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Fitness Frenzy Inspiration: Skinny Emmie

July 11, 2012

Skinny Emmie Inspiration!

When I first started blogging, one looonngg year ago (or it feels long…and fast…oh who knows), I started reading a bunch of weight loss/health/fitness blogs to try to become part of the community/learn as much as I could from others/share and grow. And when I found Skinny Emmie, I was hooked. I’ll let her “About” section do the explainin':

I’m on the journey from 455 pounds to healthy – whatever that number ends of being on the scale. Becoming “Skinny Emmie” isn’t about being thin, it’s about being happy, healthy, and confident. Skinny Emmie documents the good, bad, and ugly of going from super morbidly obese to healthy. With over 113 pounds shed so far, I cover the gamut of physical and emotional challenges that I’ve encountered from a very personal perspective. I also blog about plus size fashion as it’s a personal passion and is one of the keys to making me feel my best in my own skin.
Skinny is being happy in your own skin. Growing up, fat girls want to be skinny. Hell, skinny girls wanted to be skinnier. The Skinny Emmie behind this blog is the person who always thought “if I were skinny, I could do X” or “if I were skinny, people would like me.” I’m Emily (aka Emmie, duh), and I’m ready for a change. Yes, I’m fat. Yes, I’m very fat. Would I like to be less fat? Yes. This is why some fat acceptance people won’t like what I’m writing about, because this blog is about my journey to find my “Skinny Emmie:” that person inside of me who feels healthy and great and doesn’t let external appearences slow her down.  Part of this journey for me is weight loss, but only as a result of getting more in shape- not solely for vanity purposes.
Becoming “Skinny Emmie” is about becoming healthy and happy. That’s it. If it means I’m 275 pounds, so be it- that will be my Skinny. If it means I’m 200 pounds, so be it. This is my project in feeling physically better, and healing myself emotionally from the invisible scars that I’ve accumulated over the years. Fat Emmie doesn’t even have to be Fat. If I get to 160 pounds and still have the same emotional baggage and outlook on life, I AM STILL FAT.
Fantastic! Her blog is super-inspiring, full of wisdom, tips, trials and tribulations, lessons learned…and I was lucky enough to interview her recently about body image, fitness, and blogging. Read on for Emmie’s insight:
          HangryHippo: I so appreciate and admire your definition of “skinny” on your website: being happy in your own skin. It’s become a loaded word in our society, in that it’s more often about weight than health, about appearances than feelings/emotions. Can you describe more what this quest for “skinny” means and has entailed for you?
          Emmie: When people say they want to be skinny, they’re talking about being physically thin, but with that I think they believe self-acceptance and body confidence will come with it. In reality, they will probably never find that if they’re solely focused on the size of their clothes or the number on the scale. It’s hard for me to explain in one word what I’m searching for in this journey because a lot of it actually isn’t physically apparent (as “skinny” traditionally is). Things like self-acceptance, confidence, strength, endurance, and feeling comfortable in your own skin: these are the end goals for me. Those are my “skinny.”
          HH: The slogan of your blog is “run your own race”: can you tell us more of what that means to you personally?
          Emmie: I am a competitive person, and because of that, I have a lot of feelings of inadequacy. When I saw people on The Biggest Loser drop a dozen pounds in one episode where I have barely scraped by to lose half a pound, I would get incredibly frustrated. Closer to reality: I would see friends or even other weight loss bloggers dropping much larger numbers on the scale than me, and they weighed 100 pounds less than me to begin with! The feelings of failure were so epic for me that it would turn into sabotage. “Run your own race” came up when I was training for my first 5K. At first, I wanted to simply finish it. Shortly after, I realized that I could be the last person across the finish line. Someone shared with me that I shouldn’t think that way because I needed to run my own race. This clicked inside of me in a way that gave me a lot of calm in that situation, and in all situations since. In the long run, it’s only my race to run, and that means no matter how long it takes or what path I choose, I have won.
          HH: That’s fantastic. I’ve read a quote from you about “functional fitness.” This is a really interesting concept. What does this consist of?
          Emmie: The way I look at it: I’m not training to be a competitive athlete. I’m training for life. I’ve come from a place at 455 pounds where it was extremely challenging to even get up from a seated position. My fitness goals are around being able to function as best possible and without pain during everyday activities. Can I carry all my groceries up the stairs in one trip, or easily haul a big bag of dog food to my car? If I need to move some furniture, can I do it without hurting my back and knees? Those are more important to me than how quickly I can finish a triathlon.
          HH: So, you’ve been asked many times about how you got started on this journey and then how others can inspire themselves to work towards health. And you have some great tips. But I’m also wondering, during the hard times (injuries, lack of energy, etc.), what motivates you to keep going?
          Emmie: The biggest thing that helps me when I get discouraged or frustrated (which is quite often) is thinking: “what is my alternative?” If I choose to give up, what consequences will I face? I guarantee that throwing in the towel will cause much more pain, physically and emotionally, than whatever I’m going through at the moment. What did I feel like before I started on this journey? The lethargy, constant pain, embarrassment, and depression are things that continue to stay fresh in my mind. I have no alternative than to keep pushing on. It’s as simple as that!
          HH: You write about your experiences at a “fat camp” as a teenager. Can you just tell us briefly how it felt going to a camp specifically for that purpose and some of the positives and negatives of the experience? [sidenote: I worked at one a few summers ago, so I’m especially fascinated to hear of your experience!]

Emmie: Fat camp was really one of the most incredible experiences for me, and I say that without any hesitation or hint of irony! When you feel like an outsider all the time at home and enter an environment with people just like you, it’s an amazingly freeing experience. You want to dance around and scream “I’m not a freak!” I went as a depressed teenager and returned with so much confidence, friends from around the world, and having lived away for 7 weeks of the summer. Sure I had a good tan and was quite a bit smaller, but the confidence came from being in an environment where I could be myself for what felt like the first time ever. For me, it wasn’t all about the diet and exercise – it was about learning to be comfortable as myself. That being said, I did learn that I actually really liked being active and ended up teaching aerobics classes when I was 18! As far as negatives, the only one for me that stands out is that it is expensive and put a strain on family resources. The large amount of activity may also have been a negative as it was impossible to maintain that kind of workout schedule back at home so it was harder to keep the weight off.

          HH: Last but not least, I’d like to ask you about “self-imposed shame.” One of your recent posts deals with this issue (Hey, Fat Girl) and you oh so wisely state: “Pull strength from those who lift you up, not those who keep you down.” What a beautiful message. Do you have any other wise advice to dealing with “shame” that you can give our readers?
          Emmie: I really wish I had more advice on how to deal with shame, but it’s a battle that I still face daily as well. It’s all about comparing yourself to others and determining that they are better than you, which is so self-defeating (and many times isn’t true at all). The best advice I can give is to surround yourself with people who encourage you, not those who are indifferent or who judge you. The more you can have reinforcements that believe in you, the easier it is to believe in yourself. It’s much easier to stand tall and proud when those around you do the same.

Thanks so much, Emmie! You continue to be a daily inspiration and it is truly amazing to witness your journey!

(Image courtesy of Skinny Emmie)

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 12, 2012 9:05 pm

    Good thoughts! :)

  2. Joe permalink
    July 16, 2012 2:39 am

    great post! thought provoking and informative.

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