Mommy’s Not Fat – She’s Squishy

Fat Bastard (character)

Fat Bastard (character) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but my vision is pretty horrible. In fact, I wouldn’t be able to pick my own kids out of a line up without the help of glasses or contacts. I can only see close up; and I mean right in my face close up. Anything beyond an arm’s length is just blurred color.

I was at my annual eye exam recently, which is always super fun. I mean, who doesn’t like to go and have air “puffed” into their eye? Just thinking about it now is making me blink compulsively. So there I am, sitting in the exam room waiting on the doctor without my contacts in. Honestly, I think they make you take them out for fun just so you can’t see, but that’s just my opinion. Anyway, the doc walks in and it’s one I haven’t seen before. I can tell it’s a woman with blonde hair. That’s it. Oh, she was also wearing a black shirt (although it could have been navy). She was super nice and we did the whole “is this better, or is that better” routine. (By the way, does that stress anyone else out as much as it does me? I mean seriously, that’s a lot of pressure. This will determine the way I see for the next year. What if I make the wrong call? What if 2 really was better?) We talked about our kids and Christmas and that whole routine. Then she gave me some contacts to put in and said she’d be back in a minute after they have time to settle.

When she walked back in – and I could actually see her – she was super cute! I don’t mean cute like a teenager or whatever. The older I get the worse I become at accurately judging someone’s age, but I’d put her around my age – 35 to 40. I just blurted out, “Oh look, you’re so pretty! I didn’t know that before I could see!” (Yes, I’m a dork. I just can’t help myself. If I feel a compliment, I have to blurt it out even if it makes me feel like the weird aunt sometimes.) Her reaction was so sweet and genuine. She said, “oh my gosh, thank you. I needed that!”

She went on to explain that during Christmas her and her family had spent the day in their pajamas. Her six year old son had told her she looked like she had a baby in her belly. Her husband told the son he couldn’t say stuff like that because it basically meant he was saying his mommy was fat. The six  year old said, “Mommy’s not fat. She just has a squishy belly.”

My own children have also made similar observations. Out loud.

“Mom, why does your butt shake so much when you walk?”

“Mom, why do your boobies look at the ground?”

Out of the mouths of babes.

The mom, my doctor, wasn’t mad at her son of course. Kids have a way of pointing out the obvious, even if their delivery is less than stellar. Doc admitted her belly is a little squishy. That didn’t take the sting out of hearing it out loud. You know what else she heard out loud? My compliment. Look, I’m nobody to her. It’s not like I think by me complimenting someone I’m changing the world. But, I can tell you from the look on her face, it did make a difference to her. Did that make her belly less squishy? Nope. It was the exact size and shape it was the day before when her son told her she looked pregnant. However, she saw herself from a different perspective and  it certainly made her feel good. It is possible to feel good in your own skin right now.

Even with a squishy belly, a shaky butt, or downward looking boobies you are awesome. It’s all a matter of perspective.

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Body Hate

Vintage Postcard ~ Girl w/Glasses

Vintage Postcard ~ Girl w/Glasses (Photo credit: chicks57)

Almost everyone has done it. Sometimes we get so “good” at it, we don’t even realize we’re doing it. Self-deprecating behavior. That thing we do where we say out loud to no one in particular; “I hate my body”; “my thighs are so fat”; “I look ridiculous in these pants”. Or how about when someone compliments you and you turn it around to insult yourself. “Oh, you look great today!” Instead of replying with a simple thank you, you respond with, “Oh my gosh, you must be kidding?! Look how tight this shirt is today. I feel so gross. I really need to get back in the gym.”

Thinking and speaking to yourself in that way is damaging enough to your own psyche. However, that doesn’t seem to be enough to break the bad habit for some. Oh who am I kidding? Most people fail to break this bad habit. So, how about this? The next time you catch yourself with an insult swirling in your head, think about the people who look up to you. Particularly, any little ones you may have in your life.

If you have kids (or nieces, nephews, etc), think about how confused they must be to hear you mutter, “I am SO fat!” You know what? They think you are beautiful. They look at you as a hero. But if their hero is telling them that the image they view as beautiful isn’t, what does that say about them?

Take glasses for example. If you constantly say you hate the way you look in glasses, but then your child ends up having to get glasses how will they feel? Most likely, they will think there is something wrong with wearing glasses. After all, if you hate the way you look in glasses, you probably hate the way they look in glasses too. However, if you wear your glasses confidently and your child also ends up wearing glasses, you’ve been a fantastic role model.

If you look in the mirror and tear your body apart, what do you think your children will do when they look at themselves? “If mom thinks she looks fat with her belly, then I MUST be fat with mine.” My youngest daughter had the most precious budha belly of all time when she was around 3 years old. She thought it was awesome. She would rub it and say, “look at my belly!” She would run around lifting her shirt to expose that beautiful, round belly to anyone who would look in her direction. But what if I rubbed my belly in the mirror and proclaimed how fat it was? Would that change how my baby looked at herself? I wasn’t willing to take that chance.

I hope you aren’t anymore either.

Uh Oh! Are You A Bully?

photo credit: comingsoon.netPerhaps I’m just hyper-aware of bullying right now because my baby will be entering middle school soon. But it seems evertime I turn around I’m hearing, reading, or watching a story about kids being bullied and in some extreme cases even killing themselves over it.

These kids are bullied for so many stupid things. They are different, they are gay, they are small, or big, they are too fat or too skinny, they believe in Jesus, or they don’t. Whatever it is these bullies decide is “wrong” with them, these victims are relentlessly reminded of it. Oh and it’s not just at school anymore. It’s on facebook, twitter, blogs, wherever. These kids can’t escape it. There’s no safe haven for them.

In some cases the parents figure out what’s going on and step in and something gets done about it. I suspect we don’t hear much about those cases. It’s the cases where these kids keep it all bottled up inside. Or the parents’ plea for help falls on deaf ears at the schools. Perhaps even the schools’ hands are tied. For whatever reason, these kids find this bullying so completely unbearable they just can’t possibly live with it anymore.

It’s not just kids, of course. I read an article the other day that a German model living in the UK committed suicide. It is suspected it may have had to do with on-line trolls bashing her for her appearance. A model!

Think about how you talk to yourself. Let me write that again. THINK.ABOUT.HOW.YOU.TALK.TO.YOURSELF. Are you a bully? Do you look in the mirror and curse yourself for your appearance. Do you say disparaging things to yourself because of cellulite? Do you have a bad day because of a number on a scale? Do you call yourself fat? Worthless?

Don’t be a bully. Be kind to yourself. The victims of bullies are tortured. It changes how they feel about themselves. Maybe they didn’t know they had a big nose. But for the rest of their life that’s all they’ll think about in regard to their appearance. Why would you do that to yourself? Imagine if your son, daughter, brother, sister, or friend came home and said someone made rude remarks about their appearance. Imagine if you were standing in line at the grocery store and some bitch behind you told you that your ass was huge. Um, really? No, it’s time to put a stop to this. It’s time to stop bullying.

Ceasing Ridiculous Opportunities – What Works For Me Wednesday

I took my youngest daughter to the doctor the other day. It seemed like it was taking forever for the doctor to come in. My daughter had stolen my phone so she could play games to entertain herself. Of course, this left me with nothing to do. I’ve adapted quite well to this new age of “instant gratification” so before she could even log in to Temple Run I was bored out of my head. I could have been checking work email, facebook, blog stats. You know, super productive stuff. Instead I was just sitting there looking at the brochures telling me why vaccines are important. YAWN! So I got up and started doing lunges. And squats.

I’m not sure what was more weird. The fact that I was doing lunges in this little room the size of a small walk in closet or that my daughter didn’t even bat an eye. So, while lunging (is that a word?), I’m like, “Hey, do you think it’s weird mommy is lunging right now?” She said, “what will you do when the doctor comes in?” I told her I would stop. She said, “well, maybe you could teach her if she doesn’t know how.” Unfortunately I was all done by the time the doctor came in. Otherwise, perhaps we would have gotten in a little exercise together (hey! Do you think they’d take that off my co-pay?).

I also do squats when I brush my teeth. It felt silly at first. Even in my own bathroom. My husband has caught me doing it as have both my kids. I always kind of pause and wait for confirmation that I have indeed lost my mind. But they just continue on with what they are doing and so do I. We’re busy people. We have to take these opportunities as they come. And Lord knows we have perfected the art of multi-tasking.

Do you squeeze in any kind of exercise during otherwise mundane parts of your day?

My Anti-Resolutions

image via nyc-architecture.com

I hate New Years’ resolutions. To me it’s like saying, “hey, check out this big list of shit I’m going to fail at, probably before January is even over”. I have no idea why that is, but I’m thinking it’s not just me. Why else is it impossible to get in a spin class the first three weeks of January and then everything goes right back to normal by February?

Our list of resolutions are pretty awesome though. It’s a list of ways we want to be a better person. Perhaps even a perfect person. That’s completely impossible obviously, and maybe why most fail. Maybe the lists are too big and overwhelming, so we just give up. (I mean, how can you lose 30 pounds, bake cookies for the PTA, call your mom every day, AND run a marathon by January 2nd to prove your awesomeness?)

It’s hard to resist the call to “be a better person” when the calendar rolls over, though. Everyone’s talking about resolutions; getting in shape, drinking more water, giving up sugar, etc. I propose the anti-resolution. I’m not going to ADD to my list of awesomeness. I’m going to whittle it down to the three things that are most important to me. If what I’m doing doesn’t fit into one of these three categories or can benefit it in some way, I’m not wasting energy on it.

Family, fitness, and finances. Yep. That’s my focus. My anti-resolutions.

My family obviously deserves to be a priority. I’m sure my kids won’t look back and say, “well, mom ran a kick ass facebook page”. But they will remember the time I spend with them. My husband won’t care how many hits I have on a post, but he will care about how much time I spend with him.

Fitness is also a priority. I do care about how I look. Part of it is vanity and part of it is wanting to be around a long time for my family and not laid up in a bed at age 70. I want to be the crazy grandma that people can’t believe how “old” she is. I want to go out dancing when I’m 80 and be the Queen of the Bingo.

Finances. I don’t want to be an extreme couponer. Those people totally freak me out. But, I’m pretty sure there are ways our family can save money and I plan to find those ways. Without giving up shoes.

What? These sound like resolutions, you say? I guess to some they could be considered resolutions. I consider them anti-resolutions because by focusing on just these three things, I’m freeing up a whole lot of myself. Instead of spreading myself too thin, I’m giving myself only a few things to focus on. Like I said, if at any given time what I’m doing doesn’t benefit or contribute to one of those things in some way, I’m out. I will turn my focus on those three important things. If I’m stressed out about something, I’ll ask myself, “is this helping the big 3?”. If the answer is yes, then it’s obviously important. If the answer is no, then why am I wasting my precious time on it? There doesn’t seem to be enough time as it is! (In case you’re wondering, writing contributes to my mental fitness. It serves as an outlet for me.)

I encourage YOU to whittle down your huge list of ways to be perfect and consider what’s truly important to you. A person can’t be perfect and they certainly can’t be perfect at everything. What do I want to remember about my life when I’m old? Do I want to remember surfing on facebook while my kids watch tv? Or do I want to remember playing games with my kids and talking about their day? What do I want to be remembered for? Being “too busy” to talk to my kids, or looking in their eyes completely undistracted while they talk to me? What legacy am I leaving? What legacy are YOU leaving?

I Am NOT An Extreme Couponer!

 It is my pleasure to introduce you to my friend Crystal (fun coincidence, huh?). She is the queen of deals. Recently at a party she was telling a group of us how she bought ALL of her groceries for $50 or less PER WEEK! I couldn’t believe it. So, I asked her to write about it and share with all of us how she does it. Please give her a warm welcome so she’ll come back and share more of her money saving secrets.

image via wikipedia

image via wikipedia

You won’t find my garage stock-piled with canned food to last the next five years. Nor will you see a deep freezer stuffed to the brim. I am simply a frugal mom and wife looking to fill my 1×7 ft pantry and single fridge with healthy food for my family. What’s so special about me you ask?  Well, I buy groceries (including paper products, cleaning and beauty supplies) for under $50 each week!

How?  It’s all strategy!

1.  Set a Grocery Budget (and stick to it)
Average your family’s grocery expenses from the past 6 weeks.  Now, commit to reducing that number by 50% over the next 6 weeks. For my family, we began with $125/ week nearly six years ago. After learning the “Grocery Game,” we have successfully reduced our budget to $50/ week. My motto is.. “The amount of money you spend is more important than the amount of money you save!”

2.  Collect Coupons
Couponing Is Awesome! You can easily cut your weekly expenses by a third from simply collecting coupon circulars in each week’s Sunday newspaper. Heed this warning, you have to collect about a month’s worth of coupons before fully maximizing your savings. Do you really think Harris Teeter is going to put ketchup on sale the same week a coupon is released- I think not. But, two weeks after the coupon- you better believe it!

3.  Shop the Sales Ads and Make a List
I typically shop at two grocery stores each week depending on where the best deals are. You can bet I will hit Harris Teeter each week because they double coupons up to 99 cents every day. Pair that with a good Buy-One-Get-One sale, and you have yourself two bags of yogurt covered raisins for free!  Recently, I have been shopping WalMart for produce and any other items needed to complete our weekly menu. Their store policy is to price match any advertised deal. Thus, I collect the ads, find the best prices, and take all of those to WalMart for a one-stop, lowest price grocery trip.  This is where you have to exercise your strongest will-power and resist the urge to pick up those items your family wants. If it’s not a planned item, skip it and make room for it on next week’s list.

4.  Make a Meal Plan
After shopping the sales ads and inspecting my pantry and freezer, I select which items will fit into our weekly budget. From there, I plan breakfast and lunch options for the week and a set menu for all dinners. I post the menu to hold us accountable to our plan and to avoid last-minute fast-food stops. This week’s menu included (plus more)…

Breakfast:
grapefruit
oatmeal
whole grain homemade muffins

Lunch:
roast beef and cheese sandwiches
clementines
organic mac-n- cheese
carrot sticks and cucumber slices
hummus

Dinner:
homemade beef vegetable soup (two meals worth)
turkey sausage, egg white, and cheese casserole
faux-fried chicken breast
meatball subs on whole grain rolls
shrimp cocktail
Hebrew National hot dogs

All of that my friends, plus snacks, sides and milk, for a whopping grand total of $48.32. A little higher than a typical week because I stocked up on cheap boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Plus, I added items to my pantry, bought toilet paper and even managed to sneak in a new body wash for my husband. Miracle, no. Smart shopping, yes!

Crystal is a smart shopping wife and mom who strives to feed her family fresh, healthy food on a junk food budget. A pearl-wearing southern girl born and bred, she aspires to be as crafty as Martha Stewart but often uses Betty Crocker shortcuts. Most importantly, she never pays full price for anything!

“Give a man a fish, he will be fed for one day.  Teach a man to fish, he will be fed for a lifetime.”

Crystal Coltrain Dempsey
North Carolina Principal Fellow
North Carolina Teaching Fellow 2005
Honor Graduate, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Fitness Goals and Baby Steps

Hands & Feet

As you know, two things I love are writing and fitness. I’ve been able to incorporate the two here and have been lucky enough to have you read it. Another thing I love to do is read lots of other blogs. (I’m a total stalker.) One of my favorites, The Well Written Woman, said they were looking for new contributors. I’m not even sure I finished reading that sentence before I was shooting off an email begging for a chance. (The subject line read, “Pick me! Pick me!”. No, I have no shame.) To my surprise, they said they would love for me to submit something for their review. To my shock, they said they would PUBLISH IT! Holy crap. I was literally jumping up and down with excitement. This is the first published piece that wasn’t “my story of weight loss” (on a page that I didn’t own or co-own). I hope you’ll check out the piece and The Well Written Woman. They blog on a variety of topics and the women over there are absolutely fabulous writers!

Embrace Your Inner Seven Year Old

Little Girl

In a previous post, I wrote about how we’re all just awesome little kids in grown up bodies. Unfortunately, as we “grow into” our grown up bodies, we lose our child-like zeal.

My seven-year old daughter embraces that zeal. I often catch her looking in the mirror genuinely admiring what she sees. She leans in close and opens her eyes wide lifting her eyebrows up and down. She opens her mouth and inspects her teeth and pushes her tongue in and out of her mouth. She shakes her head to make her hair move all around. She lifts her shirt and pats her belly admiring its roundness. She even turns around and does a little booty shake. Throughout this entire inspection she’s smiling wildly.  There isn’t one thing about her body she doesn’t love.

When does our inner dialogue change from “you are fabulous” to “you are fat” (even when we aren’t)? I’m sure the answer is different for everyone. Perhaps someone else’s voice became louder than your own. It’s time for YOU to be heard again. Your voice should be the loudest of all. You need to be your biggest cheerleader. There should be no room in your head or your life for negative talk. And if you are speaking negatively about yourself, you’ll allow others to do so as well. Can you imagine walking up on that seven-year old girl admiring herself in the mirror and saying negative things to her? Why would you do that to yourself? You are awesome. Embrace it.

Be seven again. Look in the mirror with zeal and LOVE what you see. Maybe even do a little booty shake.

Perceptions Are Cumulative

Children in Jerusalem.

The following was a facebook status on one of the parenting pages I follow. (I know! Can you believe I do anything aside from fitness stuff??):

PERCEPTIONS ARE CUMULATIVE. A child who consistently hears negative messages will perceive himself as bad, incapable, difficult, a trouble-maker, etc.  The longer he holds those NEGATIVE PERCEPTIONS, the longer it will take to turn them around and the more ENCOURAGEMENT it will require. Fortunately, POSITIVE MESSAGES are also CUMULATIVE & can shift a child’s perception of himself to CAPABLE, IMPORTANT, and EMPOWERED. This week’s challenge: try to provide 10 positive messages to 1 negative/correcting message to your kids.  Let us know how they respond.

After first considering how I could use this to be a better parent (of course), I immediately thought of how we view OURSELVES. Read the above paragraph again…consistently hearing negative messages will make someone perceive themselves as incapable. This doesn’t just apply to children. This applies to ALL of us. (After all, we’re just grown up kids, right?) So of course I have to ask, what kind of messages are you feeding yourself?

Negative messages? “I’m too heavy to work out ~People will make fun of me ~ I’m not good enough ~ I don’t know what I’m doing ~ I don’t know where to start. ~ I’m not capable. ~ I’m bad because I ate something unhealthy. ~ etc”. If you consistently feed your brain those negative messages, guess what? It will become your truth! Why in the world would you want this to be your truth?

“Fortunately, positive messages are also cumulative and can shift a child’s perception of himself to CAPABLE, IMPORTANT, and EMPOWERED.” You are those things.

You ARE capable. You can do anything you set your mind to. It may require baby steps. It may require educating yourself on new ways of doing things. It may require a thought shift. As Henry Ford says, “whether you think you can or  can’t, you’re right”.

You ARE important. Just ask those that are important to you. They know how important you are. You matter! And you are worth the time to invest in yourself.

Positive messages: “I am smart. I am kind. I am beautiful. I am important.” The Help

You wouldn’t speak negatively to children, friends, or other family members. Why do you think you deserve that? You don’t! Replace those negative thoughts with positive ones. For every negative thought you have, replace it with ten positive ones. You WILL be empowered.

We’re just awesome little kids in grown up bodies. We deserve to feel good about ourselves. We deserve to look in the mirror and LOVE what we see. (Have you ever seen a 5-year-old pick out stuff they hated about themselves?) Perceptions ARE cumulative. So what is your perception?

*Thank you Positive Parenting Solutions for letting me borrow your quote.