Double Time

When I was a kid, my mom use to workout in our basement to her Richard Simmons Sweatin’ to the Oldies tape. Do you remember Richard Simmons? Short guy, curly hair, always grinning like he’d just been handed basket full of puppies. Richard used to be fat, then he got skinny, then he got rich helping other fat people get skinny.

 Yeah, that guy.

I loved Richard Simmons. I’d hear Rockin’ Robin coming from the basement, and I couldn’t help but join in. My mom and I would shake our booties, following every step that ‘fro in short-shorts took. He made it easy to follow along so you didn’t feel like some ass fumbling around your basement trying to follow a workout video. And he always worked out with fat people, so you didn’t feel like the elephant in the room. Literally.

These days, I work out with Billy Blanks. Yeah, that guy. The Tae Bo guy.

It’s a good workout, if you can keep up. Unfortunately, I’m not quick, coordinated, or strong, so my workout ends up being some free-style bastardization of what Billy’s actually doing. This free-styling includes–but is not limited to–tripping, falling over, punching myself in the boob, and slapping myself in the face with my upper arm fat.

Before starting a Tae Bo tape, I’m careful to properly hydrate, warm up, stretch, and draw every shade in the apartment. I’ll walk around naked with the windows wide open, but I’d rather die than risk some pedestrian catching a glimpse of me losing a fight to a gang of invisible ninjas in my living room.

Billy Blanks is relentless. He pushes you to the point of feeling like your arm or leg might actually snap off with the next punch, then he throws it into double time. He doesn’t know what its like to be fat, and he certainly doesn’t let any fat people workout on his tapes with him. I miss the Richard Simmons days, and I miss working out with other fat people. Richard may have been an eccentric, and frankly kind of weird, but he wasn’t anything if not genuine. I may be working out with Billy these days, but I’ve got Richard in my heart.

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How Not to Deal with Stress

If I could choose a subtitle for this post, it would probably be “so says captain obvious” because my revelation about how not to deal with stress is the simple truth that most of us already know. Here it is: Don’t eat your stress.

The thing is, most of us know what we’re supposed to do (and not do) to keep healthy, and yet we still make the dumb choices. We do this because it’s easier, faster, tastier–you know the usual excuses. Last winter (2010), I made it through the holidays/winter without gaining weight. A first for me, probably ever. Granted, I had a spring wedding to keep me on track, but I was using exercise instead of food as an outlet for my stress. Guess which of those things I used this year?

Two weeks ago I stepped on the Wii fit to weigh myself for the first time in about 6 months. This is what I saw:

That bummed me out. After some long chats and three seasons of The Biggest Loser on Netflix, Matt and I decided to re-dedicate ourselves to our health and incorporating regular exercise into our routine again. Matt joined a recreational basketball team, I started jogging again, and we’ve been doing yoga together in our apartment once a week. So far (again, captain obvious here) we both feel great. In fact, the other day one of my coworkers asked me why I had been so chipper lately. I said, I don’t know, I just feel good. When I thought about it, I realized how good I actually felt, especially compared to how I’d been feeling. Without regular exercise, I felt cranky, moody, tired, and I kept getting headaches. Essentially, I felt like a giant blob of crap. Being lazy and glutenous just isn’t worth it.

To help keep me motivated, I’ve made a goal to sign up for more group races this year, starting with the Shamrock 5k next month. I also helped start a Biggest Loser competition at work. With a $400 prize on the line, I don’t even want to cheat. And, to spice up my workouts, I bought a hula hoop.

In posts to come, I’ll let you know how I’m doing on the Biggest Loser and in my spring time slim down. This booty is going to be smoking hot.

 

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Plus-Sized Models

A friend recently shared an article on G+ about a photo shoot and article by Plus Model Magazine featuring plus-sized models posing nude both alone and coupled with average runway models.

The images are captioned with industry statistics, emphasizing the unhealthy lifestyle lead by most runway models. The full story and all images can be viewed here.

The article discusses the shrinking average size of plus-sized models and encourages women to demand that they be represented by models who are actually plus-sized. Most women are underrepresented in the media as the average size for a women is 14 and even plus sized models are usually smaller than that, as small as size 6 according to the article.

It’s sad that a size 6 woman could be passed as plus-sized, but I don’t think that plus-sized models should be heavier than a 14/16 just because our nation is facing an obesity crisis. Women want to feel represented, I understand that, but women should have healthy models for attainable success. Most women who wear a size 18 or larger are moving into a realm where their weight is becoming a health risk. A model should represent a healthy standard, not a standard set by the overweight masses.

Take the model in the picture above for example. She’s beautiful. Her body is beautiful. She looks happy and healthy. I would love to have a body like hers, juicy thighs, small tummy rolls and all. Looking at traditional runway models like Kate Moss does nothing for me. Like many plus-sized women, I’m curvaceous, even at a healthy weight. I’ll never look like Kate Moss, nor would I want to. But seeing a model my size or heavier, knowing that I’m not a healthy weight, doesn’t encourage me to better myself any more than looking at an emaciated photo of Moss would.

My opinions aren’t going to change the modeling industry, but I hope nonetheless that it does change. Too many women internalize those seemingly perfect images of women and become downtrodden when they realize that it’s an impossible standard. Women need to see healthy, curvy, normal-looking women so they can internalize an attainable ideal for once.

What do you think?

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Why I ask my husband stupid questions

Matthew and I were sitting on the couch this evening, I carefully peeling an orange and him playing Gears of War 3 (don’t get me started), and I suddenly felt compelled to ask him, “Are you holding out hope that one day I’ll be skinny?”

I’m glad I didn’t waste my breath and instead thought, what a stupid question. But it got me thinking, and I had plenty of time to do so because peeling oranges takes me a very long time. I realized that I ask him all sorts of stupid questions, like, do you think I’m pretty? Do you love me? Do you think I’m [fill in the blank]?  I’m not wanting for affection; I certainly don’t feel undesired. So why ask such silly questions?

Mid-orange, it dawned on me. I’m not asking him those questions, I’m asking myself those questions. He’s merely a sounding board for my insecurities, an innocent middle-man forced into the ever-feared, “do these jeans make my butt look big?” quandary.

I put these questions on him so I don’t have to face the pain of my own answers. Do I think I’m pretty? Do I love myself? Am I holding out hope that one day I’ll be skinny?

On days when I’m feeling insecure, unattractive, unhappy, these stupid questions bubble up, seeking a person who will offer validation and comfort. Of course Matthew will always provide those things to me, but that’s not his responsibility. It’s not fair to ask him to field such preposterous questions. Besides, the mind is too great a thing to waste on such pointless ponderings.

Now, back to my orange.

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The Greater Good

Lately, most of my hobbies have taken a back seat to my creative writing. I’ve been more productive than ever, and it feels really good. No, amazing. Terrific.

Of course there’s always give and take in life, so that means that my other hobbies have suffered neglect. For example, I picked up A Room of One’s Own several months ago and still haven’t finished. (It’s only 100 pages or so) The painting that I started over the summer is also unfinished. The quilt I started cutting probably won’t be picked up again until sometime in 2012. I haven’t crocheted a single item yet this fall. And of course, this poor blog has been treated like the red-headed step-child. Sorry, blog.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. I’m committed to becoming a better creative writer, and the only way to do that is to write, write, write. As much as I love talking about my own booty, right now I’d rather make up a story about someone else’s. That sounds weird. For the record, I have not written a story about anyone’s booty.

I won’t abandon blogging because I’d still like to get better at that too, but one writing focus at a time is plenty for the time being. That said, If you are interested in reading a short story, I’m looking for feed back. Let me know and I’ll send something along.

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Fat and Happy

Have you ever sucked your stomach in before stepping on a scale? As if its going to help the outcome. I had to laugh when I caught myself doing this at the doctor’s office on Tuesday. I had already taken off my shoes and purse, maybe I should have asked if I could strip down too. Or come back in the morning, I guess you’re lightest then. It wasn’t so bad, but I have gained 5-7 pounds since the wedding. Oh joyous wedded bliss, you are so fattening.

I’m not allowing myself to feel stressed about the weight gain. If I know myself, and I hope I do, I know that stressing about it will make me feel worse and then I’ll gain more weight. Instead, I’ve tried to be more conscientious of my workouts and less conscientious of Halloween candy. (I’m doing better at one of those things than the other. Can you guess which?) I also bought some new clothes. A new frock = ego boost = feeling better about myself = living healthier.

This delicious beverage has also entered my life:

It contains 2000 mg omega-3, calcium, protein, fiber, and it’s sweetened with fruit juices. Tastes amazing too. I’ve been consuming a lot of Mama Chi and Kombucha lately. Since I’ve been macking on these tasty bevs, I’ve noticed that my issue with dairy has all but disappeared. I’m still monitoring things closely, but I think the enzymes and probiotics are boosting my digestion. It’s sort of like my digestive system went into a phone booth, downed a Kombucha, and came out as Super Digestion. In other food news, though my elimination diet experiment, I discovered that I can’t consume soy. I already knew that it didn’t sit well with me, but I discovered that it inflames my thyroid. It’s a very uncomfortable feeling, like being throttled by your own neck. I don’t recommend it.

As I mentioned earlier in this post, I was at the doctor’s office on Tuesday and I’m happy to announce that I’ve finally  found a new primary care doctor. She’s in Lake Oswego, which is a crappy drive down I5, but she’s totally worth it. I’m ecstatic to have a doctor who won’t sneeze in her hand then not wash up, who will actually listen to what I’m saying, and who won’t say inappropriate things to me. She’s ordering more tests and wants me to try a new inhaler for my asthma, so I’m feeling positive that my issues will be figured out.

Today is a bit overcast, but Matt and I are headed out for a 7 mile hike. It’s the same hike we did together the day he proposed. It’s going to be a good day.

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Where, excuse me?

I decided to see a gastroenterologist about all my stomach issues. The doc was an old balding fellow with a few wisps of white hair still floating around his ears. This is exactly the type of doctor you want to see for this type of issue. Nobody wants the hot doctor to ask them how often they get constipated. Unfortunately, the doctor was a bit of a cold fish. He was in and out like he had water boiling in the next room. At one point he put two fingers on my wrist as if to take my pulse, but I think it was just an excuse to look at his watch. Last time I checked, it takes more than TWO SECONDS to take a pulse. But what do I know? It’s not like I was sucking up the man’s time either, I only asked one measly question. I thought it was ligit, considering he didn’t tell me anything about anything during the appointment.

So they scheduled me to come back for a “procedure,” as they put it. I call it a violation at both ends. Like I told my mom earlier today, they wanna shove what where and charge me how much? I figure I should be getting paid for allowing that kind of back door invasion. But I’ve dragged my feet on these gastro issues for a while, so part of me feels like I should suffer the tests and see what’s up. Part of me says, heck no! Too horrible and too expensive. As a compromise to myself, I’ve decided to do two things: first, per the suggestion of a friend, I’m going to try an elimination diet to test for allergies and sensitivities. I’ll keep a journal of how I feel after each meal, what I ate and so on, and I’ll track how I feel once certain things are re-introduced. (Dairy and gluten being the biggies.) Second, I’ve resolved to find a good PCP in Portland. I’ve struck out three times, but the search continues. My hope is that I’ll finally find a good doctor who will take my whole pulse and maybe think of another way to diagnose my problems without…procedures. My appointment with the cold fish is the end of September, so I have just under two months to accomplish these two goals. Hold me to it!

Ps: the stomach issues that I discuss via this blog are–unfortunately–only the tip of the iceberg. I’m a pretty open gal, but not that open. If it turns out that I have cancer and will die in six months, yes, I will tell you that. But don’t expect any gory medical details. ;)

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Rising from the ashes…

Lately I’ve been stuck on the idea of the “Phoenix version” things. For instance, my sucky couch could reach its Phoenix potential if someone fixed the broken arm and seat, added extra fluff, and gave it a new, unstained covering that was NOT removable. The couch would still be mediocre, but it would be the best couch that it could possibly be. I think all this Phoenix business started when we watched X3 not too long ago. Jean Gray as her alter-ego Dark Phoenix exudes bad ass. And she obliterates people with her mind.

Dark Phoenix is terrifying. The things I day-dream about aren’t so menacing. Like how could my apartment reach the Phoenix version of itself? Could I make it happen? Probably not. I’d need a professional organizer/decorator and they’d more than likely throw away most of my stuff. Trading Spaces style. The Phoenix version of my apartment would be worthy of day time television.

Then of course, there’s the Phoenix version of myself. Who is that person and how could I accomplish it? Would she be thinner? Smarter? Would so be able to maneuver simple stair cases without making an ass of herself? Yes. She would be all of these things. She would be the best at all her endeavors. She would be taller. Her hair would have an unnatural sheen that caused traffic accidents. Eh, wait a second. This doesn’t sound like healthy day dreaming any more. Because it’s not.

I’m not sure I would have come to this realization on my own, so I’d like to give credit where it is due. I follow an eating disorders blog written by Karen Koenig. Her posts are extremely insightful, and I can usually relate to exactly what she’s writing about. (Her blog is also on my blogroll for future reference). Her most recent post entitled “Fantasy versus Reality” discussed the ways in which day dreams can actually hurt one’s progress toward achieving mental health. The fantasy itself becomes a source of pleasure and comfort rather than acting as a true motivator. It can be hard to tell the difference between what’s healthy and what’s not. In my day dreams, I need to ask myself: am I visualizing a real future self and working toward that goal, or am I taking comfort in the fantasy of a future self that I won’t actually achieve?

In all honesty, I’ve been slacking on my health lately. Too lazy to exercise, too lazy to make a healthy lunch. My mind’s been dreaming of the Phoenix, but my mouth has been savoring Mac ‘n cheese. There’s a disconnect there that’s not going to help me accomplish my goals.

The Phoenix thing needs to end. It’s been fun envisioning my desk rising from the ashes as the best-kept, most well-organized desk of all time, but for my personal health, trying to come up with the Phoenix version of Brittney is not only absurd but counter-productive. That aside, even if one did “peak,” there’s nowhere to go but down. Focusing on realistic goals and continuing to set new goals to improve both body and mind is a healthier way to approach things. I’ll leave the Phoenix to Jean.

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Che-e-e-e-se

This is me. Okay, this is not me literally, but–this is me. If you don’t recognize the character, it’s Monterey Jack from the cartoon TV show Rescue Rangers. He’s a lovable Aussie mouse with a penchant for cheese so great, that he actually falls into a state of hypnosis at the site or smell of it and is rendered completely helpless as he floats toward its location. Bad guys in the show would use cheese to lure him into traps and such. I don’t fight crime, but I do fight the utterly irresistible call of che-e-e-e-se.

For a time, I did quite well with fake cheeses and making dinners that were cheese-free. But what is hot dish without gooey, stringy cheddar? What is a pizza with out melty mozzarella? What is a heart without a soul? These are the existential questions that I’ve been battling as of late, and I’ve been off the cheese wagon hard. I may need an intervention.

I had a very dairy evening last night and, of course, I paid for it. I couldn’t fall asleep because I had a stomach ache, so I took some Pepto. That pink liquid is so foul. It’s like a bunch of candy canes decided to ditch the Christmas scene and go rogue. They robbed a bank, stole a child’s puppy, then jumped into a blender and became Pepto-Bismol. (They should call it Pepto-dismal) Anyway, at least I got to sleep, but when I woke up I felt like I was going to hurl. I was scared to get in the new car because I thought I might defile it.

I’ve been living under a false pretense that it’s the lactose that bothers me, but I’ve been taking Lactaid (an enzyme to help digest dairy) and I still get sick. HELLO! Stop eating dairy. It should be so simple right? Then Monterey wakes up and pretty soon I’m floating toward a giant enchilada that’s glowing like a sunset. This is my struggle.

First step toward recovery: I went to the grocery store today and bought ingredients for delicious but cheese-less dinners. And I bought lots of fruits and veggies to distract me from the pound of swiss that is lurking somewhere in the fridge. Give me strength!

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Asian Cuisine?

This caught my eye when we were shopping a Target a few months ago. Hamburger Helper, branching out with their flavor options, now offers Asian Helper.

We all know that Hamburger Helper, in any form, offers about as much nutritional value as the contents of a garbage can, so there’s no need to beat a dead horse and carry on about the nutritional facts. My beef isn’t with the contents of the box, it’s the NAME of the product that bothers me so.

Asian Helper. What does that mean? Asian. From Asia? Asia is huge. Off the top of my head, I can’t list every country and sovereign nation located on the CONTINENT of Asia, but I know that there are enough to make this product name seem, when you actually think about it, ridiculous. Here’s a demonstrative list (courtesy of Wikipedia):

AbkhaziaAfghanistanArmeniaBahrainBangladeshBhutanBrunei,

CambodiaChinaIndiaIndonesiaIranIraqIsraelJapanJordan

KazakhstanKorea, NorthKorea, SouthKuwaitKyrgyzstanLaosLebanon

MalaysiaMaldivesMongoliaMyanmar (Burma), NepalOmanPakistan

Palestinian territoriesPhilippinesQatarSaudi ArabiaSingapore

South OssetiaSri LankaSyriaTajikistanThailandTurkmenistan

United Arab EmiratesUzbekistanVietnamYemen

I’ve eaten at a Vietnamese restaurant and the food was nothing like the food I’ve eaten at an Indian restaurant. I don’t know what cuisine in Kuwait is like, but I think it’s safe to assume that it’s not going to look like the picture on this Asian Helper box.

Asia is the largest and most populated continent, containing about 60% of the world’s population. And yet, here in ‘merica, the word Asian becomes little more than a buzz word used to excite consumers and evoke the memory of their last visit to the Chinese buffet when a delicious plate of fried rice and glazed orange chicken put them into a food stupor. Yes, this box of Asian Helper will satisfy that itch for real, quality, Asian cuisine.

Not only is this highly offensive, it just doesn’t make sense.

And it’s not just the Hamburger Helper. Have you ever shopped in the Asian section of your grocery store? One would hope that it’s the largest section in the store if it offers the myriad and diverse flavors of the world’s largest continent. Have you ever browsed a menu and thought that the Asian Chicken Salad sounded delightful? It must be a pretty versatile salad to include the influence of over 50 countries. Wendy’s advertised an Oriental Chicken Salad for a while. Now they have the Mandarin Chicken Salad instead, probably because the word oriental is, in this instance,  just as offensive and vague as the word Asian.

It all comes down to marketing. The vast gelatinous blob that is the mindless consumer won’t trust Chinese Helper, Singapore Helper, or Vietnamese Helper. It’s chicken and fried rice so they call it Asian Helper and it’s a hit. As a consumer, I’m insulted and annoyed every time I see something marketed to me as Asian. I am an intelligent person and I refuse to pack my brain in my purse every time I go to the store. If something is offensive, I will not support it. If something contains harmful ingredients, I will not consume it. Period.

The world we live in today is run by corporations, as a consumer I refuse to cry about it and wish things were different. Instead, I recognize that as a consumer, I have all the power. I cast my vote with every dollar I spend. I vote every day for the changes that I want to see. Pay attention to the things around you, and vote wisely.

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