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Real Body Image Talk

Hi. My name is Jessica and I have a problem.

I cannot look at my body without having some sort of criticism. Today, I found some broken blood vessel on my face. It looks like a freckle but up close, it isn’t. I stretched the skin around, inspected it as if I was a scientist, reviewing cells under a microscope. I found the vein. I leaned away from the mirror to see if it was noticeable as it was up close. All I could imagine were varicose veins plaguing my face, like some kind of connect-the-moles game. I started to relive fifth grade again. When the kids made fun of the moles on my face: “Moley! Moley! Moley!” mimicking Austin Powers.

I used to think I had strong, muscular legs. That was until I had a body fat analysis scan that revealed most of my fat is in my legs. Oh, and arms. Now all I see are sausage legs in my cycling kit. I don’t look fast. I look fat. I look like when you stuff a giant pillow into a tiny pillow case – seams and material stretching, pushing maximum density, as it curves into itself.

I am more self-conscious now in shorts knowing full well that there’s more fat than muscles. And I rub the sides of my thighs a lot as if I could rub away cellulite like you do with scuff marks on the floor. Once I scuffed the floor from my bike tires. I tried all different kinds of solutions believing one of them would finally wash away the black rubber streaked across the laminate wood flooring. Finally, I took a butter knife and etched away at the black.

I can’t etch away cellulite.

When I walk, I can feel my inner thighs rubbing together. I know it isn’t muscle because of how much it jiggles. It’s soft and flimsy like silly putty. Only I can’t mold my thighs like a stone statue. And my thighs smash into each other when I sit – doubling in size. I try not to look down when I’m sitting because I know I’ll see a single thigh. One giant, jiggly, fatty thigh.

And I eat another piece of chocolate.

My shirts lay against my stomach just right where I can see the little bump that no matter the number of crunches, planks, or skipped meals, it stays there. I constantly tug at my shirt to hide it, pulling material loose. Using two hands sometimes to stretch the material if it hugs my belly too tight.

I’ll dig my thumbs into my hips trying to find the bone. Then pinching the excess that peeks over my jeans. If no one’s around, I’ll lift my shirt high enough and stare and scrutinize my midsection. Twisting and turning to view every possible angle in a desperate search to find the most flattering. Tightening my stomach, pushing it out, and sucking it in to find the right amount of contraction it’ll take to make it look flat. But it never gets as flat as I want it to. I look down and see that fucking bump every day.

And my gaze travels up. Up to my back where skin folds along my bra strap. Months and months of back strengthening exercises and there’s still back fat leering. Months of attempting to cut portions, match my carb-to-protein ratio, and staring longingly at cookies. Sometimes, I’ll reach behind with a false sense of optimism believing that I’ll be unable to pinch anything.

I call my breasts “orangutan boobs” and now you’re picturing it. A sign of getting older and the effects of gravity. I joke their small size keeps me aero on the bike. Always self-deprecating. Never self-appreciating. I also joke about my “bingo flab,” also known as triceps.

Again with the months of Tricep exercises believing that one day I’ll defy gravity and there won’t be loose skin hanging below my arms. That when I do the first place stance my arms will look strong and mighty, not droopy.

And while I complain about all the physical limitations and imperfections of my body, I never apologize for taking up space. Rarely do I complain to the general public about the size of my thighs or the numerous moles on my face. And when I get really fucking down about my body, I remind myself that at least I have a working one. It takes a single accident to lose it all. With all the activities I do, my flabby stomach drops when I consider what it’d be like to no longer ride my bike, hike, run, stretch, walk, and take care of myself. At that moment my eyes look at the blue sky instead.

WTF: Hydrogenated Oils

It all started when I jumped on the scale solely for the purpose to learn how to use the body composition analysis scale at the gym where I train clients. I knew I wasn’t 12% body fat, but when the scale said I was 28.4% body fat, I damn near fell over from shock. I played it off like, “Yeah, sure… how accurate are these things anyways?” I wasn’t fooling anyone.

Now I have a complex and think I’m overweight.

As I perused my emails, my buddy, Ben Greenfield, sent an email with the subject: “the secret key to fat loss + 5 ways you can get lean fast.” In my fragile state, I eagerly clicked to open the email, waiting for the epiphany for losing this 28.4% body fast ASAP.

Essentially, inflammation is making us fat. Greenfield said to decrease the inflammation in your body, which will decrease the insulin, and then this causes fat cells to die off or convert to other cells. Avoid rancid oils, processed oils, heavily heated oils. Choose natural oils like extra virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and extra virgin avocado oil.

 

What is hydrogenated or refined oil?

LiveSTRONG defined hydrogenation and trans fat as:

“Hydrogenated oils are vegetable oils whose chemical structure has been altered to prevent rancidity in foods, which increases shelf life and saves money for food manufacturers. The process of hydrogenation involves the addition of hydrogen atoms to the oil’s available double bonds. As the level of hydrogenation increases, the level of saturated fat increases and the level of unsaturated fat decreases. The hydrogenation process converts what are known as “cis” double bonds to “trans” double bonds. This is where the term “trans fat” originates. Hydrogenation also has the technical advantage of making foods solid or partially solid at room temperature.”

Huh?

When an oil is hydrogenated, the healthy fats are converted into trans fat.

Happily Unprocessed define refined oil as oil that’s been “refined by using chemicals that are harmful to us.” What kind of chemicals? Acid, alkali, bleach, and Hexane. You can read how oil gets refined here.

 

Why hydrogenated/refined oils are no bueno

Trans fats really screw you over. They increase bad cholesterol (LDL) while also decreasing good cholesterol (HDL). They increase inflammation in your body and have been linked to heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Inflammation, as we’ve learned from Ben also makes you fat. So, not only are you increasing your chances of having some shitty disease, but you’re also getting fat.

 

How to avoid them

Read nutrition and ingredients label. Companies do not have to list trans fats if there is less than .5 grams of trans fat per serving. Instead, companies will list “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” which means there’s totally trans fat in the food.

Eat food that doesn’t have a nutrition label, or if it does, you can pronounce all the ingredients.

 

List of oils & hydrogenated foods

  • Vegetable oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Canola oil
  • Corn oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Shortening
  • Margarine
  • Baked and processed foods
    • Cookies
    • Chips
    • Crackers
    • Frozen foods
    • French fries