Archive for the 'Dieting' Category

Love is What I Got.

stop-hating-your-bodyToday’s the day! I’m back to my pre-baby weight (again) and done “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” to quote Albert Einstein. 

Why is this time different? For starters, I’ve taken a radical* approach:

I’m self-motivating with love. By being kind to myself. By not beating myself up. For the first time EVER. 

I was motivated by negative feelings during my life on a diet. Being motivated by ill feelings I had for myself and my predicament lead to decades of yo-yo dieting. Hating your body as a motivation is very short-term. What’s more, when you’re fueled by negativity, you are more likely to self sabotage and beat yourself up when you have a “bad” day. You never feel worthy. It’s no wonder the weight always returns. The workouts wane. The cycle continues.

Then I gave love a try.

And I got real. I convinced myself I was worth loving at any weight, any health, any age. I realized getting real and finding love was the ONLY way I was going to endure yet another attempt at getting healthy. Big picture? Love is the only thing that will make my goals worth maintaining into the future. Because if you reach a goal by constantly being vengeful and hateful toward yourself, what are you left with? What is going to motivate you to maintain your goals? More berating? Exactly. So love it is.

And I embraced the fact that I’m a proud owner of a body that:

-Will never look like something out of a newsstand magazine without major surgery (or Photoshop!). And made total peace with that. Studies have repeatedly shown that plastic surgery does not make people happier overall, anyway, so F that noise. And besides, as one of our generation’s greatest wordsmith once said, “silicone parts are made for toys.” 

-Has borne two beautiful, healthy children, with a body to prove it, and I’m grateful. And damn, I have some incredible kids.

-That just is what it is because, genes. And the aging process. And gravity. That’s not some stark reality, that’s a gift – living is. Not to mention, my body’s inherent characteristics are not flaws. Besides, they have nothing to do with my actual character. I choose to love this body and use this love to motivate me to improve it in realistic, healthy ways. I am GOING TO BE HERE FOR A LONG TIME, YO!

So that’s it. Love. When I’m tempted to dig into myself, I just remember that nothing I can personally do will ever, ever, ever change my DNA and that what I’m dealing with is a 36-year-old, living body that’s been through a lot and will get through a lot more to come – and that’s amazing. There is no shame in that. Hell, that’s worth celebrating. I carry around the proof of life – a good life full of love, even at my darkest times – and that motivates me every day now.

That said, this whole loving-your-body thing doesn’t exist in a vacuum. All that self-love in the world is in vain if there are haters taking us down – think about that. It’s no accident that I’m powered by love. I surround myself with positive people and things by design. If you are constantly bombarded by things that trigger negative feelings about your body – be it from a partner, family member or friend, even (especially?) the media –  you will be up for an additional challenge to achieving your goals. Plus, that’s kind of crappy – jerks trolling your life, bringing you down, you know? So in addition to loving yourself first, if you have haters in your life, poof, be gone!  I mean, come on. F those haters.

Till the next goal!

*Loving oneself should not be radical, but because we’re socialized to hate our bodies and pick on others’ bodies, particularly women, I’m calling for a radical change in the body-talk, body-relationship narrative. Won’t you join me?

 

And now, some relevant motivational quotes from the web! 

Love-Your-Body loveyourbody quotes-body-01-bloom-600x411 love-your-body-17 LovingYourBody1 PLPT Love Note 122112 Love-your-body-quote Quotation-Harry-Papas-life-good-love-self-diet-understanding-inspirational-Meetville-Quotes-218569 b6cd86f3aff37e94285420acc3d8e382 stop-hating-your-body

Learning to Hate Our Bodies, Part One: The Media

girlreadingmagazineThis is the first part in a series of personal stories about how I learned to hate my body, little by little, from as far back as I can remember. I’m seriously now just beginning to not pick on myself throughout the day. I am 35. Thirty five!

It’s not just me. I have friends of all shapes and sizes and ages who are still dealing with this, too. What we have in common is that we are all women who essentially came of age in the ’80s and ’90s in suburban America with its white girl mall culture and expectation of flawlessness. Ads, the media, peers, relatives, teachers, boys – their message has always been clear to us: You are imperfect and you need to be fixed.

How does this relate to my blog? Well, if I do nothing else as a person, I want to raise children with positive body images who respect their own bodies and other peoples’. I want confident kids. And that starts with being comfortable in your own body despite the mixed messages that are sent all day long. And that starts at home. So yeah. Totally relevant stuff here.

So here goes.

The media and its advertisers are EVER SO EAGER to help you be the image of feminine perfection. It’s a business model. There is money to be made off of your intrinsic desire to not be disgusting. I have been a member of the media since senior year in high school when I got my first newspaper clip. Despite my passion for journalism and fierce support for the First Amendment, pop media largely grosses me out. It editorializes stories like Angelina Jolie’s mastectomies, the “chunky” cheerleader and that pathetic Abercrombie & Fitch CEO who hates fat girls. At the same time, I’m so guilty of watching, reading and reposting.

The relentlessness of the media when it comes to telling you about your crappy body is alarming. You think it’s going to get better when you get older, wiser, get married, get a job, have kids. But, oh no. IT NEVER GOES AWAY. It just changes a little. When you become a mom, for example, suddenly you’re being marketed to as a new demographic: the ideal mother. Wholesome, nurturing and impossibly SKINNY with flawless skin. This same illusion of a mother always does the right thing when it comes to child-rearing, but that’s another post.

When exactly does the media begin digging in? For me, who knows, maybe it was the first time I saw a Barbie commercial. The first time I remember it really resonating was when I was a teenager pouring over Delia’s catalogs and YM and Seventeen magazines. Trust me, I hold all those teen glossies near and dear to my heart because they are synonymous with the best parts of adolescence: Sitting around in my friend’s bedroom, gossiping and prank calling randoms while listening to Weezer, Green Day, Mazzy Star and Milla Jovovich CDs on repeat. Outside of that otherwise joyful context, though, teen magazines are toxic.

They were and continue to be a huge contributor to our very specific self loathing be it our faces, hair, bodies,  odor, biology, clothes, friendships, boyfriends – pretty much EVERY aspect of our lives and specifically those that make us uniquely women. You know, stuff we should embrace, but were taught to HATE till they go away or are fixed. That’s why we starve. That’s why we cover up our bodies. They’re why we are still chasing some ghost of an ideal woman. At 30, 40, 50 …

Through being bombarded by self-help, diet, exercise, dating, beauty and fashion advice in teen mags, we’re basically led to think we are physically inferior, un-dateable and need improvement. And we by no means can do ANY of this by ourselves. We need help.

Teen mags are chock-full of pictures of pretty, skinny girls with good clothes and TONS of advice on how to fix your ugly self.

And forget about when we graduated to Cosmo (basically within the same year – we could not wait to check out this scandalous women’s magazine! It was our version of Playboy!).

Cosmo had fashion spreads of unachievable womanliness, Victoria’s Secret ads and hordes of graphic information about how to do sex right FOR YOUR MAN. I will never forget the how-to B.J. story that had us giggling for an hour. My friend read it out loud in a haughty professor voice. It was hilarious. But you know what? It essentially informed us how to be an object of pleasure for someone else.

My older sister had Sassy around the house – for skinny, alternative girls of all colors. It was a start. I didn’t see BUST till I flipped through it at a comic store in Chicago. It wasn’t love at first sight. BUST was so boldly sex-positive it scared me off at first. Not because I’m a prude, but because it went against everything I thought I knew about being a woman. The beauty tips featured normal-looking people. Normal people can’t be pretty! The sex guides were for, um, the reader (What? What a concept). It was only really when I bought my first issue of BUST that things began changing for me. Christ, I was in my 20s. Riot Grrrl and women’s studies classes were another big part of the change. I guess that sounds like a cliché feminist coming-of-age story, but it’s true, and studying women’s sociology, reading women’s lit and listening to angry lyrics about social injustices still happening IN OUR COUNTRY, IN 1998 certainly improved upon how I looked at myself and other women.

Then in my 30s, I began discovering intelligent and funny bloggers like Emily McCombs who writes through her body and addiction issues. The Internet has allowed me to totally hone in on writing that I care about by smart writers who are not interested in cashing in on making people feel bad all the time. Pretty sure Rookie, an incredible e-zine by Chicago teenager Tavi Gevinson, would have been my jam if we had the Internet as we know it in 1995.

I still subscribe to BUST – now in its 20th year and still writing intelligently for women (I even had the pleasure of interviewing its owners for a story and freelancing for them for a while). BUST is still helping all of us women like our bodies, right now, not in some fake future when we lose all the weight and buy all of the designer cosmetics. They’re still publishing awesome DIY guides and sharing information that actually matters.

Still, not a day goes by that most of TV, magazines, the Internet and all those ads in-between slam us with images of skinny, pretty, clean, smart, nice-smelling, unachievable womanhood.

I LOVE Pinterest, but between pictures of unreachable beauty standards, and “inspirational” quotes about what you’re doing wrong and how to do it right, plus endless tips and tricks to “live your best life,” sometimes I feel like I’m flipping through the absolute worst of those teen magazines.

True, I should really get off the Internet.

So tell me, did you grow up with teen magazines? Do you think they impacted how you feel about yourself today or were they just a girl’s rite-of-passage/get over it? 

If you’ve ever felt like the media’s influence has harmed your body image, do you still feel that way or are you moving past it? What’s helped? 

How are you ensuring your kids aren’t being beat over the head with the media’s seemingly never-ending Perfect Body Image Campaign? 

Illustration: pamf.org

Milestones and Musings

The cousins Christmas portrait was a bust. Nothing a meme can't fix!

The cousins Christmas portrait was a bust. Nothing a meme can’t save, though, amiright? Totally showing this to Delilah’s first love interest, BTW. “Hey Delilah, memba when you were a drooly old man? Lol!” Click for the gif.

Fair warning: This is another one of those looong, all-over-the-place posts. It’s not too late to resume facebooking (or whatever you were doing).

And They All Went the F to Sleep … 31 Days Later

I use the term “milestone” loosely when discussing a one-month old, but last night I got decent sleep (which I consider a milestone) because Delilah slept like a champ – up only twice to eat and went down without a bunch of drama and noisemaking. But it took some planning. J stayed up till after midnight with her forcing her to stay awake so she’d be tired once they went upstairs. I don’t remember us having to work this hard to get sleep with Ollie, but I am certain I have baby amnesia because I forgot like 75 percent of what it’s like to have a newborn and am continuously like, “Really, dude?!”

Mostly, though, I’m super-duper smitten with this child. Even when she is up for a three-hour stretch in the middle of the night griping about nothing, I’m like, damn. We’re lucky. Not to mention, I know it could be worse. I don’t even wanna know about colic.

Speaking of sleep, she’s also been napping in her big girl crib in her room. That makes me happy seeing her among her forrest creature friends in the nursery. And a little sad because that means, yup, another milestone.

What else? She also hit the 10-pound mark (and 23 inches), and is hella strong holding up that noggin and flexing those stems. Hercules! Hercules! Hercules!

Here, Feel Like a Superhero for a Few Days. Then Imma Take it Away Like *Poof*! You’re Welcome. Signed, Hormones

You might recall in my previous post boasting about having super-human energy (especially for a new mom on zero sleep recovering from a c-section), plus weight loss like wut. Yeah, that is over, folks. I’m tired. Requiring my morning coffee again. Some of that weight that magically disappeared, magically returned. Not much, but enough that I’m on notice. Which also kind of sucks because I’m nursing and not supposed to be calorie counting. Oh, the paradox!

Which brings me to the fact that I was totally warned about all of this (although not by my OBGYN or all the Dr. Google’ing I’ve been doing about EVERYTHING under the natal sun). No, it was another mom who enlightened me.

So before we had Delilah, I reached out to a friend who, like me, has two kids and writes for a living. She’s a freelancer working from home and I wanted to see how she pulled it off because that’s my goal. She emailed me some amazing advice – down to earth and honest with a dose of funny, just what I needed, but I put off reading it because I got distracted by, um, being a new mom. There was one part in particular I regret not reading sooner. She warned me about the adrenaline/hormone boost you get right after birth and how even though it’s tempting, don’t’ give in. SLEEP. SLEEP, damn it! But I didn’t. And here I am. But it’s getting better.

Silver lining: that little boost came in handy when I was putting out a magazine FOUR days earlier than our normal deadline – just weeks after I was home from the hospital. If you call me supermom or wonderwoman or whatever, I promise not to be all modest about it. I summoned some gritty, primitive part of myself to make this happen, but that’s what you do when you want something bad enough. Or multiple things, in my case. And I’ll do it again. And every time I do it, it, too will get better.

I’m Sorry to Every Mom I’ve Judged for LHIP (Looking Haggard in Public)

Moms can be mean. Harsh. Judgey. Sometimes I’ll see a mom that just looks, um, beat. I think, man, just put some lipstain on or something. Comb yo hair. Lose the sweats. Put on some jeans, lady. But you know what? It’s not always that simple. Life goes on despite your desire to look and feel human.

Sometimes you have to go to the pediatrician looking like you just rolled out of bed (because you did. Because you were up half the night). Sometimes you go to family functions in a button-up flannel instead of that cute, new sweater because it’s easier to nurse with a button-up. Not that you’re doing it in front of everyone (because that’s taboo!), but still. It’s about function.

Sometimes you put off getting your hair did because there’s no time, or let’s face it, no money. It’s not that you don’t care. It’s not that you are oblivious that you have 2-inch roots. It’s not that you’ve given up. You haven’t given up, but there are greater needs and there’s a bigger picture and you know someday you will be your bad bitch self again, skinny jeans and all. Or you tell yourself that, anyway, to get through another day of sweats and spitup.

Seriously, though, being a parent is rough and we have to be easier on moms and dads. From now on, when I see a haggard mom (or look in the mirror), I’ll remember we’re doing the toughest job on the planet (no joke. Oprah knows what’s up) and we’re getting important shit done.

Time for My Guys

I know I can’t give Ollie equal time these days, but you better believe when we’re one on one, I make it count. Like last night during his bedtime, J was at band practice and Delilah was snoozing, so it was just the two of us. I loved curling up with him in his bed and, get this, reading WITH him, not to him. When did THIS happen?!

I remind him how proud I am of him. How big he is. How he’s my “sunshine” and my “best guy.” I indulge his goofy 4-year-old questions (they are endless), I applaud his sometimes hapless efforts to be independent,  but I also keep him in check if he’s pushing his luck. Because you can’t slack on the discipline as difficult as it can be to dish out to a preschooler when an infant needs you.

I thought it would be impossible to share love, attention, pride, joy, etc., between kids. I could not fathom it, right up until the day Delilah arrived. The good news is, you relish both kiddos for different reasons, at different times – sometimes together all at once. And there are moments when both are crying bloody murder and you’re just like fuckthisshit! And that passes.

You might be wondering how my relationship is going with the guy who got me into all of this trouble: J. I don’t know what to say other than, correction: Single moms, you have the toughest job on the planet. And to the people who help single moms – you are soooo awesome.

Having a partner keeps me sane at 3 a.m. when the baby is on her third hour of utter neediness and I want to sleep in the car; makes me laugh despite all the chaos and drama even though my face is too tired to smile; relieves me even if it means he has to stay up WAY late on a work night to entertain/wear out the baby; and takes Ollie pretty much everywhere with him and does his bedtime routine almost every night so I can care for the baby. In addition to all of this (and more), this past weekend, he managed to deck out the house – inside and out – with Christmas, pretty much all by himself (with Ollie’s supervision). I never think I care about Christmas decorations, but they instantly make me all fuzzy and gah when I see them. 

As for how J’s taking to fathering a baby girl, let’s just say a) he’s head over heels in love (naturally) and b) Delilah, you’re going to need ninja skillz if you ever want to hang out with boys before you’re 30. Sorry, but also, you’re welcome.

Food Rules: Eat Good, Be Well

I recently filled out one of those silly facebook surveys that was all about food. One of the questions asked about my favorite food as a kid. Without hesitation, I listed sour cream’n’onion chips (Keebler’s O’Boisies if we’re being specific. I could eat a whole bag in one hour of MTV programming after school. My runner up would be another quintessential sour junk food: Sour Patch Kids). Junk food, basically. I sucked at eating healthy when I was little and I’d be a liar if I said I’d prefer Brussels sprouts over mac’n’cheese at 32 years old.

Lately, my family has been on a whole foods kick – fresh meats and veggies, cheese, eggs, nuts, water instead of pop. No sweets or salty corn or potato snacks. No fried foods. We really needed a break from the carb overload we experienced over the holidays and whole foods just seem to make more sense. But what we saw on the “Before You Grocery Shopping Again” ep of Oprah the other day got us thinking about our food choices more specifically. For the majority of the show, Oprah interviewed Michael Pollan, author of “Food Rules.” “This short work is a condensed version of his previous efforts, intended to provide a simple framework for healthy and sustainable diet,” according to Wikipedia. “It offers 64 rules based on his previous book ‘In Defense of Food.'”

Here are some highlights that I really took to heart:

Processed food sucks/If it won’t rot, don’t eat it/If the average person can’t pronounce the ingredients, don’t buy it. So there goes processed American cheese singles – which make grilled cheeses so awesome. No more convenient toddler snacks like Goldfish and animal crackers, snack bars, many jarred foods … the list goes on. I’ve already started chopping up fresh fruit in place of giving Ollie a handful of Goldfish while I make him dinner. He’s not complaining and it only takes me an extra few seconds.

If you want junk food, make it  yourself. I’m REALLY actually pretty excited about the idea of earning my French fry craving by having to peel, season and bake my own frites. Same with mac’n’cheese. And you know, homemade junk food probably tastes better than fast food, anyway. And I’m likely not to make them all of the time because, if I’m honest, how often do I want to spend hours in the kitchen for a simple junk food craving?

Dining out right. I get Chilis fever every now and then. Then there’s the Portillo’s urge. And the White Castle crave. If it’s salty, spicy, indulgent and nostalgic – I find myself wanting it every so often. But the truth is, the foods sold in most chains (and many single-unit restaurants) are not only trucked in from across the country from a big food service conglomerate, but they’re pumped with sodium and preservatives. Kinda makes me lose my appetitive just thinking about it. And really, why would I spend my hard-earned money on pre-packaged,  mediocre food that wasn’t even made with any real care? So in addition to eating at independently owned restaurants, I’m also on a mission to eat at places that serve fresh, homemade, and if possible, locally sourced foods. I already know of a handful nearby (see below), so there’s no excuse.

Vote with your fork. Today, the demand is for inexpensive, convenient food that has a long shelf life and that’s why stores are full of these items. The more of us who shop the parameters of the grocery store for fresh produce and proteins, the more likely stores will hear the message that we value and demand fresh foods. And that will drive down price. Such a simple concept when you think about it.

–Pay now or pay later. This ties back into voting with your fork. Cheap, processed foods are easier on the pocketbook than fresh foods. You can fill up your whole cart with boxed, jarred, canned and pre-cooked/processed for the same amount as a fraction of a cart full of fresh foods. Plus, fresh foods rot sooner than processed foods. You do the math. Especially for families struggling in this economy and who are starved for time, the seemingly sensible choice is the cheap and easy one. Here’s the scary part, though: Down the line, the consumption of these cheap and easy foods result in higher medical bills  stemming from a life-long poor diet. So it’s a matter of paying now for fresh foods or paying later for high medical bills. I’ve put a lot of thought into it, and even with my already-stretched budget, I’m voting with my fork and spending a little extra percentage of my paycheck on food that’s good for my family. I hope other people do the same and eventually, the high demand will mean a variety of fresh food for a fraction of the current price.

–Would your great-grandma recognize it? Oh my dearest Nan. Geese grazed on her  property in Arkansas before she moved back to Illinois. She made chicken soup using the whole carcass, plus fresh veggies. For breakfast, we ate omelets and sausage. It was that or her fiber cereal. Her homemade biscuits and sausage gravy rival any I’ve had since. She was the consummate chef. What would she think of cotton-candy flavored yogurt that comes in a tube? “Fruit” snacks filled with gooey liquid? Energy drinks? Hot Pockets? Nan worked hard, cooked like she meant it and lived to 89. No heart disease, diabetes or obesity.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to be a better consumer.  My family’s heath and wellness depends on it. What does your fridge and pantry look like? Do you think these “Food Rules” will change the way you shop at all?

Finally, here are some links to the like-minded (I know there are more in McHenry County. If you have any, PLEASE share!):


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