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What the Media Says About Your Body is Bullshit!

Hey Ladies. Do you ever get the feeling that what the media says about your body is Bullshit? If you don’t, you probably haven’t thought about it too deeply.

A friend recently shared this Huffington Post article that really hit home with me.  It is about how to talk with your daughter about her body. It brought up some stuff for me.

The truth is, all my life, I was unwillingly influenced by external perceptions of what a woman’s body should look like. It actually started at a very young age, and I’m not alone! I’ve had conversations with other women to mirror much the same.  One friend revealed that she was pinched playfully by an uncle as a youngster and called chubby. She never forgot that and still carries that wound! This is not only a media issue, it has roots that are penetrating deep into the home.

As we get older, the task that we face is to learn to rekindle a long lost love affair with our bodies. We can choose to relearn to love them unconditionally or to do the work to change them. But if the idea is “home” improvement, it is absolutely KEY to remain detached from the results. If we want to have a healthy relationship with our bodies, our longest-standing best friends, we need to follow some simple guidelines:

  1. When referring to the Human Body, avoid the use of the word flat or the word hard. Bodies are organic. They are made of soft materials. They bulge, they bloom, they  lank, but they are never flat. Boards are flat, buildings are flat.  People, on the other hand are not. Our bodies will also never be hard. Muscles add mass to our bodies (which also makes them less “flat”) and create a more dense tension. But our bodies will never be HARD. Bowling balls are hard.  And who on earth would want to snuggle with one of those?
  2. Let go of the idea that we can spot train our bodies. I’ve dealt with a myriad of clients who want to “lose weight in their belly” (see again “flat” myth from topic #1) streamline their rear ends or fix their arm flab. While lifting weights to add muscle mass may change that area, the ideas of what it will look like in the end are just ideas. Those almost never become the reality. Say I were to fantasize about a model in a magazine (see further info in topic #3), the truth is I will never look like that because I will never have “her” body, it will always MY body. I may improve it, but my unique chemistry has its own successes and limitations. My body will always look like MY body.
  3. Don’t envy the image in the image in the magazine: it is FAKE!!!!! It is photoshopped, airbrushed, and painted. It is a painting, a work of digital art. It is a 2D image that is printed on paper. It IS NOT REAL!! Models (who we all perceive to be perfectly proportioned, starved & immaculately beautiful human beings) are photographed then taken into the computer and stretched to make their legs longer, squeezed to cinch their waists, voluptuized to “improve” their breasts and painted to even their skin tone.  The real versions of the magazine images you see have blemishes, bruises, bumps, and cellulite just like the rest of us!

So the bottom line here is to just be healthy. Be OK. Be in acceptance. Know that the decisions that we make for what goes into our bodies is ours. Make a conscious effort to exercise.

Let’s take care of ourselves and the world around us.

And please, please, PLEASE! Don’t pass along what the media says about  our bodies Bullshit  to our little girls. They deserve so much better.

In Happy Health, <3 J.

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Rethinking Waste

One day, as doing a routine house cleaning, I sat in my bathroom and sorted the garbage. In the bathroom, a place where I had previously never considered this (other than the obvious recycling of shampoo bottles and makeup tubes), I found that about 85% of the garbage was recyclable.

This started me on a course of rethinking waste. What if I could impact household waste reduction and redirect what my family sends to the curb each week? How would that look for us? How would that look for my city if I could inspire others to do the same?

I started to take certain steps and became very impressed with the BIG results I had with making very small changes.

Since my household has started composting, we have discovered that the trash we actually send to the dump has decreased to about 30% of what we “throw out”. For a family of four, we are able to only send our Waste Management dumpster out to the curb once every TWO weeks. I will admit, I have become a bit of a trash picker. It has even extended to when I am at my Mom’s house. Lol. I will follow behind if someone throws something in the “trash” and say, “You know you can recycle that,” moving it to recycle bin. Now as far as my recycling bin, that thing is overflowing! Once a week pickup would be great for that, but our service is only provided every two weeks. Here are some tips for reducing straight up trash from finding the landfill at your place:

  1. Compost – Seemingly trendy, composting actually has a large environmental impact. By setting aside household trash, it’s easy to reduce the amount of waste that is sent to landfills and to create nutrient-rich soil for your own garden or to give or sell to a friend. There are many methods of composting, many are very simple, beginning with digging a small hole in your backyard or creating your own worm farm out of styrofoam coolers like THIS ONE.
  2. Sort – Review the recycling guidelines in your area. Make sure that everything on that list is going in the recycling bin, NOT the trash. You might be surprised to see that there are many things that can be recycled now that could not previously.
  3. Reuse – Can some of the items that are being thrown out be reused? A better solution, even than recycling, is to repurpose items for new use in the home or elsewhere. I recently read a great article where some community gardens were using newspaper for weed block and grass clippings for mulch. What creative ideas can your family generate?
  4. Rethink – Once the main steps of recycling and composting have been initiated, there may be some opportunity to take it further. Take, for example, my idea of trash sorting in an unexpected room. We all think about kitchen trash, but where else can we initiate these concepts. Most recently, I spearheaded recycling efforts at work.
  5. Repeat – Keep doing the good thing! Learn what works, figure out your best methods. Keep going and spread the word. By changing our homes, we are helping our communities, and we can make an even bigger impact.

These really small steps have made a big difference in our home. All it takes is a willingness to reconsider what we just “throw out” and a bit of effort to get started. Once your family is re-educated, they will likely be excited to get on board and start making small steps to impact the health and longevity of our blue planet. Sweet!

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The Truth About SPD

I want to be honest. Really honest about how Motherhood started out for me. It was awful. Following a long, stressful birth process facilitated by incompetence on the part of the OB group I attended at the time, my child just never seemed “right”. Our time at home left much to be desired, as we battled incessant screaming, sleep depravation and eventually exhaustion. We screamed, we fought, and we lost it. My husband and I almost got a divorce. That pattern continued with our first child, as we were consistently told by our doctors that this was normal behavior for a baby, and nothing to be alarmed at. We just had to work through it. We were offered many books and techniques by our child’s pediatrician, some of which worked better than others.

Only with the birth of our second child did we realize that our experience with our first child was NOT normal. Sure, all babies are different. I get that. But this is not what I am talking about. There were so many factors at play, it is impossible to pinpoint what might have been an influence or catalyst in the outcomes we contended with.  Our first baby was relentlessly agitated, upset and intolerant of most everything. Looking back now, everything makes perfect sense. However, it took us 4.5 years to figure out what was going on with our kid.

Nobody seemed to have the advice that would help us. We struggled for years through embarrassing situations at birthday parties, shopping malls, sporting events, playdates and religious celebrations, just to name a few. Without fail, our son would lose it: screaming at the top of his lungs because water got splashed in his face, spitting food all over the table (projectile-style) when an onion got mixed into his food, running to a corner to hide and rock if anyone started singing or clapping remotely loudly, screaming at the top of his lungs when people he didn’t know looked at him or said hello to him. These are just some of the reasons why we knew our child was “off” but nobody seemed to be able to advise us as to what might be the issue. Mostly people (including one social worker) just chalked it up to our terrible job as parents, advising that we should beat him, make him fear us or “train” him better to not have these behaviors. (Ha!)

In a moment of honesty, I confessed to my friend that I felt that my child was almost Autistic at times. That he reacted so strangely to certain situations and that other kids his age just weren’t even coming close to doing the same behaviors.  And my daughter DID NOT react the same way as he did – ever. What a serendipitous blessing that this confession happened to be! This particular friend happened to have a child with very similar issues. And only outside the scope of the medical and educational system was I able to find the answers that I needed from my own network of friends.

I only wish that I had not put off talking to a friend about these things for so long. And quite honestly, the reason I did was because I was embarrassed. I truly thought that I was failing as a parent. And now that seems so silly! I really just needed help. I knew in my heart of hearts that my child was not in balance and I just did not have the strength to ask anyone else what could be going on with him. In the end, the only way that I found out that my son has Sensory Processing Disorder is through talking with a friend.

So, today, it is my mission to help other Moms whose kids might have these or other types of issues. My child slipped through the cracks with the medical profession. This type of mental issue is not tested for in traditional Pediatric settings. I want to help other parents to see the warning signs and not have to go through the years of turmoil and embarrassment that I had to. Now, it is so much easier to tell people that my child has Special Needs rather than to try to explain away a quirkiness that I don’t even understand.

Here is the definition of Sensory Processing Disorder as indicated by SPD Foundation:

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD, formerly known as “sensory integration dysfunction”) is a condition that exists when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses. Pioneering occupational therapist and neuroscientist A. Jean Ayres, PhD, likened SPD to a neurological “traffic jam” that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly. A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, which creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks. Motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and other impacts may result if the disorder is not treated effectively.

 

This is a serious condition and can lead to life-long behavioral and coping issues if not dealt with effectively. Many kids with SPD are mislabeled as having ADHD. While focus issues may be a side effect of SPD, having focus issues does not automatically mean that a child has ADHD.

Listed below are just a few of the early detection signs.

  • Constant mouthing
  • Love for or intolerance of messy play
  • Inability to or slowness to self-soothe
  • Obsession with fans or circular movement
  • Sleep Issues
  • Nursing issues
  • Difficulty with clothing or textures
  • Social or school insecurities
  • Adverse reaction to loud noises
  • Clumsiness
  • Motion seeking
  • Inability to focus
  • Poor coordination
  • Weakness sitting up
  • Strange reaction to smells

Remember, these are just symptoms of an overlying disorder. The earlier a child can be identified and given coping skills to deal with these issues, the better. Otherwise, a lifelong pattern of suffering in school, social situations and life could ensue. It is currently estimated that 1 in 6 children has some form of Sensory Processing Disorder. This is not a disease, but a mental processing confusion that can be assuaged with coping skills and therapy.

I’m sure there are critics out there, like the Pediatrician I previously attended who do not believe in this condition. People, it is REAL. When you live with a child who has these baffling reactions to life, there is nothing more real than the pain and torment that you live with everyday. If you feel that your child or a child you know might have these issues, early intervention is the best course of action. Connect with a local pediatric Occupational Therapist for screening or learn more at SPD Foundation.

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Daily Meditation

Many things stay with me long after I read them. I read a daily meditation every morning. Yesterday, it was about expectations. The author specifically went on to cite examples of the expectation of reciprocity in our culture.  While it did not resonate with me much as I was reading it, I feel a strong sense of connection to the message today.

It is funny how often things will happen like that. Many times, I have to force myself to commit to my morning rituals. Even with the knowing of how wonderful they make me feel and how much they contribute to my day, I try to talk myself out of doing them. My mind is a tricky thing that is controlled by my selfish self. I am always fighting being pulled in the direction of habits I am trying to avoid. Keeping up my good work takes a lot of self discipline and perseverance.

I often feel that our society operates in a contradictory manner to positive self actualization. We are “trained” to want the quick (answer, result, outcome, fix, etc) without putting in the hard work that those results require. The old adage that nothing in life worth having comes easy is definitely applicable. I think that the confusion lies in the effortless nature with which self-disciplined people live their lives.

And truth be told, the best part of all of this is that I commit to doing these things for myself without specific expectation. I hope they will make me feel better. I hope I will live a healthier life. But in all actuality, there are no guarantees. The secret is the doing of it. The daily doing of it. And then in the doing of it, I eliminate attachment to the results. I act in a way that I feel will be positive and beneficial. I am not doing it for anything in return. If I get something wonderful out of it, then great. But if not, I keep doing it, because I know that the doing of it is the best work I can do right now.