7

“I’m not a princess, I’m a girl!”

Have you seen the new Always ad that’s been circulating around Facebook? It’s actually quite good. Their #LikeAGirl campaign has gone viral, and I believe it’s for good reason. Here’s a link to the ad:

For too long has “like a girl” been exclaimed with negative connotations. “You run like a girl”, “You throw like a girl”, “Stop crying like a girl” are a few common phrases that have become so natural to say and so ingrained in our culture as just another figure of speech that we don’t often stop to think of the negative consequences they create in the young female mind. Since when is doing something like a girl bad? When Florence Nightingale founded modern nursing as we know it, we didn’t say “pfft…she might be a nurse, but she’s a girl so who cares”. When Annie Oakley showed the world her sharpshooter skills, we didn’t say “Yeah whatever. She shoots like a girl”. When Amelia Earhart flew across the Atlantic Ocean, I doubt people said “Yeah, but it doesn’t count cause she’s a girl”. When Rosa Parks stood her ground and refused to give up her seat, we didn’t discredit her bravery and tenacity because of her gender. We didn’t say her efforts weren’t as important because “she’s a girl”.

Why is being a girl something to overcome? Why in this day and age, do we still exacerbate these negative gender stereotypes? It isn’t just men who do it. I’ve heard many female friends, co-workers and acquaintances make excuses for their shortcomings based on gender. “Oops I’m having a blonde girl moment”, or “Uggh I don’t want to go to Biology class. What will I ever need that for? Let’s go get our nails done!”. I’ve even heard someone say “Let him look after the math portion of the project. Us girls might be better suited for the social aspect”. When we discredit ourselves, we open up the door for others to discredit us as well. When we downplay our abilities to look “cute”, we are only doing a disservice to ourselves. We unknowingly give permission for others to play up those stereotypes when we give into them ourselves.

Why would we do that? Why is that okay?

I-AM

I’m not usually one to really like advertisements, but this one I loved. It made both men and women themselves realize what they were doing. It makes you realize that there is a distinct shift, right around the age of puberty where women lose confidence in themselves, their abilities, and their worth. It made women realize that doing things “like a girl” isn’t a bad thing. It can be a truly amazing thing. Women in history have accomplished a great deal through strength, perseverance, confidence and faith in their abilities. There’s a huge list of women I could pull from. I hope that my daughter can emulate one of these courageous, intelligent and tenacious women some day.

This is the main reason I try to not only focus on my daughter’s beauty. While she is indeed beautiful, she is so many other wonderful things. She’s smart as a whip, has a memory that baffles both her father and I, she’s musical, imaginative, and curious about how things work. I’m proud to be marrying a man who when my daughter at age 2.5 asked if she could help Daddy re-assemble our computer, said “Sure sweetie, can you turn that piece right there really tight?” rather than “No sweetie, why don’t you go play with your doll”. She loves pressing buttons and taking things apart and putting them back together. She’s hilarious, stubborn and amazing. None of these qualities are gender specific. None of these qualities make her any more or less of a girl.

I often find myself saying things to her like “do you know how smart you are?” or “look how well you did that! Mommy is so proud of you!”. I’ll also tell her that she looks pretty in her new dress, because I don’t want her growing up feeling negative about her looks, but that isn’t our only focus. Why should it be? She’s so much more than her physical appearance.

Which is why the other day when I said “Oh L, you’re Mommy’s little princess” I couldn’t have been more proud that she stood up, planted her feet, lifted her head up high and said with more confidence than I could ever muster:

“Mommy. I’m not a Princess. I’m a girl!!!!”.

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0

Pimples vs. Age Spots. What will win out on my face?

I was always told that when one ages, they come into their own and start to feel much more confident and comfortable in their own skin. Wouldn’t that be nice. 

My skin didn’t seem to get the message. I recently went to the dermatologist for a regular check up on some moles (nothing to speak of, just precautionary) when I showed her a couple of spots on my face that weren’t there before. Melanoma runs in my family, so I am particularly cautious about any new mark that has shown up. So I showed her my areas of concern and got the following response:

“Oh those? Nothing to worry about there. Those are just your typical age spots”. 

AGE SPOTS? WTF! HOW AM I GETTING AGE SPOTS WHEN I STILL HAVE SKIN THAT LOOKS LIKE A TEENAGE KID DECIDED TO SMEAR FRENCH FRY OIL ALL OVER IT? YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE PIMPLES AND AGE SPOTS AT THE SAME FRIGGIN’ TIME! 

I left the office feeling like this. 

It’s incomprehensible that my body isn’t getting the message that I’m no longer a teenager, and too am still too damn young to be a Golden Girl (though if I have to get old, I hope my life is like theirs – where’s the cheesecake?). Half of my skin still wants to be a teenager, and the other half thinks I’m an old fart. Ironically enough, I never had any acne as a teenager. I guess I’m a late bloomer. Awesome. 

My face is at war, and I’m honestly not sure which army I’d like to win. I might have to drop a few nuclear weapons onto my face and start from scratch. 

12

Hypocritical Health Hurdles – The Initial Dietitian Visit

Well, the first visit with the Dietitian has come and gone and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought. I did, however, walk away with a major reality check. It was the kind of reality check that actually had me fighting back a tear or two in the office when I realized my health is quite literally teetering on the edge between healthy and sick. I can’t fall off of that edge. I need to be around for my daughter, and the thought of me not being able to be my healthiest and the kind of Mom she deserves, had me feeling quite emotional.

So, let’s start at the beginning.

About my Registered Dietitian, Sarah Dunphy P.Dt, BSc AHN :

alderney-sarah-dunphy

The Dietitian I have chosen to work with is one I have known for three years. Sarah works primarily in private practice, counseling and educating patients in a variety of areas including; general healthy eating practices and physical activity, weight loss and weight gain, pre-diabetes and diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and more. When the time and opportunity arises Sarah truly enjoys media opportunities as well as conducting group and corporate wellness presentations. Outside of work, Sarah is a dedicated volunteer with Dietitians of Canada and Nova Scotia Nutrition Month coordinator for 2013.

You can contact her via the clinic website at http://www.alderneychiropractic.com/#

If you live in Atlantic Canada, you may have seen her recently on CTV Morning Live or Global News speaking on behalf of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada with tips for what to pack picky eaters for school lunches. Links to those broadcasts can be seen here:

http://globalnews.ca/video/792655/healthy-school-lunches

http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=986555

The 1st meeting/impression:

When I walked upstairs to her office my heart was pounding, which took me by surprise. I know her well, and know that she is knowledgeable and professional. To be honest though, I think the fact that I knew her was what made me nervous. I was about to expose myself completely. Plus, I’m a big girl and she’s definitely not. I wondered if she’d truly be able to understand what it was like to struggle so much with food and your weight.

I am relieved to say, however that she put me at ease almost immediately. She is warm, compassionate and non-judgmental which is exactly what you need to be in the presence of when you’re about to confess all of your bad habits and emotional hang-ups. Plus, I looked at it this way – she’s as small and fit as she is because she practices what she preaches. She’s had years of education, and that’s what is helping her to maintain her healthy weight. I think listening to advice from a Dietitian who is 600lbs would leave me thinking “Oh yeah, cause it’s obviously worked for you…”. Just as you wouldn’t feel comfortable taking financial advice from someone who is bankrupt, you need to seek nutritional advice from someone who has implemented their practices on their own life successfully. This logical thinking helped to put all of those bad thoughts out of my head.

The process:

After sitting down and getting comfortable, Sarah began going through a thorough health history of both myself and my immediate family. This was to see if there are any instances of cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid issues, digestive issues, heart ailments, etc. going down our blood line. I only know the history on my Father’s side, as my Mother is adopted, but it was enough for her to go on.

Once the personal health history and family health history were completed, we started diving into my own food habits. What my typical day was for food, what habits I have (I’ve discovered a lot of what I eat is purely habitual and convenience based), what food leaves me feeling sick and gross (for me that is dairy mostly), and any sensitivities I might have. She also inquired about caffeine, alcohol and other drug intake. I didn’t do so well on the caffeine front, but I think a lot of Mama’s can relate as why that might be.

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She also gave me the option to have my anthropometric measurements taken. It includes things like getting weighed, measuring your waistline, etc. She always gives the choice to the client as to whether they are comfortable having this done. For some people, seeing a Registered Dietitian is such an emotional thing that stepping on the scale would literally throw them over the edge – so she never pressures people into it. For me, I thought I’d better go big or go home, so I took off my shoes (to take away what extra weight I could) and hopped on the scale. The number wasn’t pretty, and I tried to crack a joke to cover my insecurities. My joke I realized wasn’t necessary though, because Sarah had no outward reaction to the number on the scale, which I’m beyond thankful for. My ego couldn’t take it if I had seen a cringe.

She then measured my waist. This is where most of the concern lied from Sarah’s perspective. Apparently waist measurements above a certain number put you at an increased risk for many major diseases and ailments. I was above the healthy number. This was a major reality check for me, and I found myself trembling a bit.

What I learned:

I learned that my weight, height, waist measurements, and everything else combined has me in a Class II obese category. I always knew I was overweight, but I never thought “obese” is where I would fall. I don’t look in the mirror and see an obese person.That was devastating to learn. I also learned that my excess weight isn’t her main concern, it is my waist measurement. We need to work to decrease this as a priority.

My increased waist measurement leaves me at a greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, coronary heart disease, gallbladder disease, obstructive sleep apnea, and certain cancers. This left my brain reeling – how could I have let it get this bad?

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My Goals:

Sarah asked me what my goals were for working with her. I told her I was tired of feeling tired, and sick of feeling sick. I didn’t necessarily want to focus on losing weight, just feeling better overall. I want my energy back, I want to feel less drained on a daily basis, and I don’t want to feel like I have to rely on caffeine to get by on a day to day basis. I also said that I wanted to be a healthier Mom and better example for my daughter. She told me that these goals were great, and that I have the right motivation.

After meeting with her though, and realizing where I stand on the grand scheme of things, I would add decreasing my waist measurement to my list of goals. It is now, I’m realizing, quite dangerous to have a waistline with my measurements. Plus it couldn’t hurt to have people stop asking me if I’m pregnant all the time…

My Homework:

Before we start working on changes and learning to read food labels, etc., I have some homework to do. I have to do a food diary/log for three days. These can’t be consecutive days, and at least one of them has to fall on a weekend. This is just in case I have a meal one night, and then leftovers the next day. Those two days would then be too similar to each other, and less accurate as to what I would normally consume. So I am logging today (Thursday), Saturday, and Monday.

It’s hard not to be conscious of what I’m eating now since I know I’m writing it all down. Sarah explained to me though, that if I try to make changes now (especially since we haven’t gotten into education yet about what kinds of changes to make, specifically to my needs) I’m only doing a disservice to myself. It won’t be a truly accurate depiction of what I eat like, and therefore when she analyzes it, it won’t be a truly accurate starting point.

So, I continue to eat “normally” (read, badly) for now, so that I have a true starting point to begin from. I’m looking forward to how she analyzes it, and the suggestions for change that she will offer.

The first visit was more of an information gathering session from Sarah’s standpoint, and even though we didn’t get into changes yet, I still left feeling as though I gained something. I gained insight into what my habits are just by talking about them out loud to another person. I gained perspective about just how dangerous my situation can become if I don’t work to change it. And I gained respect for what she does as a profession.

I’ll keep you posted on what the outcome of my food diary analysis reveals, and where we go from here.

There’s no turning back now – I can’t afford to not listen to her.

10

Hypocritical Health Hurdles – an update.

Well, I just thought I’d let you all know that my journey to health with my Registered Dietitian has been delayed by one day. I will start on August 21st, rather than August 20th. This was to allow for schedule changes at my place of work.

I am not quitting, just have to delay by one day.

I’m still nervous as all hell, and hope that I can follow through on her whole plan for me.

If it were that easy...

If it were that easy…

Fingers crossed!

My goal is to eat to become healthier, so that I will just feel better overall. I’m sick of feeling sick, and tired of feeling tired. I’m hopeful that this will be a start in the right direction for me.

So, Wednesday August 21st is the new appointment I have been given. I’ll be sure to give you all a detailed report! 🙂
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39

So you just had a baby. Now what?

One of my dearest and closest friends in the world is 10 days away from her due date, and I couldn’t be more happy for her. I’ve answered any and all questions she has had for me as fully and honestly as I can, but I honestly have no question in my mind that she’s got nothing to worry about when it comes to preparing herself for birth. She is probably the strongest woman I know, both physically and mentally, and quite literally can roll with the punches. She’s also come out at the other end of some pretty horrific injuries, and can tough it out in any situation she is thrown into. Honestly, I admire her in many ways for her strengths and accomplishments, and am proud to call her my friend.

But here’s the thing. Everyone prepares you for birth. You take birthing/parenting classes and they tell you what to expect during delivery – what may happen and the various types of scenarios you may encounter. You read plenty of books, and every single person you know (and their step-sister’s cousin’s uncle’s half-brother) has told you their birth stories. You go in there terrified, but pretty sure what’s going to happen. You’re going to come out on the other end of things with a baby. But then what?

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I know I wasn’t fully prepared for everything that can happen to you postpartum, and all while you’re going through an emotional shit-show called hormone fluctuations. So I thought, why not do a post about it! I hope it doesn’t scare her (though I know her well enough to know that she tends to go after challenges balls-first), but I also know that sometimes brutal honesty is the best thing for you. So let’s get to it!

You will sweat more than a Ladyboy in Thailand at high-noon. Thank the hormones for that one. I was in the hospital for a week after L was born. After delivery, I had a nice lovely shower (that first one feels like you struck it rich!) and got moved up to our proper hospital room. The next day I remember doing a few sniffs and thinking “Holy shit, what is that smell! Someone hasn’t washed in a few months”. Then I realized it was me. I was the stinker. I smelled like the deep folds on Jabba the Hut. I asked my fiance why he didn’t tell me I reeked so badly, and he said he didn’t want to hurt my feelings. God love him. I don’t know how he was in the same room as I was. So G, my dear friend, pack deodorant, antiperspirant, baby powder (for yourself!), body spray, and any other anti-stink gunk you can think of.

Don’t look at your crotch! You might be tempted, but trust me, don’t do it. It won’t be recognizable to you, and might scare you. It’s straight out of a horror movie. Think “Night of the Living Labia”, “The Blair Stitch Project”, “The Vagina Chainsaw Massacre”. It won’t stay that way for ever so it isn’t even worth torturing yourself about. Make sure you take advantage of sits baths and the little squirt bottle they give you.

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You’ll be scared to poop. Literally scared shitless. You just pushed a baby out of your vagina, which if you think about it, practically shares real estate with your pooper. You will be terrified, especially if you’ve torn or had stitches. Don’t be scared – the amount of stool softeners you are on will, for lack of better words, soften the blow.

You may have a Marsupial Pouch. Thankfully, most people are aware of a typical postpartum body now after Kate Middleton showed hers off. You won’t walk out with a flat tummy. You will still probably look 5 months pregnant when you leave the hospital and it’s normal. Even after you lose the weight you may still have what I lovingly refer to as the “Mommy Marsupial Pouch”. Don’t sweat it – it’s like instant membership into the club we call motherhood. No entrance fees required.

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You may have a period of mourning. I didn’t hear a lot of people talk about this, but I had a serious period of mourning. I loved my little L, and was so thrilled she was in this world, but part of me was sad that I wasn’t pregnant anymore. I was mourning my baby tummy, and found myself looking down at my saggy, squishy gut and feeling depressed. I had felt so empowered while I was pregnant – I was nurturing, growing and protecting a human being that I had helped create. I was still doing all of those things with her on the outside world, but now it wasn’t only up to me. Others could help out, and my sense of empowerment had diminished. It’s okay to feel this way.

You may cry. A lot. You won’t always know why. And it isn’t a pretty cry. It’s an ugly, soggy, snotty, yucky cry. You’ll cry because you’re so overwhelmed with love and happiness your body literally explodes with tears. You’ll cry because your shoelaces aren’t cooperating with you. You’ll cry because your husband looked at you “wrong”, and so he obviously must be judging you. It’s ok to cry. But if it gets too much, remember to reach out. You may feel alone, but you aren’t.

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You’ll get porn star worthy tits, without the surgery! I know you’re looking forward to this added bonus! They’ll be firm, and perky, and glorious. The only downfall is, they may leak a bit. We just can’t have everything.

You’ll panic and think you are going bald. Ahhh the postpartum shed. It’s just lovely. Your hair will come out in CLUMPS in the shower, and you’ll freak out and wonder if it’s normal. It is. You won’t go bald, it is just your hormones adjusting back to normal. Pretty damn scary though!

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In all seriousness, my dear G, you’ve got this. But if there ever comes a time where you feel you don’t, remember that we’ve got you.

xoxo

Don’t forget to head on over to How to Ruin a Toddler’s Day Facebook Page, like us, and enter to win our giveaway!

32

Motherhood, bullying, and “being pretty”.

I am raising a daughter. A daughter who, without being taught or prompted, has turned into the girliest girl I know. It seems to come naturally to her, and has left me to think – should I be worried?

Before I get started, let me give you a few examples. Keep in mind, she’s not even quite 2 years old yet, and won’t be until October.

– When I get her dressed in the morning, she will run over to the full length mirror and check herself out. She will pose, turn from side to side, and say “Ooooh”. I have never taught her this, nor do I “Ooooh” at my own image in the mirror. Usually I barely have time to get myself ready at all and am lucky if I catch a sideways glance at myself as I’m walking out the door.

– On the very few rare occasions I actually decide to put on makeup for work, she takes notice. She demands that I kiss the top of her hand and leave her with “kissy lips” for the day. She stares at that kiss, makes the “mwah” sound, and kisses the kiss for hours.

– She is obsessed with all things pretty. Necklaces, earrings, purses, scarves, accessories.

– She twirls and spins, and makes her stuffies give each other kisses.

These are just a few examples. While they may not be in themselves something to worry about, I do worry that at such a young age, she seems to be enamoured by them. I wish her to be able to focus on more than just “pretty things” as she grows up.

Looking back to my own childhood (from what I can remember) I feel as thought I was a pretty good mix. While I thrived at more girly activities (dance in particular), I was also one who had fun out playing in the dirt with the boys, playing with tonka trucks, and had more male friends than female for many of my school day years. I found that a lot of females while I was growing up were so catty, and too obsessed with the superficial aspects of life, and not things with substance.

The thought of raising a daughter in today’s day and age terrifies me. News reports are rampant lately, with stories of teenage girls who ended up victims of gang rapes, and cyber bullying. Girls who drink too much in order to “fit in” and then pass out and are taken advantage of by groups of boys who are no longer taught in school that “no means no”, and that a girl who is passed out is not compliant. That’s right. They are no longer taught this in school. When I went to school, sex ed and learning about what constitutes rape was taught. These days, it is out of the curriculum because some parents think it is inappropriate.

Is it more appropriate for our kids to be participating in unsafe situations because you were too uncomfortable with them being taught facts? If you’re not going to be active in teaching them as their parent what is right, what is wrong, and how to stand up for themselves and others, who will? Nobody, if you’ve gotten it out of school curriculum.

Too many of our kids are committing suicide due to bullying. And I get it. It seems there is no way out. I myself was bullied horribly from grades 6-9. It was awful, and I dreaded waking up every day to go to school. Dreaded it. I can’t tell you how many times I faked being sick, or told the gym teacher I wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t participate to save the humiliation of being the only girl nobody wanted to be partnered with – simply because one “popular girl” decided I wasn’t cool anymore.

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(photo from Chatelaine.com)

The only thing that got me through, was dancing. It was my outlet, and the friends I had there were my saviours. Thankfully, I had that outlet and made it to High School, because it all turned around there, and I have made friends that have lasted a lifetime.

But what about those kids who don’t have that outlet? That safe zone, and those friends? These days it is hard to escape bullying when the school bell rings, because the internet follows you home. Kids these days are cruel. Much more cruel than they were when I was young.

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(photo from http://www.sidedooryk.com/cyber-bullying-by-james-fox/)

What terrifies me, is how much value my daughter already seems to place in “pretty”. What may happen to her down the road if people keep saying to her “Oh you’re so pretty” and not “Oh you are so smart, and valuable”. What may happen to her if some bully down the road makes her feel so badly about her appearance, and she’s left feeling she’s got nothing else to fall back on. What may happen to her if she feels the only way to be pretty and popular is to drink too much and pass out with people who aren’t taught right from wrong?

My job as a mother is going to be a hard one. I must teach her the lessons that are no longer considered important enough to be taught in school. I must teach her that although she now knows right from wrong, and that “no means no”, not all people have been taught the same. I must teach her that if she decides to go against what I have taught her and drink alcohol, to NEVER leave her drink unattended, and to always know she can call me at any hour and from any location, and I will always come and pick her up. I will never get mad at her for calling me late, and will always be proud of her for phoning me, rather than getting in the car with a drunk driver.

I must teach her that “pretty” doesn’t last forever, and while she is gorgeous, there is more to life than that. I must teach her the value of her intelligence, her creativity, and her talents. Be an example in her life, and not obsess over my body – which as any Mama who is post-birth knows, is not an easy feat.

Above all else, I must try to establish the type of relationship with her that is open. One where she feels comfortable and safe to talk to me about anything. Where she doesn’t feel judged. I feel this will be the hardest one of all, and am already anxious about how I will manage to do it. I’ve been a teenage girl. I know that usually, the last person you want to talk to is your mother. I hope that it won’t be the case with my daughter.

All these thoughts and anxieties, and she’s not even two. But this is how my brain works, and what goes through my head.

If I don’t start now, it might be too late.