Friday, December 30, 2016

Momiversity: Why Diets Make Us Fat

If you are like most Americans, December 31st becomes the day you re-commit to a diet.


Instead, commit to reading this book by neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt that just came out in 2016.

She writes in an easy, accessible style about the science behind why dieting is actually counter-productive. She explores cultural values of body image and also delves into her own personal backstory of constant extreme dieting and how she finally freed herself from that, ironically as part of a New Year's resolution NOT to diet in 2010. (Just to clarify, she does promote eating healthy and exercise. She uses the term "diet" to mean drastic reduction in calories for the sole purpose of losing weight).

Her pitch is this, in a nutshell - your body has a metabolic set-point within a 10-15 pound range. If you starve yourself to lose a lot of weight, your body will just lower your metabolism to quickly pack on the pounds again. Conversely, if you over-eat and put on a lot of weight, your body will raise your metabolism to get you back to your original weight.

BUT...if you are over-weight for a very long time, your metabolic set-point resets itself to that higher weight, sadly. Thus, you should try your best not to over-eat.

And if you plunge into an extreme diet and lose a ton of weight (a la Biggest Losers on the reality show), you will be fighting your metabolism and brain chemistry tooth and nail to try to maintain your loss, and ultimately, you will lose. Maybe you will "keep it off" for 6 months, or if you're ultra-disciplined, 6 years, but eventually, you will lose. And you'll find yourself on that horrible roller coaster well-known to all dieters, yo-yo-ing back and forth and perpetually trying to lose that last 20 pounds. Starving, binging, starving, binging, starving, binging...all the while shooting your metabolism to hell.

My favorite part of the book is when she writes about how girls on the island of Fiji got brainwashed into thinking that being thin is good. Traditionally, Fijian culture valued being thick and saying "you've lost weight" is a major insult. But as soon as they started watching Western TV shows in the early 90's (like Baywatch and Beverly Hills 90210) that all changed.

Now there are very high instances of eating disorders among Fiji girls, the first ever to occur in their society. The NYT wrote about it here: Study Finds TV Alters Fiji Girls View of Body

So what about us, on the great island of the Americas? Maybe it's time to get "un-brainwashed" and question our cultural aesthetic norms. Maybe some of us were made to be thicker and some were not. In the animal kingdom, variety of adiposity abounds (think: giraffes v. hippos). Why not for people groups?

There is a new movement that is trying to shatter the assumption that Fat = Unhealthy. Indeed studies have shown that "over-weight" people who eat well and exercise regularly can be much healthier than thin people who don't.

So let's just try to take good care of ourselves, without regard to our clothing size. Be good to your body and let the chips fall where they may, when it comes to the number on the scale.

It may be too late for some of us, steeped in the lore of Baywatch and 90210...but parents and aunts and uncles, let's at least try to save the children.

Our girls are watching us.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Surprised by Joy

Well, that most heralded of holidays has come and gone.

By Dec. 3rd, the kids had already littered the tree with their homemade presents.

There is so much anticipation and lead-up and preparation for Christmas Day it almost feels like you've lost a loved one the day it's over. Actually, you probably have since many loved ones travel to be together for that one time of year.

So lucky to have these wonderful aunties and uncles (and little cousin) in our lives!

My entire life history of Christmas has been more humbug than falalala, with massive feelings of let down every year on that long awaited day, particularly after the gifts have been opened. I'm not sure why. Was I subconsciously hoping to unwrap something marvelous...far more marvelous than a reasonable amount of money could buy...?

Judah was extraordinarily proud of his first "gingerbread house"

But seriously, you can literally go through my back log of Christmas post-mortem posts and witness the gloom analysis each year, without fail.

Until now, that is.

For some strange reason, that inevitable mild depression never materialized this year. Christmas was finally...not a disappointment!

Noah was extraordinarily proud of his lipstick red Rudolph nose

I guess it takes until you're in your late thirties to finally, finally, FINALLY get a good grip on reality. And to accept it...and even muster up gratitude.

The gingerbread cookie tradition continues...note to self - must ban sprinkles for next year.

Maybe being a mom for six years has finally helped me lower my expectations enough such that any day in which I'm not driven mad by 6+ hours of nonconsecutive crying and demanding that my tired bones hold a 25+ pound clinging toddler is considered a gosh darn day.

So even though we were all sick and didn't eat any fabulous feasts or engage in any particularly festive activities, it was enough. It was more than enough.

The Christmas Day hike tradition also continues, thank you sunny California!

We were together and we love one another.

The gifts each kid chose for the other - spot on!

And a baby was born to make healing flow far as the curse is found.

And perhaps most salient, no one needs to nap, nurse, or wear diapers any more.

Life just doesn't get any better than that.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Dear Santa

This note cracks me up on so many levels.

First, the grammar and spelling errors. Laundry is spelled "lojry" and Judah likes to invert his b's and d's so he asked for a "rodot" hahahahaha.

Also, what the heck is going on with the first letter of your last name? Lower case AND inverted.

I love how at the end of the letter, he tells Santa to "chos onw" - a very humble request to 'choose one' toy since asking for more than one is clearly too bold.

It also cracks me up how he claims to help me with laundry. That kid has folded maybe 3 hand towels in his ENTIRE life and sorted 6 socks into the right pile - 6 individual socks, mind you, not pairs. If this puts you on the "good" list, then I'm set for life after just a single day of housework.

Lastly, it's funny to me that Judah wrote this all while not believing in Santa. Since he was about 2, he asked if Santa was real and we just didn't have the heart to lie to him in the name of fun. So he wrote this for me. Knowing that I know how little laundry he actually does. Bold.

Oh my dear child. Your entire Christmas experience is unmerited grace, however blind you are to it. Indeed, your whole life. Indeed, mine.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

How do you solve a problem like Noah?

Noah is my problem child.

Okay, so this photo is totally staged, but it gets my point across pretty effectively.

In absolute terms, I guess Noah is just your average naughty kid, but in comparison with his older brother, Noah is like the devil.

Sure Judah was a colicky fussy baby, but ever since he turned 3.5 he magically morphed into an angel child. All the opposition and annoying whining truly was just a toddler phase that he grew out of. And even when he was in the midst of the terrible two's his meltdowns were pretty minor.

I would have never appreciated how easy-going and truly eager to please Judah is without the foil of his devil brother. Judah, in his heart of hearts, in the very core of who he is, truly just wants to be a good person and for everyone to be happy. He is goodness personified, people-pleasing to a fault, and the epitome of cooperation. Which is not to say he doesn't have his own moral flaws - he absolutely does - but none of them make me tense up in stress and pull my hair out in frustration by 9:30 AM.

Noah on the other hand...

Noah will turn 4 in January and it is abundantly clear that his annoying whining and opposition is not going away. This isn't a phase, it's just him.

He behaves so disobediently it even makes Judah suck in his breath with disbelief and awe. Almost as soon as I issue a command - Noah don't stand up on your chair - he has to do the exact opposite.

To gently correct him - Noah, don't color on your brother's homework - is to invite him to hurl verbal and emotional abuse upon you - You're so mean mommy! You make me sad! I'm going to be sad forever! You can't come in my room anymore! You can't come to my birthday party! You're the meanest mom ever! And the comment he thinks will hurt me the most - No more hugs and kisses for you!!!

Once I told him that we were out of the granola bars he wanted and he had these colorful remarks to say - I'm so mad at you mommy! I'm going to cut your head off! I'm going to get the big scissors, the one you keep in the special drawer that we're not supposed to play with - the big scissors - not the little ones that you let us use. And I'm going to hold them the safe way, by the handle, not by the sharp part, the safe way like daddy showed us. And cut your head off with the sharp part!

It was not unlike how a serial murderer might meticulously plot to skin his victims and sew a coat with them...

But on a brighter note, I'm so glad he listens when we talk to him about safely handling sharp objects!

But beyond his hair trigger anger, he also delights in dirty jokes. Judah never cared for 'potty-mouth' language but Noah lets it rip all the time and soon the two of them descend into the most annoying silliness. It's literally just them repeating to each other words like:

Poopy-lon hahahahahahahaha
Buttcheek hahahahahahahahaha
Poopy baby hahahahahahaha
Boobs hahahahahahaha
literally, ad nauseum (my nauseum)

Noah begged me to take a picture of this in RiteAid

Noah even goes as far as drawing boobs and butts all over the place. They both look like two tangential circles, but you know it's a butt if it has a dribble of poop coming out of the middle. He once painted some giant ones on his art easel and told me to hang it up in the house. I politely declined.

So last night, as we were snuggling before bedtime, I decided to have a heart-to-heart talk with him about his rampant disobedience.

Noah, you make Mommy so sad when you disobey me. You need to work on obeying your parents.

Noah burst into tears and instantly accused us of not loving him and rejecting him and even said that we think his name is stupid (we've often said that it's a common name, unlike his brother's more rare name). All his insecurities gushed out in a flood of angry fear.

I tried to reassure him that we love him unconditionally and that we all have areas that need work. And again it amazed me how non-intuitive grace and unconditional acceptance really is.

This morning on our drive to preschool, Noah told me how he really does want to obey us more. He wanted it so much that he prayed about it on the spot:

Dear God, Please help me obey my parents. And when they tell me 'no' help me to accept it. In Jesus name, Amen.

If ever there was a prayer that was heard, I hope it was that.

Indeed, it is the very baby-step, tiny seed evidence of it.