Sunday, November 2, 2014

And the world continues

Some people have so much love in them they are able to support all those around them.  That love is that beacon that draws people to them, helping them to thrive and continue.  They have so much love that it spills out to everyone and can help mend broken hearts and conquer fears of those around them.  Then, one day, that love is just gone and to those who knew that love, that beacon, they are left empty and broken.

To those people, the sun doesn't have the same shine.  A piece of them is missing, broken, gone forever.  Joy is always marred with knowing that it isn't as joyful without that love.  Nothing is ever the same again.

Yet, somehow, the world continues.  Time still moves forward.  Babies are born.  Jobs move you away.  Houses that saw that love and beacon crumble apart by time.  People get older.  Holidays come and go.  Life just continues, yet it is somehow emptier than before.  How can time and life just continue to move forward with your beacon gone?  Your standing on your own, but it is never really the same.  I have said it before - it is how I imagine losing a limb would be like - you learn how to function but it is never the same again.  Ever.  And to a certain extent a portion of you is forever gone.

People hold a tremendous amount of love in them.  Ask anyone with a pile of kids.  You have that first child and you have so much love for them.  You couldn't imagine there is room for any more love in your heart - but then you have that second child and now you have twice as much love.  The love for those people just continues to grow.  You make friends that you also love.  Your love just continues to build throughout your life.

So what happens when someone with a tremendous amount of love dies?  Where does that love go?That beacon of love that we all flocked to is gone, but to where?  Is it just forever gone, or is that beacon still out there.  Is her love for us still strong and thriving, or did it get buried in that vault with her?

Miss you Grandma.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Giving in . . . a little

Well - I have been working for six months now and I am glad I am working.  I love working WIC and hope that where ever we end up in the future that there will be a part time WIC job waiting for me.  With that - working has given me that sense of connection that I have needed and have been very much missing since we moved to the hang down state.  I work with people I really like, and do something a love.  That has helped, but there is always a down side - the balance between work and family.  I will admit I have been sucking lately at that balancing act.  Working four days a week has been hard on my family. . . . four days of rushing around and having no time to do anything but get kids ready in the morning, work, cooking dinner when I get home, getting the kids ready for bed and then passing out to start it all over the next day.  Fridays are spent running around doing everything I have to do in the six hours I don't have children - that is the Fridays I am not actually working (because many of my four days a week have turned into five days).  Weekends are spent manically trying to get the house cleaned and laundry done so that we can be ready for another week.  It has been hard.  Thankfully my four days a week is soon going to be down to three days a week.  I did three days a week for years in Michigan, so I know I can do it.

That being said I have realized that something has to give.  Part of my crazy week night schedule is that I have refused to budge on what I feed my kids.  Real food - that is what I feed them.  Things mostly made from scratch and processed as little as possible.  A full meal every night - with a main dish, a side dish, and a vegetable.  That means that I start cooking at 5:30 when I get home and am cooking until about 7-8 when the meal hits the table.  We finish eating clean up and go to bed.  To add insult to injury, my efforts to make real food for my kids is usually rewarded with at least one of the children refusing to eat it and the crying of hunger at 9 when they have to go to bed.

Well - I am admitting defeat here.  I am admitting that I just can't keep up the stamina of cooking meals like this anymore.  I am going to actually add some meals to our menu cycle that are, well, processed foods.

Now - I am not saying that I am going to give up cooking.  I am not going to have my kids eating pizza rolls and boxed mac n cheese 7 days a week. . . . but. . . maybe just once or twice a week they can have things that come from a box.  Those things they say, "normal" families eat.  Why?  Because I miss actually spending time with my kids.  The last six months has been nothing but this manic, "I have to run around and get the million things done that I have to do because I only have 4 hours a day to get 6 hours worth of work done" and I miss having time to actually be with my kids.

I love my kids, but I must admit that between working 32-40 hours a week, doing house work, and having to clean the same exact things up six different times a day because they have left their shoes on the floor again, and they pulled out all the craft stuff and left it all out on the table and I clean the table off to set it for dinner only to have them re-dirty it again while I am cooking dinner, and finding the socks that the pulled off their feet and tossed under the table so I have to crawl under it to get them, and having to pick up the half empty water glasses everywhere in the house seven times a day. . . . well - to get to my point I am getting kind of resentful towards my kids.  I am begging to feel like I am nothing but chef, maid, and money giver - not a person in the house they love - just their slave. I know this resentment isn't fair - I choose to have those kids - they didn't ask to be born.  I love my four kids - they are amazing kids - but I have turned into their slave who occasionally drill sergeants them into doing something.

Well - I don't like this - and if having toaster waffles for dinner one night allows me to re-connect with my kids and be more of a mom and less of a slave than I think the benefit those toaster waffles will bring will far outweigh their processedness. . .

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Be a "healthy" weight at all costs. . . .

Oh I am angry. . . . .

Isn't that usually when I blog - when I am angry/upset/sad. . . . well this time I am angry.  Mostly at myself - but also at society, healthcare professionals, just the way it is. . . .

So here it goes.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am a registered dietitian, and have been for about 15 years.  I have worked mostly through the health department as a WIC/Maternal Infant Health dietitian, but I have also worked at several hospitals.  Obesity has always been an interest of mine - especially childhood obesity for several reasons.  First - my mother - even though she came from an active family and she herself was an active child - has suffered from obesity her entire life and I have seen what that struggle has done to her.  How people have treated her because of her obesity, how her weight has kept her from getting well deserved promotions and raises, how her battle against obesity (which included bariatric surgery) has ruined her health and left her heavier than ever.  Second, my own struggles to be my IBW along with three very hard pregnancies that resulted in 50 weeks of bedrest have left me with a BMI of 38 - well in the severely obese range.  Thus, I am doing a continuing education module called, "Underage & Overweight.  America's Childhood Obesity Crisis - What every family needs to know."  It is a great module.  It kind of, for the most part, follows my own personal stance of "if you eat right and stay active than your weight is going to be what it is going to be," along with, "focus on health, not weight."  The book talks about the changes in childhood obesity in the last few decades, study after study that shows calorie intakes and energy expenditures over those decades, study after study. . . . and I am left with two thoughts - first is, "dang, I have been right all along," and second, "WTF have we all been doing to ourselves all these years!"

So - here it goes.  First - overweight does not mean unhealthy.  Normal weight does not mean healthy.  These are things I have thought to be true for MANY years but these were things I thought I was wrong about.  Things that society and other health care professionals have told me I was wrong about.  My BMI is above 25 so I must be unhealthy.  My client's BMI is above 25 so they are unhealthy.  I hate f-ing BMI and always have.  It is a number that really means nothing.  Body Mass Index. . . . deals with body density, not body fatness.  Something I tell my clients EVERYDAY - but every insurance company, growth chart, and medical professional puts so much on that flippen number. . . and it is just that - a number.

So, I'll say it again, being overweight does mean someone is inactive and 3000 kcals a day of Doritos and Mc Donalds, while drinking 2 liters of soda pop and kool ade.  At the same time just because someone is normal weight it does not mean they are healthy, it does not mean they have three high calcium foods a day and eat five fruits and vegetables a day while getting in their 60 plus minutes of rigorous activity, and it does not mean they have a healthy relationship with food.  We, as a society, need to change this conception and stop putting so much emphasis on weight - instead we need to put it on being healthy!

This module I am studying discusses the increase in obesity over the last few decades - focusing mainly on childhood obesity but also talking about obesity in general.  It has been noticed that people/children of today actually consume less calories and fat than the did 20 years ago.  Let me repeat that - children of today consume less calories than they did 20 years ago.  A third time - our kids are eating less calories today than they did 20 years ago.  There goes the thought that we are eating more calories now than we have been and that is why we area a "fat" country with "fat" kids.

The module goes on further to recite study after study that discussed that the reasons we are gaining weight is because a - we are eating less calories than we need thus our bodies are in boarder-line starvation mode and b - we aren't as active as we once were.  It states that if you are active in "starvation" mode than one of two things will happen, 1 - you will lose a small amount of weight before just hitting a point of maintenance until you stop starving yourself which will then cause your body to quickly gain the weight back or 2 - your body will force weight gain even if you are eating less and exercising because it is a protection mechanism.  We have all seen people lose a tremendous amount of weight eventually gain it back, or heard people say, "I exercise and eat right but I can't lose weight."  In the medical profession we tend not to believe them.  We tend to think they are under reporting calories and over reporting activity because if they are eating as little as they say they eat and are doing as much as they say they are doing then they would be "thin", right?  WRONG!

We - as health care professionals - push to have a "healthy" body weight.  We focus on the healthy BMI range of 18-25, because we are told that is healthiest.  Our insurance companies are even having higher premiums for individuals with BMI's higher than 25.  Forcing people to go to drastic measures and even having surgeries to get to that point so they can be "healthy".  We have been told over and over that if your BMI is above 25 then you are overweight and you have to do something.  Well guess what, that is a pile of shit!

Please note, I am not promoting obesity or a BMI of 38 like mine - but that "normal" and "healthy" BMI of 25 is not all it is cracked up to be.  First, a study did show that individuals who live the longest have a  BMI of 25.  That is fact.  That exact number lives the longest, but the next range of individuals who live the longest is from 25-30, with an average having a BMI of 27.5.  So why the heck are we pushing 18-25 if the range for healthy weight should be 25-30?  Study after study shows that individuals who are 20-40 pounds overweight don't have any less life longevity than those at their ideal body weight.  Again - why then are we pushing people to be at that lower weight with all this researched knowledge?  Plus, it has been noted that elderly individuals who are 20 pounds above there IBW are more able to recover from illnesses than those in the "normal" BMI range - yet again we push to be in that 18-25 range.  Can someone tell my why this is the case?  Finally, and this is the thing that gets me, the Framingham study.  Anyone who works in the medical field has heard of this study - it is a huge and very well respected study - well this study shows that men and women who lose weight have the highest death rates - even when the weight is voluntary and not caused by illnesses like cancer and AIDS.  Let me repeat that - individuals who lose weight have the highest death rate - higher than those who are obese.  This has been corroborated by other studies such as the Harvard Alumni study, MRFIT, CARDIA, and NHANES I.

WTF?!?!?!?!?  So all this time I have been trying the help individuals lose weight because I thought it was healthy for them and would lead to a longer, healthier life when really I was just increasing their chances of earlier death?!?!?!  I myself have struggled to be my IBW since I was 18 years old.  Increasing my activity more and more and decreasing my intake more and more - I did this because I thought it would mean I would be healthier and live longer. . . and now you are telling me that in doing this I am just sending myself to an earlier grave?

I turn to myself and I am even more pissed.  I look at my own body and just get pissed!  I am an obese dietitian.  Yep - a dietitian - someone who is supposed to be thin - and I am obese.  I have heard other dietitians make fun of fat dietitians, heard them say things like, "I don't even understand how they can be a dietitian and fat, if anyone should be thin it should be them."  I have read articles discussing how dietitians with BMI's above 25 should lose their license and not be allowed to practice because they are obviously unhealthy.  I have been ashamed of my body for many, many years because my weight is not 90-110 pounds - my ideal body weight range - and have felt very much like a failure because of it.  I have even went to doctors with my frustration and I am always told the same thing, "eat less and exercise more."  I have looked at them and told them, "I can't eat less and exercise more, if I did that I would be eating nothing and exercising non-stop."  Doctor's don't believe me.  Even in my quest to run a half marathon, where I was jogging 4 miles three days a week and 8 miles on my long run day I ended up gaining weight and in my frustration I went to the doctor and was told, "Eat less and exercise more."

That is bull shit.  I am obese - and I am obese because I was meant to be more than 110 pounds.  Yep - my body liked 135 pounds.  That was where my body was healthy.  That was where I had energy to be active and could eat a variety of foods.  I could drink milk and eat fruits and vegetables, but I was told I needed to lose 25 pounds.  I was overweight at 135 pounds and I was unhealthy at 135 pounds  - so I started doing something about that.  Eating healthier and exercising.  I got down to 128 pounds.  I actually felt good at that weight, but it wasn't 90-110 pounds.  I was still overweight and "unhealthy".  I continued to eat a variety of foods and exercise, and I continued to stay at 128 pounds.  For a year I worked hard and ate right, and at the end of that year I was still 128 pounds.  I felt good - but not the 90-110 pounds I "should" have been.  Something had to be done about that - so I did what many people do to lose that weight and be "healthy" - I did things that were un-healthy.

I see people doing it all the time and they get praised for it, but society and health care professionals.  I joke that, "I swear it is OK to be anorexic and bulimic if you are obese, I mean, you gotta do anything you can to be healthy, right, and obese is unhealthy so extreme measures are required!"  Heck - there are entire shows dedicated to individuals losing massive amounts of weight in a few months time - which losing that much weight in that amount of time really requires exercise being your full time job or doing very unhealthy things to do it.  I know people who pop diet pills like candy and do "cleanses" on a regular basis.  A 1200 calorie day is a day to feel guilty about and ashamed of, and every bite of food is an agonizing battle of adding calories in your head mixed with self-hatred and loathing.

I know that road - I have been there and to a certain extent I am still there - and yes - I am a dietitian.  I have had about a dozen glasses of milk in the last 20 years because I decided 20 years ago to no longer drink anything that contained calories.  I don't drink juice, any soda I drink is diet and my coffee is sweetened with stevia only, no cream here.  Tea is plain, and iced tea is unsweetened.  I have never been a sweets fan, so as much as I love to bake cookies and sweet breads I rarely eat them because I don't like them.  Even today - I consume two meals a day and no snacks.  I eat brunch and dinner.  On the days I work it is even less, I have a 190 calorie protein bar for lunch and a balanced, home cooked dinner.  I exercise daily - trying to jog at least one mile a day and I get in a mile walk at lunch.  I make sure the pedometer has at least 10,000 steps a day, because that is what I have been told is required to be "healthy".  I know my diet isn't balanced but I add a calcium supplement, multi vitamin, and fish oil daily to try to fill in any of the things I am missing.  Yet - with that - my weight continues to shift up about 10 pounds every year or so.  That 10 pound shift usually happens in a week. . . I will be stable and then just suddenly, for no reason at all, be 10 pounds heavier.  I know this because I still weigh myself three times a week.

I eat healthy and exercise regularly, yet I am obese and ashamed of it.  Embarrassed to be around other dietitians who are much thinner than I am because I must be doing something wrong. . . . I mean if I weren't doing something wrong than I would be 90-110 pounds, right?  WRONG!

I was NEVER meant to be 90-110 pounds, but was brainwashed into believing that was the case by society and medical professionals.  The photo of my great-great grandmother is on my shelf, a hard working farm lady who was probably 40-50 pounds above her IBW.  With her is my great grandmother, another hard working farm woman who is 20-30 pounds above her IBW.  I should have realized that genetically I was never meant to be 90-110 pounds. . . . NEVER.  But instead I did things to be "healthy", because overweight is unhealthy and normal weight is healthy.  I got close to it. . . 114 pounds was my lowest adult weight.  I even stayed there for a few years, even though I started having seizures.  Even though I was dizzy every time I stood up.  Even though my head, joints, and bones always ached. . . .I was almost healthy. . . just 4 more pounds and I would finally be in the normal body range. . . . I did that until the day came when I honestly thought I was going to die.  That was when I stopped and started eating daily again, twice a day actually.  Most of the aches went away.  The seizures stopped.  And the weight started to go up.

Today I am many, many pounds more than I was then.  My blood pressure is usually 90/60 - which is normal.  I still do have issues with low blood sugar, so I have to watch what I eat, make sure I don't overdo carbs and I have protein at each meal because I am a reactive hypoglycemic.  Something that was caused from my years of not eating.  I have chronic GI and stomach problems, something caused again from years of not eating along with years of laxative abuse.  My cholesterol is always very normal.  I jog daily.  I don't overeat.  To be honest, with the exception of the GI issues (again, caused from the things I did to try to lose weight) I am healthier than I have ever been in my adult life.  And I am obese.

My point to this rant is this. . . we have been lied.  We have been told that we are fat because we eat too much and don't do enough.  We have been told that if we lose weight we will be healthier and we will live longer and our lives will be healthier.  We have been told what weight we should be and that anything above that is unhealthy.  We have been told that it is OK to do extreme things to get to this weight - have dangerous surgeries - take pills - exercise beyond reason - limit our intake to starvation - it is all OK as long as we have a BMI below 25. . . . because that is what is healthiest and that is what will make us live longer.  Well I call bull shit on that.  We have been lied to, and study after study shows that.

Be active, eat healthy, enjoy eating, listen to your body's hunger and full cues,  and your weight is going to be what it is going to be.  Accept this and accept this in others.  BE ACTIVE, EAT HEALTHY, ENJOY EATING, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY'S HUNGER AND FULL CUES, AND ACCEPT THAT YOUR WEIGHT IS GOING TO BE WHAT IT IS GOING TO BE!  Healthy weight is different for each person and can not determined by a growth grid or a BMI number. . . .

That is my rant. . . .

Friday, February 21, 2014

My thoughts to those who work with the poor.

I have had several jobs as a dietitian.  I have worked for Purdue to create a database of herbal supplements.  I have worked at several different hospitals.  I have worked at two different health departments - and my health department work is by far my favorite.  I honestly love working with programs like WIC and MIHP.  I would honestly do it for free if I could afford to.

Along with that, in my work the health departments I can say that I have worked with some really wonderful people.  People who care about others very deeply and get joy out of helping.  You will never get rich working in public health, but you can have a very rewarding career if you enjoy helping others.

For me it is easy, growing up poor I understand where many of these families are coming from.  I lived with my Grandma for much of my early childhood and was raised with stories from the great depression.  Knowing that my Grandma and her siblings went to bed hungry more often than full gave me my early exposure to nutrition.  My grandma talked about how she had to be carried around on a pillow for years because she had rickets.  Stories of waiting in long lines at the convent with a pot for soup for the family.  Stories of when Grandma got older and at times had to beg for food for her own children.  One of her longest friends ever was acquired when she went into B & C (now Ric's in Interlochen) and begged the owners for milk for her new baby Mary Ann.  Jack and Jean Bilow who owned the store at that time gave Grandma some milk - got to know her and my Grandfather - and became life long friends.  I have my own memories of going places with Grandma and being treated with great kindness by everyone who knew her.  Very few people who got to know my Grandma didn't love her.  She was pure kindness and love - and those who knew her very easily overlooked the poverty she lived in her entire life.

With that being said, I also have many memories (stories and personal memories) of watching my family be treated poorly by those who didn't know us because of our obvious poverty.  Coming back from the grocery store and watching my Grandma cry because people treat her like she is ,"nothing."  Hearing comments by people behind us in line about "lazy welfare rats" and "worthless welfare scum" from early on really does make you start to question your own worth in society.  Sitting in parent teacher conferences where the teacher tells your mother that you will never learn to read and it really is a lost cause, while other kids with the same issues get special help and attention to help with their reading skills - kids from "better" families - continues to make you question your value in society.  I was a free lunch receiving, poverty stricken child in a small community.

So like I said, for me it is easy to have empathy for those who require help.  I have a picture of my Grandma in my office next to my computer to always remind me of the struggles she went through.  When a mom comes in with no money for formula I can't help of thinking of my Great Aunt Dorthy Marie who died of starvation at 8 months of age because my Great Grandma's milk supply dried up and there were no programs like WIC or food stamps.  Any time I can work it so that I get formula for a baby I know that I am helping to prevent another mom from having to beg for milk and another baby from going to bed hungry.  I love what I do and would do it for free if I could.

That being said if you are going to work with poor you have to love it.  You have to see the value in what you are doing and you have to see the truth in what a smile and encouragement can bring someone.   Growing up in generational poverty it can be very easy to fall into the trap of feeling worthless.  For some it can make them be more meek.  For others this constant treatment can make them angry.  Mad that in this country where so many seem to have so much you have to struggle to even put ramen noodles in the mouth of your children.  Hopelessness because you know that your minimum wage job will really never make your life any better - and the reality of knowing that if you just stay home and do whatever you want will make you happier than working 40 hours a week at Wal-Mart.  When you grow up with that being a reality and having people treat you a certain way - coming across someone who actually is encouraging to you can make a huge difference.  In a life where every day is a struggle, and it is a struggle, finding someone who helps to make your struggle less can be monumental.  A person who looks past dirt, old clothing, poverty and sees a person of value can make the individual realize their own value - and from self value can come the ability to accomplish things that never seemed possible before.  Individuals who work with the poor should always keep that in mind.  One smile or word of encouragement can change one person's world.

I work in WIC, a great program that helps so many people, but at times can seem frustrating.  Someone may come in and be very angry because their WIC has run out and you aren't able to give them the formula/milk/cheese they need for one reason or another.  They may yell at you.  You may think, "Dang, you know you are the one who had the kid maybe you should get a job to feed that kid."  It is easy to think thoughts like that, but you have to keep an eye on the big picture.  The reality of it is that there is a good chance the person yelling at you does have a job, or two, or maybe even three.  They themselves may be very hungry, and have had to hear their child cry for the last three days because there is no food in the house to feed them.  They are mad and angry because when they come into your office they can smell the lunch you just had on your breath and you with your full belly are telling them, "No we can't give you the formula you want because of X" or "We can't recertify you today because you missed your appointment so you will have to come back in April."  Sure they are mad - I would be mad too!  If I had to listen to my kids cry themselves to sleep from hunger while you, with your lunch breath are telling me you can't help me.  I would be angry.  My babies are hungry, you have the ability to help me and you won't.

Working in WIC you will, at times, find families that don't want to make their situation better.  They are out there - most of them are not in that classification - but their are some.  There are some who just expect others to pay for their kids.  That is just how it is.  If you aren't giving them their formula/milk then they get angry because they are entitled to it and you are not giving it to them.  I would be mad if I worked my four days and didn't get a paycheck for my time.  I worked for that and I am entitled to it. . . . doesn't matter that it is different - perception is reality and to some people they perceive they are entitled to these services so not getting them makes them angry.  It can be frustrating.  You can sometimes feel less tempted to help these individuals out, but the reality of it is that you have to keep your focus.  Who are you hurting if you don't give that person formula?  You aren't really going to hurt that client - it is going to be those kids at home that suffer - not this frustrating individual in front of you.  Those kids are who matter - in WIC  that is what it is about - helping to produce healthier children.

What I am getting at is that most people who are poor are just that - people.  They are people who work, live, love and who are just trying to do the best for their kids.  Many of them work hard, I know my Grandparents where some of the hardest working people I ever knew, but for one reason or another, either lack of education, poor choices, lack of luck or all three, things just do not financially work out for some people.  They are coming to you for help in one way or another and most of them appreciate that help.  In regards to the ones that are abusing the program, you have to focus on who is really benefiting from that help - the children.  It really doesn't matter how terrible and nasty the parent is it will be the kids that suffer the most if you refuse to help them.  Along with that, if you assume everyone is from that entitled/abusing group, if you go to work everyday for a paycheck and get angry when someone comes for help, if you laugh and get joy out of denying people benefits because they don't deserve it, if you don't realize that how you act can change someones world than maybe, just maybe, you should start looking on for a new job.  You aren't doing yourself any favors continuing to work a job you don't like and you really aren't helping those that you are being paid to help.

Also, remember they are your customer, and without them you would not have a job.

This is just my opinion - for what it is worth. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Chicken Finger French Bread Pizza

My family LOVES this!

1 loaf French bread, split in half horizontally
8 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
13 oz frozen breaded chicken tenders, cooked according to directions and cut into 1/2 inc pieces
2 cups pasta sauce
1/2 c shredded Parmeasan cheese
1 t basil and garlic seasoning blend

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Brush cut sides of bread with EVOO.  Place on baking sheets - cut side up.  Bake for 5 minutes.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese evenly over cut sides of each bread half.  Top evenly with the chicken.  Top each with mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle each evenly with seasoning blend.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted.  Cut into slices and serve. 

Super Easy Weeknight Pasta

I came across this recipe YEARS ago.  Haven't made it in a while.

1 jar Paul Newman's Sackarooney Pasta Sauce
1 jar Classico Cheese Alfredo Sauce
2 pounds Italian Sausage (any spice level you like)
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
1 large can sliced mushrooms
1 pound Bowtie Pasta.

While pasta is cooking, saute sausage and onion until cooked through.  Drain.  Add pasta sauces and mushrooms.  Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.  Drain pasta thoroughly and add sauce.  Serve with shredded fresh Parmesan.