Suburban Snapshots

I Don't Care How Celebrities Get Thin Because
it's Cocaine and Money

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Last week I emailed a friend who'd asked for weight loss suggestions. As I typed away, I felt like I'd been making the same list for a lot of people lately, mostly because the crap that gets sold to us about "Getting Thin!" seems to me unsustainable at best and usually unrealistic. If I hear about one more shake or juice fast, or workout that requires IV fluids afterward, I might actually throw things at my television, which would be bad because then what do I do with my kid on Saturday mornings?

I worked for six months to lose 25 pounds and have been (mostly) maintaining it for over two years. I've learned what I personally need to do to keep from slipping back up the scale. I've also learned where I feel my best; right now I wear a size 12 in jeans and an 8 top. I know what it feels like when I'm gaining and what I need to do to get it back off. After spending two-thirds of my life fighting my thighs, I'm finally okay with them, even the way they move as I walk. I like my body enough that I'd never consider taking on a near-death exercise routine. I know my limits, both in what I'll stick with and what I can and can't binge on.

This list is a compilation of what I've learned over the past three years. I think it's practical, level-headed advice but I recognize that every person has a different goal and set of habits. Here, pretty much verbatim, is the email I sent my friend:

  1. Stock your house with more whole or high fiber foods — except brown rice because that shit takes forever to cook. Couscous, wheatberries, farro. I don't like quinoa, it feels like I'm eating tiny, exploding bugs. 
  2. The only "light" stuff I ever use is light wheat bread and Cabot 50% Cheddar. No fake sugars. Non-fat "half and half" is an abomination and an insult to dairy cows, and haven't they suffered enough? Use two-percent Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
  3. Know what you can't eliminate — there was no way I was giving up beer, cheese or using cream in my coffee. Keep what you love and work the rest of your food around the givens.
  4. I use Anna's chalk wall to track my "Points" but you could do something similar to track just food or calories or whatever. If I don't write down what I'm eating I gain, no questions asked. This is key.
  5. Salty snack: hummus and pretzels, or Fage and pretzels. Sweet snack: keep a bar of dark chocolate around, break off a square. Sometimes my snack is just one glorious glob of peanut butter on a spoon, sometimes on an apple.
  6. This is such a check-out rack magazine tip I can't even stand it, but use a kid's plate at dinner. I've been eating off of an eight-inch plastic M&Ms plate for three years now, unless we have company.
  7. Get a dog to give the kids' leftovers to. Short of that, compost it before it's in your mouth. It was really hard for me to stop feeling awful about wasting food, but not feeding her at all is frowned upon.
  8. Give yourself a forgiveness day. Once a month I want to clean out the fridge with my face. I do it and move on. Usually once a week I have a big splurge, 3 good beers or my favorite mint chocolate chip and hot fudge in a 1:1 ratio. It's something to look forward to.
  9. Don't be an exercise hero. The workout isn't what makes the weight come off, but it's a nice boost. I have a simple goal of walking one mile a day, then I try to do things like ride my bike to the grocery store or to take Anna to school as often as I can manage. 
I hope this all seems more reasonable than what you might read about whoever's currently losing the baby weight in record time. I'd love to hear what you've had success with in the comments. 

Country Songs and Mean Kids Make Me Cry

Monday, June 17, 2013

Last week, one of Anna's friends walked up to me and said, "Anna ruined my whole day." A second little girl added, "Yeah, she's really annoying us." Anna wasn't in earshot, off playing or chatting up an adult somewhere, and probably would have snarked back and gotten on with her afternoon. I stood in front of these two wondering how they thought it was okay to give a parent that kind of report, I said nothing, and walked away to cry. It was one of those cries that sneaks up, like when a country song reduces you to tears and you get mad at yourself because you cannot stand country music.

I was sad then and for her future where more of this will happen and where I can't — and won't — protect her from it all. My girl is insulated right now, but I see the hierarchies starting already, the BFFs forming. I see the kindergartners who know about Justin Bieber and crushes while Anna wonders how anyone could have possibly invented a double-sided light saber and hides behind a pillow not during gruesome battle scenes, but when she can tell that the actors are about to kiss.

I know that in the long run this quirkiness of hers will serve to make her a funny, interesting adult. I'm already so proud of who she is, though she can be a little (read: a lot) loud, a little bossy, and kind of a dork. I don't want a thing about her to change. This particular angst doesn't seem much easier even knowing that all parents feel it on some level — Just love my kid a billionth of the amount I do, world. Just see how amazing she is.

After I pulled myself back together, once we had Anna in bed and were talking about the day, I told Steve what had happened with those girls. He said, "Honey, I don't care what those girls said. And I don't want Anna to care. I want her to learn to not give a fuck what people say about her." That concept is so completely foreign to me that I hadn't even considered it a possibility. What if we can raise a kid to be herself and do her own thing, and to not be hurt by the judgement of others?

Steve told me that when he was little he'd just hang out at home, and if friends wanted to come over, they could come over. If not, he'd just spend time alone. I, on the other hand, remember when the two girls I spent most of my time with went and got BFF tee-shirts without me. I remember the parties I wasn't invited to, the cliques I tried to get in with in college and never quite succeeded. I eventually made real, wonderful friends and I wouldn't change where I ended up, but the thought of living those school  years with less concern about who liked me — maybe growing up to be someone who could respond appropriately to those girls who found Anna annoying instead of choking up and hiding — that seems like such freedom.

I'm not modeling this for her right now. I love to please, I live to make people happy, to feel comfortable and loved, and when I know someone is upset with me — no matter how unjustified — all I want is to smooth things over. Part of that has nothing to do with worrying what people think of me, but I don't know how to untangle my motivations. This will have to be where Steve comes in. This will have to be where he teaches her better than I can when to just let people go.

Reusable Grocery Bag Giveaway,
Contain Yourselves

Monday, June 03, 2013

When Ben from ADK Packworks in Vermont emailed me about doing a giveaway, my first thought was, "You know you're a mom blogger when a reusable grocery bag giveaway gets you excited." I've been perfectly happy with my ten-year-old canvas bags — sure, they wear the stains of a decade of leaky yogurts and probably a lethal dose of salmonella, but they serve me well.

I was skeptical of the ADK Grocer bag when it arrived. It has a rigid frame, it's definitely heavier than my regular bags, and I knew "sold at Whole Foods" wouldn't be appealing to everyone (you can also buy them online). But when I took it to the grocery store and didn't arrive home with a smashed container of strawberries or bread with a milk carton impression in it, I was sold.

Then I took it to the farmers market (where I buy exactly zero vegetables because they have these breakfast burritos and man, I don't know what your local pigs taste like but my local pigs are DEEEElicious) and it didn't crush my container of Ukrainian dumplings (also not a vegetable) or the cinnamon bun (still not produce) Anna didn't want after all, because why not it only cost four freaking dollars. It's definitely my #1 farmers market bag, beach bag, and smuggling two six-packs into the neighborhood block party bag.

I made sure to snag an extra to give away. In the comments, tell me the best song you've heard playing at the grocery store. PLEASE SIGN IN TO COMMENT WITH YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS — I never save them, but haven't had luck contacting people via Facebook. I'll choose a winner at random on Friday, June 7th at 9 a.m. eastern time. Winners have 24 hours to respond.