations that women place on themselves.

    Pish posh, Marie Claire. You are the weakest link. Goodbye!

    1. Thanks!

      I agree on all points. There are so many ways this could’ve been handled fairly. Ways that would’ve opened up the door to discuss ways we can improve our community. Too bad that Marie Claire didn’t want to be part of any of that.

  4. Just stumbled upon your blog and read this post, and a great first post to read might I add! So well said about the Healthy Living Blogs. I myself am a new blogger, despite being a reader of those blogs for quite some time now. At first I was so in awe of these women and kept thinking I can’t be quite that “healthy” or run marathons like they can. Truth is we all can do those things but it takes guts to actually tell your story, missteps and all, to strangers! It’s so reassuring to read about others who are struggling to find peace with their imperfect selves – it is the probably the #1 reason I keep reading these blogs. So thank you for writing so honestly, you’ve got another reader on your side!

    1. Thanks…and I’m glad you liked my post.

      We all can achieve healthy living. Reading the blogs in the community just remind us that it takes work, we’re not always going to be on track, but if we want to make the change, then it’s completely possible.

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