Friday, September 27, 2013

eat this, not that. (says who?)

Somehow along the way I have become fascinated with food sciences. I don't mean I study the chemistry and makeup of foods, but with all those different diet plans out there and so many considering themselves experts on the subject, I think it's interesting to hear what people have to say. And, you take it with a grain of salt.

Back in May I read Michael Pollen's book, "In Defense of Food." To be honest, I enjoyed reading it. It talks about how some foods are mostly created in a lab, making them far from what one would consider food at all. And it's true - I don't really think of margarine being a real food... but it has been around a long, long time. And some nutritionists (with the Mayo Clinic!) say margarine is probably better for your heart health, if you choose the right kind.

So I'm interested in what Michael Pollen has to say, but I also realize that he is an author. He is not a scientist, he is not a nutritionist, he is not a registered dietitian. Now, I'm none of those things either... but I am also not trying to give you nutrition advice. I'm just interested in what everyone else is saying.

Maybe part of my interest has to do with my own personal experiences with food. I have never been skinny by society's standards. Even as a little girl I was bigger than some of my friends - not just weight-wise, but height and everything. I have done Weight Watchers without success a number of times, the first of those being age 17 in the spring of my junior year of high school. Sure, I lost a bunch of weight at the early part of my senior year... because I was swimming probably 4,500 yards a day, at least once a day. There are reasons I feel compelled to get back in a pool, aside from the fact that I truly enjoy it.

So outside of Weight Watchers and calorie counting (which honestly doesn't help me in a mental capacity - some of you will understand that and some of you won't), there's other stuff like Atkins and South Beach and Whole 30 and and and. It's easy to get overwhelmed with "diet" options out there, sometimes forgetting that each of us is individual and unique and will have different tastes and needs and what works for one person won't necessarily work for another.

Instead of shaming people for their choices or how they look or how they eat, we should just leave it up to individuals to decide, unless they seek help or ask questions. Even then, it's okay if you are a vegetarian and someone else is paleo. Not everyone is going to need to subscribe to the same lifestyle.

It's funny that I was thinking of this last night after reading this article ("How Junk Food Can End Obesity") and then someone posted a link to an article about McDonald's promising a salad option instead of fries for value meals with the comment, "It's about damn time" (or something that I am paraphrasing).

Now, I'm not saying go out and eat fast food. But if you eat one McDonald's hamburger, you're not going to instantly gain 10 pounds. You're not going to get fat from one burger, once in a while. In fact, that junk food article explains how some of the "healthier" foods have more calories, have more fat, less protein, less nutrition... and are more expensive. It's a long, long article, but you should read it, just for another side of the story. Yes, processed foods are bad, but you'd think limiting yourself so severely that you are in a constant state of craving or lacking nutritionally would be bad too.

Aside from food and calories and all of that shit...

You realize that somewhere along the line we got serious as "adults" and stopped moving for the fun of it and started instead criticizing our bodies and others around us. I also read this article this morning: What my daughter taught me about body image. I don't have a daughter, but I can see how the way we live our lives as children sometimes needs to carry over to how we see ourselves as adults.

While body hatred has become widespread for adult women — and increasingly men — we only need to look at children to know the difference between what’s natural and what’s culturally imposed nonsense.
There's much more I could quote from that article, but I will just suggest you read it for yourself.

In the end, it shouldn't be so hard. Strive to be healthy, but make sure that includes your mind, too. If you spend most of your time beating yourself up for how you look in your jeans or how slow you run or how terrible you think you should feel after you eat a brownie, you're not helping yourself in any way. Remember that society has unrealistic expectations and focuses on our bodies and how they should look, when no one (not even the actresses or models used as "examples") really looks like that.

I don't think this topic will die down any time soon. But I read this quote the other day and thought it was interesting:

“If tomorrow, women woke up and decided they really liked their bodies, just think how many industries would go out of business.” — Dr. Gail Dines

Monday, March 11, 2013


There was a great interview today on NPR with Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook. She's talking about her new book (called "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead") and women in the workplace. I highly recommend listening to the interview, but if you don't want to take 8 minutes to do so, here is a part that stands out to me:

"'I don't believe that everyone should make the same choices — that everyone has to want to be a CEO or everyone should want to be a work-at-home mother,' Sandberg responds. 'I want everyone to be able to choose, but I want us to be able to choose unencumbered by gender choosing for us. I have a 7-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter. Success for me is that if my son chooses to be a stay-at-home parent, he is cheered on for that decision. And if my daughter chooses to work outside the home and is successful, she is cheered on and supported.'"
I think this is a point we often overlook as a society, and I wonder why. There's a big world out there, and so many choices, and I wonder why in 2013 there are still limiters on what we think we can or know we can do. To me, equality is important. I don't care who you are or where you came from, if you work hard, you should have the same opportunities afforded to others who work hard, if you want them.

In the case of Sheryl Sandberg, she's taken a lot of heat because of her stance on women in the workplace. She obviously has two children, and she chooses to spend quite a bit of her time working. She wants to be in a high level position, and those require time. More recently, as it relates to her book, many are up in arms about Sandberg's approach. I haven't read the book (yet), but I think those who are upset with her are missing the point. She's not saying you have to work lots of hours or fit a certain professional profile. To me, she's saying what I already think: you should have those choices if you want them.

You've also probably heard of Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo!, who has also recently come under fire for her decision to end telecommuting at her company. At first, I was appalled. Why would she want to do such a thing? Isn't that a step back? Then I read this article which explained that Mayer had good reason for making the decision - basically, people didn't seem to be working from home after all. With those kinds of facts, how do you continue a process that clearly isn't working? Now it makes more sense, and I don't think she's making a statement for all companies, except to say, "If your employees aren't working, you've got to change something."

These two women are in incredible positions of power in their workplaces, and they are making choices they feel are best for their employees. Maybe some don't agree with their lifestyles, but I guess that's the beauty of it - does it matter? These women have families. They are doing what they want to do with their lives. Some women are stay-at-home moms. Some women work part-time. Some women want to climb the corporate ladder. The thing is, whatever a woman decides as it relates to her personal and professional life, it should be up to her (and her family, if she has one) to decide.

We've got to stop tearing women down for their choices. You don't always have to agree with what someone else is doing with his or her life. I think part of this can relate to the fact that I've been on a body image kick lately, but I think it applies to all of life, and all genders and sexualities and religions and belief systems. I mean, even Queen Elizabeth is behind equal rights.

The more I think about it, the more I think Sandberg and Mayer are setting an incredible example for women who have dreams to "have it all." Maybe you can't really have it all. When I say incredible, I mean that they are showing women that they don't have to be limited to some belief of what society thinks they should be doing. Men have families and work monstrous hours in some careers - what's stopping a woman from doing the same?

I don't know where I see myself in 10 years from now, professionally or personally, but I know things I hope to have in my life. Will I "have it all"? Will I even want that? It's doubtful - I'm a bigger proponent of balance, something I think Sandberg and Mayer might be lacking despite my admiration for their determination. Right now I know I have had some incredible opportunities and I hope to have more. If you're happy and satisfied with the way you're living your life, that is what matters. If it works for you and your family, excellent. If someone you don't know doesn't like it, I'm not sure that should be an issue.

What do you think of the stances taken by Sandberg and Mayer?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

touch the wall.

Because it's snowy and cold outside in Colorado today, I figured it would be a great day to stay inside and get some things done around my apartment (like that laundry I've been avoiding or baking these "muffins"). Part of my "getting things done" means hanging out on the internet, which led me to see this project called "Touch the Wall."

Before I tell you why this looks like an awesome project, check out the video:

 I think if you are a fan of swimming (and maybe even if you're not), you might already realize that this movie could really capture the Olympic journey for two American swimmers who qualified for London. 

When I was growing up, swimming was what sparked my love of the Olympic Games and sport in general. I was no good at soccer (I got made fun of as a 9-year-old for being a slow runner - true story), and when I started swimming, it was something I genuinely loved and was good at. It was swimming that really set my on the path I have been on, so to see a documentary like this featuring athletes I respect is something I can put my support behind. Plus, I remember being in awe over Kara Lynn Joyce's times when she was a high school swimmer in Michigan.

On a broad note, swimming is something many kids should learn, even if they don't continue on to a competitive team. It's an important skill for a person to have. USA Swimming has recognized this through the Make a Splash program, which they call "a national child-focused water safety initiative which aims to provide the opportunity for every child in America to learn to swim."

More specifically, this video shows two young women who are strong, successful athletes. I think this could be something that sparks many other young girls to get into the pool and get started in swimming. Even if it's not swimming, it might inspire someone who is just getting started in a sport or activity to pursue it further. It will show everyone the possibilities that are out there if you focus, work hard and have a dream.

I became a backer, and I hope more people make a pledge to help this project reach its goal. I think there are a lot of resources out there for sport, but many of them are focused on the "big 4" - football, basketball, baseball, hockey. This is another way to get an Olympic sport into a mainstream media channel, something that should be happening more often based on the drive and talent of many of these athletes. 

What types of projects have you backed on Kickstarter? What kind of projects appeal to you?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

be true to you.

I'm still on this kick of being yourself and not comparing yourself to other people, which is fitting because it's my sorority's "Be True to You" week at Central Michigan University. One of our philanthropies is ANAD, which is the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, and the events of the week (including tonight's Deepher Dudes pageant) are meant to emphasize the importance of accepting yourself for who you are and being a healthy you.

Obviously I have been talking about this a lot (and this might even be a little repetitive) but I think part of it is that I'm just feeling so overwhelmed and annoyed by the constant chatter that you must do this or that to be a perfect body or perfect person or whatever. I don't know if it's the advent of social media that makes people feel like they are entitled to make judgements on others but it seems silly to me.

The bottom line is that we should just be worrying about ourselves and not about everyone around us.

There's no reason you can't be true to you. Seriously. Maybe in my case that means taking more breaks from social media than I have in the past. I know, and have agreed with a friend who is known for saying that social media is everyone's highlight reel. That much is true. But often times on social media, you're hearing messages that might not apply to you. They might be specific to that person, and might not work for you at all. When my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer recently, the doctors specifically told her not to go home and look up information online; it may not pertain to her and it could cause her more mental stress than necessary.

It's kind of like the message I was taking away from reading "The Happiness Project." In it, the author (Gretchen Rubin) has a list of "commandments" that fit her and will hopefully help her to be happier in her day-to-day life. Her number one phrase is to "be Gretchen" no matter what. One example she uses is that she doesn't always love adult fiction, and finds children's books (like Harry Potter) more enjoyable. Well, I can relate to that. Should it bother me that some people might think I'm too old for that? No!

That's not quite the same as body image and what you're eating and all that, but it's all on the same level, basically. You don't have to agree with someone on everything, but you should at least respect opinions of others and be more cognizant and aware of differences. How boring would it be if we were all the same? Where's the fun in being just like someone else? Sure, there are people I admire and hope to emulate in some areas of my life, but I don't want to be an exact copy of those people. I want to be LindsAy. Me.

Plus, things are not always what they seem. This is only partially related, but since I'm on this kick of health and wellness and whatnot, I thought it appropriate to share. I share the video knowing that I would try to avoid muffins from anywhere besides my own kitchen, and knowing that I will still eat at Subway and Chipotle on occasion (because it tastes good). It's still interesting to see how accurate (or not) the information is that we're (sometimes) buying into:

I guess the point here, especially in honor of "Be True to You" week, is that you should be comfortable being yourself. Sometimes it's hard to figure out what method of madness works best for you. If you've been able to lose weight one way, that's great! But sometimes, that exact way will not work for someone else (case in point: Weight Watchers causes me mental hangups that don't help with any kind of successful weight loss), and THAT IS OKAY. We can like different movies and books and foods and activities and politics and religions or non-religions and sports teams and weather and whatever. It's actually preferable. 

And social media, a tool of great opportunity and connections, can be a wonderful sounding board. It can be a great place to learn little-known facts and discover new things and even hear stories that you know nothing about (and actually sometimes be ill-informed but that's another story). But just like my parents say when I'm mulling over a decision about something, no one can decide that for you - it's up to you to decide. Hopefully the important thing you decide, amid the overpowering messages from social media, is that you can be you, and you can use those online voices to help make the best decision for you. Not just because someone tells you that's how you should be. Including me! 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

stop the shaming.

Sometimes I really like social media... and sometimes, I find reasons to be incredibly frustrated by what I see. This isn't about being almost 27 and seeing all the engagements and weddings and babies. That's not frustrating, because it's easy to be happy for your friends. What I'm talking about is all this body shaming I have been seeing lately.

I've talked about body issues before, here and here. But today I saw something online that got me thinking about them again. A friend of mine posted a meme on Facebook that basically said that crossfit doesn't make you fat, cupcakes make you fat. And while it is true that if you eat lots of cupcakes, you'll probably gain weight, somehow this particular meme annoyed me.

Part of it? I don't do crossfit. That's a choice I've made, and I just am not interested in it. I would rather go running or swimming or do some yoga. I could be more active than I am, but I go to the gym or exercise a few times a week and I feel mostly okay about myself.

The other part is probably that I bought a cupcake last night, and I ate it. And it was delicious. I like cupcakes.

Look, I know I'm not a poster child for body weight and health. I try to take care of myself, and I also try to enjoy myself. Sometimes I go to the gym after work, and sometimes I go out for dinner and have a beer. Either way, it shouldn't really matter to you what I do. Just like it shouldn't matter to me what you do.

We've got to stop body shaming each other.

You might be body shaming without even knowing it. These are some interesting examples of how that happens. And before you get on me about how so many people are obese in this country (and around the world), I know. I get it, I am familiar with the statistics. But just because someone isn't making the same choices as you, doesn't automatically make her wrong. We can live our lives with  different diets, exercise plans, sleeping schedules, and all kinds of other unique choices that don't really impact each other as much as some may think.

It might just be part of our society. I watched an excellent documentary called "Miss Representation" (recommended, if you're into that sort of thing), and it talks about women's portrayal in the media and how that makes women feel certain ways about how they should look or act. Then this article on their blog talks about body shaming and Halloween costumes. Why is this okay? Why do we accept this public view of women in general?

And then I think about Beyonce and her performance at the Super Bowl, and how many people were so ... upset? by what she was wearing and what she was presenting. But I thought this summed up perfectly what I thought about it:

Was BeyoncĂ© attractive, sexy even? To be sure. But more than anything, she was powerful. Few things are more threatening to a male audience than a beautiful, powerful woman who doesn’t need a man, or even a male gaze.
Perhaps folk didn’t consciously notice there wasn’t a single male performer on stage. But for those few minutes, there were no male voices and no male bodies in control, only women who refused to be owned. And it wasn’t women just dancing up there, though the cameras largely focused on that. The women onstage were creating, everything.  They appropriated traditional male images and transformed them female ones — not women just imitating men. They were claiming roles and instruments traditionally held by men: the horns and saxophones, the pyrotechnic guitar solo.
They were fierce, but refused to be masculinized or objectified.

I guess what I'm wondering is... why do we spend so much time building ourselves up and putting each other down? Wouldn't our time be better spent on celebration of ourselves than chucking garbage at people who make different choices in their lifestyles, or people who look different or dress different or whatever? Instead of being on a level with Regina George and the Mean Girls clique, we should remember those messages of girl power that were so popular in the 90s. And, instead of wishing to be like what we see in magazines, we should remember that photoshop doesn't apply to real people in the real world, and it shouldn't matter anyway. Who you are is pretty special.

Like this video says, every girl deserves to feel beautiful just the way she is.

This turned out a little longer and a little more rambling than I intended, but I want you to know, when I share my thoughts about my own running or a sandwich I ate, it's not because I think you must do those things too. I want you to realize that who you are is pretty great, and you don't have to change because of what you see in the media or what you read in a meme on Facebook. Sticks and stones might break your bones, and words can hurt a lot, but remembering that you're a great YOU is the most important thing of all.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

textbook statistics.

This is kind of an odd poem, but I love it and wanted to share it. You might like it, too. 

Textbook Statistics
By Arkaye Kierulf
On average, 5 people are born every second and 1.78 die.
So we’re ahead by 3.22, which is good, I think.

The average person will spend two weeks in his life
waiting for the traffic light to change.

Pubescent girls wait two to four years
for the tender lumps under their nipples to grow.

So the average adult has over 1,460 dreams a year,
laughs 15 times a day. Children, 385 more times.

So the average male adult mates 2,580 times with five different people
but falls in love only twice in his life—possibly

with the same person. Seventy-nine long years for each of us,
awakened to love in our twenties, so more or less

thirty years to love our two lovers each. And if, in a lifetime,
one walks a total of 13,640 miles by increments,

Where are you headed, traveler?
is a valid philosophical question to pose to a man, I think, along with

Why does the blood in your veins travel endlessly?
on account of those red cells flowing night and day

through the traffic of the blood vessels, which if laid out
in a straight line would be over 90,000 miles long.

The great Nile River in Egypt is 4,180 miles long.
The great circle of the earth’s equator is 24,903 miles.

Dividing this green earth among all of us
gives a hundred square feet of living space to each,

but our brains take only one square foot of it,
along with the 29 bones of the skull, so

if you look outside your window with your mind only,
why do you hear the housefly hum middle octave, key of F?

If you listen to the cat on the rug by the fire with
the 32 muscles in your ear, you will hear

100 different vocal sounds. Listen to the dog
wishing for your love: 10 different sounds.

If you think loneliness is beyond calculation,
think of the mole digging a tunnel underground

ninety-eight miles long to China
in one single night. If you think beauty escapes you

or your entire genealogical tree, consider the slug
with its four uneven noses, or the chameleon shifting colors

under an arbitrary light. Think of the deepest point
in the deepest ocean, the Marianas Trench in the Pacific,

do you think anyone’s sadness can be deeper? In 1681,
the last dodo bird died. In the 16th century,

Queen Elizabeth suffered from a fear of roses.
Anne Boleyn had six fingers. People fall in love

twice. The human heart beats 3 billion times — only — in a lifetime.
If you attempt to count all the stars in the galaxy, one

every second, it’ll take 3 thousand years, if you’re lucky.
As owls are the only birds that can see the color blue

the ocean is bluish, along with the sky and the eyes
of that boy who died alone by that little unnamed river

in your dreams one blue night of the war
of one of your lives. (Do you remember which one?)

Duration of World War 1: four years, 3 months, 14 days.
Duration of an equatorial sunset: 128 seconds, 142 tops.

A neuron’s impulse takes 1/1000 of a second,
a morning’s commute from Prospect Expressway

to the Brooklyn Bridge, about 90 minutes,
forty-five without traffic.

Time it takes for a flower to wilt after it’s cut from the stem: five days.
Time left our sun before it runs out of light: five billion years.

Hence the number of happy citizens under the red glow
of that sun: maybe 50% of us, 50% on good days, tops.

Number who are sad: maybe 70% on the good days—
especially on the good days. (The first emotion’s more intense, I think,

when caught up with the second.) So children grow faster in the summer,
their bright blue bodies expanding. The ocean, after all, is blue

which is why the sky now outside your window is bluish
expanding with the white of something beautiful, like clouds.

Fact: The world is a beautiful place—once in a while.
Another fact: We fall in love twice. Maybe more, if we’re lucky.

Friday, January 11, 2013


I think it's an appropriate lesson in life that when you get knocked down, you have to get back up. Some learn that at a young age, like when they fall off their bicycle. It hurts, but you don't want to give up on riding your bicycle. You have to get back on it, and try again. I can only remember one time I really fell hard off my bike. I had to walk my bike a mile home. It hurt. But I wouldn't say it stopped me from riding again. I just don't like falling down. Who does?

Maybe a bike is not the best analogy, but you know what I'm talking about.

Writing helps me to get out what I am thinking. I can usually use my words to say how I am feeling and it's kind of therapeutic. It might not make a lot of sense to others who end up reading it, but that's usually not the point.

In this case, it's hard to find the words to explain what it is that I want to say. I've tried to write it and it just sounds stupid. Even when you talk about it in a conversation, it's not that easy. At some point, people are going to know. Do you just wait until they find out about it on their own? Do you wait until it's obvious? It's probably okay to tell some people what's going on, but even when you make that decision to share you feel like you're dropping some kind of bomb when that's not at all what you're trying to do.

I'm probably never going to be one of those people who puts a pink ribbon on her car. If the ribbon is for awareness, I am already aware. Maybe the ribbon is just to tell other people you're aware. "We're dealing with this right now, and instead of telling you about it, we're just going to slap this pink ribbon magnet on our bumper. Got it?"

This isn't even so much story about me. But it is about cancer, so it brings back those painful feelings of falling off a bike, just magnified. When someone you love has cancer, it hurts you too. What can you even do to help? Maybe that's another reason people buy ribbons and t-shirts and do whatever it is they do to feel a little better about it. You have to find something to help you work through it, because cancer is heavy stuff. You can't just sit on that and let it go. There's treatment and turbans to talk about.

When my mom told people she knew about her cancer, she put it in our family Christmas card. So now other people know that yes, there is cancer. And we are fighting it. I say we because it's not something a person goes through alone. We band together, and we fight. And it's hard. And it's not the kind of thing people ever want to deal with. You try to be healthy and it still comes. But you have to think positively. You have to get back on the bike, so to speak, and keep riding. Maybe off into the sunset. Because that's a nice thing.

I guess I'm not just talking about cancer here. You will face hard things in your life. You will get sad and mad about them. And then you will pick yourself up and work to overcome those hard things. Because that's just what you have to do. Sometimes it's a fight. You can win it.

On a kind of related note to talking about hard stuff, I read this article today about how there's more to life than being happy. Read it. Because it talks about how your purpose in life is what drives you and keeps you going. The man referenced in the article, Viktor Frankl, made decisions in his life based on what he believed his purpose to be, and that purpose was not just about himself. 

There are some things we can control, and some things we can't. All that means is we have to work a little harder in the fight. And we can do it together, and it will be okay.