Posted in Body Stuff

Exciting New Adventure :D

I’m super stoked to take on this new endeavor!  I’m officially a part of the Teen Hearts model squad!  It’s so cool to be partnered with a brand I love that gives their instagram models the freedom to be creative with our ads.  It feels amazing to know that they like my vibe and my images of me just being weird self.

You can check out or follow the link below to receive 10% off your order with my promo code REALWEIRD.

Stay weird my friends!

th 2

th 1

Posted in Body Stuff

Part 2: I Am Not Invisible

The last time we chatted, here, I mentioned some questionable possibilities for my medical future.  I mentioned a month-long wait for a doctor’s appointment that would hopefully shed some light on my situation.  Well here we are, a little over a month later and things have been insane to put it mildly.

Here’s what I thought was going to happen.


Dr.:  “Hey your Rheumatic Fever is gone!”

Me: “Awesome do you have any ideas about what might be going on, on top of that?”

Dr.: “Yes, here is what we are going to do/test for…”

…And so on.

What really happened was this.


Two Doctors (After making me wait almost 2 hours): “We don’t know what those other doctors were talking about.  YOU HAVE NEVER HAD RHEUMATIC FEVER.”

Me: “….”

Me again: “Do you have any clue what it could be instead?”

Doctors: “No.”


I barely made it out of the office and to my car before I lost it.  I could barely breath I was crying so hard.  I. Have. Never. Had. Rheumatic. Fever.  How is that even possible?  I was diagnosed by two doctors!  I went to the second one to make sure the first wasn’t crazy!

I got home and could barely even get the words out when my partner asked me what happened.  I was in shock a little bit.  I held it together long enough to go to class that night but got stopped to get whisky on the way home and just got super drunk.  (By super drunk I mean 1 shot and 2 hard rootbeers on an empty stomach drunk).  Don’t worry.  I didn’t have to go anywhere the next day.  My mom texted me the next day asking how it went but I just couldn’t answer her.  I stayed home the next day, ate some hangover food, and dived into schoolwork to attempt at keeping my mind off of it.

I only told like 2 people over the next couple of days.  I can only compare it to experiencing grief.  I bounced around from feeling numb, to devastated, to so angry I started carrying my boxing gloves with me, just in case.  I had to keep ducking out of classes when I could feel myself about to spontaneously burst into tears.  I’ve only ever felt that lost a few times in my life.    It just felt like all the work I’d been doing for last 5 years had been erased.  A huge part of how I’ve dealt with my condition is through reasearch.  I always thought that I could gain control over it with knowledge and being more open about it with people.  I couldn’t wrap my head around it.  I didn’t what I was doing, or where I was, mentally.

I did the only things I how to.  I went into what I refer to as laser focus mode in my work, starting some new stuff.  I just felt that this big of a shift called for a change in artistic direction.  I’d had some pieces floating around in my head for a while but I put aside what I was thinking about and went for the new stuff.  I’m actually really excited about it.  I know most of you that read this are probably my fb friends so you’ve seen the work I’m talking about, but just in case this is reaching people outside those that feel obligated to listen to me, here’s a link to my site.

Over the next couple of days, I started calling my rheumatologist’s office every day to see if I could move up my next appointment.  We’d already made one to talk about what happened at the previous one (different doctors) but it wasn’t going to be for another month!  Luckily, they were able to squeeze me in yesterday.

I got some confusing news.  She told me that, “It’s probably a combination of bad joints and possible fibromyalgia.”  That was it.  She said there’s not a specific test for that but said for treatment she could sign me up for physical therapy.  I guess if I do have fibromyalgia, it’s mild enough that I don’t need the medicine you see on tv all the time.  I opted out of the physical therapy; I think I will just try some of it on my own.

I instantly felt a sense of relief, even though it was just a probably diagnosis.  I wasn’t just in the nothingness anymore.  I can’t image what I would have done if I would have had to go on with that feeling for a whole month.

Honestly my first instinct was to latch on to that probably.  Being able to put a name to my condition gives me a way to control it.  I can do research to my heart’s content and even look for ways other people deal with it.  But after talking it over with my partner and doing a lot of thinking, I realized that, 1. he was right and I don’t have to care if other people think I’m legit or not.  And 2. It might be kind of great to ride the in between.  I do have something to go off of if I want to research what helps other people with similar symptoms, but I don’t have to take any crazy medications or get blood work done all the time.  I can just do my thing and deal with it how I see fit, not worrying about a label defining me.  Maybe one day I’ll get a more finite answer, but for now, I’m free.   😀


Posted in Body Stuff

I Am Not Invisible

Nope, no invisibility here.  I do, however, suffer from an invisible chronic illness.  Sounds a little counter intuitive, I know, but by “invisible illness,” we mean one that doesn’t show immediate, outward signs.  To someone on the outside, you can appear totally fine.  I was diagnosed with Rheumatic Fever, an autoimmune disease, in the summer of 2012.  I went to the doctor because I was having problems with my joints, mainly my hips, hurting all the time.  This is something that had been going on for years, but had escalated quickly.  He ruled arthritis out right away, the symptoms are similar but there were a few characteristics that didn’t match up.  There wasn’t much discussion.  Nurses took blood and I received the results on a piece of paper, along with a prescription for an antibiotic.  There was just something written in doctor scribble about “Rheumatic Fever” in the top corner.  I didn’t think much of it; I was just happy that my problem had been named and was something that might go away.  A year or so later, after getting a second opinion, I learned that I might be “cured” of RF in 5-10 years…but the damage and complications could potentially last for the rest of my life.

I’ve never been what you could refer to as an “athletic person.” I was totally that girl in high school that would try to play whatever position did the least.  I might the worst person in the world at sports, unless you count crocheting…which I do.  As much as I openly consider myself a couch potato (favorite place to read from my incredibly impressive library,) I do enjoy being active.  I like to swim when I can find pool access, jump rope and hula hoop, and recently started at-home boxing.  It is awesome.  It’s a really great workout that makes you feel like a bad ass.  My activity dream, though, is to join a climbing gym with my partner and learn how to climb real rocks.  We want to climb rocks, cliffs, etc., across the country one day.

Rheumatic Fever is a pretty rare disease these days.  You may have heard of it if a grandparent or older family member had it as a kid.  It usually affects the heart, but I’ve been really lucky on that count.  The times I’ve had my heart checked for, “just in case” reasons, it has always been good to go.  The unlucky side for me has been the joint pain and chronic fatigue. Basically, having an autoimmune disease means that my immune system is in overdrive and can’t shut itself off.  In my case, I got an infection that didn’t show symptoms for whatever reason.  My immune system had to work extra without any medicine to provide back up.  When there is no more infection to fight, the system turns on your joints instead.  My body is literally attacking itself from the inside.  The antibiotics help to keep me from getting the bacteria that caused it again.  Doctors monitor my progress by testing my blood every six months or so for something called ASO levels.  That stands for Antistreptolysin O Titer.  When my ASO levels reach normal again, that will technically mean that I am “better,” but the complications might remain for a very long time.

I’m a 25-year-old grad student studying visual art.  I was getting an Associate’s degree in fine art when I was first diagnosed.  My artwork quickly became an outlet for me.  It helps me feel better, plain and simple, as well as gives me a way to discuss my illness with others when it isn’t always easy.  I’m a sculptor, and extremely passionate about metal work.  Making one of my pieces ends up being like a Shakespearean-level drama sometimes.  As you can imagine, working with metal is hot, dirty, labor-intensive, and often grueling work…not exactly the most logical path for someone with my condition.  Doing the work is the ultimate trial and the ultimate catharsis at the same time.  It’s why I’ll never stop doing it.

It’s hard to describe what the pain feels like.  It’s a deep, throbbing, pain…the kind that makes you want to roll your eyes back into your head for a minute.  It just aches.  It makes me hyper aware of every bone in my body.  Have you ever been able to feel your individual vertebrate from the inside?  I have.  It’s almost cool except for the part where it completely sucks.  Most days, the pain is just in one or two spots, and sometimes switches at random.  It might be my right knee and my left elbow, or my feet and my jaw.  There are a few all-the-timers, though, and my hips are the worst.  I started walking with a cane at the end of 2013.  I was worried about how people would treat me now that my illness was less invisible, but it’s the only thing that’s really brought me any relief.  On the worst days, I’ll have pain everywhere and sometimes I can’t even walk.  Using the cane has made those days fewer.

Usually, I’m pretty good at hiding the pain.  I really don’t like discussing it with people.  When you deal with extreme pain all the time, you can get used to it.  A lot of the time I can ignore it.  Chronic pain definitely helps you score in the compartmentalization department.  I know that people mean well when they ask me how I’m doing, but if I’m doing an excellent job of ignoring the pain that day, asking me about it just brings it to the forefront of my mind again.  I also have this, ridiculous (so I’m told,) fear of being a burden on people.  I can’t stand asking for help.  I hate the feeling of putting people out so they can help me with something I can’t do.  It’s weird, but I sometimes I just can’t handle all the caring.  I was in a head space last year where I was really down about all of this and really scared.  I had a litany of friends and professors that cared so much about me it hurt.  It was amazing, but really hard to deal with at the same time.  Sometimes I think it’d be easier if I just never told anyone about my illness, if I just dealt with it alone.

I knew I had to start telling people, however, when I was pre-cane and flunked out of a class my first semester of undergrad for missing too many days.  I couldn’t just go to the grad student running the course in the last week and be like, “Oh by the way, I missed all those days because I couldn’t walk.”  Now I get to deliver a fun speech to every new professor or potential employer about how I have this thing that will maybe/probably/definitely make me miss more days than your attendance policy allows, and could you not fail me for it?  Thanks so much.

Somewhere in all of those conflicting and angsty feelings is also the desire to prove to myself that I can still do some things.  I started working out a couple of years ago to try to get my strength and endurance up.  It’s just really basic, at home stuff.  I hula hoop, box, and lift weights.  I can only do it a couple of times a week, but it’s something that lets me know I haven’t given up on myself.  One day if this stuff gets better, I don’t want to have to spend a ton of time getting into shape before I can do anything.  I want to start now.

I think that’s why I love physical labor so much, too.  You can’t beat coming home at the end of the day, sweaty and covered in dirt, knowing you gave it your all.  Those are the best days.  Going at it in the shop, music blaring, making awesome stuff with my hands and all the while knowing I’m kicking the crap out of a disease that tries to tell me what to do.  I always come home on top of the world, exhausted but exhilarated.

On the days that can’t be like that, though, it does help to have someone to talk to.  My partner is so supportive and knows me so well.  He knew me pre-diagnosis so he’s been through all of it with me.  He knows when I need help without my having to admit it.  He doesn’t judge me when I get angry at people who say the wrong thing.  He knows when to try to cheer me up, and when to just hold me while I fall to pieces.  He is truly the best man in the world.

Navigating life and work and socialization while dealing with an invisible illness is rough to say the least.  It’s hard to know what to say to people sometimes.  There’s the famous, “you don’t look disabled,” and the constant suggestions of just sitting down for a while or getting more sleep.  I usually get at least 9 hours of sleep at night.  Chronic fatigue means always tired, people, no matter what.  More sleep would start interrupting my day.  The resting for a bit is always a complicated issue as well.  Sitting in a conventional chair actually hurts my hips worse, but standing makes my legs tired.  When I’m having a particularly bad day, the only thing that is really going to help is lying down…that doesn’t always work out when I’m at work or in the middle of a class.

Most of my family is pretty supportive, but it isn’t always easy.  I once had a family member tell a friend, while I was standing right there that, “it’s nothing.”  This was her response to the friend asking why I had a cane.  I’ve also had some family members half-joking, half-not tell me to “look more disabled” when other people are around so that they don’t think I’m just trying to get attention.  I’m sorry, but I don’t give two shits about what those people think.  I get it.  I’m young, I don’t look sick, I almost always go for the handicap spot even if I have to leave my cane in the car—I do not recommend trying to shop one-handed.  It’s annoying and takes twice as long.

I also know people who prefer to complain about their own problems.  I am still capable of being sympathetic, in fact I think living with pain all the time has made me even more so, but it still gets me when someone tells me they know how I feel because their back is sore from sleeping funny.  I realize that completely sucks and I’m sorry you’re dealing with that right now.  But please don’t pretend like you know how I feel.  We can easily support each other without turning it into a contest.

Strangers are the toughest.  I often get treated as if my cane is just a prop.  I try to forgive people because a little girl with a cane is not something they encounter as often, but there is always a lot of staring.  I definitely have more tolerance for it now after spending a week in a wheelchair last year.  Don’t even get me started on how some people treat a person in a wheelchair.

I also don’t quite think I’m reading to be a poster child for disability in the workplace.  I had a job last year where I worked with kids after school.  It was only one day a week so I didn’t use my cane and didn’t tell my boss anything.  A couple of people told me I should have used the cane as a way to show kids that disability is just another facet of “normal.”  I am totally down with that concept, but I think I need to be a little more okay with talking to people about myself and my struggles before advocating for anyone else.  That may be a path for me in the future.

It’s been almost five years now and when I’m just feeling like I’m starting to get the hang of all of this: trying to get over my fear of opening up by doing things like this, multi-cane-tasking, accepting that filing for disability might be a way I have to go for a while, etc., things are shaking up again.  The good news is that my ASO blood levels are getting close to the normal range again.  The bad news is that nothing has changed.  I realize that it will take probably a very long time for my body to heal after all the crap it’s put itself through, but my doctor, and every internet site I’ve read, seems to think the poly arthritis part of RF should be temporary.  I waited five months to get a much coveted, (by me) appointment with a rheumatologist to see if there’s something else going on, on top of the RF.  The rheumatologist was so busy that I kept getting calls to make sure I didn’t need to cancel my appointment.  Wow, that enthusiasm to welcome me as a new patient was overwhelming.  After waiting for over an hour, she literally had nothing to tell me.  I told her my symptoms and she barely said anything.  The actual appoint took about ten minutes.  It’s in my list of top ten most disappointing mornings for sure.  All I got was a referral to another specialist, and a huge load of blood work orders.  After two weeks, the doctor didn’t even call me to tell me the results.  A nurse called me to inform me that all my bloodwork looked ok.  That nurse was probably more compassionate to me than anyone I encountered at the office.  A great big thank you to unnamed telephone nurse.  It was nice to be treated like a person and not a paycheck.  So here I sit, with a month left until my next appointment at a different department, hoping someone will be able to tell me what’s going on.

It’s going to be a tough road ahead and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared shitless sometimes.  I’m afraid I’ll never be able to work a fulltime job, let alone one that I really enjoy.  Issues with mobility cancel out a bunch of prospects right away.  Having kids one day is going to be challenging.  Not just having the energy to keep up with them, but there is a genuine concern of dislocating a hip while in labor.  You can laugh at that if you want.  I have to laugh about it all sometimes.  I try to do more of that and not worry about what’s to come.  It’s an everyday fight, but I have the drive and the passion.  When I believe something, I believe it hard.  I know one day I’ll be at the top of a cliff that I’ve just climbed, with my partner beside me, or maybe even lagging behind a little.    😉

Whew, that was a long one!  In case you got bored and just scrolled to the end, here is a fun summary of things I’d like you to know about me.

  1. Don’t fall over yourself trying to offer me a chair. I genuinely appreciate the sentiment, but I will ask for it if I need one.
  2. Don’t feel like you can’t talk about your problems with me, especially the physical ones. I get pain, ok, and that means that I am super likely to empathize with you and I’m also really great at hugs.  🙂
  3. Don’t ask me how I’m feeling. I will probably lie to you and then feel bad about it and it will be a whole thing.
  4. Please don’t ever tell me I’m brave. I’m not anyone’s hero and being told that is just super weird.  I’m just a bro trying to fight my way through some stuff like anyone else.  I’m also secretly (well publicly now) terrified of having attention drawn to me, so sticking a dramatic label on me will probably just make me scrunch my nose at you when you’re not looking.



To Ania Bula,

I read your book in three days.  It would have been less, but I had to keeping taking breaks to adjust to the intensity of how much I felt this book.  I think I spontaneously burst into tears like six times while reading it.  Parts of it were like reading something I had written myself but just forgotten about.  Reading this gave me the courage to pull the trigger on posting my own story.  I’ve never experienced something that was so true to my own life while reading about someone else’s and it has affected me in more ways than I can say.  Thank you.

Young, Sick, and Invisible by Ania Bula

Posted in Body Stuff

Adventures With Leggings-As-Pants

Let me start by saying that I love leggings.  They are so comfy and look super cute with everything.  However, I really hate when people wear them in public…which is why I usually never do.  If you’re wearing them under a tunic or long shirt or whatever, that’s no big deal, but I don’t care what size you are, leggings emphasize your butt and, even if it’s a spectacular butt, I don’t want my eyes constantly drawn to it.  It’s just weird.

That being said, one of my biggest body self conscious issues is how I look to other people in leggings.  So today, I ventured out into the public world for the first time in a pair of leggings.  And I have to say, it was empoweringly anticlimactic.

As you can see in these super high-quality selfies below, I could not bring myself to bear my legginged booty completely, so I wore a flannel that covered me up a little more.

It was actually kind of great.  I felt a little weird as I walked from my front porch to the car, but by the time I parked at my stop I was pretty much over the weirdness.  I didn’t feel like anyone noticed me at all or worry that people were judging me.  I feel like a huge part of facing your fashion fears is reminding yourself that, unless you’re some sort of celebrity, most people probably don’t even notice/care what you’re wearing to the convenience store.

My next challenge is to let my behinders take center stage in a slammin body-con dress.  I bought the dress a few months ago and wore it once, under a long coat I never took off.  I’m working up the courage to wear it to my next dressy outing and hopefully the results will be as positive as today’s.

Mission L.A.P. Status:  Complete


Posted in Body Stuff

Apparently I’m Fat: One Year Later

So if you haven’t read my “about” page, here’s the short on my story…

Last year a doctor told me I was fat, and it pretty much ruined my self-esteem for months.  I decided to start this blog a couple of months ago, not to get sympathy or to try to get people to tell me I’m skinny, but to make a safe space to talk about my insecurities and share body-positive messages.  I’ve definitely got my struggles in life, but I consider myself pretty happy.  A huge part of that has been accepting my body for what it is.  I’m active, I eat pretty healthy (most of the time,) and I choose to see myself in a positive way…all 155 lbs of me 🙂

So here’s the 1 year update.  Monday, I posted this photo on the blog’s instagram page,


Here’s the original…because I always go #unfiltered


Here’s what happened at the doctor.  I was all set with a speech I’d planned out 6 months ago and to tell him that while I respected him as a doctor, I would have to find another if he could not keep his opinion on my weight out of the conversation.  However, I have apparently lost 10 lbs since last year (weird because I wasn’t actually trying) so now my weight is “stable,” whatever that means.  He said that and mentioned the 10 lb drop, and fist-bumped me.  It was silly and kind of weird.  I hadn’t really worked out what “stable” meant and we were finished.  Pretty anti-climactic but it’s better than leaving the office in tears.

Conclusion:  I guess he’ll keep my business; he is a great doctor except for that one thing.  The point is, no matter the weight, I love my body for the way she is, at least most of the time 😛

Posted in Body Stuff

Yes. Yes. Yes!

“As a woman who hated my cellulite, I went on a mission to learn to love it.”

Buzzfeed writer posted an article after my own heart last week.  She spent a week showing off her legs and not trying to hide her cellulite.  As someone who has had cellulite since the age of 16, I completely empathize with the self-conscious awareness of every bump and ripple that peeks out from a pair of shorts or, even worse, shines in all its glory around a bikini bottom.


*this is just a screenshot, not a video link

I found this post so incredibly uplifting and empowering.  A huge part of it was that she was purposefully letting her cellulite show, and I didn’t even notice!  I always have to remind myself that the things I notice and fuss over about myself, other people barely even notice about me.  It’s about being happy with your overall self and not wasting time nit-picking every little imperfection.  🙂


See the full article here:

Posted in Body Stuff

Let’s Talk About the “F” Word

That’s right, we’re talking about Feminism!…and its potential problems.

Now I realize this is a body-related blog, relating to things you do with it, put in it, and how you view it, but part of being body positive means being comfortable in all aspects of your own skin.  That means comfortable in your physical skin, as well as your mind, and your gender.

Feminism has been a hot topic in the media for a while.  There’s a lot of great things happening as more and more people and industries are leveling the playing field for men and women, but even this notion seems somehow out-of-place.  Please do not misunderstand; I am just as much for equal rights for women as the next gal.  The problem I have is with the word, “feminist.”

When discussing feminism with many people (of all genders) or mentioning feminists in some way, I’ve often encountered an eye roll or some other expression of exasperation.  Feminism carries around the stigma of belonging to women who hate men and protest in somewhat extreme acts.  This response was extremely valid in the period of second-wave feminism in the 1960s-1980s and we should in no way forget or diminish our feminist predecessors, but times are different and call for different acts, different responses, and a different name.

A formal definition of, “feminism” states that it “advocates social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men.”

Well that’s great. What about everyone else?

If we’ve learned anything in the past few years as more people have felt comfortable expressing their true selves, it’s that we no longer have to worry about the equality between men and women.

We now need to fight for the equality of all genders.

Yes, we need to work on the wage gap and equality in the workplace, etc., but why can’t we simultaneously strive for equality for all genders at once.

I’ve been told multiple times that referring to myself as a “humanist” is just ignorant, but when we want to talk about gender equality, why does that have to only mean women.  If we want to discuss the problems that women face with sexism, we have to talk about the problems other genders face as well, and that includes men.

I recently posted about a little blip I got published in Glamour magazine, specifically in response to an article I felt was sexist against an actor.  We may be tired of the sexism against women that we have been fighting for ages, but that does not mean we should now turn it around on men and essentially, give them a taste of their own medicine.

The answer is to work together to move forward. 

Closing the wage gap is insanely important.  So is the opportunity for paternity leave for new fathers.  The option to choose our role as women, traditional or otherwise, is key.  So is that same option for men and any other gender with which someone identifies.

We can’t fault someone for telling us we aren’t feminine enough if we tell a guy he isn’t manly enough.  It has to be ok for a man to cry and for a woman to act “tough.”  Maybe Feminism doesn’t deserve its stigma, but it’s there.  And that alone will keep some people from reaching out and really joining a movement.

A change will only truly happen if all genders are working together to create a level playing field between us.

So if you want to call yourself a feminist, fine by me.  I will know that we are fighting for the same things and I will stand beside you.  But I want to put forward a new age of feminism that is no longer just about the femme.  So I will call myself a humanist.  Don’t hate me please 😛


Posted in Body Stuff

This Woman Knows What’s Up

This article from Revelist popped up on my facebook feed the other day.

It’s really great to see someone really standing up for themselves and saying, it’s not ok to treat people this way.  Everyone has some insecurities about their bodies, and it is really terrible to see this beautiful woman being picked on.  Torres’ response is open and honest without lashing out at those who have treated her badly.

It’s all about spreading the love, people.  There is never a need to treat one another like this.  Check out the link below to read what she has to say.revelist

You can also check her out on Instagram!  @thisisjessicatorres


Posted in Body Stuff

Let’s Talk About Gender Equality For a Minute

Literally, let’s just lay this out in like, one minute because it’s late and I have to be up early for work 😛

* I put this in the “Body Stuff” category because, even though this is primarily a fitness/body image blog, part of body positivity is respecting all bodies of all genders/non genders.

I recently got a blurb from an article review in Glamour Magazine (yay!)  I reviewed an article titled, “Finally, Blockbusters We Can Get Behind.”

View the full article here.

I’ll let you read this for yourselves, but I was not happy about the way this article slanted feminism as retaliation/vindication toward men for the crap women have taken throughout the entertainment industry’s history.

Here’s my review.


They had to shorten it some, but they got the gist.  For starters, I believe gender equality means respecting all genders.  But in the specific sense of men/women, I don’t think subjecting men to the same treatment women are still fighting against is the answer.  We can’t get caught up in the triviality of “punishing” men for what women have been through in the past.  It’s about getting rid of the fixation on gender roles/norms and working together to move forward.  I believe that’s what modern feminism is about.

Thanks for listening!  Goodnight 😀

Posted in Body Stuff

Love Yourself, Plain and Simple

Check out this post I found on 22 Words!  This mother opens up about feelings a lot of us have about our own bodies, but also leaves you with a really beautiful message.  The link to the post is below 🙂



This Mom Shared Underwear Pics To Remind Us That ‘Skinny’ Doesn’t Always Mean ‘Healthy’