I am not your fat yoga teacher

I'm not your fat yoga teacher
I'm not your curvy
plus size
body-positive
Instagram-envelope-pushing
guru.
I don't want to be
your daughter's
niece's
sister's
or
your
role model.
I am not your fat yoga teacher
no matter how much better
you feel on your mat
because of my size.
We're not playing that game.
I'm not playing this game.
The game where
you look at me
and you think,
I'll give her a complement
I'll tell her how much better I feel
on my mat
because she's not
like
your typical "anorexic" yoga teacher.
That is NOT a complement.
That is NOT love.
That is NOT yoga.
Suppose
my body changes
like all bodies do
and suddenly I no longer
look the way you need me to look
in order to feel like you belong
on your mat.
You're playing with fire.
You're only hurting yourself.
See
this is the damage we cause
ourselves
each other
ourselves
each other
me
you
me.
I am not
your fat yoga teacher.
I am
Erica Jacobs.

A Binge Eater Walks Up to a Donut Buffet

*On experiencing my first wedding reception donut buffet, as a recovered Binge Eater*

Like a drunken Prom Queen tripping over the train of her dress to collect her crown, I bolt from the dance floor, rush to the glorious donut shrine and stand in awe. I grab the way-too-small dessert plate from the stack and press it close to my cleavage, like a teenage girl nervously clutches her school books, as the boy she's in love with passes her in the hall.

They're all so pretty, they sparkle and I swear one just winked at me.

My eyes widen and my heart beats a little faster. I'm Excited. I'm Nervous. I'm hungry for a donut. And like a gaggle of mourners at an Amish funeral, a crowd forms around the oval table these round beauties rest on. That's when I hear the rumble of food shaming comments and the noisy arguments of, "Oh, this is dangerous." "Okay, I'll have one bite, but then we have to dance hard to burn this off." "Allen, take this away from me. You eat the rest. I can't be trusted." "You know I have no self-control." "No, you can't eat that, it's full of sugar." "Oh. Gluten."

I remember when I said those things. I remember promising to be 'good'. I remember chewing food and feeling proud for not swallowing it. I remember how much my throat burned when I did swallow, and ran to the bathroom to un-swallow it. I remember all the nights I sneaked into pantries and lost myself in a box of Oreos, or a pot of spaghetti, or an entire rectangle of cheese, or a jar of peanut butter. I remember crying on the kitchen floor, often. I remember when food was bad, and my body was bad and my appetite was bad and donuts were bad and I was bad and everything was bad.

My head is full of the useless chatter and I wonder what people will think of me when they see me take a bunch of donuts for myself. They'll think I'm still a binge eater. They're feel sorry for me, yet proud of themselves. Like, the whole, "Yea I ate a donut, but at least I didn't eat as much as Erica..." I'm about to put my plate down and run back to the safety of the dance floor, where I can burn more calories instead of ingesting them. And that's when I hear the voice; "Go ahead, honey. Take exactly what you want. It's okay. This is normal, now. You're not sick anymore, remember?" This is the new voice I listen to. She's new here. She's the food/body-positive parent I never had, and she came to stay with me when I was in recovery for my eating disorder. She helps me a lot.

I take a deep breath and turn my plate level, readying it for my selections...

The pink one with sprinkles matches my nail polish; I'll have that one. And the caramel one is the same color as my eyes; I want that one, as well. This other one is glazed and shines bright like a diamond in good lighting, just like me; I'll grab that one, too. This one in the corner looks kind of plain but I'll bet there's good inside; Mine. Coconut-covered? Why not! BACON-sprinkled? Um, duh!

Piled high to the starry, summer sky, I carefully walk my teetering donuts back to my table and arrange all nine of them in a line. I take one bite of each, noticing the vast and subtle differences in taste, texture, flavor and appearance. I like the pink one with sprinkles, best. I offer up the remaining eight donuts, who were now one bite shy of a full circle, and my table mates are thankful. And confused. And drunk.

I sit back in my chair and take bites of my pink sprinkled donut, knowing this is just enough for me. I'm eating exactly what I want. No need to binge. No urge to purge. No reason to cry on my kitchen floor. No big deal. It's not a special occasion that makes donuts okay...it's me who makes donuts okay to eat.

I smile enough to pick a stray blue sprinkle stuck between my teeth, when I hear the voice again- that voice that had found its way back to me, by the grace of God, just when I thought I could never get well. Through blaring music, loud, silly wedding guests and clanking glassware, I heard her. Loud and clear: 'I trust you with food, Erica.' Your body is good. Food is good. Donuts are so good. Your appetite is good. Remember? I trust you with food, Erica. I trust you with life.   

Wholeheartedly,

Erica

I Remem...

"I remem..." By, Erica Jacobs

I remember when I didn't have a cell phone

and I wasn't sexually active

and life was simpler,

maybe. 

 

When I'd read storybooks to my stuffed animals,

present each page like my teacher did 

at school. 

 

I remember wedding albums;

my Parents',

her parents',

their parents'. 

I wanted that 

I want that. 

 

I remember my Belle and Beast

figurines

dancing at their pretend wedding

on top of my boom box

to "The Hustle".

I wanted a floor length gown, too;

but not yellow. 

 

I remember the first time I weighed myself 

100lbs. 

Is that too high? 

It's too high. 

Right?

 

The Cinnamon Toast Crunch

so high up, too high up.

I remember the loudness 

of the step stool.  

Bowl

after bowl

after bowl

after bowl. 

 

I remember sleepovers 

"Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board" 

"Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board"

I'm anything 

but light as a feather. 

 

I remember the first time

I stopped 

when I was full

Waited to feel hungry again. 

 

And I did feel hungry again

so I ate. 

Stopped when I felt full. 

Eat. 

Stop. 

Repeat. 

 

Eat. 

Stop. 

Repeat. 

 

Eat. 

Talk. 

Stop. 

Repeat. 

 

Eat. 

Watch TV. 

Laugh. 

Stop. 

Still hungry. 

Eat. 

Repeat. 

 

I remember what it took

to slow down,

to listen,

to chew,

to breathe. 

 

Food,

turns out,

is just food. 

 

So I focus

on other things;

I still want a floor length gown,

a white one. 

And a cake. 

And a groom. 

And a wooden floor

where we dance the Hustle. 

 

You remember 

where I'm going with this...

 

Wholeheartedly,

Erica

Getting Dressed With Erica: A Stitch-Fix Story

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Once upon a time, in a dressing room (next door to yours, probably) a young woman, named Erica, sit naked, sobbing on the floor. No matter how hard she tried, she could never find clothes that complemented her waist, hugged her strong legs the right way or flattered her loving arms. Ever. WHY is this so easy for everyone else?! WHY do jeans look great on EVERYONE in the entire world, except me?! she cried. In her closet, she had lots of clothes, in all kinds of sizes and styles, based on what her body looked like any given month or year. Previous years of chronic dieting and binge eating had caused her body (and the way she felt in it) to fluctuate.

Though her relationship with food had drastically improved, her body image often held her back from getting dressed. Yoga pants, leggings and over-sized shirts were go-to and kept her sane and safe.

One day, Erica's BFF told her to read a book called, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. So she did. And basically the book told her to get rid of anything that didn't "spark joy". So, she did that, too. She dismantled her kitchen, and tore through her photo albums and old greeting cards.  She parted ways with books that no longer socially or intellectually served her. And then, she addressed her wardrobe...

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Erica got rid of most everything and she was left with just a few pieces that did indeed spark joy. But that was only the first step. Not only was she to part ways with the clothes that no longer served her in the present, she needed a new method, a new attitude and a clear intention for the future of her closet.

To keep it simple for herself, Erica set a very practical and easy intention:

"to cultivate joy, femininity and comfort in a carefully edited and stylish wardrobe"

One day, as she was scrolling through her social media, (which was kind of all-day occurrence), Erica stumbled upon a company named Stitch-Fix: Clothing and accessories hand-selected by a personal stylist, delivered to your door. 

For reals? Erica thought. Sweet. She filled out the profile on the website, punched in her credit card number, which she had memorized, and scheduled her first clothing "fix" for the following week. She even dropped a little note to her stylist:

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She tried each item on in the comfort of her own home, armed with all the tools needed to try on clothes in a sane and joyful way: Natural light, a full-length mirror, and LOTS of room to frolic in the frocks and dance in the denim. She kept what worked for her and sent the rest back.

She scheduled her next fix for the following month:

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So far, Erica not only enjoys Stitch-Fix, but is now able to see the value in wearing clothes that tell the story of how she feels about herself, any given day. Her body image slowly but surely improves each time she goes to her closet, knowing that EVERY item in there, fits the body she has today. She's still the young naked women in the dressing room, only her dressing room is her own home and she isn't sobbing anymore. But she's still naked a lot of the time..which is fine, also.

The End.


some logistics:

if Stitch-Fix is something that might bring peace to your shopping process, here are 7 things that I have found helpful in my experience so far...
1) If you're hippy-dippy-kinda like me, maybe set a simple intention for what you value/want in your wardrobe. nothing fancy or out there, just think about what you want your closet to represent to you.
2) It often takes a few shipments for you and your stylist to find a rhythm. So, give it a few tries!
3) create a style board on  Pinterest, to help your stylist get an idea of who you are! be sure to pin the styles/colors/fabrics/patterns/"mood" of your desired wardrobe. pin all kinds of things from all kinds of places! also, be sure to name it something pleasant :) Here's mine.
4) only keep things from your shipment that spark joy, make you feel & look amazing, and are in line with what you value in a wardrobe.
5) do not feel discouraged, apologetic or guilty for returning anything (or everything) your stylist has picked for you. this is their job. you will gain nothing buy purchasing something just because you don't want to be a 'difficult' shopper.
6) remember: this is not the be all and end all of shopping for clothes. this is just one option of so many!
7) have fun! Go on! get dressed! go out! mmmmbyyyeeee

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Dear Business Coach...

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A few posts back, I mentioned that I've thrown away all of my old journals. Not only were they totally irrelevant and unnecessary to hold onto, I could never get through one page of one journal without turning to my imaginary friend, opening my mouth and my eyes wide wide, as if t say "Oh.... MyGod. What a loser!" But that's not to say there is no value in revisiting words, videos or photos that represent who and where we were at a point in time; I just didn't need twelve books all written in the penmanship of a retired Pharmacist, explaining how shitty my upper-middle class teen-aged life was. I mean...right?!

But as I sifted through some old emails today, I came across one that I wrote to a Business Coach I hired almost exactly one year ago. My relationship with her came to an end shortly after I wrote this, but maybe the point of hiring her was to have a reason to get all this out. And that's what I did.

I'm sharing this email with you for a few reasons:

 1) I share everything else with you, so why not this?
2) Even "Coaches" and creative entrepreneurs (like me) don't know what the hell they're doing with their life, sometimes.
3) I'm not the only relatively neurotic human being who's had these thoughts and feelings.
4) I'm no longer in the same place I was when I wrote this email and I thought I always would be.

This Coach's name is irrelevant so for the purposes of this post, I'll call her

"Business Coach."

Without further ado...Happy Spinning!

spinning
spinning

January 4th, 2015

Subject: "Spinning"

"Happy New Year, *Business Coach! I hope 2015 is finding you well.

I'm emailing because I'm spinning today. I feel so anxious and scared about my future and I don't know how to navigate any tools to put things into perspective.

I've always been able to see a big picture that I deem to be my destiny or an ultimate dream of mine, but I am impatient when it comes to taking the necessary steps to get there.

Blah blah blah. I could go on typing, trying to over think things and express myself in  practical, self-loving, compassionate, forward thinking words. But I feel more compelled to list the cycle of thoughts that occupy my mind and my body 24 hours a day, leaving no room for anyone or any thing. So, here goes..

I'm 28 years-old and have not been able to financially support myself, despite all my education, experience, talents, willingness and ability to work hard.

I love working with children and I'm good at it. I love my title as Director at My Gym, and I'm frustrated I am accepting only $18,000/year.

I feel guilty about believing I am worth more, since there's so much hype about wanting money as an American is a bad thing. And how greedy we are as a culture. I feel like I need to prove to the world I'm not trying to earn millions, I'm just trying to pay rent.

I'm an excellent writer and public speaker. I have always articulated my thoughts with sincerity and clarity. Not everyone can do this and I wonder how I can put this skill to good use and/or profit from it.

I may be sensitive as a person, but I am also tough. I'm fearless in many ways and terrified in others.

I'm terrified I won't ever be in a loving relationship.

I'm terrified I won't ever have children.

I'm terrified we've done so much damage to the human psyche that Coaches, Counselors, Therapists and Social Workers who want to help, will always be spinning their wheels.

I will fearlessly check behind every door, in every closet and under the bed for someone hiding, waiting to kill me. But I am too fearful of getting my heart broken or being a failure in business or relationships, so I avoid them.

By default, I am always on Craigslist, looking for jobs, to feel safe. But I don't want to just work for a paycheck for the rest of my life. At least at My Gym, I'm making a difference and get to be active. No, I'm not getting paid what I'm worth, or enough to live, but at least I don't feel like a drone. The next tab I open, right after Craiglist, is PadMapper.com or any other apartment website, looking for a place with cheaper rent. I pay $1450, which some days seems like a lot and other days seem reasonable, considering any other apartment or studio in the South Bay will only save me, at most, $200, to which I think I could just become a prostitute for an extra $200/month and BOOM, there's me making up the rest of my "outrageous" rent.

*Business Coach, I'm so scared. During our first conversation you mentioned that our country comes from a state of scarcity, thus that's why our country is poor. So, like, all I have to do is keep 'coming from a place of abundance'? What the hell does that even mean? And as a side note, I don't want to do only ONE job. I have lots of things I'm good at and want to work toward. I wouldn't even want to be a writer full-time. Full time equals "fast burnout" to me. But that makes me sound like a spoiled little child, because I don't want to saturate all my time in just ONE thing. Who the hell am I to think I have a choice?

I think I've covered just about everything that has me curled up on my couch in fetal position today. I don't know what I need from you as far as a response. If I were brutally honest and had my wish, I would want to hear

 "You're going to be more than okay, Erica. I understand everything you're saying and most people who are about to go through a huge breakthrough feel this way. I've seen it. I've given you a boost with my hand to get you to the very top of the fence, where you now have 1 leg on each side. This is the hardest part and I promise you're doing the right thing by going over to the other side. You don't need to move out of your apartment. That is your home and you have every right to stay."

Part of me wants to hear this from you, just because I'm investing a lot of money into working with you. But I know I need to be saying these things to myself.

I feel so alone in the world and I feel like I'm spinning, failing AND flailing, left and right...which always causes me to binge eat. And that opens a WHOLE other can of worms.

Thank you for taking the time to read my sincerest feelings. If you don't mind, I'd love to hear any thoughts you have.

Love,

Erica"

So, friends...please know that the way we feel about our jobs, our family, our relationships and the direction of our life is never permanent. Sometimes we're certain, sometimes we're not. Sometimes we're lost, sometimes we're found. Sometimes it takes a cup of tea and essential oils to bring us back down to earth. And sometimes dinners with friends and a very dirty martini, or three, helps smooth out the rough edges and harsh thoughts. It's okay. You're okay.

So much love to you, wherever you are on your path to wherever the heck you wanna go!

And as always, feel free to tall me where you are on your journey. Have you ever had these thoughts? Am I alone, here?

xo,

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