Posted in Homeschooling

Literacy with a side of obesity

Yesterday we had a field trip to the library and got Shammy his very own library card. I had been wanting to do this for a very long time but our local library had a minimum age of 4 and this was our first visit since Shammy’s birthday. He was very excited about this milestone and eager to check out his first book.

Shammy is now a card carrying bookaholic
Shammy is now a card carrying bookaholic

At the librarian’s counter we learned that September is Library Card Sign Up month and McDonald’s was a sponsor so along with his card Shammy received coupons for free junk food from McDonald’s. It took a lot of effort to bite my tongue and not go into a rant about how literacy now came with a side order of obesity plus potential diabetes and heart disease but I reminded myself that the librarian was just the messenger.

library junk coupons

 

Thankfully Shammy always says “McDonald’s is yucky” whenever this restaurant is mentioned so he has no interest in redeeming his freebies.

Posted in Bandora

On being a healthier hippie

For most of my life I took pride on being a lazy couch potato, I used to consider breastfeeding to be enough of a workout. For the first 3 decades I could afford to eat anything and do nothing and still have a nice body. Then I had kids and turned 30….
couch potato
My husband used to encourage me to take advantage of the Planet fitness $10 a month promotion but I knew that I didn’t have the willpower to stick with it so why bother wasting money on it. In the past I had lived in complexes with free gyms and I never used them, not even once.

So when my husband used to go to the gym and brag about walking 3 miles in 1 hour on the treadmill I was all “that’s great honey! I’lll be here eating cheetos on the couch and watching Netflix on my Kindle”. Sometimes hubby would try to encourage me to go on a family walk and I would try everything in my power to get out of it and grumble about it the whole time if I was coaxed into going. Whenever a friend would post a sweaty selfie on Facebook bragging about their PDX90 or Insanity workout I would think “wow, I admire their dedication, I could never do that”. When another friend had their Fitness Pal/RunKeeper/(insert fitness app name) here update Facebook about the X miles biked/ran/walked or XXX calories burned I would think “I don’t have that in me, think god/dess was out of the will power ingredient when I was being made”.

I have never believed in diets because they require willpower that I don’t have, I knew that as soon as I cheated once I would give up. it takes too long to see results and the weight comes back as soon as you stop dieting. I was too lazy to exercise because I hate being hot and sweaty and I was scared of pain from past knee and back injuries. Additionally now that I know that I have Diastasis Recti I also had to be very careful as many exercises are not compatible with that condition.  While Weight Watchers looks doable and comes highly recommended, I don’t have the budget for even the cheapest plan. I am not against walking but living in Florida it’s too hot and humid for my taste and we go back to hot and sweaty.

Lately seeing as I have been my heaviest non pregnant weight ever and even though I can still wear regular sizes I had been climbing up the double digits getting closer to the plus size department that I decided that I needed to at least stop the gain. Besides, I want to at least try to be around to see my kids grow up and with my family history of heart disease I can’t count on genes to help me.

I knew that if I set a goal that would take too long to achieve I would be discouraged and quit so I decided against any ambitious “go back to prepregnancy weight” or “run a 5k” goals. Instead I made small, bite size, easily achievable goals as follows:

  • stop gaining weight
  • eat smaller portions
  • make better snack choices
  • drink more water
  • be more physically active
  • Bonus goal (no pressure) lose 1/2 pound per week

To help me do this I started using the free My Fitness Pal app just over a month ago. Logging everything I eat every day helps me be more conscious about my food choices. Seeing how many net calories I have left towards the end of the day allows me to plan indulgent treats without feeling like I am cheating. The app gives me an incentive to be active because the calories burned from that brisk walk may just give me enough extra calories in that day to indulge that cookie craving.

The next step was to find a way to become more active. While it is true that you don’t need to spend money to exercise, there are some things that do make it easier and in my case I needed to get rid of as much temptation to make excuses as possible. I was dreading exercising because my $7 sneakers looked cool but were uncomfortable. It was important to upgrade so after cashing in Swagbucks that I had been accumulating for almost 3 years and hard work shopping for the best coupons and discounts I scored some Skechers sneakers for spare change that look cool AND are comfortable, what a difference!

Last month we still had spring weather in Florida so it wasn’t hard to walk to the park with the boys and burn extra calories by pushing a double stroller. Sadly summer always arrives early in Florida so that option is no longer enticing and the kids agree as now they complain that it’s too hot for the playground.

Thankfully my husband had purchased an xBox 360 Kinect system for Yule and had purchased Your Fitness Shape Evolved 2012 for his use. Even though he hasn’t used it like he planned, I have found this to be the perfect solution for me. Being able to exercise at my convenience in my own living room with a program that doesn’t push me if I don’t want it to. With workouts ranging from 2-15 minutes each I could start easy and couldn’t use the “I don’t have time excuse”.

Adopting the “some exercise is better than none at all mentality” enabled me to feel good about exercising for only 5 minutes 3 times a week instead of aiming for some unrealistic goal such as exercising for 30 minutes 5 times a week because when you are a mother of 2 it’s not easy to find a 30 minute chunk of time to exercise. I am now able to work out for 10-20 minutes several times a week (children permitting) without running out of breath and usually stop because the kids need me and not because I have to catch my breath. In an ironic twist of fate now I am the one suggesting family walks to my husband.

This week I added yet another helpful tool to my quest for a healthier life. After reading The Feminist Breedeer’s post about her quest to go from couch potato to runner I felt like I greatly identified with her. She wrote about how the Fitbit Flex wireless tracker helped her get motivated so I decided to look into it more.

321605-fitbit-flex

At first I was turned off by the price so I gave up on the idea, later on that day Groupon had a deal on a similar device from a different brand that I almost bought until I was turned off by the reviews, same with yet another tracker from a different brand that was on clearance at Target for $38 down from $130, too good to be true as the online reviews were not favorable. I searched all over the Internet and the weekly ads for every store that I could think of trying to find a cheap Fitbit but even with sales and coupons it would be over $80 after tax.

Lucky for me, it’s by birthday month and a relative sent me a generous cash gift early. After 3 consecutive days obsessing about wanting a Fitbit I decided to use the gift to get one and took advantage of a sale where I got the Fitbit at regular price but $30 worth of accessory wristbands for free.

It’s been just over 48 hours and I love my Fitbit so far, despite it not syncing with my phone like I hoped (my fault for not reading the fine print and realizing that my cheap POS phone is not an approved device) it easily syncs automatically anytime I am within bluetooth range of my computer and I can view the results on the app on my phone and Kindle. It syncs automatically with My Fitness Pal so I get “credit” for the many extra calories I burn while doing laundry or playing with the boys, activities I don’t log as exercise on MFP. The fact that it tracks my sleep is really cool, it turns out that I am not sleep deprived like I thought.

So where am I after 1 month in this journey?
Thanks to My Fitness Pal I can track not only my weight but also my measurements. I started off losing almost 3 pounds in 1 week. Then PMS bloating struck and I gained 2.8 pounds of water weight literally overnight, who knew we retained so much water?! While now I am at only 1 pound lost, I have lost 2 inches on my waist and hips. I have found that I am better adapted to eating smaller portions of food so when I go to a restaurant I am unable to finish the oversized dish when I used to clean the plate in the past. To my own surprise the other day I found myself craving and thus eating a salad while the rest of the family ate pizza for dinner.

Where will this journey lead me?
It’s hard to tell, I don’t see myself signing up for a 5k or showing off toned abs, with my DR and stretch marks I don’t aim for a bikini body but I think that the fact that I am not aiming too high is what will help me stick to this long term and hopefully turn this into a lifestyle change instead of a short term fad, we’ll see….

Posted in Baby Foxes

What’s the harm in a happy meal once in a while?

Before Shammy was born my husband I agreed that we would delay his introduction to McDonald’s food (and fast food in general) for as long as we could. I understand that we can’t shelter him forever and decided that if I make it to 5 years old when he gets invited to his first birthday party at McDonald’s we would have done very well.  We may or may not make it but it’s a goal that I actively work for.

It saddens me when I see so many toddlers eating the crap with the “free” toy (and it pisses me off that they cater to them by having a toddler toy by request).  Almost every friend I know will feed their kids a happy meal at least occasionally.

Many parents use the “we were busy with (insert big project that interferes with cooking) and he/she needed to eat”. I totally get that, I’ve been there. I’ve also been out of the house all day with nothing but snacks and the kid needs to eat. We’ve been on road trips where the adults stop at the McD drive thru but the kid doesn’t eat from it.

If you know you’re going to move, plan a party, remodel the kitchen, go on a trip or whatever other common excuse for the convenience of a happy meal know that there are far healthier choices that are quick and cheap. I admit that my son has eaten at Arby’s once or twice, while not the same as a home meal, for the same cost of McDonald’s minus the carcinogens and with a fraction of the saturated fat.

 

yet another reason for me to delay giving this crap to my son

Then the parents get defensive and say “it’s only once in a while, what could happen?” Hopefully nothing! But sadly an occassional here and there evolves throughout the weeks/months/years into brand recognition, fixation and by the time they are in school it could be a daily or weekly convenience meal or treat for good grades or…. you get my drift.

I can see it getting bad when the kid will refuse to eat anything but a happy meal when sick, it has become their comfort food and the parent is either oblivious or in denial. And then this same kid may grow up with obesity, be high risk for other health problems and have ingrained bad food habits. I know, I was that kid.

I almost became this kid

 

What had started as an occasional kid’s meal treat as a toddler evolved into a fast food addiction by elementary school. My parents had to buy me KFC every night because I refused to eat home cooked dinners. We couldn’t leave the house without stopping at a drive thru. I had high cholesterol in third grade!!

It was a hard and conscious effort as an adult to clean up my diet. I still think that fast food tastes better than home cooked, I still crave it, I would rather eat from a drive through than from my kitchen, I still occasionally eat it but it takes a lot of will power and I ultimately agree that I’ll cut a few minutes out of my life expectancy because I’m weak and just have to indulge the craving.

I admit that I resent my parents for introducing me to that crap at such an early age and do wonder about the what if’s of my adult health and diet if it hadn’t been that way. This is something that I think about when trying to make decisions for my son as I don’t want him bitching at me at 21 like I bitched at my mother.

And I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that we’re in the middle of a childhood obesity epidemic. I work at a WIC office, I hear about it all day and see the McDonald’s cups and toys all the time.

Yet I don’t blame the parents, I blame the fast food industry’s ad agencies and marketing departments.

Fast food marketing works!

* Eighty-four percent of parents reported taking their child to a fast food restaurant at least once a week; 66% reported going to McDonald’s in the past week.
* Forty percent of parents reported that their child asks to go to McDonald’s at least once a week; 15% of preschoolers ask to go every day.   (fastfoodmarketing.org)

I see the payoff of this campaigns first hand. Almost every toddler that I know recognizes the McDonald’s goldeen arches faster than they recognize Mickey Mouse (don’t get me started on the McDonald’s branded drive through toys).

I can't in good conscience allow my kid to play with this

A Standford University research study has revealed that pre-school kids prefer foods wrapped in McDonalds packaging over the same foods wrapped in unmarked packaging saying it tastes better. (newscientist.com)

I’m not trying to single the attack on just McDonald’s, they just happen to have the monopoly on the toddler market. Many other fast food chains are just as bad.

For the busy parent that is overwhelmed and on a tight budget, unable or unwilling to pack a sandwich and so they feel that they have no choice but feed their kid from a drive thru, here is a compilation of the best and worst children’s meal combination from popular fast food restaurants. Take your kid to Subway instead of McDonalds, but if you must insist on the arches (perhaps because you’ve got a craving too) at least know which happy meal is the lesser of the evils (and no, the cheeseburger with fries is not it). So at least try to get the apple slices instead of the french fries next time.  Best and worst fast food kids meals

 

 

Recently a mother lost custody of a third grader that was 200 pounds and morbidly obese because she couldn’t control his weight, I wonder what this kid’s favorite food is….