realistic goals

All posts in the realistic goals category

Living Large

Published May 12, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

Well you can take the fatty out of the blog but you can’t take the blog out of the fatty!  I still don’t have full internet access, waiting on it to be connected by my Telco, but I can’t stay away.  I’ve got stuff burbling around in my head and I need to share it!

As you probably know, I moved house a week ago.  I’ve moved to a lovely seaside suburb, mere metres from the bay.  Every morning when I wake up, the first sounds I hear are seagulls and other water birds.  At night, other than the occasional passing car, all I hear are the sounds of ocean breezes and lapping water, punctuated occasionally by the chime of the town clock.  It is so peaceful here, and so beautiful.  It was a hard wrench to move from the place that had been my home for almost 15 years (in fact, I only did it because I had to), but now that it’s done, I am so glad I have.

I mean, look at this place:

This is the first time I’ve had a major lifestyle change that I haven’t attached the goal of losing weight to.  In the past, every time I had a major life change, I would convince myself that this time, it would be the thing I needed to help me get thin.  That new job with the higher pay, meant that I could afford more weight loss programmes and gyms.  Moving away from the country meant that I would have access to more options to help me lose weight, and I could find more diet foods in the supermarkets.  Every time I changed my life somehow, I would desperately cling to the notion that it would be the change that would make me thin.

Of course, I know now, that it just doesn’t work that way.  My body is a fat body, and no matter what I do to it in an attempt to lose weight, there is a 95% chance that it will fail to actually make me thin.  I would say a 100% chance for me – after all, I’ve spent over 25 years trying to make my body thin – and no matter how extreme or whatever I did, nothing made me thin.  This is my body, and it is a fat body.  I am very comfortable in my body, more comfortable than I have ever been in my life.

But it’s funny, but after a week, I can already feel changes in my body.  For the first few days I think my body was desperately trying to shake off all the negativity, and toxicity, that I was carrying around before.  A few lungfuls of clean ocean air and my body seemed to go “Right, let’s shake all this shit out.”  My skin broke out in patches, and got terribly dry in other patches.  I seemed to produce copious quantities of snot and ear-wax.  My fingernails got all brittle.  And I was SO DAMN TIRED.  Some of that can be attributed to the exhaustion and stress of moving, but I really do feel like I was getting something out of my system.

A few days ago, I came good.  My energy levels came back.  My skin is starting to settle down.  I’m sleeping really well at night, but am not feeling tired during the day.  I’m off work at the moment so I am getting a lot of rest, but I think it’s about more than just time off work.  I think I’ve cast off the stresses of living in my old place, plus the new place doesn’t have carpets that I believe hold a lot of dust and stuff either.  Not to mention that I’m getting those lungfuls of fresh sea air.

There are other changes afoot too.  When I go back to work on Monday, I have a slightly longer trip, and now on a train instead of the bus.  That will give me 40 minutes each way that I can sit and read (I can’t read on the bus, it makes me pukey), which I think will be really significant on the trip home each day, in helping me let go of work for the day.  I have access to a really large supermarket which has much more choice than my old options, and is very close by.  Not to mention a lot of other small shops that I had no access to before.  Besides, groceries are significantly cheaper up here than they are closer to the city.  Don’t let anyone tell you that the big supermarkets don’t vary their prices by neighbourhood!  But most of all, I have daily access to this:

A beautiful foreshore where people walk, cycle, rollerskate, scoot, get dragged along by their dogs!  I have a beautiful bicycle – you’ve all seen my bicycle Iris haven’t you?  Here is an old photo of us together:

I now can go for a ride in my favourite place, every single day, without having to worry about being mowed down by traffic (I was always terrified to ride in most areas around my old place).  Not only is it my favourite way to move my body, but it’s also incredibly relaxing.  I always sleep so well after a bike ride.

But most of all, I feel relaxed an happy here.  My anxiety and depression is feeling lessened already.  It’s amazing what being somewhere you love and letting go of stress can do.

So you can see, I have a lot of changes in my life lately, and those changes are going to play out on my body and my health.  I hope the choice I have made to move here will mean they are positive changes, that I will feel more relaxed and stronger.  I hope that the exhaustion I suffered regularly before will be a thing of the past, now that I’m not living in such a stressful environment, am able to relax and put my head away from work, and can get out into fresh air, moving my body in a way that I enjoy, in a place that I love.

But for the first time in my life, I’m not pinning my hopes on these things making me thin.  Because to me, while being thin has cultural privileges, I now know that it is not a worthy goal to work towards.

And that is an incredibly liberating feeling.

Dear You, Volume 2.

Published May 29, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

Dear You,

Hello again.  It’s a little while since I wrote to you last, isn’t it?  I was just thinking about you.  Yes, you!  And you.  You too, over there in the corner.  I’ve been thinking about you a lot.

I want you to know something.  You’re ok, you are.  Oh I know, you’re not perfect and sometimes you feel fraudulent, like you’re only pretending to be ok, but the truth is, imperfection and “faking it” are ok too.

I want you to know, you don’t have to feel invincible all the time to be ok.  You don’t have to be permanently fabulous to make a difference to the world.  Nor do you have to be completely loving of yourself, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to be ok.  It’s ok to feel afraid, to have doubts, to be a little less than your shiny self from time to time.  It happens to all of us, and that’s ok.  The key thing is to acknowledge it, feel it and allow it to pass.  Or if you need it, it’s totally ok to ask for help.  You don’t have to change the world all on your own.

Also, don’t feel you have to perform all the time either.  There will be times where you just need to step back and BE without worrying about what you have to DO.  Anyone who expects you to be perfectly “on” all the time doesn’t really care about you – they’re caring more about themselves and their own expectations than your needs or feelings.

The thing is, self love is about so much more than just declaring “I am awesome!” and believing it.  You are awesome.  But you are also human, and part of caring for yourself is acknowledging that all humans are flawed, and cutting yourself some slack.  Forgiving yourself.  You will make mistakes, and you will be flawed, but that’s fine.  We are all flawed, we all make mistakes.  What matters is how you work through those mistakes and flaws.  The most perfect thing you can do is acknowledge them and learn from them.  But most importantly, be responsible for your mistakes.  That’s the thing that will make a difference.

Because really, it’s all about doing the best you can within whatever circumstances you’ve got in your life at any given time.  So what if someone else is able to do more, give more, be more.  That’s them, in their lives.  You have yourself, in your life, so that’s what you’ve got to work with.

But there is something I REALLY want you to know.  You are a perfectly acceptable human being right now, this minute.  You are just as valid as any other human being, without changing a single thing about yourself.  That doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to want to grow, evolve or improve yourself, or you can’t do better sometimes, it just means right now this instant, you are worthy of your own self love.  Even if it is hard to love yourself sometimes (and boy, is it!), or you’re struggling with some really difficult stuff in your life, you still deserve it.

So dearest you, be kind to yourself, be kind to others, and give the best version of you that you can give, but know that even in the tough times, you are still valid, worthy and deserving of your own self love.

I love you.


Real Women/Fake Women

Published May 1, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I want to share a photograph with you all:


This one popped up on my Tumblr last week, and someone else posted a link to it via Twitter as well.  I have been able to find that the model’s name is Natasha Poly and the image is from a shoot by Mario Sorrenti for Vogue Paris.

I want to point out a few things about this photograph, from a high fashion magazine.  Because I believe that the woman in this photograph looks like a concentration camp victim with a fake tan.   Now before you get all angry about that statement, read the rest of this blog post.

I would never presume to comment on another woman’s body, or suggest that a thin woman is unhealthy or ugly or anything else derogatory.  But I am going to say it about this photograph, because what we’re looking at is NOT Natasha Poly in her natural state.  It is not the woman we are looking at, but a fashion magazine’s representation of her.  We’re not looking at a real woman any more in this case.

I want you to look carefully at the photograph.  I’ll point out a few things for you.

Let’s start with the rib cage area.  Can you see the the highlights in the fake tan to define each and every rib?  Look down her right arm.  See the white highlight again, to make her arm look thin?  You will also see them on her left shoulder, collarbone and cheek bone.  And the really worrying bit?  That wee fair spot right on her right hip bone.

It also has darker patches of tan in key places.  Under the cheek bone, between the V’s of her ribcage, on the inside of her thigh, inside of her arms and a streak down the outside of her left leg.

All of this is to make the model, who I am sure is beautiful on her own, look even thinner and taller than she actually is.

Now look at some of the angles of her body.  The angle where her right hip meets her leg.  Or her waist on her left, down to the bikini string.  Take a look at her right shoulder, lifted to her chin.  Now at her right armpit around her inner arm and to her breast.  Look carefully at her left collarbone.  And finally, have a look at the length of her right lower leg.

Can you see the evidence of photoshopping there?  How the parts of her body are out of proportion or at angles that don’t fit with other angles of her body.

And of course, there’s the lighting (both real and photoshopped) that highlights the bones in her body to almost skeletal detail.

Models are beautiful women and they’re the rare examples of human beings that are tall, slim and even featured.  They’re gorgeous, and that’s why they’re models.  But what is happening more and more overtly is the twisting of the features of women in photographs, due to make-up, lighting, tanning products and poses and due to post production work with Photoshop and the like.  Real women are being turned into these ideals that are wholly unreal, and as far as I’m concerned, freak shows.

This is why I believe we have to use the term “real women” – because what we’re being presented is not in any way real at all.

It’s horrifying that even the tall, slender, beautiful models aren’t good enough any more.  They have to be painted and manipulated into taller, thinner, more unobtainable standards that no human can emulate without doing some serious damage to themselves.

What’s next for fashion magazines?  Avatar style CGI work that in no way resembles a human being?

I believe we need to stop worrying about offending each other with talking about bodies in the media and whether they are too thin or too fat, and focus on the work that is being done to images of real women, regardless of their shape and size, that takes them from photographs of real women, to caricatures of women.  Because we women are not characters, we’re people, and we shouldn’t be sold what I think of as “lies of beauty”.  This is not beauty.  Beauty is human and flawed and varied.  It’s not a set of treatments in a photo editing programme.

This is being held up to young women as the beauty ideal.  Looking at images that have been “doctored” like this and expecting their own bodies to look like this if they just stick to that diet, just do some exercise is making women and girls both physically and emotionally sick.  This is one of the reasons why in western culture, girls with perfectly healthy bodies think that they are fat, and why so many boys and men have an unrealistic ideal of the female body.

We are being presented a fake version of womanhood with photos like the above.

Instead of bickering over what constitutes a real woman or not, let’s just draw the line in the sand – real is how any given woman is in the flesh so to speak, even those who have had cosmetic surgery (which I personally don’t believe in, but those who’ve had it are still real women, we didn’t make them up in our heads) or are transgender, and anything doctored, altered, adjusted, photoshopped, edited or airbrushed away from that is unreal/fake/false.

In the case of this example I’m sharing with you, Natasha Poly is a real woman – that image above is not.

I want to see real women in fashion, beauty, entertainment, marketing and the media.  Women that should I meet them face to face, what I see is what was on the page and/or screen, not the unedited version of something that they are not and that nobody could possibly be.

Taming The Black Dog

Published March 20, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Remember my earlier post asking what you, my lovely readers, would like me to write about on this blog?  Well, another one of the subjects that came up repeatedly was self esteem/depression as a fat woman.  So let’s talk about that one today hmmm?

It’s a subject I know only all too well.  Not only do I suffer clinical depression (the black dog – what fun that is) but a lifetime of being a fat female with all and sundry telling me I was worthless meant that my self esteem was absolutely non-existant for most of my life, up until a couple of years ago.

I’m really lucky in that I found a wonderful doctor who took me under her wing and took my depression and low self esteem seriously.  She worked with me at first but soon decided that I would benefit from some good counselling.  She referred me to a psychologist who specialises in cognitive behavioural therapy and I’ve been seeing her now for three years.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) basically has you learning ways to change how you think and then behave.  It undoes all the negative messages and self loathing you’ve built up over your life, helping you learn to recognise when you’re having these usually irrational thoughts, and the behaviours that follow them.  Of course every therapist practices differently in method, but generally that’s the gist of what you’re learning to do with CBT.

For me, it was learning not to be so damn hard on myself.  A real pivotal moment for me was the realisation that I was asking of myself things I would NEVER ask of another human being, especially not one that I actually liked, such as a friend or prospective partner.  I was somehow expecting myself to be this superhuman being, yet was happy to accept everyone else for who they are, flaws and all.  When I learned just how irrational and unrealistic that was, I could literally feel a change in myself around my self esteem and the levels of depression that I suffer.

That doesn’t mean that it’s all sunshine and roses all the time, but it means I recognise low self esteem and depression for what they are, and just kind of wait it out until those things leave.

One of the best things about having built my self esteem and confidence up is that I am far more resilient to the difficult things in life.  Even the downright awful things in life.  I can’t say that there is any less fat hate and douchebaggery in the world, but I can say that I don’t carry around the burden of all of that anymore.  If someone wants to be hateful and a douchebag, it’s on their head, not mine.

I have learnt to be responsible for my own behaviour and attitudes, yet not take on board the behaviour and attitudes of other people.  It’s been one of the most difficult but most rewarding lessons in life to learn.

The more I like myself, the better life is.  I know that sounds wanky, like “Yeah, I rock!”  But it’s not like that really.  It’s about realising that I do alright in life, and that I am as valuable as anyone else.  It’s about doing the best I can with what I have at my disposal.  It’s about learning from my mistakes.  And it’s about cutting myself a break instead of being so critical.

There’s no magic bullet for finding good self esteem and confidence, it takes time and practice and learning from mistakes, but it’s worth every minute.  Because we’ve only got one life and we can’t waste it waiting around to be something we aren’t.

Besides, I believe every human being starts out a valuable being, it’s only through their behaviour and attitude they change that, not what shape their body is or whether or not they fit some kind of arbitrary idea of beauty.

A Few of My Favourite Things

Published November 22, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

Over on Fat Positive Feminism, Ali has done a fabulous post on a few of her favourite fat positive things.  I liked the idea so much, I thought I might do it myself.

So here are some fat positive things that I class as my favourites.

Queen Latifah


The name Queen really fits this lady.  She’s so regal, so elegant, yet so real and down to earth.  Not only can she sing, act, dance, carry comedy and looks fantastic in anything, she’s also an awesome role model for young women.

Leonard Nimoy’s Full Body Project

Fat women as they are, natural, beautiful and with dignity.  And yes, the photographs are taken by Leonard “Mr Spock” Nimoy!

Big Girl, You are Beautiful by Mika

This isn’t the correct version of the music video, but the correct version can’t be embedded.  But you get the idea.  A positive portrayal of fat women!

We Love Colors

An online shop that REALLY does cater to the plus sized market.  Their tights are well made, fit well and go to a very large size.  And the colours… oh the colours!

The Corrinna Chapman books by Kerry Greenwood


Corinna Chapman is a fat woman.  She’s also sexy, successful, loved by friends and her gorgeous, gorgeous boyfriend, funny, smart, talented and kind.  The first book, Earthly Delights opened up a whole new world of fiction for me, fiction where fat women aren’t the lazy, loser friends of the heroines.

The Fat Nutritionist

This lady is AWESOME.  Not only is she a fabulous fat activist, but she’s also changing attitudes within her profession on nutrition and diet, as well as exercise.  Plus she’s a very lovely person too.

Beth Ditto


I am a latecomer to the love of La Ditto.  At first I didn’t really dig her, I just thought she was someone that fatties glommed onto simply because she was “not thin”.  But then I saw this interview with her, and my opinion of her radically changed.  I’ve since got into her music with The Gossip, and I get her so much more.  Cool lady.

Elizabeth Patch’s More to Love

Pretty, feminine art depicting beautiful women with full, fat bodies, living their lives with positivity.

Evans Clothing

Not only do they cater to the plus sized market at a reasonable price, AND ship internationally, but they get some very cool ladies on board to promote, design and model their clothing.  Beth Ditto has a range.  Crystal Renn is a regular model.  Chaka Khan is the face (and bodacious bod) of their latest line.  These are clothes I like to see and want to wear.

So, now I throw it over to you.  What are some of your favourite things that are fat positive?  Clothes, celebrities, art, literature, music, you name it – share it in the comments.

But I Wanna be Healthy…

Published October 24, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

“But you’re suggesting we all get fat and disgusting!”

How many times have you heard this one?  I know I’ve heard it a whole lot of times, and not only by trolls on my blog.  Family, friends, acquaintances, you name it like to pull this one out when anyone talks about fat acceptance.

There seems to be a perception that those of us who are advocating fat acceptance just want the world to be fat like we are.

This is not so.  What I want as a fat activist is for the world to accept ME as I AM.  To respect my right to a happy, safe, confident life without discrimination, ridicule, censure or harassment.  And I want people like me to accept their bodies and live their lives to the full, regardless of what size they are.

Fat acceptance does  not automatically mean living a sedentary life, however if someone chooses to do that, then that is their choice and they should not be treated as less for doing so.

For me, fat acceptance means freeing myself from the self loathing and getting out and doing all the active things I was always too ashamed to do, because I am fat.  Accepting my body as fat makes me more likely to be active and healthy, because I’m not shutting myself at home in shame any more.  But I’m not doing it to lose weight, I’m doing it because it makes me feel good, because I enjoy it and because it makes my body feel good.

The same goes for eating.  I am learning that food does not equal morality.  There are no good foods or bad foods.  Well, except for peas, those are bad.

I eat when I am hungry, or when I have a craving.  I do not feel the need to starve myself, or purge when I do eat any more.  When I am sad or frightened or hurt, I do not starve myself as punishment.  I listen to what my body asks for, and when it wants chicken I give it chicken, when it wants beetroot, I give it beetroot.  When it wants ice-cream, I give it ice-cream.

Thankfully it never wants peas.

Fat acceptance is not about encouraging people to gain weight.  It’s about acceptance of our bodies at any size and shape, and the demand that others accept them as that too.  It’s also about the understanding that health and fat are not mutually exclusive.

I know when I am at my healthiest.  It’s certainly not when I’m thin.  My body tells me when I’m not healthy, when I need to make a shift in my activity or eating.

Just as an example, when I was travelling through the US a couple of years ago, I was really active at the time, walking most days for the whole day, but I was also eating out at everyone’s favourite restaurants, takeaways and cafes because all of the people I visited really wanted to share their favourite treats with me.  It was delicious, but after about 2 weeks, my body was SCREAMING at me.  “Please!  Just give me some broccoli!”  I can remember begging my friend Missy to take me somewhere vegetarian or health food based because I really just wanted to eat everything green.  She took me to a Panera (lovely chain of sandwich, salad, soup plus bakery kind of restaurants in the US) and I almost cried over the first mouthful of a vegan garden vegetable soup.  It was so good, and after that I realised that as much as it was lovely to be eating “party food” with folks as their guest, I had to make sure that I politely pointed myself in the direction of foods that my body was telling me I needed.  Because while I was visiting them for a few days or a week, I was on to the next lovely host who wanted to show me more party food from there.  I knew I had three months of this, so I knew to take care of myself.

I will never forget how good steamed Chinese broccoli with soy sauce tasted in Chinatown in San Francisco.  It was like an injection of energy too.

The perception that self acceptance is either being vain and saying “I’m perfect.” or being lazy is an erroneous one.  Self acceptance is about loving oneself as you are, and any changes you decide to make to yourself are FOR yourself.  I believe that as a human being I’m in constant need of improvement, challenge and polish.  But that is for me, not because other people tell me I should, or tell me that I’m less than they or others are.

I know the things that I want to improve in myself.  They are my business and nobody else’s.

Still a Long Way to Go

Published August 9, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

I want to talk a bit about body image and body confidence tonight. I’ve been following a lot of fat acceptance blogs and Tumblr accounts over the past few months, and it’s great to see so many positive representations of fat women. The fellas aren’t getting that much representation much, but isn’t it always the way when it comes to pictures of bodies?

Some of the good ones I regularly read are The Adipositivity Project, Fuck Yeah Fat Bitch and Hey Fat Chick. There are others out there.

One thing I am noticing though, is that the only fat bodies that seem to be acceptable to post, are those with seemingly flawless, soft, white, creamy skin, no trace of body hair, stretch marks, scars or other flaws. Occasionally you might get a gorgeous fat black woman, but again, miles and miles of perfect skin. And often it’s quite obviously through snazzy lighting, flattering photography and post camera editing that we’re being presented these images.
While I do think it is amazing that we have come this far, I do think we have some while to go before we’re really getting the message ourselves, let alone sending the message out further to the rest of the world.
I think perhaps these arty, flawless shots, sometimes contribute to some of the body image problems we have. While it’s good to see these gorgeous fat bodies, and we feel like we’re closer to being something to admire, I wonder does the fact that EVERYBODY has flaws and blemishes somehow get missed with the message?
I know the guys are used to seeing their porn retouched for many years so that women are flawless or some image of flawless, and then the fashion mags picked up on it and have run like crazy with it too. But I’m wondering what the point is having “body positive” blogs and such, but still filtering out things that are labelled as “unsightly” or “unattractive” in the content?
The reality is though, that human beings are big old lumpy creatures, and they have hair, scars, stretchmarks, zits, pores, freckles, scratches, bruises, moles, pigmentation and all kinds of other marks all over them. It’s all part of the complex system that the human body is. And despite all of these blemishes, the human body is still beautiful. Even because of these blemishes in a lot of cases.
How many other women look at photos like the one above and say “But she’s gorgeous, I couldn’t be seen in just my underwear, I look nothing like that.”? How many men think that all women are as flawless as the young lady above? Are we striving even now for an unrealistic perfection, even though we’re allowing fat bodies to be seen?
I wonder is it time we need to start being even more honest and realistic about human bodies?