Tag Archive for weight loss

Mothers are literally superheroes:
Or mothers have a lot of power and should use it for good

My first job out of high school was in a day care facility. I was working 40 hours a week taking care of children, most of whom were under five years old. On my first day I worked with tiny babies that I was almost too nervous to hold, freaking out when I couldn’t get them to stop crying. On my second day I was put in charge of a class of 10 three-year-olds, and when I went home, I apologized to my mom for everything that I’d done when I was three.

So please understand that when I say, Moms are amazing, and I honestly have no clue how they do it, it’s about a thousand percent sincere.

The thing about mothers, and parents in general, is that they’re responsible for an entire other little person.  It’s their job to make sure that their child is happy and healthy and well adjusted, which is  probably both terrifying and overwhelming. While some of the expectations of motherhood are unreasonable and wrapped up in sexism and heterosexism (such as having to stay at home, be married to a man, or be married at all), there are plenty of good reasons that mothers are seen as these paragons of wisdom and as warm, caring, and nurturing beings.

It’s because children need that kind of care.

So when a protagonist on a television show goes to her mother for advice because things are at their worst, we understand our young hero’s need for that unique, motherly guidance, advice that will help her make the best decision and remind her of the unconditional love that a mom can offer.

Lorelai Gilmore with the only advice that you'll ever need

Lorelai Gilmore with the only advice that you’ll ever need.

However, the way kids rely on moms means the messages we get from them are going to shape us, for better or for worse. No parent and child relationship is perfect, but since such a powerful (and often long-term) relationship carries so much weight, it’s important to do whatever we can to communicate the right message.

Your mom can be your biggest ally or your biggest source of insecurity.

I’m not the first person to say this, but sometimes if you have a lot of positive interaction with your mother but also hear maybe one or two negative comments from her—whether it’s on your appearance, your work, or your opinion—the negative comments are going to be the ones that stick. I mean, I adore my mother, and we’ve been close my entire life. I can’t begin to count the number of times that she’s been incredibly kind and loving and understanding, but that’s not always what’s going to stick with me after I see her.

Sometimes these messages are really subtle, and as a result, half the time I’m wondering if I’m reading too much into them. But when I come home from college to visit and my mom asks me about whether I’m going to the gym and eating right (in between actual questions about school), I get incredibly self-conscious, especially when I know that I’ve gained weight. Even if I haven’t been paying attention to my weight (the most truly blissful times in my life), questions like that make sure that it’s on my mind again.

I’ve had friends with similar experiences, including moms who ask if they’ve lost weight when their moms obviously know they’ve put on a few pounds, or moms who complain one minute that they’re not eating enough while commenting on how tight their clothes are the next minute.

Even growing up with parents who repeatedly new diets meant that, as kids, we learned just how important it is to not be fat, even when doing so requires a lot more trouble than necessary.

A few times, well-meant motherly criticism gone awry is a little more obvious. I’ve never been one for makeup, but when my best friend and I first tried playing around with it, I got really excited about the gold glitter eyeshadow because it was pretty. When my mom saw us messing with it, she told me I looked like a five-dollar whore. Now, I wasn’t as worldly and street smart then as I am today, but the way that she said it was wholly disapproving, even if it was a joke, and even though I didn’t quite understand what it meant, it made me incredibly uncomfortable. I didn’t really touch makeup after that, sticking to the bare minimum for stage makeup in high school and finally trying to figure out makeup for myself in more recent years.

This isn’t to say that moms are like Disney villains who cackle and wring their hands, messing with our ideas about body image rather than locking us away in a tower. But it is important to analyze our beliefs, especially since we will eventually pass them on to our children whether we mean to or not.

My point is that mothers need to be really aware of what they say—especially about bodies—and how they say it, especially to their daughters. We all need to consistently take stock of and interrogate our thoughts and beliefs to make sure that our influence is positive, and this is particularly true when it comes to mothers. One of the greatest relationships that any child, especially a young girl, can have is with her mother, and by focusing on building each other up (and maybe subtly deconstructing sexist and exclusively skinny-focused messages in our culture), we can create positive relationships and stronger people.


—Molly C.

What’s your rush? Taking the long view with health
and weight loss.

oprah The High Risk of Weight Cycling and Yo yo DietingI talked to a friend tonight—Nancy—who told me that she was upset she hadn’t “lost more inches” since she’s been working out and trying to eat healthier.

Nancy isn’t dieting, but she is trying to be a healthier person.

She never used to exercise at all and now gets in three 45-minute cardio sessions a week. And although she’s not dieting, she is paying attention to what she conumes by keeping track of how much water she drinks and how many fruits and vegetables she eats in a day.

“How many inches have you lost?” I asked Nancy today.

“Two,” she said in a plaintive tone. “I’ve only lost two inches in nine weeks.”

“Two is pretty good,” I said. “Besides how long do you think it took you gain those two inches?”

“I don’t know,” Nancy said. “A year?”

Thankfully Nancy got the piont pretty quickly. We all believe we can lose weight  fast–in a week, a month, or slightly more. It’s a rare occasion when someone says, “I’m going to give myself ten years to lose this weight because that’s how long it took me to gain it.”

But we should be saying things like that because most people don’t gain weight all at once. They gain five pounds one year, three pounds the next, etc. etc. And then—all of a sudden—they’ve put on thirty pounds.

Which they actually think they can lose before their cousin’s wedding at the end of the summer.

But it doesn’t work that way. Sure, you can lose thirty pounds in two months if you set your mind to it. But 90% of you will gain those thirty pounds—and more—back within five years. (For evidence of this in the celebrity world, see Oprah, see Jonah Hill, see Carnie Wilson.) This is common. They even have a name for it: yo-yo dieting.

So why not take the long view? Figure out how long you spent gaining weight and give yourself an equal amount of time to lose it.

I promise that even if you just drop a pound or two a year, you and your health care providers will be happy.

Please Lord, help me gain those five pounds back

Losing weight always sounds great . . . until you lose it for the wrong reasons.

I’ve been feeling pretty lousy for a while—my stomach has been killing me for days, maybe weeks. Every day I wake up and think I’ll feel better, and every day I don’t.

As I’ve mentioned here before—in my “Everybody poops” post—I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and I’ve had it since I was seventeen years old (back when they used to call it a spastic colon, the absolute worst thing you could tell a high schooler she had since all of her friends would ridicule her about it when they found out). Since I’ve had it so long, I mostly know how to deal with it, how to avoid the trigger foods, and how to keep myself healthy—though I’ve learned over the past few days, not as well as I thought because, for some reason unknown to me, I’ve been struggling with severe abdominal pain again lately.

If you want to know what I feel like, ask the person closest to you to pummel you in the stomach for five minutes straight. How do you feel? Pretty lousy? Okay, you’ve just gotten started.

Now go all day only eating bland food like white bread or chicken breasts or peeled apples. When your husband eats a piece of cheese, stare at it lovingly a long time, take in its scent, but don’t eat it because it’s one of your trigger foods.

After that, be sure to take at least twelve trips to the bathroom for a total of at least three hours a day sitting on the toilet (might as well bring your computer since you’re going to be in there so long—luckily there’s an electrical outlet only a few feet away). While you’re there each of the twelve times, pass a lot of gas and poop at least four times a day.

Finally, don’t forget to swallow some gassy goldfish before you go to bed—you’ll want to feel them playing Marco Polo in your stomach all night.


Now you know how I feel.

Of course, the upshot of having an incredibly upset stomach is that I can’t really eat very much food. And one of the side effects of that is that I’ve lost four or five pounds pretty quickly. This isn’t really a big surprise given that I gained four or five pounds right at the end of the past semester—which I wrote about in my “Falling down the rabbit hole” post—but since we live in a weight-obsessed society, a society where everyone notices when you gain or lose a few pounds and how much food you put on your plate or how many times you go back for seconds, it feels like a bigger deal than it is.

If I were a different person, I would write “Woohoo! I lost five pounds!” on my Facebook wall and wait for everyone to like my status and congratulate me. (Please don’t do that since it will only piss me off.)

But I am not that person, and to be honest, I would happily take back those five pounds if I could go back to feeling normal and not have to clutch my midsection all day long. I would obviously rather be happy and healthy (and fatter) than sad and sickly (and thinner) any day.

For now, though, getting better and feeling like a normal human being is not happening. So I guess I’ll just have to let out a little rebel yell—Woohoo!—and focus on the non-accomplishment of losing five pounds I would really rather have back.

Diet soda = more reason to hate the word “diet”

Paris Hilton famously said that “Diet Coke is just for fat people.” Well, it turns out that Hilton may have been right.

According to the Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, in a recent study, “The waists of those who drank diet soft drinks grew 70 percent more than those who avoided the artificially sweetened stuff; people who drank two or more servings a day had waist-circumference increases that were five times larger than non-diet-soda consumers.”

Translation: the more diet soda you drink, the more weight you gain.

The problem, as the researchers explain, is that when you consume any kind of sugar—real sugar or a sugar substitute like aspartame—your senses tell you that you’re having something sweet (and therefore store fat and carbs), but the sugar substitute does not satisfy your brain as much as real sugar, which makes you crave the satisfaction you’ve been denied and ultimately causes you to eat and drink MORE.

In other words, your body wants the sugar you’ve promised it with the taste of something sweet, and when it doesn’t get the real satisfaction that sugar provides, your body demands more. This is why diet soda makes you eat and drink more.

Sweet tastes also promote insulin release, which blocks your body’s ability to burn fat.

Dr. Martin P. Paulus, professor of psychiatry at the University of California San Diego, explains that is why “you chase that no-calorie soda with something more caloric, like a salty snack. The sweet taste could also trigger your body to produce insulin, which blocks your ability to burn fat.”

And that’s why people who drink diet soda weigh more than people who don’t.

For those same reasons, people who drink diet soda are more likely to have tissue damage, diabetes, heart attacks, and strokes. And ALL soda drinkers are less likely to get enough vitamin A, calcium, and magnesium and run the risk of being exposed to BPA when drinking out of a plastic bottle.

Ultimately, researchers believe that diet soda—just like regular soda—MUST be consumed in moderation, meaning you can’t carry a diet soda around with you all day long like it’s your pacifier.

The problem is that for YEARS many people have done just that, believing incorrectly that since diet soda has no calories, it isn’t bad for you and won’t cause you to gain weight.

But now we know that’s not true. And we also know that diet soda has NEVER been proven to help anyone lose weight.

I know these are hard facts for diet soda drinkers to swallow, but there is a silver lining: since there is no advantage to drinking diet soda, you can go back to drinking the real thing, which is much more satisfying—both to you and your body. The only catch is that you can only allow yourself to indulge this way on occasion. It’s not something you can do on a regular basis.

But then again, like anything else that you do on special occasions, won’t it be all that much sweeter if you just allow yourself to have it from time to time?

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