I am currently blogging about everything. Jump in where you are and thanks for coming by!

Friday, October 26, 2012

We Fit

So I have a Wii gaming system, (pronounced Wheeeeee!) I used to use the Wii Fit part of the game, it includes a balance board and takes you through some exercises to improve strength, flexibility, aerobic endurance, and other things. It is kind of trippy though. You get to watch your little avatar, called a Mii, (pronounced MEEEEEE!) go through a series of ridiculous challenges like you were on a psychedelic Japanese game show. But seriously, you try spinning an invisible hula hoop around your waist for 6 minutes straight and tell me if you don't feel the burn, for serious. I was sweating so much by the end my skin was like a slip and slide.

Well, in our move from the Keys we managed to lose the feet to our balance board, in essence making it useless on carpet. So I haven't been able to use the Wii Fit game for awhile now. Last week my husband and I bought some new games for the Wii though, one called Zumba Fitness that is based on the popular dance aerobics classes and another one called Just Dance 4.

The Zumba game combines choreographed exercise and dance routines with Latin music, sort of an updated Jazzercise I guess. My game came with an "exercise belt" that is a holster for the game controller (called a Wii-mote, rhymes with remote) that allows me to play hands-free. I haven't done more than just read about the game though because HOLY MARY MOTHER OF FUN is Just Dance 4 an ABSOLUTE BLAST. My girls and I have been rocking out to pop songs and dancing for like an hour just before or just after dinner. It has been unreal! We each have our own Wii-mote and take turns picking the songs, my kids now know all the words to Rock Lobster because nightly we are tearing it up in the living room, doing to twist, the pony, the hula and some sort of modified Charleston step and shaking it like a jumping bean in an earthquake. There's a party version on the game and then there is a workout version as well. I haven't even done the workout because seriously, dancing all out for an hour every night is kind of the best thing ever.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Everything is beautiful at the ballet...

I was never a dance girl. I knew dance girls, I liked dance girls, but I wasn't one of their long-limbed, bun-headed number. I grew up doing straight plays (that is non-musical theatre for you non-theatre geeks). And between straight play actors and musical theatre actors, well, never the twain shall meet, really. I mean, I've never even owned a pair of character shoes. In fact outside of some swing dance lessons I took in the late 90's (remember that?) I've never take a dance lesson.

So with fascination and great trepidation I signed up for the Adult Stretch and Strengthen class at Harwood-Watson Dance Studio. Taught by the lovely and talented Miss Rachel, this class combines classic ballet stretches and barre work to help you feel like a dancer and possibly work muscles you did not know existed. I used to be quite flexible, bendy like a pretzel even so I wasn't really all that concerned about that aspect of the class. Imagine my surprise when my 9 year old took me by the hand to the dressing room and led me through her entire ballet class stretch routine while we waited for class to start. I protested, "Honey, aren't I going to do all this in my class?" and she said, "Mom, you NEED to stretch." So we did stretches in straddles, we stretched in butterfly (seated, feet together, knees out and trying to press them to the floor), we stretched out arms, necks and backs. And then she made me do it again. By this time I was feeling very warmed up and ready to go. My 3 other class mates were two girls in early high school and the a lovely woman maybe 10 years older than I am. All three of them kicked my not so ballet butt. I could actually hear things popping in my hips I attempted some of the stretches, nothing hurt actually, but it was alarming nonetheless. Bent over my butterflied legs I admired everyone else's long flat backs as they lay practically ON THE GROUND, while I was sort of hunched over like a bell-ringer looking for a dropped contact. Then we got to barre work and Miss Rachel laid some advice on me, "If it feels easy and natural, then you are doing it wrong. There is nothing natural about ballet." Then I knew I was working with an evil genius. As I stood in 1st position, readying myself to both plié and relevé I tried hard to remember every dance class my daughters had ever attended. Miss Rachel, every helpful said, "I'm going to be throwing a lot of French terms at you." and then she adjusted my position by a quarter of an inch and suddenly I was Wobbly McJellylegs trying to keep my butt tucked, chest up and out and stay up on my tippy toes. "Oh, I've got some French terms for you too lady." I growled under my breath. But by then we were onto the next step in our dance combination and I had some new tiny, horrifyingly weak muscles to use. The challenge of copying Rachel's sure smooth movement, remembering which way to point my feet in tendu, and ignoring the fact that I could see my husband had purchased 3 dozen donuts from Krispy Kreme right outside the ballet class window was sort of exhilarating. A real mind-body connection exercise!

By the end of class I was drenched in sweat, though we never did anything more aerobic than jump lightly from 1st position into 2nd position, and I was feeling tingly all over. The kids, hubby and I spent an hour wandering through the crowds at the Art Festival down the road on the advice of Rachel and Eliza the studio owner, because apparently moving around after dance helps prevent soreness and stiffness from settling in. I ate a donut (boston creme!) because A. Donuts are delicious and B. I hadn't had any breakfast yet and here it was nearly 11 a.m. and I pondered.

I may never be any type of a dancer but I am deeply appreciative of the immense work that goes into becoming one.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Curves in the Road

So one thing I do when trying a new venture is try and research everything I can about it. In the course of my research it came to my attention that the founder of Curves, Gary Heavin is an Evangelical Christian who donates to Pro-life causes. That was not troubling to me as a Roman Catholic woman who supports Pro-choice causes. We all have to live our beliefs, I believe that my 2 daughters were a choice, I chose to have them, no one told me I had to carry my pregnancies to term under threat of law, coercion or punishment. I am grateful that my pregnancies were complication free and undertaken while I had medical insurance and a loving and supportive spouse. However I know that mine is certainly not the only view on the matter and as an informed consumer I decided I needed to disseminate that information here as well.

I also spoke with several owner/operators of various Curves in the Central Florida area, they all told me that no where in any of the corporate literature is there a statement on any social issues one way or the other. This to me seems different from the situation at Chik-Fil-A where corporate funds were used for direct political action.

So, I am presenting this information in the hopes that people can make their own informed decision. The weird thing is I do know three Curves owners personally just by virtue of having lived in some very small towns over the last few years. The women I spoke to either thought of Heavin's position as simply his personal belief, some were troubled and had quietly begun making regular donations to Planned Parenthood and one told me she would not have purchased her franchise had she and her partner known about the extent of Heavin's involvement in pro-life causes.

All the Curves I have ever seen are very active in their communities. The Winter Park Curves I have attended does school supply drives, food drives, and feminine supply drives for homeless women. They also provide a safe, woman only facility for women who's religious traditions prohibit them from attending a co-ed gym. I'm not trying to make up anyone's mind one way or the other, but I do want to make sure I put out every side of the story.

Coming up next, my pursuit of ballet body control and the hilarity that ensues. Seriously. Wobbly isn't a strong enough word for what was going on.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mama Loves You

Content Note: discussion of emotional abuse and eating disorders

I take my 4 year old to preschool every day, drop her off, go workout, come home shower, change, and then pick her up from school. All in all a very nice morning out and I have really enjoyed the routine. Yesterday was a small bump in the routine as one of the other Moms asked me for a ride home. She and her daughter walk to school every day and she didn't want to walk back. It was no trouble at all so I agreed to do so but first I need to fill out some paper work for the front office.

As we sat and I filled out some administrative form or another the other Mom was discussing with me how she needed to do aftercare tomorrow for her daughter because of a doctor's appointment. The school secretary reminded her to pack a lunch and a healthy snack for her daughter since she'd be staying late. The Mom said, "Of course. I'll pack her a big lunch, I have to tell her all the time, "STOP eating, that's why you're obese!" She went on in this vein for awhile talking about how her daughter wants to eat all the time and she for sure wasn't going to let her get fat and she's putting a stop to it NOW etc. I jumped in immediately, "Your daughter is not obese. She's fine. She's a healthy little girl. Why would you say something like that?"

The woman answered me, "Well, she's only 4 and she already wears a size 6!" I said, "That's perfectly normal, my daughter wears a size 6 too." And then this very tall, very thin Mom *eye-balled me*, as if to say, "Well, you're fat."

The secretary, fortunately, another thin tall woman jumped in, "Size 6 is fine for a 4 year old! She's a perfectly normal sized kid." Maybe she'd believe it from someone less chub-tastic than me. Other Mom looked confused and went on, "Well, she likes to eat junk food all the time." I said, "I doubt your kid is going to the store herself and buying junk food, if you don't want her to eat junk food then you can just not have any in the house. Kids require a tremendous amount of energy just to grow each day, that's why they want to eat more frequently."

"Well, that's how you get obese;" she continued, eyeballing me again, "by eating all day long. I tell her to just stop it. STOP EATING."

I tried one more time, "I really hope you talk to your pediatrician right now. What you are saying to her is NOT okay. Kids need to eat and kids need to know that their Mama loves them NO MATTER WHAT and what you are saying is hurtful and not even true. She's a lovely little girl and there is nothing wrong with her."

Other Mom stared at me through her sunglasses and said, "I have to criticize her a little bit at home so when kids make fun of her she's like, tough, like 'I don't care!' and besides you are taking this to a whole new level. She knows I'm like playing with her, she knows its just me talking."

I asked her one more time to talk to her pediatrician and then I gave her a ride home.

This woman is young, she had her kid when she was even younger. She is tall and thin and blonde in a world that rewards you just for being those things. She probably does not have a lot of positive reinforcement for anything beside her looks. Her daughter is lovely and may or may not grow up to look like her Mom, but right now she has the compact, sturdy build of a healthy, active preschooler. It is so very easy to judge this Mom, to say, "What an inconsiderate, vain, unthinking jerk. Even if her child were somehow "obese" or "overweight"; what a thoughtless, vile way to speak to her child. Most of us could never accept talking like that to a child we loved.

But how many of us will say, "I'm going to be sooo bad and eat a slice of cheesecake tonight!" or "Oh God, I'm disgusting, I have to lose like 40 pounds!" in front of those same kids. Do we tell them, "It doesn't matter what someone looks like, it matters what is on the inside that counts." and then spend countless hours trying to change those outsides? How many of us frame our own "health" issues in terms of looks or shape? We need to change the conversation with them and with ourselves, "I'm going to be able to lift 100 pounds." "I'm going to run up the stairs at work so that when we go hiking this fall I can go all the way to the bottom of the canyon." "I'm going to learn to do a cartwheel." "I'm going to swim faster than I did last summer." "I'm going to beat Daddy at tennis!" How much more inspiring, how much more FUN than complaining for the millionth time about the size of your thighs!

Doctors are reporting that kids as young as 5 have expressed intense anxiety about their weight and size. Kindergartners. Our babies need to know that Mama always has their backs, no matter what; that we want what is best for them. They need to know that we want to take care of them and take care of ourselves to the best of our abilities, that we want to see them happy, healthy and strong. No matter what Mama loves you.