Aisha Martin: I’m Considered A Runt At 5’5” And 120 Pounds





Aisha Martin!/its_aishapr

I’m a 28-year-old African-American female and I’ve only recently become totally comfortable with my body image as a whole, loving and embracing my perfect imperfections! Being African-American and raised in Atlanta, the “norm” is the bigger the butt, thighs and hips, the better. Well it didn’t quite work that way for me. I’m considered a runt at 5’5” and 120 pounds. Now I do have SOME curves, just not very many. My extremely high metabolism didn’t help the cause much either.

I’m a foodie at heart and always have been. As a kid I would stuff myself with food. My cousins and I would have eating contests and I, being the only female cousin at the time, would be determined to win. You know how people eat to live? I would live to eat. Pastas, pizza, cakes, cookies, ANYTHING chocolate, roast and potatoes and any all-you-can-eat buffet were heaven to me. Even with all of this, I didn’t gain a single pound! Most would consider me to be lucky that I didn’t gain the weight but I didn’t feel that way. Even tried protein shakes. Nothing! My mom would tell me, “Oh don’t worry, when you start to have children all the weight will stick to you. That’s what happened to me.” Well mom was wrong. Two kids later and I’m still 120 pounds. I tried to hold on to the baby weight but that stayed on all of two months. Isn’t this twisted?!

It wasn’t until I turned 25 that I started to accept ME. Fearlessly made me—all of me. I started one of my businesses and threw caution to the wind. I accepted that I won’t have my grandmother’s butt or my mother’s hips but I’m fine with it. I still have quite the appetite but I try to make healthier choices. I also make sure I instill in my daughters that they are wonderfully made just as they are. I love me. Just as I am.

Submit your story here:

Copyright Ark Stories 2011


Susan Schenck: I Adore BEING In My Body!






I love my body! I adore BEING in my body!

But this wasn’t always the case. At age 16 I went on my first diet and gradually developed an eating disorder: anorexia. It lasted for three years and I got down to 95 pounds at 5’4”. Due to the starvation I was putting myself through, I became obsessed with food. Overnight, the eating disorder flipped over into its twin, bulimia: bingeing and purging. That went on for a hellish seven years. I finally got a grip on it and stopped purging. I began to exercise, reading that repetitive motion such as swimming and running can calm a person with eating disorders. Over the decades, I came to love being in my body.

The yo-yo dieting continued nonetheless. Over the years, I have lost hundreds of pounds–the same ten to thirty pounds over and over! I have tried every diet from Atkins to Zone.

I counted calories from age 15 to 34 for nineteen years. Then I quit for nineteen years. It worked until, at age 39, I went on Prozac. I gained 40 pounds in just a couple of months!

I went on a raw vegan diet for six years. I lost but then gained weight from eating all the nuts, trying to get some protein.

Finally, at age 52, I tried an 80% raw paleo diet, which included raw eggs and lightly steamed meat. I also went back to counting calories. I got my weight down from 160 to 122, where it has stabilized for three years. I feel like now I know what is important: high raw (fruits and veggies), meat and eggs to stabilize the blood sugar, moderate on the carbs and a food journal in which I count calories. (This keeps me from fooling myself.)

The key for me to love my body has been diet & exercise and also knowing which supplements to take. I eat a high raw diet with some steamed meat and vegetables. I work out at the gym twice a week, bounce on a mini-trampoline at least ten minutes most days, do half an hour of yoga a day, walk at least forty-five minutes most days and do half an hour of facial exercise. I have integrated these habits into my life so I can multi-task (ex: do face and yoga while watching TV, walk while I am going downtown anyway). I keep fit so that I can go hiking, skating or do anything I want. Two days ago I climbed a steep hill, 1100 feet, to see a gorgeous waterfall that cars cannot get to.

I cherish my body’s health more than anything except for my mental and spiritual health. But they are all intertwined: the healthier my body is, the sharper my mind and the higher my spirits! I have gone on to write two nutrition books sharing with others all the insights and information I have learned. and

Susan Schenck, LAc, is a raw food coach, lecturer, and author of the 2-time award-winning book, The Live Food Factor, The Comprehensive Guide to the Ultimate Diet for Body, Mind, Spirit & Planet, which has gained a reputation as the encyclopedia of the raw food diet—as well as Beyond Broccoli, Creating a Biologically Balanced Diet When a Vegetarian Diet Doesn’t Work. Go to and register for the free newsletter to get a copy of the first chapter of The Live Food Factor.

Submit your story here:

Copyright Ark Stories 2011

Marc Lerner: Dating Without Self-Consciousness

 Dating Without Self-Consciousness

I am a 60-year-old male. I have had Multiple Scleorsis (MS)  for thirty years and one of the biggest problems of having a chronic and disabling disease is finding someone to love you in a romantic way. I have always had a girlfriend and I have definitely dated people who loved me, but either within me or within them there have been limitations. These were the fears of my condition getting worse. Then, I committed to a lady who had equally as bad disabilities. Now, when we are together, there is no thought or concern about either person having a disability. In fact, when we are together, it is as if neither of us is disabled.

I feel that when two people accept each other exactly the way they are, a strong foundation of love is established. That acceptance, when it comes to disabilities, is crucial because the subtle thoughts about disabilities create automatic limitations. When I dated a person with a handicap, they had the ability to relate to me and acknowledge my handicaps. Then, they could easily ignore them. The fact of two handicapped people coming together allows you to ignore the thoughts of handicaps. It opens up a depth in the heart where real loving sharing can take place.

Now, not every handicapped person can be in a relationship with another handicapped person. Handicapped people have chemistry and beliefs, and need to find another person with the same chemistry and beliefs to make a powerful relationship. I share this because of the hesitancy to date a
handicapped person, even if you are handicapped.

I encourage people dealing with any kind of body abnormalities to find someone who personally knows the struggle. Dating is not always easy, but when you can support someone’s weakness and they can support yours, a powerful bond is created.

Let me share an example: I often fall with my MS and my partner knows that reality within her own life. One time, I fell down when she was sitting right next to me. All she said was, “lah dee dah.” Instantly, my ego reacted but then I realized she knows that making a big deal does not really help anybody. In fact, some of my biggest hassles happen when I fall and someone overtly tries to be nice to me. Now, don’t get me wrong; I appreciate the kindness of people but by her saying “lah dee dah” instantly
forced me to see the situation as not unusual. It was up to me to take it from there.

Sometimes, during a fall, I would have appreciated kindness and sympathy but it was nothing like being met in the moment with a loving heart that understood my situation. I wholeheartedly encourage people dealing with physical limitations to at least search in the disabled community.

Marc Lerner, author of A Healthy Way to be Sick , teaches people how to tap
inner resources to become an active participant in life. Go to, where Marc has expert author status and has posted over 70 articles on health and mental health. Go to:  to review his work and listen to 14 radio shows, which he hosted on World Talk Radio.

Editors Note:

It’s my job to edit the stories that come into the Body and Self Image Blog and I do so with a grateful heart. I consider it an honor to be able to help people share their stories and I am touched by them all. This story, however, has a special place with me. My older sister was afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis for over thirty years and I know how difficult it was for her to deal, not only with the disease, but with the fact that other people viewed her as not just different but as somehow less. Inside she was the same person but her body, through no fault of her own, had betrayed her. I applaud this gentleman for giving us his story and hope that it will help others who may be dealing with similar issues.

Ann Werner 

Submit your story here:

Copyright Ark Stories 2011

Asymmetrical Breasts And A Muffin Top

I have had both an Abdominoplasty and a Breast Reduction/Lift.
I wanted a breast reduction since I was seventeen years old. I finally had them fixed when I was thirty-eight. I always felt my breasts were too large and just never felt comfortable with them. It made me look much heavier than I actually was and there was nothing I could do to feel otherwise.
I met my husband to be when I was just shy of turning twenty-three. I voiced my desires very early on in the relationship and he was always against me having them done. He had an ex-girlfriend who had a reduction and had terrible scars from it and was scared that would happen to me. As time went on and I realized that we were getting serious and eventually got married, I decided to put that thought on hold until I had my kids.
About a year after I had my second child by C-Section, I was diagnosed with an Umbilical Hernia.  “An Umbilical Hernia occurs when part of the intestine protrudes through an opening in the abdominal muscles. Umbilical Hernias are most common in infants but they can affect adults as well.”
~Mayo Clinic
Even though I was never really overweight, I definitely had that muffin top after my C-Section and was uncomfortable seeing myself naked. I then went to my general surgeon to discuss my options for fixing my hernia and he mentioned he could fix my hernia and I would be happy. He said I would be much happier if he did it in conjunction with a plastic surgeon who would also fix my Diastasis (separation of the abdominal muscles usually after pregnancy). Mine was pretty wide.  At the right angle I could fit four fingers wide into my abdomen. Since I was unhappy with that muffin top and felt I could never wear anything on the tighter side due to my stomach hanging out and realized that no matter how much weight I lost, I would never lose that flap of skin, I decided to do a consult with the plastic surgeon. After that consult, I decided to go ahead with the Abdominoplasty in conjunction with the general surgeon to fix my hernia. I am so happy with the results three years later. I can wear tight shirts and not feel self-conscious about that pouch hanging out.
About a year and a half after I had the Abdominoplasty, I thought it was time to address my breasts. As I said earlier, my husband was not for me fixing them and he still wasn’t totally into me having the procedure. After having two kids, not only were my breasts large but they were also asymmetric. I decided to go for it anyway and am so incredibly happy with the results. My husband, in the end, supported my decision and is also happy with the results. They are now symmetric and I am very comfortable with them. I have no problems walking around my room without a shirt on and can wear a tighter fitting shirt without feeling like I have irregular boobs and half my stomach falling out. These two procedures are definitely some of the best things I have done for myself.
***Editors Note: Always check to see if the physician you are using or considering is Board Certified and talk to some of the other patients about their experiences. Research carefully and thoroughly.
Submit your story here:

Copyright Ark Stories 2011

Joy Huber: Cancer With Joy


How Cancer Impacts Your Body & Self Image
On Wednesday, March 24th, 2010, my life changed and it will never be the same again.  On this day, I learned of my stalker; something that would truly follow me around like a shadow for the rest of my days. 

My stalker’s name was Non-Hodgkins Follicular Lymphoma Cancer. We found out later it was stage four with involvement in a major organ (my kidneys) and in my bone marrow.  There was nothing any law enforcement agency could do to protect me from it either.

Fortunately, after six intense chemotherapy treatments, each spaced three weeks apart, I achieved remission and as of this writing, continue with what is considered maintenance chemo.  I still receive one medicine through my port, which is implanted in my upper left chest between the breast and clavicle, every eight weeks, and the plan is to do that for approximately two years. 

Additional good actually came from this devastating diagnosis.  I really believe good can come from any obstacle life throws at us but we do have to make the choice about how we’re going to respond to the obstacle.  As a non-smoker who is relatively healthy (I have my sweet tooth and love ice cream!), my diagnosis came as a total surprise.  I’m not going to tell you I didn’t get mad or sad and shed tears over my diagnosis!  But I chose not to stay there and as I moved into acceptance, I decided my response to this would be to fight with all I could using the power of positivity, a positive attitude and humor. 
As I achieved remission, I was overpowered with the idea of “Cancer with Joy.”  This was doubly interesting to me because of the double meaning.  I’m Joy, I was diagnosed with stage four cancer as a young adult, so it’s helping people face “Cancer with Joy,” literally with me.  It’s also introducing to people this simple but profound concept of “Cancer with Joy.”  It’s never been said quite that way before!  What’s unique about it is my story and the unique ways I faced “Cancer with Joy” and what I can contribute to the dialogue.
I wrote a book called Cancer with Joy:  How to Transform Fear into Happiness and Find the Bright Side Effects.  But I didn’t explore the topic of how cancer impacts your body and self-image in-depth in the book.  When I learned there’s this amazing blog out there, I really wanted to contribute something to it.  From my experience of talking with many and introducing this new idea of “Cancer with Joy,” I have found every single person can tell me of someone they know currently in treatment or who had cancer.
In the book, I write the most emotionally painful moment for me was the complete loss of my shoulder-length hair due to one of the medicines they were giving me in treatment that killed all rapidly growing cells.  My medical team tried to remind me the “good news” was when my hair was coming out, it meant the medicine was getting hair cells but likely also killing cancer cells. 
All of a sudden waking up and going into the bathroom to reach for my toothbrush, since I must brush my teeth immediately upon waking, I didn’t recognize the woman in the mirror.  I was painfully aware and reminded of constantly by this image in the mirror all that cancer HAD been able to take from me while I was battling. 
Ironically, I was getting back together with an old boyfriend (We met in 1997!) right when I was diagnosed and starting treatment.  Our “first date back together” was not too long after I had my head shaved.  I wanted to look “like me” as much as possible, so that night I opted to wear a halo (elastic ring of hair with hair that hangs down in the front for bangs, on the sides and in the back, with the bulk of your head being bald,  and you cover the bald part with a fun hat!  This is very cool in the hot Summer, trust me, since my first six chemo’s were from April-August!).  My “hair” was close to my former color, length and style, so I felt good.
As our relationship progressed, I agonized about the first night I was to stay over at his house.  What would I do when the sun streamed in in the morning, lighting up my bald head and potentially horrifying him?  He has always known me with chin-length hair at the shortest.  See for a pre-cancer recent hairstyle and you can visit my contact page to contact me and my programs page to learn about my “Cancer with Joy” live event!  I went so far as to ask him if he had a guest bedroom I could sleep in! 
I learned how to handle even complete hair loss from “Cancer with Joy” and now I’m helping many others thrive, from diagnosis through treatment.  Remembering it is how you choose to respond, I chose to make fun out of this obstacle being thrown my way as a young adult!  I had always wanted to see how I’d look as a “saucy redhead!”  After ordering many different halos, wigs and hats from the Tender Loving Care catalog, I decided to have an Online Fashion Show and involved all my friends in the process to show them this unique way I was choosing to respond to the complete loss of my hair!  My dear mom, my caregiver, took pictures of me modeling many different looks.  I tried a variety of colors, lengths and styles!  We uploaded the pictures to Facebook and invited my friends to “like” and comment to help me select my look(s) for the Summer of 2010!  That’s taking hair loss, the most emotionally painful moment for me during my cancer experience and truly facing “Cancer with Joy!”
You see, what I was reminded of throughout my journey that I want to share with you is that your self-image should not be wholly defined by how you look.  My cancer treatment definitely changed things about my body and how I looked, and I know many women who have had a mastectomy, which changes their body.  Men’s bodies change during cancer treatment and we all change anyway through the natural aging process.  But, if this doesn’t sound too crazy, my cancer experience probably improved my self-image.  How you ask?  Because I realized that self-image is about who you are as a person, not wholly how you look!!
Through the founding of my brand “Cancer with Joy” and the many good things that have come from my experience, I feel better about myself as a person because of what I’m able to contribute and how many I’m able to help just by giving.  It’s my sincere hope reading this simple story inspired you to think about how you’re responding to obstacles and also helped you in some way as you consider your body and self-image.  When how you feel about yourself comes from the kind of person you are, which you are free to choose and change, it gives you confidence of the staying kind that surpasses the messages media and others may try to impose on us.
If your “stalker” is a culmination of those messages from the media and those mean things we all say to ourselves, focus on improving your self-image through feeling good about who you are and what you give to others vs. how you look!   
Joy Huber is a stage four young adult cancer survivor and the founder of “Cancer with Joy.” She is an award-winning international presenter, individual coach and songwriter.
Joy helps the newly diagnosed and those on their support team learn how to transform fear into happiness with resources, support and en‘courage’ment. She wrote “Cancer with Joy” to be the essential resource for the newly diagnosed, providing helpful and highly valuable information that saves precious time, energy and money. Joy is an inspiration, and her humor and positive energy ignites others to transform their experience with cancer from negative to “Cancer with Joy.”
“Cancer with Joy” is being published by Morgan James Publishing of New York City.  It will be available Spring 2012. Pre-order the book on Amazon and at  . Fall 2011.

Submit your story here:

Copyright Ark Stories 2011