Carol Bontekoe

This blog has been keeping track of my adventures since 2004. The stories and the adventures have come from my college dorm room to Uganda, Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan, learning Dutch in the Netherlands to living in the wilds of Homer, Alaska. I went back to school in Amsterdam to study Theaterwetenschap (Theatre Science) at University of Amsterdam. And now my adventures as a Fruit Fly, a Sexy Unicorn, and creating a movement with Team Sparkle in Chicago.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

One Fat Kid's Love For Her Collar Bone

"What? What's that? My collarbone? Yes... yes it is my collarbone."

I pull the collar of my shirt out so the person (I did this to many people) I'm talking to can see my newly exposed collarbone.

I was met with: "so..." or "yeah... everyone has a collarbone." What my friends and random guys on the street didn't seem to understand is this is completely new territory for me and what other Fat Kids can attest to, not everyone has a collarbone. I understand the basics of anatomy and even Fat Kids technically have a collarbone, but you wouldn't know it because you'll never see a Fat Kid's collarbone.

The more weight you lose the more exposed you feel.

Over the past four months I have lost just over 50 lbs and it is only now that people are starting to be able to "tell" that I've lost some weight. Before now I had to inform people I had lost weight and I received a lot of, "oh.... yeah. Sure. I can see that. In a your face right? Sorry, where have you lost 25 pounds?"

I wasn't mad or frustrated with people for not being able to tell I had lost weight because in all honesty I couldn't tell myself since appearance wise I looked the same. However, how much healthier I felt and the scale reminded me that I was in fact losing weight. When I had lost about 30 lbs and was asked where I had lost the weight I found my answer a bit odd but it was the only place I had noticed real change, "my neck..."

This was not the answer people who are looking to lose lbs around their mid-section wanted to hear. When people think about losing weight they think about losing that gut that keeps them from the perfect outfit not their neck. Myself, family, and friends have joked around about my lack of a neck since I was in middle school, so when I noticed that I had started to have a neck I actually thought it was pretty cool. Then at around 40 lbs I was wearing a v-neck shirt in my weight lifting class and noticed something I had really never seen before: my collarbone. I continued on with my flies, but if anyone had noticed my face in the mirror they would have seen a look of utter confusion. At first I couldn't figure out what I was looking at in the mirror. Once I realized my collarbone was starting to show I really started lifting hard and had a determined face with a hint of a smile.

My collarbone showing was the first visual sign that all my hard work was paying off. Physically, emotionally, and mentally I already knew that I am healthier and in better shape but I couldn't "see" any change. That might be why I was a little over zealous at first showing people my collarbone, although hobos on the train didn't seem to mind.

There's my neck.
One of the hardest parts of weight loss is the mental game that your own brain is going to put you through. I know for a fact that my waist has to be smaller. I am down a shirt size and two pants sizes. Yet when I look at myself in the mirror I think my waist looks bigger than it ever has. I have always had very skinny legs for my size. However, with the insane amount of cycling, lunges, and squats (oh so many squats) and with my smaller waist my thighs are actually starting to look rather large. And to my face... I have a nose that genetically from my father wasn't that great to start out with. Throughout the years it has been bashed in more than a few times. Sometimes it has been popped back into place others times I've had to let it ride. This has made it so I have a knob on the ridge and my nose hooks to the left. As my face narrows I feel that my odd nose becomes more prominent on my pointy face.

That's why I love my collarbone so much. I see that and it reminds me how far I have come. I'll be honest I have had a lot of fun getting in shape but losing 50 lbs is not easy and I have at least 100 more to go. When my brain starts trying to play games with me to make me insecure about my body I tilt my head and give my neck a look or I roll my shoulders and check out my collarbone. This isn't just a weight loss journey. It is a total transformation to be a healthier person. Self love, self acceptance, and finding the things that make me beautiful and unique are important; because to become physically healthy I have to stay mentally healthy and have a healthy view of myself. For I am glorious and worth living a better life.

Monday, July 16, 2012

I'm Coming Out (of the back row)

"Carol, move to the back so we can see Claire."

"NO! I'm not being forced into the back row anymore!"

My boss had hit a nerve with the instruction for me to move to the back row so we could make room for everyone's favorite Claire to be front and center. Heck. Claire is even one of my favorite people in Chicago; however I had made the decision just days before that I'm not going to keep getting forced into the background, sidelined, or silenced anymore.

There have been a lot of decisions made through out the years to minimize my impact and make it so favorites can be brought to the foreground while I quietly slink out of the picture. As a tall, large, loud child there was always a place for me in a back corner at the Christmas concert. Team photos from high school where I can be found in a shadow in the back corner. Going un-mic'd while all the other leads in the play got microphones. As an adult I started self placing myself in the back. At the gym I would be in the far back corner where I couldn't see the instructor, and where no one else would be forced to see my awkward burpees.

I even moved to Friesland (the land of my forefathers) in hopes that I would not stand out just once in my life. If you don't stand out as being different no one feels the need to hide you right? However, in a land of tall, extremely blond hair, blue eyed beauties I didn't blend in with the crowd as much as I had hoped.

As I struggle to take control over my own life, my future, and my body I realized I was only hurting myself by agreeing to relinquish myself to the background. This agreement had made a once bold child grow into an adult with crippling stage freight. Where I had once taken pride in my height and size I now struggle to accept my oddness with the same joy it once brought me.  Also, always being told to go to the background makes it so eventually you become suspicious of any positive attention you receive. If out with my girlfriends and guy decides to chat me up over my decidedly more beautiful friends I get creeped out and become convinced that we'll have a Silence of the Lambs- lotion in the basket type situation happening before we know it.

I naturally stand out in a crowd and I am learning to accept and embrace that fact. Anyone who has ever heard me try to whisper knows I'm going to be heard from a mile away whether I like it or not. I'm always going to be tall, even when I'm an old lady and I start to shrink I'll still be taller than most people I know. I'm not always going to be as big as I am now, I'm working too hard to stay here forever. However, slender and waify will not be terms used for me in the future. And while I'll never be a favorite I'm taking my spot front and center, because that's what I deserve.

So, no Mark I'm not moving to the back. Me and my big hat will stay right here. Front and Center.