I almost didn't write a post today, but I had a moment this evening that I wanted to share.
Everything has been going so well lately, that I've been feeling really great about myself and where I am at this moment in my life. A couple of days ago, a reader contacted me to tell me that my before and after photos were being used in a mailer from a personal trainer. She forwarded the mailer to me, and sure enough, my photos were there (my watermark cropped out). The email implied that the trainer trained me to get to my "after" photo.
I was pissed, of course. This has happened before, where some scam company uses my photos to try and sell diet pills or something. That's why I started watermarking my before and after photos. I have messaged the trainer twice now (once by email, once on Facebook) and he still hasn't responded. I asked him to please remove my photo from anywhere that he has used it, and I said I would appreciate it if he would retract what he'd written in the mailer. I just want him to acknowledge that what he did was wrong. He earns money through his site, not just from training but by selling memberships to private running groups.
Anyway, I was angry about that, but I was planning to give him one more chance to respond privately before I went public with his wrongdoing. As I went to the message part of Facebook, I noticed a message in there from another reader. She said she noticed that my blog post was on a different website. I checked it out, and someone had copied my ENTIRE blog post about the Weight Watchers SmartPoints plan, including my scale photo, onto their own blog... word for word.
Stealing a photo is upsetting to me, but copying my entire post? How could anyone possibly think that's okay?! I looked at the Facebook page for this blog, and they have over 90,000 fans. They had posted a link to "their" post on the blog, making it appear as if they had written the whole thing. At the very bottom, in tiny lettering (light gray color) was "Source: www.runsforcookies.com". That's it! It's one thing to post a link to someone else's blog, where people can read it at the source (that's totally fine); but it's actually illegal to copy and paste my entire blog post the way they did.
The post had only been up for an hour, but the damage had been done--there were a dozen or so shares on Facebook, and lots of repins on Pinterest. I immediately reported the copyright infringement to Pinterest and Facebook, and I messaged the Facebook page to please remove it all. I was really upset by the whole thing, especially considering it happened just after the personal trainer stole my photos. I posted a public comment that it had been stolen from my blog, and some random person replied that because my blog is public, anyone is free to copy whatever they want (not true!).
At that moment, I wanted to just take down my entire blog. It's hard to describe, but I just felt very violated. I started to think about all the other things that have probably been copied and posted elsewhere, including my kids' pictures. I was so upset that I started crying, and it had been a long time since I've cried--like I said, everything has been going so well for me lately. As I waited and hoped for a response from the Facebook page, I was SO TEMPTED to binge eat. The anxiety I was feeling would have been eased in just seconds if I could stuff my face with food.
And you know what I did? I went for a walk. The kids and I took Joey for a walk around the neighborhood, because it was so gorgeous outside (50 degrees!) and I just wanted to get away from my computer. We only walked one loop of the neighborhood, which was about 3/4 of a mile, but I was starting to feel better. I got a text from Jerry (he was at work), who said that the post had been removed from Facebook, and I was so relieved when I heard that.
When I got home, there was a message from that Facebook page, telling me that they were sorry and had removed the post from the blog, Pinterest, and Facebook. Now, if only I could get the personal trainer to admit his wrong doing in stealing my photos. (ETA: I finally got an email from him. He apologized and said he would remove my photo; it's already been mailed out to thousands of people, so I don't know how much good that will do. But I am glad he at least responded.)
Anyway, the whole point of this post was not to complain about people stealing my property. I was very proud of myself for choosing to handle the stress and anxiety I was feeling without food. In the past, I've always turned to food to make me feel better, but I've been getting really good at avoiding binge eating. Anxiety is my biggest binge trigger, and being able to deal with that mess today in a healthy way (going for a walk) is big progress for me.
All of that said, I'm just not sure where to go from here. I'm feeling less and less comfortable posting about my life online (you may have noticed that I've been writing less frequently). When I had just a handful of readers, I was very open about everything--probably way too much information, honestly! I miss those days--when I could make a joke without someone being offended, curse freely, post a food log without being nitpicked and criticized, and write about things like sex because my mom wasn't yet a reader ;) My blog has always been a place for me to just write about my day and my thoughts; never a place to preach or tell others how they should be doing things, so I hope it doesn't come across that way.
I've been thinking about making some changes to my blog, and keeping a lot of my personal life out of it; but on the other hand, I love to keep a journal documenting my day to day life. And I've met some completely amazing people through my blog! I suppose I could just keep a handwritten journal at home, but there is something fun about having a public platform to share my ideas and thoughts. It has sparked some great conversations over the years, and I have learned a ton from readers who have commented or emailed.
Over 99% of the feedback I receive on my blog is positive and/or constructive, so I don't want the few negative parts to change the way I write. However, as my kids are getting older, I am starting to think that maybe it's time I just stick to writing about my running and weight loss/gain/maintenance, even if that is boring. I don't want the kids or other family members to feel "on display", if that makes sense.
I'm not saying that I'm going to be doing anything drastic; but if you notice that I don't write as much about my family as I used to, it's just because I am trying to conserve some privacy for them. And because of this, I may not be writing as frequently as I have for the past few years. This blog has been such a blessing in my life (amazing opportunities, meeting people who have become extremely close friends, helping me stay accountable in the weight loss goals) and I just can't really imagine what life would be like without it!
Thanks so much for reading. I'm not going anywhere, but I want to take a moment to say thank you--for inspiring me, for healing me, for teaching me, and for growing with me :) xo
I don't have any good pictures for this post, so I'll share this picture of Joey and me. February 3rd was his one-year "adoptiversary"!