Weighty Discussions

I've been doing a lot of pondering on the subject of weight and fitness lately. It seems a lot of my friends are too, and some are starting to write about it, so I thought I'd join the conversation. We have all had such diverse experiences, and I think we can all benefit from hearing different perspectives. This is obviously a huge issue, not just in our personal lives, but in our culture, so maybe we can have some good discussions in the blog-world and when the opportunity arises in whatever real-life circles we're involved in, we can make a difference for the next generation of girls.
I remember that age so well that I really don't like to remember it, if that makes any sense. It's what I remember from that stage that I wish I could block out, because I don't remember conversations about weight or beauty so much as I remember my Mom trying fad diets, or the "magic" diet pills of the moment, I mean it's not her fault, this was kind of the beginning of the era of the latest and greatest quick-fixes. When they worked I remember her wanting to share my clothes, and I was mortified by that. I thought it was SO wrong for a 12yr old to be the same size as a 30 something year old. Wrong as in, I thought something was wrong with ME. I must be fat if my mom who is twice my age can wear my clothes. That's the message I was getting from it. I think my parents would've handled my emotions about it a lot differently if they knew where they stemmed from. The idea of sharing clothes with my mom wasn't fun to me like they thought it would be. Since I didn't have a sister close in age, I am sure that they came at it from the stand point that "Isn't it fun to share clothes with Mom?!" and when I would say "No, it's not" I'd get a lecture of some sort about how they paid for those clothes and if my mom wanted to wear them she had more right than I did to them, blah blah blah. I realize that they weren't really hearing me at the time and I don't know that we've ever had a real adult discussion about it, but there are a lot of things that I would do differently, since I didn't really start expressing myself verbally more clearly until later, I'm sure I could've written a letter explaining my feelings a lot better and they would've 'got it' no problem. Hindsight. From those experiences I learned a lot about how I wanted to address things with my own kids someday, some of those things we are implementing in our house right now, starting with how FAT doesn't really dwell in our home.
  1. FAT-TALK: There are a few phrases and words that we don't really use in our dialogue with the girls around and even when they aren't. I don't describe people as fat and I try not to talk about myself being fat, because I don't ever want to hear them say "so and so is fat", or "did you see that guy? he is so fat". Just typing it makes my stomach turn. Really. When we talk, Steve and I make a conscious effort to use words that are a bit kinder I guess, and that we feel don't give off the same negative connotations, words like "bigger". For kids I think it's a word that isn't as crushing to the self esteem if it's used towards them and understanding wise, I think all they need to understand is that some kids are bigger than other kids. I don't attach certain foods to fat because I don't want my girls to judge people and say "they must be fat because they ate this". I also don't want them to feel like they can't eat certain things for fear that they'll become fat from it. We also talk about gaining and losing weight in our house, not "I'm getting so fat" or "I am so skinny" or "I am too fat" etc...
  2.  FAT IS NOT A FEELING: There is no phrase in our culture that I hate more than the phrase "I FEEL FAT". It doesn't make sense. How does fat feel? Lonely. At least that's what all the fat people on reality tv say. If I feel bloated or gross or gassy or whatever, I try to express it that way, so that my kids pick up on those words and how to use them and what they describe. I don't want to hear them say that they "feel fat" as they grow up. If I ever say it I hope someone gives me a gut check in that moment.
  3. FAT ISN'T WRONG: I think our society projects that fat is wrong and skinny is right. Only one side is ever really put out there for our kids to see and it's confusing. Some people binge and purge to become skinny. Some people obsess over caloric intake and kill themselves in the gym everyday. Some people eat to cope with their feelings. Some people have parents who hand them some cash for lunch everyday, instead of providing them with a good bag lunch to take to school. Some people are on medications that make them retain water. For example, my mom babysits a little boy Kalea's age who was put on medication for seizures, so he went from being around 30lbs to 50lbs pretty quickly. He goes to preschool in our neighborhood. If I were to ever hear a kid call him fat I would want to smack them upside the head because he isn't normally, he just has a health issue that could kill him, so the lesser of the two evils is that he be a little chubbier right now than other kids his age. To me it screams ignorance to teach our kids that if they see someone who is bigger than them, they must be that way because they eat too much or play too many video games or watch too much tv and don't get any exercise etc... It's wrong for us as parents to think those things in our heads about kids or adults too, it's more wrong for us to neglect to inform our kids of all the things that can affect the body in positive and negative ways. I'd rather my kids not be judging people based on their size/appearance and I'd rather not be the one to teach them how to do that, instead I would love for them to learn to look for attributes in people that they admire, regardless of size/weight, if they can do that, the world is their oyster.
  4. FAT FOODS: I don't stock my house with snack food/junk anymore. GASP. This has been a gradual process over the last year, but really the only snack food/junk that I have in my house on a regular basis are nachos and ice cream. We don't make a habit of dessert in our house, but when we do have it the kids are SO excited and when we don't, they don't notice. The other good thing about this is, if I want an after-I-put-the-kids-to-bed-snack, I either have to make it myself or go out and buy it. Tight budget and lack of motivation around 8pm means that usually I lose the battle and end up eating yogurt or fruit, or if it's been a real crazy day, I have both. Kalea this week has been caught writhing around on the couch/floor expressing how badly she needs a snack. There are usually some grapes and cheese sitting on the table waiting for her tantrum to be finished and for her to notice them. I think this is a revolt against me for not having sugar foods readily available to her. I still buy fish crackers and animal crackers, but I don't buy fruit snacks or any other sugar laden snacks anymore, and if I do, they are the ones that all the "experts" say "if you're going to buy fruit snacks, buy these ones". We have a lot more fresh fruit and vegetables in our house now and I like it. Kalea's favorite snack is now apples. If you come over, you will notice that there are various stages of decomposing apple cores strewn throughout our house- she's still trying to figure out what to do with those. Every morning the kids split a banana as soon as they get to the kitchen. I think it's important to have these types of things on hand and I do admit I haven't always been so gung-ho about it, but it really does affect how my kids behave. My kids aren't "calm" children by any means to begin with, so adding a whack load of sugar and dyes to their diet really doesn't do anything for me as the Mom who has to deal with them. I also find that when they are more loaded up on these things, they are slightly mean to each other and less likely to engage in activities that they really enjoy like coloring/painting or even playing in the backyard. Steve has a super sweet tooth but he's been really good at cutting back too and I think we are all a lot better for it. Our kids still get their fair share of sugary stuff and we're not super strict about it, but I'm noticing that Kalea is starting to make healthy choices on her own, for example, when Steve and I got back from our weekend away I had some leftover gummy snakes so one afternoon I asked the kids if they'd like some, Brynlee was all over it but Kalea just cocked her head to the side and said "Um, nope. I want an apple please" and she was dead serious, she wouldn't even take the candy from me when I held it out to her? I'm still shocked.
  5. FITNESS: While we were in Banff Steve and I discussed my new-found motivation to work out, and I finally figured out why I'm so committed to it this time. I am finally realizing that I don't care so much about what size I wear or how much I weigh- although those numbers decreasing is a good indication of my progress. I really care that my girls see me making a physical effort to move my body regularly because that's a healthier message than seeing me pop a bunch of pills or eating ridiculous amounts of lettuce- please don't let Kalea remember the HCG diet! Haha I don't know if it's all the pressure I had to be a good example for my siblings growing up, but lately the desire is ENORMOUS for me to provide my girls with a good role model for health&fitness in our home and, being the parent that's home with them most I believe it's up to me to be that person. Newsflash, working out everyday is not something that has been up there on my to-do list, um, ever, so this is new for me. But it's good and it's fun to try not to kick them when I'm doing a kick-boxing interval, or to have someone to hand me my weights when I need them, who doesn't love assistance? Also, Kalea loves to tell me "Good job Mom!" or more recently "I'm so proud of you!" while I am dripping sweat, so that's pretty motivating. I am really hopeful that these good habits are here to stay because I am feeling a lot of positive side effects already.
Anyways, these are just the things that we've found a lot easier to do for our own family. Everyone is different and approaches things in different ways, but Steve and I have been very deliberate about certain things and I think it's paying off already. We talked about it again tonight and how warped societies view of fat vs. thin really is. We laughed about the fact that Steve is more prone to call himself fat than I am, which is true I am constantly telling him that he is not fat at all, he's just not toned- huge difference and what does it matter anyway? I am making a much more concerted effort to practice "positive self-talk" and "positive others-talk" and I am sure it's paying off now and I think that's the kind of thing that my girls will be grateful for down the road.
Next Time: Body Talk, past, present, future
Good Reads


    Typical Brynlee

    This is a typical moment in Brynlee's day. Everyday around 12/12:30 no matter what she is doing, she stops and comes to the kitchen table. First she unloads all the playdough out of its' assigned drawer and makes a giant tower, then she knocks it down and builds two smaller ones on the edge of the table. Then she grabs all of her coloring supplies and dumps them out on the table and gets to work creating, all the while she is jabbering away to herself or singing/humming. She takes it all very seriously and goes through a myriad of emotions in the process. Haha and the picture with her head down? That is her eating a crayon and trying to hide it from me- it's part of her routine too. She is in a stage right now where she's pushing boundaries and testing the limits whenever she gets a chance, so this daily routine of hers is a welcome break from all the chaos she's creating the rest of the day. I'm so lucky my camera was close enough to catch her in this moment, it really is Brynlee to a T!


    Reflections on Year Five

    Anniversary Weekend in Banff

    Year FIVE. FIVE? FIVE! We can't believe it's been five years, it seems so long and so short all at the same time.
    • This year has been the "sweet spot" in our married life so far. I think it's fair to say that we can "read" each other a lot better now, it's almost instinctive and it helps our everyday run so smoothly when we're on the same page. It's really nice to feel like we ARE on the same page almost all of the time now, and this last year has been a smoother ride because of that. Where I'm weak Steve fills the gap and vice versa, it's a really comfortable place to be. We still have all the usual life stresses, but in our relationship there's a lot less tension than in the earlier years, probably because we are more aware of each others needs now.
    • I guess another thing that I've neglected to talk about is how nice it is that Steve is around/available to me and the kids quite a bit. This job of his is really conducive to the kind of life that we envision for our family and it's a huge blessing for all of us to be able to not only exist under the same roof, but enjoy being with each other. Our kids are at an age where we are having a lot of fun with them and even when things aren't going great, or we're stressed or whatever, they are a great distraction from those things and they are still offering us glimpses of the "bigger picture" when we need it.
    • Friendships have become a lot more important to us this year. It's been harder for us to be as social as we'd like because so often in the last few years Steve has been away or working late and I've been so tired, but we're starting to recognize that we need the adult interaction too. Anyways, we've made some great friends so far and we've made it a goal to get to know more people this year, and reconnect with some old friends too, so hopefully that helps balance out life a little bit.
    We are so grateful for the chance we had to get out of the city and enjoy a weekend of just us. It's amazing how refreshing just those 2 nights away really were. We had the best time hanging out with each other and not feeling torn in different directions. The pace of our days was so relaxed, we literally walked around downtown Banff for a few hours and didn't even realize it until we saw the clock when we got back to our hotel. We chowed down on some decent steak and had Sunday Brunch at the Banff Springs Hotel- the salmon was like butter, it was melt in your mouth delicious. We took a few dips in the spa "hot pool", we really wish that we could've splurged on the couples massage too, but holy heck their prices for that were RIDICULOUS, I'm talking my grocery budget for the month ridiculous! I stocked up on our favorite snacks before we left town and brought some games and we literally would come back from the pool and lounge around with not a care in the world, oh evenings without children how we appreciate you... We had a great time on our Grotto Canyon ice walk on Monday morning, if you've never done one you should! It was a decent hike and you get to walk on the frozen creek and enjoy views that you don't usually get to see. Bonus, we had fresh snow so everything was looking really beautiful that morning, it kept snowing too so we got a real good winter hike experience.
    We were fortunate that this weekend was actually our Christmas present from Steve's sister and her husband- they found us a great livingsocial deal- so we got to do the ice walk, which is probably something we would have never thought of doing on our own, or would have had a hard time spending money on, but it was really fun and now that we know that, we'd be inclined to splurge and do it again. It also included some sparkling refreshment from the hotel (we opted out of the wine and instead had some sparkling water with orange juice), 2-for-1 ski rentals, a $20 food voucher for a place downtown, plus the hotel gave us a coupon book with really decent deals in it and there were a lot of little perks at our particular hotel. We learned that these livingsocial deals are actually really worth it and we're hoping to do some more throughout the year. The only downside was that if you stay on the weekend you end up paying a room premium, so an extra $15/nt and then they tax you 11% on the full value of the room you were in, so be aware. It wasn't a crazy amount in the end, but it's nice to have a heads up.
    All-in-all we really enjoyed celebrating our anniversary, we usually don't do more than go out for dinner so this was a huge treat for us. We are also lucky to have family so close and willing to step in and help us out with our kids so we can do things like this. It's nice that we don't need to be nervous or worried to leave our kids because there's always someone who loves them and is fully capable of managing their craziness for us for a few days. Thanks family!


    Reflections on Year Four

    Year Four, the year of ADVENTURES
    Steve switched jobs this year and started working for Liberty Security(as previously mentioned). It was a great change of pace for him and his job as a Technician is basically right up his alley. This was an extremely busy year work-wise and so I learned how to do the single-parent thing for weeks and months at a time. Steve learned how awesome his wife is.
    • Steve got to spend quite a bit of time in the Maritimes that summer. It was really hard to have him gone so much that year since Brynlee was still so little and Kalea was getting way more mobile, thus I was extremely busy and torn in two directions all day everyday. It was over those months that I really grew to appreciate Steve's presence in our home, you really don't know what you've got until the man is gone for a few months. I was functioning on pure survival mode for those long times apart and then as soon as he'd walk in the door I would bawl my face off for a little bit and then we'd go through adjusting to having Daddy home again. Good times.
    • This year was also the year that we got to go try living in Saskatoon, away from all of our family and friends. It was short-lived but we had a really fun time together living in a house that had a HUGE yard, and exploring a new city, and all the perks of living somewhere that was super family friendly. I had a massive kitchen to play in, and I had so much fun trying new recipes, Steve and the girls loved it too, although it didn't really help me in the losing weight department, I gained quite a bit while we were there, oops! It rained tons while we were there and we missed our babysitters, namely Nana and Papa. They did come to visit us though and that was really fun. Anyways, it was fun to have that much time together because we knew once we got back home that Steve wouldn't be around much the rest of the summer, so we savored it.
    • ROUTINE: The girls and I had to have a routine while Steve was gone for so long. If I had no routine I have no idea how I would've survived those long stretches of him being away. Bedtime for the girls was my saving grace and I would get so excited for Steve to call at the end of his crazy days to tell me all about them, or about some crazy new word that he heard someone say. It was kind of like dating again in the sense that I really did get giddy as a schoolgirl waiting for him to call and then afterwards I could fall asleep no problem. If he missed calling because he worked so late, this would interrupt my routine and I wouldn't sleep as good- true story. Routines save lives in my world.
    • Because of Steve's hard work for Liberty in year four we were able to go to Mexico for a much needed week away from our kids. We went for the first week of January 2011 and it was so much fun to go experience a place that was new to both of us. It was a good way to cap off a very busy year and we were both a bit burnt out, so we got some great relaxation time in that week. It was also fun to meet people who Steve works with and some of the other wives who get to suffer through selling season too, at least I'm not the only one right? We loved that trip and are so happy that we have those memories to enjoy for years to come.
    It was a year of learning how to sustain a relationship when the other person was absent, and we had to put a lot more effort into it because we were so far apart. That being said, a lot more effort for us just equated to a lot more communication-again. I would jot things down throughout the day so that Steve would know what crazy thing Kalea did or funny thing she said, or some animal we saw outside, etc... It helped him to feel a bit more attached to what was happening here at home even though he was across the country. The worst part of Steve being away was always the adjustment back to co-parenting, haha. I would have my routine and he would get home and disrupt it completely and I had to learn to step back and let him have his "role" back. I think we are a lot better at that adjustment now, but year four gave us a lot of practice in that area. From this year we also learned that we really don't like to be far apart for very long, the scriptures are true, it's not good for a man or a woman to be alone, we function way better together! Our home is a happier place when we are all in it and the kids do a lot better if they have even just 15mins a day of Daddy-time, so do I!
    Year 5 recap after my weekend off!


    Reflections on Year Three

    Year 3 was the year of CHANGE.
    • FINANCIAL PLAN: We learned a lot more about money in this year and after waiting for way too long, we finally consolidated all our debt and got rid of my credit card. We got a fantastic interest rate and have been steadily paying it down ever since- those payments will be finished by the end of this year! Wahoo! If we had only known how much all those stupid "things" we bought in year one would end up costing us, hindsight is 20/20. We learned more about how to live on a budget and I started to budget all of the money we had minus my mat-leave money that would be ending in August, so that it wasn't a huge shock when that money was gone. We were sure grateful to have had it for a full year, if I hadn't had so many hours in '07 I wouldn't have gotten as much in '08/'09, so another hidden blessing along the bumpy way. In the summer we also went from having two vehicles to having one. We kept the truck and then after we had Brynlee, I became obsessed with getting rid of it and getting a car, that was dumb, but we keep learning right? Gong show!
    • HOME: In April we found out that we were short-listed for the very desirable co-op that overlooks Fish Creek. We had interviews and all sorts of paperwork to fill out, but we were happy with how much the staff/volunteers involved in the process, cared about our family and seemed to want us in their little community. We found out in May that we had been approved for an end-unit! This was a big deal since we knew that two small kids would not be super quiet and a lot of people who live in the co-op are "sensitive to noise". We moved in at the very end of June and started getting settled. We so appreciated Steve's parents accommodating us for as long as they did and it was actually kind of sad when they came over that moving day night. I'm really lucky that I like my in-laws so much, I literally cried. Pregnancy hormones.
    • FAMILY & FIRSTS: That summer we had a lot of family from my McMurray side come visit for our first reunion. It was really fun to have everyone here and we loved showing Kalea off and getting to meet some of the other new additions to the family. It was also fun to have enough floorspace to host some of my cousins, it was fun spending some extra time with them since we're all so spread out now. Kalea also turned one in August of this particular year- too bad she was super sick and we couldn't have the huge party I had envisioned for her especially since all Steve's siblings were actually in town for her birthday this year, that would've been fun. Oh well. We grew to really appreciate our families and that cocoon they provide from the outside world, and in turn started exploring ways that we could help our kids to have those feelings in our home too. Most of Kalea's "firsts" happened in 2009 and we learned how to let her stumble and fall and get back up and to my astonishment, all the falling didn't hold her back from any crazy antics! Steve helped me learn not to be such an uptight first time Mommy and I learned how to relax into the role. 
    • JUGGLING ACT: In November 2009 we welcomed Brynlee into our home, what a whirlwind that was. I can only count it as an act of grace that we didn't have a terrible time transitioning from one child to two, Brynlee just eased right in. There were only a few growing pains and Kalea didn't seem very phased by it at all which was a huge lifesaver. Brynlee instantly fell into routine and became my sidekick, she was the kind of baby that makes a person want to have more babies, just SO super easy going, completely predictable schedule wise and happy. I was surprised by how much getting up at night with her didn't bother me, but maybe that's because Kalea was still napping so I was able to find time to do that too. Steve adjusted his volleyball schedule to one night a week and I learned to just take things one day at a time. It was around this time that I was called into the Relief Society Presidency at church and so besides my mom-job, I had some other areas to grow into as well. Anyways, we found this year to be a lot about the kids and serving others than it was about us and that's okay, but not ideal, so our new years resolution that year included more time for just us.
    • WORK: In Feb'09 Steve and his boss at the machine shop decided that they should part ways. It was becoming less and less ideal, work had slowed down so much that they were going to 4day work weeks and no overtime allowed, therefore his pay was going down. Luckily Steve was able to start working for our brother in law at Liberty Security almost immediately after his final 2wks machining were finished, and we got a little help from parents in between paycheques- again, we have the best parents. We didn't have a lot of stressful feelings about the change and Steve's health drastically improved once he stopped working there- he was having all sorts of respiratory issues while working there.
    Again, I think each year involves a lot of work and this year required a lot of us both. We really began to trust each other more and be more communicative with our needs and our thoughts about all the different choices we had to make. It was also a year of sucking it up- financially- and learning to live off less, which is a hard transition, but it works if you talk about everything all of the time. Forcing conversation about finances has become my specialty, open communication is key especially when you're budgeting down to the last dollar, a slurpee/slushie can disrupt the budget and throw me for a loop, so we came up with other ways to have "fun money" available ie. collecting bottles/cans from our house and both parents houses, yes I forced my parents to let us recycle their bottles that year, it was a first for them, and I appreciated their effort. Can I just add that diapers are way too expensive? They ate up so much of our budget that year- cursed diapers- we sometimes used our bottle money to pay for them, that's when "fun money" becomes "lame-ooooo" but we had to be responsible with it sometimes.
    Year Four coming up tomorrow!