Walking A Mile In My Skinny Jeans

Pants, specifically jeans, have always been a little harder for me. I know I “shouldn’t” complain, but I struggle. This last winter, I was too scared to try on my pants. One day, I started to pull up one leg and I could tell at the calf that it wasn’t going to be pleasant. I stopped there, and I didn’t deal with my jeans all winter. I tried to face it, but I couldn’t.   In March, I needed to find something to wear for my birthday and I decided maybe I’d just buy a new pair. Many of my clients know that me trying to shop for jeans is just as scary as me trying on my own, and they offered encouragement along the way.  After a minor panic attack in a dressing room, I ended up with something. We joked, however, that the best fitting pair of pants was a size double 0, relaxed fit, curvy skinny jeans. What the hell does that even mean?

I still haven’t worn those jeans but I purchased them because they were on clearance. I had a conversation on a run about this with a couple women – we all range in age and size, but I didn’t feel like anyone was judging me. Many of the women in the group have struggled with their weight or have set weight loss goals, so they understand my fear of not being able to button my jeans.

This past weekend I had a conversation with one of my clients who also recently had to go jean shopping. While she has lost a lot of weight, she’s not yet at her goal and still isn’t comfortable in a dressing room (though who is). She knew it would take a little longer shopping because she didn’t know what size she was and that it still wouldn’t be pleasant because she isn’t yet the size she wants to be. To top it all off, she was in a time crunch. She ended up finding something and being in a smaller size, but that’s not the point of this story.

She told me that while shopping she saw the rack of size 0s and 00s. She even saw the curvy size 00 and had a giggle. And then she said the most comforting and beautiful thing I’ve ever heard as a coach. She said, “I looked at the 0s and 00s and I couldn’t hate them. I know them because I know you. I know real people that are that size, and you know what – I now realize it isn’t any easier being that size. You struggle just as much as I do in that dressing room. You are fighting the same battle. There is just as much pain and discomfort in the 0s as there are in the other sizes.”

Had we not been at the end of a run, and had I not been so tired, I may have cried. Her realization is true. It is very easy to look at someone else and think their life is easy, but that isn’t always the case. I think I relate to my clients so well because of my past and because of the battle I fight every day. I get frustrated when I see people post something about finally being a perfect size “4” or “6” or “8”. I get upset when they show pictures of themselves in their old jeans or pants to show how much weight they lost. Those pictures and posts don’t tell the whole story. Some of us have to learn to be okay in whatever size happens to fit and that happiness doesn’t come from fitting into a certain size or pair of pants.

I’m sure plenty of people have been inspired by those pictures of people in their old jeans that are too big. However, I think learning that despite major differences we are all fighting the same battle and can all help each other – that’s a much greater reason to be inspired. They say that before passing judgment on someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. Well, I guess we’ve changed that saying in my group. I will forever be grateful for the women who had the courage to walk a mile in my skinny jeans.  Thank you for not judging me, ladies.  You truly are an inspiration.


Deadlier Than Rhubarb


Who knew this could cause so much drama? What could be an even bigger issue?

Last weekend I was talking with my friend who happens to be a registered dietitian.  We’re both huge goof balls, we’re both a little blonde; and while we’re both incredibly smart and educated, we both rely on each other for accountability and support.  More than once I’ve had her review my meal plans and she’s had me review her fitness plans. We co-teach groups that focus on healthy eating and fitness, but we know a lot about each other  so we bounce ideas off each other.

She was telling me about a recent beet dish she prepared, and I was intrigued.  I explained that I was struggling recently with my own nutrition plan because I’m bored of my usual vegetables and fruits.   We then started talking about different ideas to spice things up a little bit.  Here’s the conversation as we remember:

Ashley: What about rhubarb?  I saw that it was on sale … but it sort of freaks me out.  I always think it should be with the celery and carrots, but it’s always with the berries?  Is it a fruit or vegetable?  Can I just eat that like a stalk of celery?  Think I’d like it?

Joanne:  No! It would taste bitter as hell … oh and by the way, don’t eat the leaves, they are poisonous.  (We argue, I’m pretty sure she said it would taste like ass crack, but she also says I’m making that up).

Ashley:  Haha!  Good to know.  Guess I won’t be trying that one anytime soon.

Joanne:  Yeah.  It’s really bitter.  People tend only to eat it with lots of sugar. It’s used in pies and desserts.  It’s not really something people eat raw.  What about squash and zucchini?

We moved on. Later that day, I made a post on my personal Facebook page jokingly thanking my friend for saving my life and being glad I have professionals in my life.  I didn’t name the food mostly because I felt like a moron and because I thought the whole situation was a display of my blondeness.  It was meant to be playful not informative.  Two people asked me about it, and I sent both the link(s) Joanne had sent to me with the list of poisonous plants/produce etc.  I didn’t think anyone would really care about this post, but they did – so I decided I’d work on something for a future blog post that would address some of the more dangerous items.  For now, however, I’d leave it alone.  I have a personal rule though that I will not present food as good or bad, and I will never list foods to avoid or not to eat. Rhubarb leaves weren’t worth risking my integrity.  Things got out of hand really fast, and  I actually took down the “status”.   I couldn’t tolerate anymore statements like, “I don’t see what the big deal is about telling people not to eat some food you thought yourself was dangerous.” You see, I believe there’s always more to the story and that by simply putting up one food to avoid, I’d be playing into the social media craze.  Where truly there’s a whole bunch of hidden dangers that are more important to address than rhubarb leaves.  Further, some of us just need one little excuse to go rogue on our own health journeys.  This wasn’t my intention, and I wasn’t going down that road that day.   There are more qualified individuals out there to do that.   I got into a heated discussion with a friend who owns her own health coaching business about this.  I sent her the links too and told her she was more than welcome to share them.  She thought I was being too stubborn and should just share the links myself, but I wasn’t going to share a link that I knew would only get hits because of fear and a sexy title.  She shared it. It was ridiculous how many people opened the link; however, not many people felt the need to share, comment, or like it.  So, maybe I wasn’t too far off.

This week, I’ve seen a lot of articles and posts on “skinny fat”.  I’ve been purposely avoiding them.  This morning, I saw that 10 friends share the same link!  6 people shared another.  I read them, and after I was pretty sure I was dying of obesity.  Both articles explained that thin people have higher fat percentages because they have less muscle.  They said things like, “Grab a skinny person’s arm, I promise you, it will feel like mush.”   I sat there squeezing my arms. And my legs. And my stomach. (My arms weren’t mushy – they were either boney or tight …and I don’t feel like I’m mature enough to answer this about other body parts.)  I texted my dietitian friend.  Am I skinny fat?  Should I give up almond butter? My birthday is next week, am I not allowed to have dessert and wine?  Oh crap!  I need a glass of wine.  I can’t believe I’m skinny fat! How did this happen?   She made me do a mental check of where I was in that moment.  My cholesterol is good, I don’t have diabetes, I eat pretty well, I work out, and just because I don’t think I look good naked, that doesn’t mean I have a medical diagnosis of being skinny fat.  Just as I was getting ready to give up food, she stepped in, and she saved my life again.

I look at last week, and all of those who told me to “just post that rhubarb leaves are poisonous and not to eat them.”  I questioned myself a little last week if I was wrong to NOT share the links I had, but I realized today that I made the right decision.  The probability that I would read something like “Am I skinny fat?”, decide I am skinny FAT, stop eating to make sure I’m JUST SKINNY (and not fat), and throw myself back into a disorder I can’t control and has a pretty high mortality rate IS MUCH HIGER than the probability that I would randomly go to the store and start eating leaves I don’t know anything about.  With eating disorders having the highest mortality of any mental illness and anorexia being the leading cause of death for girls ages 15-24, I still don’t get it.  I got “emails” and “messages” that it was my responsibility to warn people not to eat rhubarb leaves and that I should share this potentially life-saving piece of information with the world right away.  People got upset because they thought I was withholding information; I was being vague, and I was risking people’s lives. Yet, I had 16 potentially triggering and life threatening links to articles in my news feed this morning!  16!  How many of you shared, opened, or read a skinny fat article today?  How many of you thought about eating rhubarb leaves?  I know where I was more at risk, so I’m still happy with my decision from last week and I still stand by my personal rules, values, and decisions. I still believe I shared more lives sharing this than I would have sharing a post about not eating rhubarb leaves, raw kidney beans, or puffer fish.

This is why I’m careful about what I post and I set weird rules for myself that people don’t always understand.  This is why I don’t share things with sexy titles to make a sale or advertise.  This is why I SHOULD NOT be reading things designed to make me feel bad about myself.  The articles were written by certified health coaches.  This means they didn’t go to school for this.  These skinny fat articles aren’t being written by medical professionals, and they aren’t being read by professionals.  They are just out there to sell something in most cases.  Of course, I am my own brand too, but no worries I’m not here to sell you rhubarb alternatives or to body shame anyone into working with me.   I’ve also learned that some people don’t get my sense of humor in posts, and that’s okay too.

My point here in all of this, be careful what you read out there folks.  I will be putting together a future post of key words to avoid and to look for so you can do your own research.  Until then, just be careful.  And remember from my post last week, before you share something – not everyone thinks like you, so not everyone will get the message you are trying to send.  Put yourself in someone else’s shoes before trying to get them to see the world through your eyes. Ultimately, it is our own responsibility to keep ourselves happy and healthy. We decide what we feed our bodies and our minds.  Choose wisely!

Thank you for reading! As always, if you think this was important, please comment, share, or send me a message.  – Ashley Kelso

death by rhubarb

I found this looking for a picture, and it made me laugh! I may purchase it!