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?

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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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10

Hypocritical Health Hurdles – The Changes/Accomplishments

Well, I saw the Registered Dietitian (Sarah Dunphy-Morris at Kinesis Health Associates)  again two weeks ago now. Yes, two weeks ago. I know I’m late writing an update, but to be honest I did it on purpose. I wanted to be able to also report on changes I’ve successfully made since her recommendations. It’s one thing to report about my visits with her, but I also wanted to be able to hold myself accountable and follow through on my homework.

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This was the visit I got the thoroughly analyzed results from my 3-day food diary, and learned about what my common trends were and how I could make some simple changes that would make a big difference.

Overall, my calorie intake wasn’t nearly as high as I thought it would be. For someone my age, the recommended calorie intake for weight maintenance is 2583 per day. On Day 1, I had 2815, Day 2 was 1961, and Day 3 was 2108. Overall not TOO terrible I thought. Sarah went on to explain that the recommendation of 2583 was for weight maintenance, not loss, and that most people who consume the “maintenance” amount of calories will actually end up gaining a few pounds per year, which is what I want to avoid. We didn’t focus too much on calories, but she did say that for a slow healthy loss of weight, someone my size and age should be aiming for 2100-2200 per day.

The majority of our focus was spent looking at the number of servings from each food group I consumed per day, plus the percentages of fat, sodium, fibre and sugar. In looking at my personal trends from the three days, there was a lot in common. I consume too much sugar, too much fat, and not enough fibre. Also, I tend to skip breakfast when I first wake up (around 7am) and instead feed my daughter and use the time while she is eating to quickly get myself ready. By the time I get around to feeding myself, it’s between 10am and 11am, and my body has gone into starvation mode. Instead of giving my metabolism an early morning kick-start, I’ve been tricking my body into thinking I’m starving, so that when I finally do eat, all of that food is stored for “survival” rather than burned off as it should be throughout the day.

So my homework was as follows. I had to eat breakfast at breakfast time. We went over how time is an issue for me, so I often resort to pre-packaged “quick” foods. She went over lots of ideas about what I could do ahead of time to prepare and ensure I’m starting my day (and my body) off right. I had to prepare a mid-morning snack to get me through until lunch, and generally try to cut back on the fats and sugars while increasing my fibre.

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That Sunday night, I boiled half a dozen eggs and put them in a tupperware container in my fridge. When Monday morning came along (my starting day) I woke up and had one hard boiled egg and one piece of whole wheat toast with some natural peanut butter. The protein gave me energy and got me through until about 1030am. I was at work and I was STARVING! My stomach was growling and grumbling loudly, and I needed food asap! Luckily Sarah had predicted this and said that I SHOULD be hungry mid-morning if I’ve eaten breakfast because my metabolism had a kick-start and was working. I had prepared for this at her advice, and packed a fat-free greek yoghurt with some honey and natural unsalted almonds (about 10-15) all mixed up. The sweetness of the honey helped my sweet-tooth, and the healthy fats from the nuts got me through to lunch. Lunch consisted of whole wheat pita and roasted red pepper hummus, carrots, celery and an iced green tea. When I got home for dinner my fiance had prepared a spinach and kale salad with mushrooms, orange segments, and some grated mozarella cheese, alongside baked skinless chicken breasts done in a homemade orange glaze – I know, he’s a keeper, right?!

The rest of my week continued in this fashion. I did hit up McDonald’s one day for lunch, but instead of my usual bacon cheeseburger and large fries, I got their Mediterranean veggie wrap on a whole wheat pita with hummus, feta cheese, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and red onion. It had some high fat (Sarah and I figured it was from the feta cheese) but it was still a MUCH better choice than my usual pick.

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That Saturday night, I gave into my laziness and cravings and ordered Dominos pizza. I felt guilty but I didn’t care. I told Sarah I did this, and she wasn’t upset and said she would never expect anyone to be perfect all of the time, and a treat once a week is just fine. The thing is, I ended up not really enjoying it. 45 minutes after I ate the pizza, I was in pain. My stomach felt crampy and achy and I was in some digestive distress. I liked the taste of pizza, but my body didn’t like it anymore. The grease and huge amounts of cheese just weren’t settling and I felt awful. I had felt great all week on the healthier food, and now I knew why. I was feeding myself garbage and felt like garbage. It was all making sense.

This is week two, and I’m still doing it. I’ve turned down the cookies I’ve been offered by co-workers, I avoided Whopper Wednesday at Burger King two weeks in a row, I’m eating breakfast, and I’ve stopped drinking my iced lattes with pumps of chocolate syrup and am instead drinking either black green tea (which I love!) or regular old coffee without the pumps of chocolate syrup and high fat milk.

It isn’t the easiest thing to do. I’m actually having to prepare stuff in advance so that I have time for breakfast. I have to think ahead of time about what I’ll have for lunch. I’m having to be accountable. It is hard to do, but I’m feeling better for it and it’s only been two weeks. I haven’t stepped on a scale or re-measured myself yet, and I’m not sure I want to. I want to give this a go for a full month or two before I do that I think.

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For now, how I’m FEELING is reward enough. That was my intial goal – I was tired of feeling tired, and sick of feeling sick. So far, I’m feeling a million times better, and that in itself is motivation to keep going.

I’ll keep you all posted. Thank you so much for your kind words and support – it means so much to know that I’m being encouraged through this.

I did provide a link to Kinesis Health Associates facebook page. If you like that page, Sarah is often putting up daily tips on how to make little changes in your diet that can make a big difference!

(Don’t forget to vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs – just one little click on that cartoon lady to the right is all it takes! Thanks!).

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 :

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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.

30

I’m a hypocrite. Can I change?

For you to know what I mean by this, I suppose you need some history.

I used to dance 6 days a week, and was quite fit. Never super skinny, but I was strong. I could eat like a horse and it didn’t affect me in the slightest. When I was in my third year of University, I had a lateral meniscal tear in my left knee that left me unable to dance anymore. It was pretty devastating to me, and I required surgery. They did a repair rather than a removal, which meant I could bear no weight on my leg whatsoever for nearly two months while undergoing extensive physiotherapy.

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It was damaging physically, but mentally as well. I wasn’t nearly as mobile as I used to be.

 Two and a half years later, I was living in Seoul, South Korea. I had recovered from my surgery and forgotten about favouring it for quite some time. I decided to join in a trip to participate in a giant paintball fight on the side of a small mountain. Rugged terrain, camo gear, paintball guns and tactical manoeuvers had me in the zone. I went to make a sudden dive and crouch to get away from an attack and I felt it. Rip, tear, lock. Same knee. Same spot. I was in rural South Korea on the side of a mountain, nowhere near the buzzing metropolis of Seoul where I knew there were Canadian and US trained orthopaedic surgeons at major University Hospitals to look after me without a language barrier.

Thanks to a dear Korean friend of mine and her amazing parents who drove to the middle of no man’s land to pick me up at a small town country hospital, I made it back to Seoul and to better care. After two weeks, the swelling went down and my knee unlocked on it’s own and I made it back home to Canada to consult with my own surgeon again. It required a second surgery – a partial meniscal removal, and I found myself with an even bigger mental block.

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Obviously, I could never be physically active again. My knee couldn’t hande it, and I had set my mind to that.

The result? It’s 5 years and one baby later, and I’m big. Not just big. I am overweight for sure. I’m afraid to get physically active and it’s taken a toll on me. I don’t care about getting skinnier per say, but I do hope to get my health back (without having to sacrifice the occasional chocolate craving for sanity’s sake).

So how does any of this make me a hypocrite, you ask?

Well, I work in a multidisciplinary health clinic which offers chiropractic, massage therapy, physiotherapy, naturopathic medicine, a registered dietitian, and an osteopath among other services. I preach good health and physical activity to the patients who come in to my workplace every day, but I’m not a good example of such. I praise the Registered Dietitian I work with daily, but am too afraid to work with her myself as I know it will mean having to be vulnerable, accountable, and honest about my size and how I got here. This actually TERRIFIES me.

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So here’s my challenge, and how I hope to overcome being a hypocrite. On August 20th, I’ve set up my first initial consult with her. I have told her I plan to blog about it – the process, the hang-ups and hurdles I face, my embarrassments, my failures and my successes, recipes that I’ve tried, what I learn from it, and what I achieve from it. She’s highly encouraging and thinks it’s a wonderful idea, but I’m still a big scaredy pants. Change is scary, even though I know it is for the better. My plan is to make this challenge a separate series of sorts to my blog, that I plan to title “Hypocritical Health Hurdles”.

So, my virtual friends, I’m telling you all about this now so I can’t back out. So that I’m accountable for someone other than myself, because I fear if I only have be accountable to me, I’ll fail myself.

I don’t necessarily long to be skinnier, but I do long to be healthier.

I know my L deserves that from me.

I think I might, too.

Don’t forget to like How to Ruin a Toddler’s Day on Facebook. It just might get interesting as I start this hypocrite challenge!
https://www.facebook.com/howtoruinatoddlersday