Movie Review (Plus My Own Musings) - Big As Life: Obesity in America

I will preface by saying that I am a "fat" individual. I have mixed emotions about weight and beauty, as society examines them, and that can all be saved for another conversation on a different day. To be honest, I was sitting on the couch, drinking a soda when I began type this, so I am aware of the fact that I should change some of my behaviors. I think that my own battle with my body is why I was drawn to watch this, to be honest.

[Note: I began to write this a few months ago. Shortly thereafter, I decided that I was ready for change. My journey towards health began on June 25th and I have stopped drinking soda, cut out a lot of processed foods, and overall pay attention to diet. I try to eat mostly fruits, vegetables and proteins and drink 1/2 my body weight in water. I have also begun to workout nearly daily, sometimes twice per day. As of Sept 1, I have lost 20 lbs and feel more energy and confidence in life.]

This photo was obtained from Google.
This documentary, which I watched on Netflix, was an overall interesting and eye-opening film. I found myself growing more and more concerned as I watched, but not for the reasons that I assumed I would be. I know that, personally, I have an unhealthy relationship with food and that I am less active than I should be. The evidence is that I have probably doubled my weight since I was in high school.

However, I also struggle with the concept that I need to love myself, inside and out. That I should seek happiness and joy that comes from God, not from a source such as my appearance. However, self-acceptance is similar, yet distinct from giving up on taking care of my body. 

There were components of this documentary that agreed with this, sharing some medical and psychological research, exploring the health risks of being obese, the changes in eating and physical activity habits from our ancestors, brain chemistry and genetics, the need for behavioral changes, and addiction to food. I found so much of this fascinating. Some of it was common knowledge, for me. However, other components were new and profound. 

But, there were some viewpoints expressed which I felt were merely justifications by obese people. One such interview was of a women stating that when she lost weight, she had cheekbones and didn't recognize herself. Paraphrasing, she said that she then regained the weight and that she is happier being fat. She talked about how she still got sexual attention from men and that she loved herself and her personality. At first, I was sitting here, cheering her on: "Way to go! Love yourself! You're beautiful!" But then, the more I listened, I found myself getting frustrated because I felt as if she knew the health risks and the impact that her weight has on her life, but she essentially said that she didn't care. 

Another woman interviewed was equally frustrating as she sat and stated that she disagreed with medical research and professionals, and that being fat was no less healthy than being thin. She said that overweight need to stand up and argue, advocating for being fat, because it was a myth that it was a health risk. 

I did like how the video promoted programs, starting with young people, that teaches long-term lifestyle changes instead of dieting. I felt as if the show spoke about obesity and weight in a respectful and concerned manner, rather than a judgemental way that is pushing an agenda for thinness.

However, I do not feel comfortable with the idea that fat is acceptable or justifiable. I believe that people who are overweight should not be discriminated against or though of as less-than-equal due to their weight, but I do believe that it is an epidemic and while, for some, it is genuinely a genetic and biological problem (such as specific thyroid disorders), many more of us that are overweight are in this position because we made poor choices and need to be responsible for our actions. I firmly believe that I did this to myself (although I tend to blame my husband, jokingly, because he cooks so well).

People should care about their weight. Not in an unhealthy, body dysmorphic way...but in a desire to live way. When I was a teen, I was a cutter. After I stopped that, but began to smoke regularly, my mom called me on it and asked, "Is that just a different way to commit suicide? You're slowly killing yourself." I think with weight, its similar. I know, for me it is. When I eat McDonalds daily or when I drink soda after soda, I know it's slowly killing me. Is it wrong to occasionally eat something fried or sugary? I don't think so. However, many people that struggle with weight do not moderate foods well (me included). Once, I ate an entire bag of Funyuns during a movie. Often, I will consume a half package of Oreos or Chips Ahoy or Teddy Grahams. Sadly, with the Teddy Grahams, I would justify it to myself saying that they were whole wheat, so it wasn't as bad.

So, this brings me full circle to this idea of loving yourself. I never felt like I deserved to be healthy. I have never felt as if I loved myself enough to undertake the chore of changing my lifestyle. Sometimes, I still don't love myself as much as I should. And on those days, I seek love from God. I need His love to fill me and make me realize that I am worth the change. I continue to tell myself that He wants me to live healthy, so that I can glorify Him with my days (however numbered they may be). And, slowly, I begin to see myself differently, possibly through His eyes, and that is how I am learning to love me.

In conclusion, I enjoyed the documentary and think it is definitely worth the watch. It inspired me to do a lot of thinking and soul-searching about my own problem of obesity.

A Back-To-School Update

So, it's been awhile since I blogged. The summer was crazy in a good way, and we are now adjusting to our back-to-school lives. I wanted to remember all the changes that have happened recently, so here we go.

Teo and Isa both found out a few weeks before school started that they have less than perfect vision, so glasses were added to their daily life. Isa, in typical girl fashion, had a million frames she wanted and struggled to narrow the options down to one.

Teo, on the other hand, did not have many choices (as his head is still smaller than most glasses frames fit) and he picked a horribly ugly pair with huge round plastic frames. I then made him choose between black or gray wire framed ones.

In the end, they both ended up looking amazing. Just in time to start school and be able to see what the teacher was doing on the whiteboard.

The first day of school was exciting, as always. Isa is now in 4th grade and Teo is in Kindergarten.

Isa was excited to return and see all of her friends from last year. Plus, they are learning to play the recorder in music class this year. We found out a couple of weeks ago that she scored well on her advance placement testing, and her language arts score was especially high compared to average, so the teacher will be challenging her more this year with reading and writing assignments. She loves reading and has a lexile level in the 800s, which she is very proud of. She loves learning new things, and comes home telling me about history, science, and so much more. The first few weeks, she had problems with another student who was picking on her, but we are so proud of her response and she just persevered, trying to be kind and talk to him and now, she reports, they are friends.  

Teo was a little unsure about kindergarten, but quickly adjusted. His teacher has told us that he is quite a leader in class. The teacher uses a color ladder to track behavior. All kids start on green and either move down to yellow, blue, orange, or red if they misbehave or move up to lime green, pink, and purple (and the teacher added that she will only give purple once or twice a year) if they behave above expectations. The first week, we saw a couple of yellows as he learned procedures and rules of the classroom, but then we began seeing lime greens, then a couple pinks, and last week, he received the highest - purple! He is also performing above grade level for language arts and math, but last week, was given an IEP for speech therapy. He has struggled with making the correct sounds, specifically with certain letters (such as T, S, and K), so he will work with a specialist once a week to try to correct that. 

So, that's our update! How's back-to-school going for you? :)

Baby Fever

There are days when I think, oh, maybe we should have a baby. A cute, snuggly, adorable, sweet newborn would "complete" our family.

Then, I see a frazzled mom at a store or hear an infant screaming and crying at a restaurant. I watch my friends with their babies or watch friends' babies. I think about the cost of formula and diapers. I walk through a house strewn with toys and clothes or clean up after my furry child. I sit down and have five minutes of calm while Isa and Teo are miraculously getting along or are entertained, then I spend the next hour refereeing fights and being asked ten thousand nonsensical questions. It's like God saying, "Wait a minute..."

That's when I realize that our life is perfect just the way it is right now for us at this moment.

My kids have finally learned to let me pee alone. They have mastered the art of brushing teeth, tying shoes, and showering alone. They sleep through the night and feed themselves (relatively) mess-free. They can buckle themselves into the car. They make some of their own meals (mostly PBJs, spaghetti-o's, pop tarts, and cereal). They can pour their own drinks and use a normal cup. They dress themselves and pick out their own clothes (although sometimes, their taste causes concern about whether they are blind or not). They can communicate when they are sick or tired or grumpy.

And, I know that I don't need anything else.

However, with all that being said, I think babies are amazing. I loved having both of ours. I cherish the moments I spent, holding them, feeding them, changing nasty diapers. I value the memories of waking up at 2 AM to lift a hysterical infant from the crib or rubbing the back of a sick toddler. I loved caring for them and those were special moments. However, for this part of our journey, I am content with where we are.

Contentment is not the same as settling or accepting anything less than what we want. It is an understanding that the grass isn't always greener on the other side. That I don't need what other people have. That my life is valuable without feeling as if it needs to be compared to someone elses. It means that I know God and trust Him with my life and that I am not going to waste my time or energy seeking something that is not in His plan.

5 Years Ago on May 5th

May fifth. Cinco de Mayo. A day of celebration throughout many Mexican homes. But, not in our home.

Five years ago. May 5, 2009. I hadn't slept well and when I woke up, had gotten a toddler and a newborn to the car, and was ready to leave, I was greeted with a unpleasant surprise. A large chunk of wood was protruding from the sidewall of my rear passenger side tire. Realizing that I was going to be late to work, I panicked, running across the street and asking my neighbor to help me get the spare tire onto my car.

As he was working, I texted my husband, Jose, asking if he knew what happened to my tire. "Was probably just some punk kids" was his response.

The neighbor saved me and quickly, I was on my way. I delivered the kids at daycare and got to work. I continued texting Jose, stating that the flat tire made no sense. Around approximately 9:45 AM, life as I knew it ended.

Hold on, now let me back up. Life hadn't been amazing. And for a few months, things were not adding up or making sense. Jose would come home the wrong direction from the store or would "get lost" on the way back from a friends' house. His text conversations were missing chunks of messages and his demeanor was different.

Two days before, on May 3rd, Jose had announced that it simply wasn't working out. He made the choice to leave and told me that he was done. He packed a bag and drove off. The next day, after work, he came back to apologize and said that he had made a huge mistake. He said that he had slept in the car, in Walmart's parking lot. My heart broke for him and I told him that I wanted to try to work it out. However, he still didn't seem like the man I married. That night, while he slept next to me in bed, I texted his friend, asking if she knew what was going on with him. She just told me to get him to tell me.

So, back to May 5th. I was at work and my phone went off. I remember looking at it, reading it and not understanding. When I began to make sense of it, I walked out of my office and it was like everything was in slow motion. The world around me was blurry and I could only hear my own heartbeat echoing through my ears. I took three steps past my office door, made eye contact with my boss, then realized that I could go no farther. I retreated, closed my door, and crumbled upon the floor. My body began to tremble with life-shattering sobs and my boss, the woman that I thought I despised the most in the whole world, entered my office and held me in her arms. She rocked me as I tried to explain, but I am not sure that the words ever quite made it out of my mouth.

Jose cheated. She was pregnant.

At some point, I drove myself home. I don't remember much of the day, to be quite honest. I know that my mom came and cleaned up the dining room floor where shattered photo frames littered the floor. She scolded me gently about the broken glass with the concern for bare baby feet. My mom picked up my kids from the sitter and kept them for the night. When Jose got home from work, every single possession that he owned was packed in garbage bags and stacked on the couch. He tried to talk to me, but all I remember is literally seeing the entire world through a red screen. I threw a glass at him at some point. I slapped him.

Then, I made him call her, his "friend", and tell her to come to our house to talk. She agreed so long as I promised to not punch her in the stomach, but truthfully, I didn't want to fight. I demanded that he, for the first time, be a "fuckin' man" and stand in front of both of us and explain himself. I told him to be honest, for once. And he did. I sat in one chair, facing his pregnant girlfriend, as he stood next to the garbage bag filled couch and spoke. I asked about the "getting lost" and wrong directions. I asked about the late nights with friends and the times in which he wasn't answering his phone. He admitted that he went to her house instead of sleeping in the parking lot. Then, when it was all said and done, she and I spoke on the front sidewalk leaving him inside, alone.

I don't remember how the rest of the night went. I don't remember much of the weeks that followed. But I will forever remember May 5, 2009. Cinco de Mayo. The fifth of May.

Stink Bugs

These things are EVIL. Seriously and utterly evil. If you look closely enough, you may just be able to see the demon's face lurking in the pattern of its shell.

We have had these bugs in our home for over a year now. One will appear every couple of days and we follow a system to rid of them that involves wrapping them into a toilet paper casket and flushing them down the porcelain throne before they release the toxic gas that gives them their name.

However, I think they are evolving in their evilness.

A month or so ago, I woke up in the middle of the night. I felt a hair or something on my face, so I went to brush it back, only to feel a hard shell and tiny legs. I screamed and threw it across the room, but not before it dropped a stink bug bomb, leaving me gagging and struggling to breathe for the rest of the night, preferring to suffocate myself in the pillow or my husband's armpit than to breathe the air in the room.

Last week, as I was trying to get the gagging dog off my carpet and into the great backyard with my sprained foot, she threw up on the floor. The stench was much worse than the normal smell of dog vomit and there, in the middle of the food and grass lie a stink bug.

Then, this morning, Teo wakes up and comes downstairs, snuggling with me on the couch. Within seconds, I smell stink bug. Then, I realize that it is Teo. His entire head of hair is reeking of stink bug, as if he took the insect's guts and used them as hair gel. I force him to go take a shower immediately, and while he's upstairs, I continue to smell it, realizing the stench has transferred from his hair to my sweater.

So, are we the only people to have these demon-bugs infesting our home? Does anyone else have crazy stink bug stories, or better yet, does anyone know how to get rid of them?