Showing posts with label health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label health. Show all posts

Thursday, April 17, 2014

My Body, Myself

So like every other Bride-to-Be who's had to grapple with reality versus the crippling weight of pressure of a perfect wedding day and looking amazing in the most expensive dress she's ever owned, I have started dieting and working out in hopes of losing 25-30 lbs by the end of this summer when I have my first dress fitting.

A bride in an elaborate wedding dress from 1929.
Elaborate wedding dress from 1929.
(Photo: Wikipedia)
The initial 2-4.5 lbs came off pretty easily and felt amazing. You see, readers, I'm only 5'2." My frame is small and not meant to carry a heavy load. I lost only 4 lbs and already my Fiancee noticed a difference in my waist, my brother remarked on my cheekbones, my coworkers told me I looked skinnier and my suit's slacks felt roomy at the waist. My body felt amazing again. I felt at peace with this treacherous outer shell that been uncooperative so many times.

For those of you who don't know Roxanne Gay, she is an amazing writer whose Tumblr I follow weekly. She recently wrote an xoJane post about the Biggest Loser, "MY BODY IS WILDLY UNDISCIPLINED AND I DENY MYSELF NEARLY EVERYTHING I DESIRE," which Ta-Nehisi Coates commented on "Wow. It's so hard to get naked on the page. It's one of the hardest things to convey in my essay classes. You must be naked. You must understand that clothes are the illusion, and  your readers are naked too. Humans are at war with themselves. Once you can accept this, your own wars become less shameful. I don't mean exhibitionism. I mean honesty. The clothes are the illusion."

And here is what she exposes to world:
Part of disciplining the body is denial. We want but we dare not have. To lose weight or maintain our ideal bodies, we deny ourselves certain foods. We deny ourselves rest by working out. We deny ourselves peace of mind by remaining ever vigilant over our bodies. We withhold from ourselves until we achieve a goal and then we withhold from ourselves to maintain that goal.

My body is wildly undisciplined and I deny myself nearly everything I desire. I deny myself the right to space when I am public, trying to fold in on myself, to make my body invisible even though it is, in fact, grandly visible. I deny myself the right to a shared armrest because how dare I impose? I deny myself entry into certain spaces I have deemed inappropriate for a body like mine—most spaces inhabited by other people.

I deny myself bright colors in my clothing choices, sticking to a uniform of denim and dark shirts even though I have a far more diverse wardrobe. I deny myself certain trappings of femininity as if I do not have the right to such expression when my body does not follow society’s dictates for what a woman’s body should look like. I deny myself gentler kinds of affection—to touch or be kindly touched—as if that is a pleasure a body like mine does not deserve.

Punishment is, in fact, one of the few things I allow myself. 
This excellently written post goes into our fat shaming culture, where getting thin is equated with happiness, it goes into the discipline required to actually lose weight, self-entitlement and denial, and the fact that "there are so many rules for the body—often unspoken and ever shifting," and it seems like society is dictating them.

La fiancée du Nil (M. Moukhtar, IMA)
La fiancée du Nil (M. Moukhtar, IMA) (Photo: dalbera)
Most people are shocked when I tell them my weight loss goal, that's too much they say or they ask why, explaining they don't think I need to lose so much. But what they essentially misunderstand is that it's my assessment to make. I know my body best. Because of my small frame, according to the BMI scale, I am under the "overweight" category and no one would ever be any wiser. Sometimes I fit into a size "4." Buy I know, I know myself.

You will disappear, they warn, but what they don't understand is that when you put on weight the world no longer see you anyhow.

It's not your place to tell me how much I should weigh.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Sugar is the cocaine of the food world

"People are overfed but they are also starving to death. You could be eating 10,000 calories a day but if you're not getting specific nutrients your body needs in a way it can digest and assimilate than you are starving on a nutritional basis. As long as you are starving on a nutritional basis, your body is going to stay hungry in order to get those specific nutrients. Manmade foods like bread and sugar trick your body into thinking you're getting specific nutrients so your body stays hungry for it, but your cells don't get nourished. As long as your cells don't get nourished you're starving on a cellular level."

Monday, April 07, 2014

La Cura

“I am, by calling, a dealer in words; and words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” ― Rudyard Kipling

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

On Broken Hearts, Hopelessness & Letting Go

For three days now, I've pondered sharing something so deeply personal here but I'm writing it anyway for catharsis, to set my thoughts free and in hopes that someone, somewhere may benefit from my experience as well.

Early 20th century Valentine's Day card, showi...
Three months ago, my mother suffered a heart attack, at close to 70 years old and struggling with Diabetes, she had been apparently dealing with chronic heart disease silently as happens to many diabetics for a long time now.

At first, they sent us home with pain medications and told us that surgery was not even an option, the blockage was so severe, her heart under such duress that there was nothing to stop the ongoing death of her heart cells until the moment when her weakened heart stopped. Forever.

Numbness and denial set in. My mother, both stubborn and courageous, grasped at the idea she had very little time left. A few weeks later, it turned out that open heart surgery, bypass, was an option for my mother after all. However, my mother, after having survived a hit and run by a drunk driver in the early 1970s, major reconstructive surgery and skin grafts on her leg, decided enough with the surgeries. She was going to leave her destiny in god's hands.

You can imagine how heartbreakingly agonizing and frustrating this was for me. On one hand, I felt obligated to respect her wishes and on the other, the shrill scream of "PLEASE DON'T LEAVE ME, MAMI!" selfishly resounded through my entire being.

My brothers and my sister all had different thoughts, fears and ways to deal, which also included getting into arguments amongst ourselves about the best course of action. We finally decided on tackling it together and our plan is already underway. I know, I believe, as my mother's youngest daughter, her baby, I have the power to sway her to reconsider surgery. Perhaps that is just ego but after all, I am my mother's daughter, and just as stubborn and strong as her. But this post is only partially about my mother's broken heart.

Letting Go

Life of PiThis past weekend I rigorously sought escape, I watched the finale of American Horror Story, followed by This is 40, and Life of Pi. These may all seem very analogous in terms of content but one of my talents, lays in being able to connect threads from disparate categories that lead to breakthrough ideas and new insight.

American Horror Story made me contemplate the horrible plight of having to give up a child. While This is 40 resonated with me, I related to it on so many levels, the absentee dad, the loving moocher, the   identity crisis caused by getting older and having kids. Then Life of Pi, it was beautiful, visually, and full of deep, meaningful, epic discovery.

In many ways, the common denominator, was the idea of Letting Go, of surrendering, of not fighting the things you cannot change, the things you have no control over, but instead embracing them for what they're worth.

Daddy Issues

A year or two ago, while watching a reality show on the Logo channel, where a gay man dealt with his biological father's refusal to accept him as his son for being homosexual, I had a moment of clarity when the man's mother comforted him and told him that his father had served only one purpose, really his life's purpose, bringing the young man into being, and after that point, he wasn't necessary to rest of the journey.

I have been plagued with the repercussions of my biological father's abandonment my entire life. I've dealt with all the classic issues from overcompensating and being a perfectionist in hopes of winning approval to dooming my personal relationships by latching on to people who are emotionally unavailable.

As I folded laundry this weekend, my thoughts circled back to my mother, by no means a saint or perfect, but a good mother, who has always loved me unconditionally and protected me as best as she could and this gay man's father's purpose. My mother took this job on, of nurturing me willingly when no one else wanted to or did.

I thought about having to give up a child, if you had no choice, and how if I were in those shoes, I would leave my child in the hands of the person who could love them the most. All those years, I had sought to understand WHY my father left, how he could just simply walk away.

In that second, it became clear, he had left me with the one person he could trust to always love me and to care for me. The one person who would love me the most, who would give her life for me. In that moment, I understood this act of love, this act of kindness and saw it came from this stranger in my life. And although, make no mistake, that his actions are horrid, irresponsible and monstrous, I felt blessed instead of the usual anger or self-pity. This chasm, this void, that had haunted me for so long with its barrenness, in an instant ceased to be.

While this may all be speculation, of course, and who knows ultimately, what my father's plight was really like or his true motivations, what was obvious to me, was that his "WHY" was irrelevant, of no consequence to this narrative or my mother's. His purpose was accomplished, my mother and he brought me into this world and when he left, my mother shaped me into who I am today. That we know to be true.

Empowered by Crisis

As we approach Valentine's Day and become entrenched in the hyper commercialization of the holiday with hearts and candy everywhere, it's hard for me to reconcile the irony of my mother's diabetic heart-striken predicament against the backdrop of season.

There is also irony in that the pain brought on by the fear of losing my mother granted me the pathway to release my father and honor my mother for stepping up to the plate. In a couple of years I, too, will reach the age of 40 that milestone of mid-life, and perhaps, even have a child of my own in tow.

A former coworker used to stop by my desk, every once in a while and kindly tease me with this encouragement, "You is kind, you is good, you is important" to remind me that I was not alone and that I was appreciated. My mother always imparted her belief of self-efficacy - that I could, if I chose to and wanted to, could and would impact and change the world, and as a global citizen it was an imperative to leave this place better than I found it.

As I struggle with the plight of urging her to not go gently, to not succumb to the ease of giving up, I embrace the lessons of accepting what I actually have control over and what I don't. As painful as this may be, I exchange it, for the beauty and the wisdom of the future ahead of us.

Release has never been sweeter.

Monday, November 19, 2012

New Book: Reaching for the Stars By José M. Hernández

In Reaching for the Stars: The Inspiring Story of a Migrant Farmworker Turned Astronaut, José M. Hernández tells offers his very own narrative on becoming the first Mexican-American astronaut in the history of the space program.

Born into a family of migrant workers, toiling in the fields by the age of six, Jose M. Hernàndez dreamed of traveling through the night skies on a rocket ship. REACHING FOR THE STARS is the inspiring story of how he realized that dream, becoming the first Mexican-American astronaut. 
Hernàndez didn't speak English till he was 12, and his peers often joined gangs, or skipped school. And yet, by his twenties he was part of an elite team helping develop technology for the early detection of breast cancer. He was turned down by NASA eleven times on his long journey to donning that famous orange space suit.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Prettiest Teabag for Creatives

I've been on a herbal tea kick for a while. Brewing green tea or mint tea to both cleanse/detox, activate my metabolism and curb my snack-appetite. A couple of weeks ago, I received a trio of Mighty Leaf Teas from BirchBox and I was taken aback by their... Beauty.

I know it might sound weird but these might well be the prettiest tea bags I have ever come across. Their artisanal teas are packaged in specially handcraften SILKEN tea bags that are 100% compostable. Inside are whole leaf teas, herbs fruits, blossoms and spices. They also have a social responsibility section on their website where they demonstrate their initiatives and discuss their human (artist)-based philosophy. One that has garnered them innovation awards and my advocacy.

I hope you have a chance to experience this tea for yourself.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Stuff I'm Totally Sweating: butter LONDON 'Black Wallpaper' Nail Skins

Last night I was thinking about how I hadn't written a fashion related post here in a while so I decided to bring back my Stuff I'm Totally Sweating forays into fashion blogging. So excuse for a minute, while I get totally girly on you.

Last summer, my best friend introduced me to Sally Hansen Salon Effects, which are basically colored stickers for your nails that mimic the look of expensive manicures. I'm one of those people who is fascinated by nail designs but find that they also border on gauche and tacky. I tried them and discovered they were easy to use but didn't last any longer than my regular polish and also didn't allow me to use my protective layer of nail hardener, which I am rarely without. Add in their limited variety of colors and designs and I'm sad to say I'm not a big fan.

However, something about THESE butter LONDON 'Black Wallpaper' Nail Skins, which I discovered while holiday shopping online last month, made me want them immediately.

Perhaps, it was the unfulfilled little goth/steampunk/rebel in me that jumped at the lovely black decals or maybe it was the murmuring of a Frida Kahlo/Georgia O'Keeffe mother muse reminding me to be a Senorita with flowers in her hair on her nails. Whatever it was, I purchased them and repressed the urge not to buy them in bulk hence they sell out.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Express Yourself

A recipe for healing and personal growth:

"Queen of the Dragonflies" by Kathie Briggs
Honor yourself.

Take of yourself.

Love yourself.

Don't settle or tolerate mistreatment from anyone.

Ask for what you want.

If you don't say what you want, then you're not going to get it.

Put it out into the Universe.

If you don't know what you want, go on a journey within.

Find your inner strength.

Speak to your inner child.

Tap into your passion, intuition, and wisdom.

Each one of us has a unique gift, strength and talent that longs for expression in the world.

Claim your power.

Do what you love.

And then share it with the world.

"Remember that you are
a human being with a soul
and the divine gift
of articulate speech"

--George Bernard Shaw
*** My new mantra for 2011

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Latina Cooking: The Healthy & Low Fat Version

Many of Mami's recipes are tried and true and extremely delicious but it's with a heavy heart (literally) that I often look inside her kitchen and see the stuff she is using to make them.

Here are my suggestions to make the same dishes (only healthier, lower fat, carbohydrate, sodium and caloric versions)

* most of this applies to any ethnic diet

- Ditch the manteca/lard! (seriously, I can't believe people still use this stuff)

- Read the labels! If you use Achotina to flavor your food, you should know it contains lard.

- When you start reading labels you will notice the high amounts of sodium in some of our favorite keystone products; like adobo, bouillon, etc. Either buy the lower sodium versions or make your own and don't add any salt to your dishes. Also rinse your canned beans.

- Cook with canola or olive oil only or a use a mister. They are much healthier for you and remember not to use so much, a tablespoon will do.

- Rice, we love it don't we? If you have to eat white rice, serve yourself a cup (the size of your fist - well, my fist - I have little hands) not a half-plate full. If you want to really go healthy, try using brown rice. I usually make mine with some homemade sofrito and boil it with some low sodium chicken broth.

- Make your own condiments when you can. First off they taste so much better fresh and you can completely keep track of what is going in there. Make your own mojo, sofrito, salsas, dry adobo, flavored oils, vinaigrette, etc., I like to drop a couple of achiote seeds into a separate jar with oil to make very reddish and paprika flavored oil - great for yellow rice.

- Use lean meats, clean and trim the fat.

- Eat fish at least once a week (and not fried).

- Instead of frying; try broiling/grilling, steaming or sauteing.

- Use butter/margerine sparringly - in most cases olive oil and/or cooking spray will substitute.

- Use turkey sausage and bacon as a replacement for fattier pork versions. For even healthier versions, make your own turkey sausages.

- Use low fat dairy and cheeses or use soy products instead.

- Reverse your daily intake of food. If you were brought up like me, then a typical breakfast at home was a piece of bread or crackers with a piece of cheese and cafecito. Lunch was something filling enough to send you to bed and dinner was sort of in between. This cultural phenomenon worked well when we left for the fields at the rooster's crow and could take siestas but that isn't the case anymore.

Begin your day with a full blown breakfast. It's going to power your day! Fruit, protein, fiber should all be components. Coffee is actually fine too. It actually helps your metabolism. Lunch should be your big meal, if your are eating carbs, this is when you should eat them so your body has time to digest them and use up the sugars. Dinner should be really light. Some protein and some veggies or a salad.

- Make your own delicious fruit and low fat smoothies for breakfast and snacks.

- Don't eat after 7 pm. I know most of us are not even home by then but you should eat your last meal at least three hours before you turn in. And if, you need a midnight snack, cereal or a yogurt is good.

- Ditch the white bread. Look for whole wheat breads and if you like to bake your own look for diabetic bread/biscuit recipes.

- Ditch the soda (sorry cola champagne). You don't need it. Drink lots of water. Be cautious with the fruit juices too - they have tons of sugar and calories. You can cut down on the juice by adding seltzer water (plain carbonated water) to half a glass of juice to fool your self into drinking more water and less sugars.

- Be on the lookout for low-carb, baked versions of your favorite snacks. You can find low-carb wheat tortillas in many places as well as baked tortilla chips. You can also make your own.

- Sweet potatoes are healthier than regular potatoes and if you want to ditch the potatoes all together cauliflower is a good substitute for mashing.

- There are many low-starch/carbohydrate veggies to use more of : squash, chiles, quelites, nopales, jicama, yucca, tomatillos, and chayotes.

- Accompany your meals with some veggies and nice green salad daily. Go heavy on the greens and light on the carbs.

Have fun and be creative! You can easily make any meal healthier.

Want to make some empanadas? Just like Mami's but so much better for you. Instead of ground beef try ground turkey and instead of frying them try baking them. Yes, baking them. You can see a recipe here: weight-watchers-points-recipes. Just use turkey instead of beef.

You can still eat your tostones, just don't deep fry them. Instead fry in a bit of canola oil and drain off the extra oil. Or how about some Oven Fried Yucca?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Stuff I'm Totally Sweating

Chris Brogan had a great post, The Kinds of Products I Want to Touch in 2009, about reviewing products and what he wants to review on his blog this year. I thought it was a great blog post because it speaks to his needs and those looking for some good reviews and blog buzz.

I thought I'd do something similar to Chris and also Windowlicker, which is genius, basically I'm posting stuff I've spotted, would love to try or own and think very highly off.

- Funkeyboard (keyboard stickers). I love the idea of giving my keyboard a more personalized look, but I just hope these stickers don't peel off at the edges. Via ChipChick

- biOrb - I've wanted a small one for my workspace since they debutted and now they have a new line called the biOrb Life Collection, with a sleeker design. Although I think the baby biOrb is perfect at 4 gallons and also the most affordable.

- Luxury Soaps from I've always loved fancy soaps and after using one a Gilchrist & Soames Chamomile Exfoliating signature soap during a hotel trip, I was hooked. The soap smells absolutely splendid and the light, clean smell remains on your skin long after you have showered but because of the natural exfoliating elements of the soap, you feel clean and not like you been covered in lotion like some other soaps.

At first, I thought the soap was made from green tea or tea tree oil because of that clean feeling it left on my skin but I was delighted to find it was made from chamomile instead. One really cool factor is that the soap contains small pieces of (what I believe is) dried pieces of chamomile leaves that actually resembles chopped nuts and once you begin using the soap they stand out and exfoliate while being visuallly appealing as well as olfactionary pleasing too.

Of course, they cost more than you might regularly pay for soaps but with brand name, perfumey (and lotiony) soaps costing more and more these days these soaps have got the competitors beat with visually interesting soaps, natural products and the great sensations of clean, soft skin.

Monday, April 30, 2007

She Thinks She's Fat!

Anorexia Bulimia Contact - video powered by Metacafe

Yesterday, in the supermarket a 17 year-old girl was telling how she has started throwing up her food. The epidemic of people with eating disorders is threatening the psychological and physiological health of so many, young and old.

* It's scary, and therefore the shock value of this short clip is warranted in my opinion.
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