Archives for February 2014

Turn Around Tuesday ~ John Smoltz ~ Why Not?

Tuesday’s Thought

In truth, my answer to all these questions is the same, and it’s far simpler than many believe: Why Not?

Why not do what you love for as long as you are physically able? Why not take risks, as long as they are calculated? Why not chase what some see as impossible? Why not believe in yourself? Why not dare to be great…even if it means being different?

Why not?

~ John Smoltz Atlanta Braves Pitcher (ret.)

A Bit of Encouragement… (FILES) This 25 August, 2002, file photo
If you ask my husband why I do some of the things I do, he will say (with a look that may mean either compliment or criticism), “Because she is bored and she needs something hard to do.”

There is some bit of truth to that. I do tend to find excitement in difficult things that appear to have characteristics that make them possible for me. Notice the qualifier that I put right there? It’s an important one. In other words, I am not beating myself over the head trying to win The Voice (you’re welcome), but have toyed with the idea of Master Chef.

Running Ultra Marathons is hard. Heck, some days running 5 minutes is hard. And I love it not for the difficulty alone, but for the treasures found within the difficulty. There is a power there physically when I realize all my body will do. There are mental wins when I push through doubts. There’s a lot of self realization that happens when you are running 50 miles at a time.

Raising four daughters in a culture such as ours is hard. Working full time trying to make a go in this economy is hard. Working on food issues and being healthy is hard. Participating in civic responsibilities with so many other demands on my time is hard.

But I don’t need to tell y’all any of this. The folks I know do hard stuff everyday. Some of it is the same kind of hard. Others tackle their own mountains – caregivers, wellness fighters, social movers, family dynamics, professional feats, economic acrobatics. Sometimes, getting out of bed and facing the world is a major win for the day.

embrace-the-suckI also know you wouldn’t trade the rewards for the world.

Today I want to encourage you to embrace the rewards that others pass up because you will do the things that others won’t do. And I know that sometimes the hardest part is not the thing, but the questioning doubts of those around you about the thing. Why put yourself through that? Why take that chance? Why bother with the amazing when the regular is easier? Those kinds of questions can bust up the truth we already know. Let me remind you. Because you are capable. You are more than capable – you are meant to be better today than you were yesterday. We have a better version of ourselves waiting in the wings to be cultivated and explored. This is a pretty amazing thought since we are already pretty great people. But that’s why we are great – we aren’t settling. We don’t have to.

The Biggest Mouths

So, I have waited just a little while before weighing in on The Biggest Loser controversy. (See what I did there? I almost reworded that. Then I decided, “What the hell. Let’s throw bad puns to the wall and see what pretty colors it makes!”)

Rachel-300x254If you are not a Biggest Loser fan and somehow missed the February 4th storm, here is a brief synopsis. 24 year old Rachel Frederickson became the 15th Biggest Loser winner weighing in at 105 pounds. Her starting weight of 260 meant that Rachel had lost 155 pounds, 60% of her total body weight, in about 8 months.

Twitterverse exploded. Blogs rang out. Facebook posts abounded. I think petitions were circulated, a posse was rounded up, and an inquisition was launched to investigate whether or not Dolvett had let her eat in the last 6 weeks.

Seriously, the reaction, including that of the show’s participants, was intense.

She was labeled as astonishingly frail, lost too much weight, unhealthy, too skinny, and had an eating disorder.  This, said The They, was what has always been wrong with show. This corruptible and damned piece of reality television. Rachel was ushered in as the Queen Madame of all that was wrong with young girls, body image, healthy living, life balance, and, I think, the crash of the housing market was eventually tied to her as well.

The onslaught was intense. The battery of insults, accusations, and finger wagging coming from The They behind the keyboards was such that I felt the residual heat. My first reaction – which I tend to trust yet investigate – was.

Damn, some folks who don’t know anything sure are saying it with big mouths.

Understand, I am a huge critic of pop culture, media influence, and have expressed general disgust over the handling of what some folks would call “entertainment.” Hell, I have banned The Little Mermaid from my house. There are quite a few pieces of TV production that I would label as dangerous, irresponsible, and down right trash. The Biggest Loser isn’t one of them.

Do I recognize that is only my opinion? It’s a blog, of course I do.

Do I recognize that some folks may have a disposition, challenge, or other personal hurdle that makes a show like The Biggest Loser a trigger point? Of course I do, I have the same kind of shows. For instance, Honey Boo Boo makes me want to slap people and The Bachelor(ette) makes me want to punch them in the throat.  I am the momma of four daughters. I think Honey Boo Boo is an abused child and I hate watching girls go to any length to get a freaking flower. Seriously, you would date a guy that you knew was dating 20 other girls? No, you wouldn’t. But I digress.

But, The Biggest Loser has just wrapped up its 15th season. 300 participants have appeared on the show in the past 10 years.  Some of the past winners have had starting BMI’s in the 60s. Yes, BMI, 60s. The show does not promote surgeries, supplements, fat burners, or the like. In fact, we saw what happened earlier in the season when Jillian committed what was called “an unprecedented violation.” She gave them caffeine pills. Even that is not allowed.

biggest-loser-then-and-now15 seasons, 300 contestants, certified trainers, nutritionist, therapists, medical doctors. The Biggest Loser’s cardinal sin, as far as I can tell, is that there is a cash payout.

Now I do wish there were some aspects of the show that were different – most notably the grotesque product placement. I wish they were able to make their marketing budget by promoting local produce, farmers markets, and the like. But hey, it is a business. I am sure the folks who participate in sponsorships and product sales to supplement their fitness businesses understand that.

Outside of the show format itself, what Rachel has accomplished isn’t the big bag of evil it is being portrayed as. At 105 pounds she is, by the guidelines, underweight. By THREE WHOLE pounds. I can lose and gain three pounds with water pills and few beers. So what if she cut the last couple of days leading up to the competition to win a quarter mil?? Boxers do it. MMA fighters do it. Body builders do it. Wrestlers do it. Lots of healthy, strong, athletes cut to make weight and/or appearance.

But it isn’t healthy said The They – neither was being 260 pounds and living off pizza.

And I look at the things they said about her again – astonishingly frail, lost too much weight, unhealthy, too skinny – and thought “double standard”

I hate that. Quite frankly, most people do. Wanna see a facebook post blow up? Go to a female body builders page (which I love, by the way), find a pose picture and tell her she is too big, too muscley and looks like a man.

Let me look at the overweight They who criticized her and call them astonishingly fat, ask about the big meat wrapped around the big bones, grossly unhealthy, and tell them the buffet line is closed. I would never be allowed to say that about people. Why? Because it is wrong, it is ugly, and it is hurtful.

It didn’t sound any better when The They said it.

But I think the angle that pissed me off the most was the accusations that she had daddy issues, low self esteem, and, ultimately, she must have an eating disorder. Rachel became the poster child for what it looks like to have an unhealthy relationship with a dinner plate.

Except no one – NO ONE – knew that to be true. In fact, it still isn’t true. And it doesn’t matter how many times The They say it – it is not fact that Rachel has any type of mental challenge in the area of nutrition at all.

But her name still came out of people’s mouths like they knew her. And seriously, I hate that.  The same “feel good, don’t judge me if you don’t know me, everyone has their own journey” They suddenly had some personal hotline into the life and motivation of a woman they had never met.

Never met. As in, don’t know, haven’t shared a meal with, no access to schedule, no conversation. In short, no clue about her, where she comes from or what she’s doing.

I bought People magazine because she was on the cover. Don’t judge. I wanted to know what she said. And here it is.

I am proud of my journey and excited for this new life…I’ve never felt better. I keep saying it: I am healthy.

Then rock on baby girl. Rock. On.

The Village doesn’t get my kids until it becomes way less fishy

This article was originally written in September 2007. I am reposting it now as I will make a brief reference to it in an upcoming blog post. And, I kinda wanted Amy to know she wasn’t totally alone.

Topic of parenting came up.  Surprise, I know.  But, the topic was “Make a Difference.”  Really, what did you think I would write about?

family

Rosa, whom I adore, says there is greatness in “it take a village.”  Rosa is right.  Except, when the village is corrupt, you have to know when to tell the village to get out of your house.

Now understand I am not going to claim some moral high ground about what I do and don’t allow in my house.  I like the Sopranos.  I watch it – after the kids go to bed.  Understand I am not telling you how to raise your kids.  I am telling you that I have four daughters – if you think that’s a walk in the park, I invite you to the beauty of my chaos.

Times have changed.  Yes they have.  I love hearing people say that things really aren’t that different from when we were growing up. Are you kidding?  Lohan, Spears, and Hilton make it different.  Why? Because they are not the exception, they are the norm.  Madonna was a shocker.  Girls wanted to be like her because it was rebellious.

Today this is not rebellion – it is not being different or expressing yourself.  Girls understanding their place as sexual beings is the way it is supposed to be.  The media no longer objectifies them – we have come so far that we have taught our children to objectify themselves!  It has become so common that we don’t even notice it when it happens.

Example: Lead actress from High School Musical  decides she’s going to take some bra and panty pictures and send them via email (huh?) to her boyfriend.  They become public (shock!).  Now, I understand she wasn’t naked, is of legal age, and few people outside of the HSM demographic know who she is.  That makes it ok, right? Wrong!  The persona that she portrays is that of a high school girl.  The HSM soundtrack was the number one selling album last year.  Your preteen daughters can dress up like her for Halloween, theme their birthday party, and probably recite the words from the movie.  She was set up in the public as the girl that all other girls should want to be like.

Example:  Music CD’s marketed for children.  These albums take popular songs and have kids singing them.  This makes them kid friendly right?  Wrong!  Just because kids are singing Girlfriend, Irreplaceable, and Lips of an Angel does not make the lyrics any different. They are still the types of songs I can only listen to when my kids aren’t in the car.

Example: Little Mermaid.  This fish has been banned from my home and my kids know it.  Why?  Let me break down the story for you.  Little fish Ariel is turning 16 – that’s right 16.  On the dawn of her birthday party she flounces off to a place her father has forbidden her to go.  During the course of things, she sees this guy (sees not meets) that is obviously not 16.  She falls madly in love (remember being 16).  But, she’s a mermaid and this guy lives on the land.  No problem, evil squid offers to give her legs if Ariel will give up her beautiful singing voice.  It’s a good trade according to the evil squid – Ariel can use her “body language” and if the guy kisses her within three days, she can have her voice back.  So, little fish runs away from home after giving up all her talents to chase after some older guy she has never even met.  The body language thing works, he kisses her, they get married and everybody is okay with this.  Are you kidding me?

Could I go on?  You bet.  Little girls who are dying to own pants with “sweetness” written across the bottom.  Clapped for when they nail they latest dance moves that look a whole lot like pole dancing.  Giggled at when they cop some attitude and use very grown up phrases to disrespect their parent’s friends.  Allowed to use terms like “boyfriend” and “dating” before they even hit middle school.  You bet I could go on.

I love the “it takes a village” in theory.  The accountability, the diversity, the help is wonderful.  But the village has traded it’s one idiot for a marketful and many of us have become so complacent and the methods so common, we don’t even notice it.

I don’t know what the answer is for the village.  Maybe you can offer some suggestions.  For the moment, all I can do attempt to keep it and its fish off my doorstep.