Thursday, July 28, 2011

Have we lost it?

will·pow·er /ˈwɪlˌpawɚ/ noun

[noncount] : the ability to control yourself : strong determination that allows you to do something difficult (such as to lose weight or quit smoking)

As a nation, have we lost our willpower?

I wonder if the answer is yes....

I was watching a documentary about food and dieting this morning, while I was on the treadmill. I've found it to be a huge motivator for me: watching things like that while I'm working out. Even if the science isn't perfect, or if it's definitely a slanted/one-side presentation, for some reason, watching a food-related movie inspires me to be healthier, which then makes it easier to work out. Even if I don't agree with the methods or the helps me to focus on what my goals are for working out. (on a side note, Netflix instant streaming is a GREAT investment!!)

Today's documentary was about a man who had a bit of a "epiphany" about the way his health was going. He was on what he considered to be too many medications, was too overweight, and recognized his poor habits (overeating, eating fast food, not active enough, etc). He had one of those "ah-ha!" moments and vowed to change the way he was headed.

(disclaimer: I'm not sure I believe that his next step, or weightloss methods were the safest, so this is in NO WAY an endorsement)

Anywho, he decided to make a HUGE change, and film it along the way. He spent the next two months, traveling across the US, interviewing people about their eating habits and overall health, and ingesting nothing but juices made from fresh fruits and veggies. He drank three meals a day for the next 60 days, and all of those meals were prepared by him with a juicer, from fresh fruit/veggie that he'd purchased locally.

I'm only about 30 minutes into the movie, so I don't know how his overall health changed and/or if he stuck with it. I'll update you guys in a few days when I finish the movie. What struck me, though, and what is the reason for this blog post, were the interviews with people "on the streets."

He walked around cities all across the country, asking people about their own eating habits. Did they eat fast food? How much? Did they eat veggies and fruits? "Describe your typical meal..." kind of stuff. Many - probably about half - were overweight. Many admitted to eating a lot of fast-food type meals: burgers, fries, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, pizza, etc. Some actually used fast food restaurant names, but most just answered the questions with the food item, so I'm not sure if these were homemade pizzas or ones from Pizza Hut. The overall "theme" of these questions seemed to point out that Americans do not eat fruits and veggies, and if they did, it was (as one person put it) "in moderation."

When asked who was responsible for not eating veggies and fruits, but eating fast food, every.single.person on film answered, "Well, I am." Every single person took the blame for their poor eating habits - not blaming it on school lunches, addictive ingredients, the government, etc.

He then asked them, "If I challenged you to eat a set number of fruits and vegetables daily, would you do it?"

Every single person answered "no."

Their reason for not accepting the challenge? Almost every person answered with "I don't have enough willpower." (one young girl answered, "because I'm 16." which kind of cracked me up).

This struck me. I'm currently reading another book that talks about faith in the US, and how we, as a nation, have lost respect for discipline. Not discipline as in punishing children, but discipline as self-control. We, as a whole, this author argues, have lost a positive understanding of self-control and discipline, and therefore, we've become entitled and lazy. Immediately after this scene on the movie, I recalled the author's discussion of discipline. To me, they go hand-in-hand. It seems that if we don't view discipline as a positive attribute......we will never have the "will-power" to change our lives. Being disciplined, or to have will-power(in regards to health), can only happen when you have given your body and health a sense of worth - you value your body and health enough to stay committed to improving it.

It seems to me, it's not that these people have no will-power or's that they have lost the value of health. Their body is not worth anything to them.

Has it become culturally acceptable to "demote" our bodies and our health to the bottom of the list? Is that why our society (*disclaimer* based on the interviews in this movie) has lost it's will-power?

If so, why is that? How did it happen?

What are your thoughts?

Friday, July 22, 2011

What I really want to say something incredibly witty.

Something comforting.

Something to make it all okay.

Something quietly powerful that will make everyone who hears it say, "Wow."

I can't seem to find those words. I've been trying for the past two days to come up with those words.....but they keep escaping my grasp.

The word is starting to get out, so some of you might already know this, but if you don't, our family's been dealing with a bit of shock and grief for the past two days. A good friend of ours back east lost her husband in a motorcycle accident early on Wednesday morning. In an ironic twist, it happened not far from where we are currently living....approximately 3000 miles away from our friend's home and their children.

Our grief is nothing compared to our friend's, or that of their children. My heart hurts for them. I can't stop thinking about them and wishing that I could somehow, magically make myself travel back to Maine to hug them, to do silly things like cook and clean for them that I know they just don't want to do themselves, but that someone needs to worry about. That's what I'm good at.....taking care of the day-to-day crap...I just wish there was some way for me to do that for them.

It's so hard for me to grasp the reality of what has happened. Just before the accident, we'd been making plans to see our friend out here. I can't quite comprehend that our planned dinner isn't going to happen. Explaining it to our kids was more than I could handle - thank God I have a strong husband who could find the right words. Our kids know this family well - in fact, I think they spent just as much time with my friend and her husband as they did with us sometimes. The big two were unceremoniously dumped onto them before a OB visit when I was pregnant with Nicholas and there just so happened to be an ice storm and I couldn't take the boys to the appointment with me. Like the wonderful friends that they are - there were no questions asked, and the answer was "Sure, we have heat and power (unlike our house), and the boys are more than welcome here." The answer was the same thing an hour later when I nervously called to tell them the OB wasn't letting me go home, but I had to get to the hospital and we were about to have our third child...they swear that they didn't notice the two extra kids all weekend as we welcomed Nicholas to the world, but I'm sure it wasn't as easy as they made it out to be.

I could go on for pages about this man's generosity, and about how much Mike and I enjoyed being around him, if I could stop crying long enough to try to put it into coherent sentences. But I can't, so that will have to come at a later point. My heart hurts too much.

I know a bunch of you out there pray on a regular basis. If you could, please add this family to your prayers. They need it.

Thank you.

Eternal rest grant unto Anthony, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The difference one day makes...

I think yesterday's post was preparing me for today. All that crazy "be like Pooh Bear" stuff was setting me up to either eat my words today or manage to get through today a little bit more gracefully.

I can't really give out any details just yet, but the today has been a whirlwind of emotions as my husband and I react to the news that a very dear friend's family has been struck with a tragedy. It's very sad, very emotional, and totally and completely mind boggling.

And while I still managed to get on the treadmill and run this morning (not sure how I managed to get the motivation to do that), I'm now sitting here and completely erasing all that working out by eating peanut butter with a spoon right out of the container. (Don't tell my husband...I am double-dipping).

It's hard to believe that 24 hours ago, I was sitting at this exact table, listening to the exact same sounds (snoring kids, the coffee pot brewing my afternoon caffeine fix, the dogs pacing the tile floors, looking for that perfect snoozing spot, the blessed air conditioning unit whirring away), writing about my dreams being realized. Now, everything's the same....except for the fact that a friend's dream was just shattered unexpectedly.

I feel helpless, having moved 3000 miles away from this friend and her family, and unable to physically be there right now. What I can do, however, is ask you for your prayers. When she gives me the okay, I can write more, but for now, please keep my friend, her family, and their comfort in your prayers.

Thank you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Remember that one dream?

You know, the one you probably had when you were little about the perfect life you were going to lead when you "grew up?"

Yeah, I had those too. In my dreams, I had a perfect house (and yes, there was a picket fence involved usually), with every piece of furniture or appliance or decoration my heart could ever desire, perfect pets (usually one cat and one dog), perfect kids (this one varied, but was usually at least four kids, two of each gender), and a husband who doted on me.

Believe it or not, my dreams didn't usually involve my own career. I think it's hard for people my age to understand (just recently 30), but I never really wanted to be that "out-of-the-house career woman." Ever. Sure, I'd make up some answer about wanting to be a veterinarian when I grew up - after being told my first interest (archaeology) was unobtainable by my grade school principal - because it seemed to be a socially acceptable answer. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I'd methodically answer "a veterinarian," and thankfully, the conversation would be over.

I even went so far as to head off to a great college, known for its veterinary school (Michigan State). I ended up getting a degree.....but not in veterinary science. Along the way, I managed to meet my future husband, get married, and help him get through medical school and residency.

Flash forward to now: I'm starting out in my thirties, and just realized (as I sit recuperating from a rough morning with the two youngest munchkins, self-medicating with a wonderful cup of french vanilla coffee) that the dream I had such a long time ago - to be a wife and mom - managed to come true. I have the house (but no picket fence - don't really need those in the desert!), the kids, the husband, and we're relatively comfortable. Med school and residency left us quite a bit in the hole, but we've got a plan for digging ourselves out, and are slowly working our way back up from that setback.

What really got me thinking about my dreams and reality was a recent outing I had with my kids yesterday. It started with what could either be one of my best - or worst - decisions as a mom.

Yes, I took ALL.THREE.KIDS to a movie. By myself.

Now, mind you, my kids are almost 7, 5, and 2 and a half. The big two have seen movies before (not with me, as I'm usually home with the baby), but this would be the first time the littlest one would venture into a movie theatre. With temperatures hitting 110 yesterday, though, I thought that a brief stint in the nice, cold air conditioning (our house isn't kept nearly as cold - refer back to the paragraph about finances....) would be a nice treat. Checking the local movie listings, I noted that the new Winnie the Pooh movie was only about an hour long. Relatively confidant that the littlest munchkin could make it through an hour-long movie, I loaded them up into the car and headed to the theatre.

They did great - the big two thoroughly enjoyed the movie (as did I), and the littlest one did pretty well, making it until the last 5 minutes of the movie before getting antsy. Not bad, I thought to myself. That was $18 well spent.

Driving home, I listened to the boys discuss the finer points of the movie. Seeing as we've never really had more than basic cable (the very basic know, the kind with about 10 local news channels and that's about it), Winnie the Pooh was a relatively new cast of characters for them. They'd seen books and toys with Winnie on them, including reading the chapter books together as bedtime stories, but I honestly don't think they'd ever seen a Winnie the Pooh movie or TV cartoon ever before.

As I listened to the boys, I realized just how much of myself I could see in one of the Hundred Acre Woods residents, and it's not one of the more cuddly, popular ones.

Yes, you've guessed it. The cartoon version of Heidi is:

Yes, friends. I am Rabbit.

In some ways, I suppose that my likeness to Rabbit can be seen as a good thing. I think my "Rabbit"-ness has directly influenced the first part of my post: I think my Rabbit characteristics have helped me get to the reality I'm living now. My childhood dream of being a wife and mom, with the house, is being achieved through the hard work and diligence that we often see in Rabbit.

.......but there's a downside.

When you think of Rabbit, what do you think of? For me, it's the garden and the house. It's his inability to relax. It's his insistence that everything be clean and orderly.

Now, those aren't bad habits....unless they completely interfere with your daily activities or your personal relationships.

This is where my "Rabbit"-ness gets me in trouble. I'm often so focused on making sure that the kitchen is cleaned that I don't see the little boy sitting at the table, who would love to have Mommy colour with him for a little while. I often can't hear the squeals of laughter...but see the mud coming in on the shoes. I'll miss the first tower that the two year old has ever built in the middle of the room......instead focusing on the turned over tub of dress up clothes that need to be cleaned up.

Do you do this too? Can you find yourself a little bit in Rabbit, like I do?

My oldest is sitting on the other side of the room, enjoying some time playing on PBS kids online (a BIG treat for him - usually the computer is not allowed. It's his reward for wonderful behaviour this morning). The littlest two are sleeping, hopefully waking up in better moods than the ones we experienced this morning.

It's quiet.

My coffee is hot.

I'm living my childhood dream.....

.....and I'm going to try to find my inner Pooh bear - you know, the one who lives in the moment and is a chronic optimist - when the noise starts again.

Rabbit can wait until after the kids are in bed.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It's always Day One...

.....for those of you NFP practicing (that's Natural Family Planning, for anyone who's wondering) moms out there, this is not a related post. ;-)

How many of you do this? I know I do. It's always Day One the day after I slip up and fail in whatever endeavor I am trying to undertake.

Trying to diet and exercise, but have a little bit too much to eat one day?

Don't worry - tomorrow is Day One.

Trying a new method of discipline with the kids (one of those appealing ones where your kids magically behave and you never have to raise your voice) and lose your cool and then resort to yelling?

Don't worry - tomorrow is Day One and you can try again.

Determined to use organized lesson plans with your kids, and then by Wednesday, everything's a jumbled mess again?

Don't worry - Thursday can be Day One, too!

I've had more Day Ones than I'd care to admit. It seems that I'm always trying to obtain some lofty goal, and I inevitably fail.......and crash and burn. Next thing I know, my mind is setting up tomorrow to be another Day One, and I'm climbing back out of the hole I just dug....and trying again.

This phenomenon is visible in EVERY aspect of my life: spiritual, physical, and emotional. It doesn't matter what we're talking about, I'm pretty sure I'll be able to find a Day One in the recent history.

Today is no exception. Actually, if we're going to be technical, yesterday was Day One, which would make today Day Two. (See, I am qualified to teach my children - I can count!). Having just completed a cross-country move without leaving anything - or anyone - behind, I've recognized that I'm actually stronger than I thought I was. Maybe this realization will backfire, but for now, it's given me the confidence to make changes in my daily life. I've made it my mission to make our family healthier. It's a pretty lofty goal, but don't worry, I've got my list.

For our family, "becoming healthier" is broken down into smaller "sub-goals." These include:

- Spiritual health: deepening our awareness of our Catholic faith, and translating that awareness into actions (more prayer, more service, etc)

- Physical health: For me, this goal does include losing weight. For most of the family, the physical aspect of increasing our overall health will translate into creating healthy habits that the kids can carry into their adulthood

- Family health: increase our sense of family and our relationships with each other. To help foster this, we will be beginning to homeschool the kids, starting this fall.

The creation of this blog is really done with one goal in mind: to keep me on track. Like I said before, I'm really good at erasing and starting over (I wonder if that's where my fascination with the dry - erase boards developed?!?!). I'm hoping that putting myself out there - for critique and support - will help me to stay focused and successful in the future.

So here it goes! Let the virtual list-making begin!