Thoughts on Body Image and “Skinny Fat”

Let’s talk about body image for a second. I saw something posted on Facebook recently that used the term “skinny fat.” I think it was trying to sell “health” (i.e. crash diet) shakes or something. Honestly, I was so irritated that I scrolled right past it. I don’t know if I can adequately explain how much I loathe that term and all it implies. It’s supposed to reference people who appear to be skinny, but actually have a lot of flab on their frame. On the surface, I believe it’s meant to point out that the number on the scale doesn’t paint the whole picture and there are many aspects to health. I actually whole-heartedly agree with that thinking, but I find the term itself offensive. The term is a term of vanity, not health. It’s saying “hey skinny people, even you should feel bad about your body!”

What I wish is that we would all stop aspiring to have the “perfect” body and really take a step back and honor our own unique beauty. Instead of fad diets and unhealthy pills, I wish we could listen to what our bodies are telling us, and focus on how we feel from the inside out, not the number on the scale or the measurement of our waist.

Our unhealthy obsession with weight was never more apparent than in the months after I had L. I resented society’s pressure for women to bounce back to their pre-pregnancy weight, as if any woman who doesn’t make it back to that exact number is a failure, as if all the changes her body saw needed to be undone. And instead of kindly telling me “you look great” after I returned from maternity leave, one co-worker boldly asked the loaded question “are you back to your pre-pregnancy weight yet?” (What I wanted to tell her was not HR approved)

I hate the women who feel pressured to be a certain way and try to drag you down with their insecurities. I recently had one woman asked me where I bought jeans, but once I engaged in what I thought was going to be a simple fashion discussion, I was quickly dragged into a conversation about sizes and how she’s frustrated that she can’t fit into her 4’s anymore and she has to wear 6’s and “isn’t it awful?” She referenced me somewhere in the conversation and I think I was meant to hop on the bandwagon and complain about my size too.

I wanted to laugh in her face and tell her that I don’t think I’ve ever been a 4. Maybe for like a day in high school. But my body wasn’t built to be a 4, I would probably look sickly at a size 4, and last I checked, being a size 6 (or larger) doesn’t make you fat. I am proud of my body (I like to refer to my figure as “athletic with curves”), and it always surprises me when someone seems to imply that I shouldn’t be.

I am a firm believer that being healthy requires nourishing your body, stimulating your mind, and honoring your soul. I believe that happiness requires you to love yourself, and I think that overall well-being requires a bit of indulgence. Translation: I need bread in my life. And cupcakes. This is my version of “perfection.”

Thoughts on Body Image and “Skinny Fat”

Let’s talk about body image for a second.  I saw something posted on Facebook recently that used the term “skinny fat.” I think it was trying to sell “health” (i.e. crash diet) shakes or something.  Honestly, I was so irritated that I scrolled right past it.  I don’t know if I can adequately explain how much I loathe that term and all it implies.  It’s supposed to reference people who appear to be skinny, but actually have a lot of flab on their frame. On the surface, I believe it’s meant to point out that the number on the scale doesn’t paint the whole picture and there are many aspects to health. I actually whole-heartedly agree with that thinking, but I find the term itself offensive. The term is a term of vanity, not health. It’s saying “hey skinny people, even you should feel bad about your body!”

What I wish is that we would all stop aspiring to have the “perfect” body and really take a step back and honor our own unique beauty.  Instead of fad diets and unhealthy pills, I wish we could listen to what our bodies are telling us, and focus on how we feel from the inside out, not the number on the scale or the measurement of our waist.

Our unhealthy obsession with weight was never more apparent than in the months after I had L.  I resented society’s pressure for women to bounce back to their pre-pregnancy weight, as if any woman who doesn’t make it back to that exact number is a failure, as if all the changes her body saw needed to be undone. And instead of kindly telling me “you look great” after I returned from maternity leave, one co-worker boldly asked the loaded question “are you back to your pre-pregnancy weight yet?” (What I wanted to tell her was not HR approved)

I hate the women who feel pressured to be a certain way and try to drag you down with their insecurities. I recently had one woman asked me where I bought jeans, but once I engaged in what I thought was going to be a simple fashion discussion, I was quickly dragged into a conversation about sizes and how she’s frustrated that she can’t fit into her 4’s anymore and she has to wear 6’s and “isn’t it awful?” She referenced me somewhere in the conversation and I think I was meant to hop on the bandwagon and complain about my size too.

I wanted to laugh in her face and tell her that I don’t think I’ve ever been a 4. Maybe for like a day in high school. But my body wasn’t built to be a 4, I would probably look sickly at a size 4, and last I checked, being a size 6 (or larger) doesn’t make you fat.  I am proud of my body (I like to refer to my figure as “athletic with curves”), and it always surprises me when someone seems to imply that I shouldn’t be.

I am a firm believer that being healthy requires nourishing your body, stimulating your mind, and honoring your soul.  I believe that happiness requires you to love yourself, and I think that overall well-being requires a bit of indulgence.  Translation: I need bread in my life. And cupcakes.  This is my version of “perfection.”

Thursday Tip- Salmon with Mango-Avocado Salsa

Dare I say it? Spring is FINALLY here.  With the weather on what I hope is its final upswing, I’m craving warm weather food, which to me means light meals with fresh ingredients.  Since I haven’t posted a recipe in a while, it seemed like a great time to share one of the favorites in our house, Salmon with Mango-Avocado Salsa.  This recipe is the definition of light and fresh, and the kick of the spices is countered with the sweetness in the salsa. Bonus: It’s super easy to make (assuming you don’t mind a little chopping).

The original recipe calls for the salmon to be grilled, but since we didn’t have a decent grill until this year, we’ve gotten in the habit of baking the salmon (the spices and salsa are what make the recipe anyway). I’m sure we’ll get around to grilling it one of these days, but for now… here’s our version.

 

Salmon with Mango-Avocado Salsa

Ingredients

For the salmon:

  • 1½ to 2 pounds boneless salmon fillets
  • 3 teaspoons butter
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne

For the salsa:

  • 1 mango
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 onion
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Slice the salmon evenly into 4 to 6 smaller fillets.
  3. Place salmon on a foil-lined baking pan
  4. Combine the butter and all of the spices in a bowl. Rub all over both sides of the salmon.
  5. Bake salmon for 12-15 minutes
  6. While the salmon cooks, peel, seed and dice all of the salsa ingredients, then combine together in a bowl
  7. Serve salmon warm, topped with the mango salsa

Best enjoyed on a back patio with a glass of wine 🙂

Postpartum Body Image and “Bouncing Back”

You wanna know what REALLY makes me mad?

This.

 

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And it’s not just celebrity gossip magazines.  It’s everywhere.  All the time.  Losing all of the baby weight in 2 months is NOT NORMAL, and we’re sending an unhealthy message to new moms.

Minimum recovery time before you’re cleared by a doctor to go back to the gym is 6 weeks, and that timeline is longer if you had a C-section or complications.  I had a healthy pregnancy, worked out regularly until the 9 month mark, had a complication-free delivery, and I can tell you that at 6 weeks, things still hurt- a lot.  I eased myself back into the gym, but it wasn’t like I was going full intensity like I used to.  I did struggle with my body image for a while, which I wrote about here.

Instead of encouraging new moms to rest, recover, and enjoy their new babies, we’re pressuring them to prove how quickly they can “bounce back” by setting unrealistic postpartum expectations.

Nursing moms especially should not be stressing about weight loss, they should be concentrating on getting enough calories from nutrient-rich food to feed their babies.  There’s so much focus on how nursing will “help new moms lose the baby weight” but not enough focus on the fact that nursing moms actually need MORE calories (500 extra per day) than they did while pregnant (300 extra per day).

It can take up to a year to take off the baby weight, and a healthy goal is to lose 1-2 pounds per week.  Realistically, not all moms will return to that exact pre-baby weight.  Post-baby, your boobs may be bigger, your hips may be a little wider, and that’s okay. You created a life, your internal organs completely rearranged themselves, and your body’s purpose for nearly a year was to grow a person and prepare to bring that person into the world.

So please, let’s stop this obsession with bouncing back, and shift our focus to rest and recovery.  One look at a face like this, and the number on the scale shouldn’t matter.

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Help Me! Working Moms Don’t Cook

Neither JD nor I like to cook.  Actually, JD claims he “doesn’t mind” cooking, to which I usually reply “then why don’t you do it more often?”

 

The point is, finding energy to cook in our house is hard, especially now that we have a baby.  I used to be able to easily cook dinner before JD got home from a day shift at 7:30pm.  On his days off, we’d either cook together or he’d make something.  Before night shifts, I’d usually whip up some omelets for us so we could grab a quick meal together before he was off to work.

 

But now… we’re both preoccupied with L and dinner is usually an afterthought.  We’re good about not ordering takeout all the time or anything, but these days, it seems rare that have a full-fledged meal together.  By the time dinner rolls around, we’re usually digging through the freezer and pantry trying to piece together something substantial.

 

For the first time in my life, I kind of miss cooking.  Okay, not really miss it, but I would like to be eating a more well-rounded, satisfying diet.  So I guess what I really miss is the end result of cooking.

 

I think it’s time to get creative.  We utilize the slow cooker a lot and I’ve tried a few freezer meals that I prepped, froze, and heated up later, though none really impressed us.  It’s also hard because I’m trying to stick to the vegetarian thing and that’s not really conducive to slow cooker meals.  Last week I just gave up and had my delicious, beefy French Dip sandwiches.  No, I’m not sorry.  They were quite filling (and tasty).

 

Anyone out there have any recipes that might come in handy? Quick? Easy? Or can be prepped ahead of time? Preferably vegetarian, but I’m open to all suggestions!

The Day I Stopped Dieting

I had L February 2 and as I recovered from childbirth, the weather warmed and I was reminded swimsuit season was right around the corner. I was determined, desperate even, to get “my body back” in time for my summer vacations.

In general, I eat healthy and have never had a real problem with my weight. Part of that is my own healthy eating and exercising habits, and part of that is just good luck and good genes. But, even with all that, I still had a few of those pesky pregnancy pounds that hung around. My postpartum body felt unfamiliar to me, uncomfortable.

So, I dieted, I cut calories, I turned down desserts and let myself be a little hungry at the end of a meal. It was torturing, but also working, at first at least. I lost a few pounds, then plateaued, and was irritated that my hard work stopped paying off.

Then, July came and I had a trip to Myrtle Beach with JD’s family, a trip home to Ohio for a wedding, and a vacation in Hilton Head with my family. I put the calorie counter aside so I could enjoy these trips without stressing about my eating. After nearly a month of not worrying about what I ate, I had a Zen moment where I realized that I was happy and I felt good. What have I been torturing myself for? I wondered. I was 6 months postpartum and although my body wasn’t quite the same (is it ever the same after a baby anyway?!) I felt good, I looked good, and geezus, I should not be battling myself over a scoop of ice cream once in a while.

So, I stopped counting calories, I stopped weighing myself, and it was so, so freeing. Does that mean I’m going to let myself go and have no regard for what I’m eating? No. All it means is I’m going to base my eating on my own health and happiness, not an obsession with what the scale says.

I am healthy, I am happy, and I made the most perfect, beautiful, joyful little baby. Look at this face.

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I couldn’t think of anything my body could do that would be more beautiful than that.

I think one of our biggest problems with food is the perception that food is the enemy, that it’s something working against us. Food is not the enemy. Our attitude about food is the enemy. We should be looking at food as a way to nourish our bodies and fill it with the things that will make us feel and perform at our best. Calories, fat, carbs- all the things that are considered “bad” are actually vital for a healthy body.  What we need to remember is that we need to be eating the right calories, fat, and carbs.  As long as you eat well most of the time, you shouldn’t feel bad about the occasional sweet treat or french fry. That kind of stuff is part of what makes life good.

After I’d finished writing this post, my friend serendipitously sent me the link to this blog post from a woman who used to work at a weight loss company.

She put this picture at the beginning:

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My thoughts exactly.

Making Baby Purees

So, I’ve known for a while that I wanted to make my own baby foods for L, mainly because I want to know for sure what’s in the food I’m giving her, plus it saves us money (not to mention, made with love)!  At first, I was really intimidated by the idea of it.  I didn’t know what foods to feed her, how to prepare them, and I had a bad feeling I might give up after only a few weeks.  After finding some useful resources and trying a few things out, I’m realizing that it’s not nearly as bad as I thought.

After extensive research (and by that, I mean a quick Google search), I found Wholesome Baby Food, which has a comprehensive list of what foods to offer when and specific instructions on the best way to puree them.  I found these trays, which have come in so handy for freezing the food into individual serving sizes.  Remember, at this age L is only eating an ounce or 2 of solids per meal, so 1 sweet potato will make several meals, which is why you want to freeze most of what you make.  When it’s meal time, I can just pop out an individual cube and heat it up!  Also, the lids make freezer storage easy and the trays are BPA-free.  Win!

One thing I’ve learned along the way is not to be afraid to mix and match (once we’ve introduced a food and safely determined she doesn’t have an allergy).  The very first thing we introduced to her was rice cereal, which she LOVED, but when we introduced fruits and veggies, she seemed to have a “take it or leave it” attitude.  One day, I eyed an avocado and banana sitting on the counter and decided to try mixing them together.  It was a weird combination, but I wanted to see.  Guess what?  She LOVED it.

I hate cooking, but for whatever reason, I think it’s fun to prepare different foods and combinations and see what she thinks.   This past weekend, I pureed peas and acorn squash.

Prep work was a breeze.  All I had to do was cut the squash in half, bake it, then scoop out the seeds and other goop before throwing the good part in the food processor.

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I cheated a little on the peas and got frozen because it seemed like way too much work to get fresh then open the pods and scoop out the peas (guess I won’t be winning mother of the year anytime soon).
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Confession: I hate peas, so I’m not sure why I thought it would be a good idea to make L try them.  They haven’t been a hit with her, but Harrier seems to think they look tasty.
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Voila!  Yummy squash (which did turn out to be a hit) and some peas ready to freeze into individual sizes.
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