Happy Holidays

I know I’m a bit late for Hanukkah and Yule, but please accept my wishes for a wonderful holiday filled with warmth and light and laughter, whichever holiday you celebrate!

Some People Just Don’t Get It, Part Two

I’m a member of a few different message board sites.  I like the being able to connect with people in an old skool kind of way (remember BBS system of the late 80’s and early 90’s).  One of the message board sites I’m on has a rant section.

Recently, there was a rant by a person who was tired of people (men in this case) coming up to her and saying, “You be perfect if you just lost x amount of weight.”   She went on to discuss how she’d lost x amount of weight and more, and found that the men she was then attracting were even more jerks than the original “you’d be perfect” guy. 

The conversation got involved (as they do) and tangents got made (as they do), but one thing that happened was a guy who kept missing the point.  Part of the point the original poster was making was that if she was perfect, then she shouldn’t have to lose any amount of weight. 

The guy kept saying, “But what if she’s perfect in every other way than this?  Is it wrong of me to ask her to lose weight?”   As this is not a FA place, the responses he got was mixed between of course he had the right to ask (for her health if nothing else), and not in any lifetime.  He never could seem to get the concept that if there is something you dislike bad enough to try and get another person to change it, then that person isn’t perfect for you.

Everybody has their standards of what is aesthetically pleasing to them.  I don’t like people who are too skinny, men or women really.  I think the current trend of female movie and TV stars to be so thin you can count their ribs when you see them in a bikini is disgusting.  I know this is being marketed as the “healthy” look and the epitome of beauty, but it just turns me away.  Also, I’m not into people who are extremely muscle bound.  Arnold Schwarzenegger when he was Mr. Universe really was beneath the radar, but the same man in Kindergarten Cop, where he still had definition but not so extreme on the muscles I liked.  So yes, everybody has their own views, their own tastes, and don’t necessarily want to date outside of that.

But, and here is the point, if you really think somebody is perfect for you, but only if they lose x amount of weight, then they are not perfect for you.  Perfect means just as they are.  Perfect means you aren’t trying to have a project in a relationship.  If you want a project, learn woodworking. 

One person on that thread summed it up succinctly:  I would have NO problem with someone telling me that they prefer someone fatter/skinnier/brunetter than me. I would have a problem with someone saying “I prefer brunettes, would you dye your hair brown for me?” 

Rather than forcing somebody else to change for you (which will never work anyways, because if they did, they would just grow to resent you for forcing them to change) why not find that person who really IS perfect for you?  Find the person who has the right personality, the right mesh of ideas, values, hobbies, and who already appeals to your personal aesthetics?  Everybody would be much happier then, including the person who doesn’t have to hear “you would be perfect for me if you’d only lose x pounds.”

Some People Just Don’t Get It

The other day I was looking at a website that sells articles for blog entries.  Not to buy any for this blog (I have a lot of ideas to write about, and if my ideas dry up, I’ll just go to a different updating schedule or close down the blog, but I don’t see that happening for a long time).  But to see if I could write the type of articles they seem to want.   Being a paid writer is a dream of mine, you see.

Anyway, one of the articles was about “Holiday Eating for Fat People.”*  It was about the most condescending piece of crap you could ever imagine.  It started out stating something like “One thing you obese have to realize” and went downhill from there (from the snippet of about 3 paragraphs the site gave so you could see if you wanted to buy it).

I obviously did not buy the article, so I don’t know how bad it got.  But I would say to the author of the article, way to go to offend your supposed target demographic.  Putting things into an us/them situation is NOT going to help you sell that article. 

Showing people you are looking down your nose at them is not going to bring you money.  If you really want to do an article about how to not overeat for the holidays, at least try to get over yourself enough to not say “here’s what you obese have to do.”  That should be so obvious.  That it’s not says something about the state of the culture we live in.

 

*Not the actual title of the article, I can’t remember what the real title was, and can’t be bothered to go back and look.

The Tyranny of Perfectionism — Friday Self Esteem

This is the post I was going to make on Friday, but was put off due to a migraine.  Thank you all for your patience with me.

On Wednesday, I had a delightful time making cookies with a very good freind of mine.   I was teaching her how to bake cookies.  Actually, as she’s a woman with children grown and left home, what I was really doing was giving her permission to not be perfect. 

We started off the day with her telling me that her fear of not being perfect usually paralyzes her in learning new things (like making cookies).  So, most of the day was spent with me giving her permission to not be perfect.  It’s baking, not nuclear science, if the sugar isn’t exactly one cup, it’s not really going to make a difference.  Yes, you want to be accurate in your measuring, but a tablespoon extra flour when the recipe calls for two and a quarter cups isn’t going to hurt.  Nor will an extra teaspoon of milk.

It’s taken me a long time to get over being a perfectionist.  At some point, I realized that the ideal of perfection had actually become the tyranny of perfection, and it was doing more to hinder me than to help me.

Like my friend, I used to be afraid to try anything new.  Learning a new art or craft was fraught with anxiety for me, because I knew I wouldn’t be “good enough”.  I expected perfection, the first time, every time.  When I didn’t get perfection the first time, it would only prove my belief that I was a failure.  Because, obviously, I couldn’t do this thing perfectly, so I was a failure.

I know that parents think they are helping their children to strive better when they say things like, “It’s only worth doing if it’s worth doing right!” or “Do it right the first time, then you don’t have to redo it.”  But something they don’t take into consideration is that there is a time when people are learning things where their best efforts are going to be mediocre.  Or even bad.  

To say the above can cause a person (child or adult) to internalize the mistakes as them being a mistake.  If you hear over and over that what you do isn’t good enough (especially for a child), you start to internalize the message.  It’s no longer that thing you made is a failure, but you are a failure for not making that thing perfect. 

It took me a long time to realize my perfectionism had crippled me.  I’d take up a new craft, and when I didn’t get it right the first time, I’d get frustrated, with myself, with the craft.  I’d beat myself up, telling myself I obviously wasn’t creative, wasn’t an artist, wasn’t good enough because I couldn’t do anything right.  Never mind that I’m accomplished at so many things (things I had to learn to do that included mistakes when I was learning). 

This is the really sad thing about the tyranny of perfectionism.  Because you aren’t perfect the first time in whatever, you use it to beat yourself up, to confirm to yourself what you knew (sometimes always knew) about what a failure you are.  But the fact is, even if you fail at this thing, you succeed in many other areas.  Do you have a job?  The fact that you obtained the job is a success (yes, even if the job is “just” retail or “just” fast food or “just” whatever).  Most likely, you were not the only one interviewed for the position, and they chose you.  Do you know how to cook?  The fact that you can do so is a success (even if it’s “only” home cooking and not gourmet or “only” four things or “only” whatever). 

My friend is an accomplished seamstress.  She can make clothes with no patterns.  She can make full Elizebethan costumes with no patterns (that includes the corset, the two under skirts, the over skirt, the partlet — a kind of old fashioned dicky — and the bodice/coat on top of it all).  And yet, she feels like a failure because she can’t roll a dough ball perfectly round.  It boggles the mind, although I’ve done it too.  I am very good at cooking (I’ve even had professional chefs eat my food, which is a high compliment), and yet, because I have poor sewing skills, I’ve called myself a failure.

When I was in my twenties, I heard something that has had a profound affect on me regarding perfection.  It was regarding baseball players averages.  They have their averages in hits looking like .346.  That means that they hit the ball 346 time out of 1000.  That’s not perfect.  That’s not even average (if you look at average as being halfway), yet the guys who hit in the .300’s+ are the ones that make the big baseball salaries.  They are the ones that are considered a major success.  They are the ones who are bid on hot and heavy when it comes time to bid on players at the beginning of the season.

Yet they fail 600+ times out of 1000 attempts to hit the ball.  Think about that for a while.

Failure isn’t necessarily bad.  Perfection isn’t necessarily all it’s cracked up to be.

My friend went home with some awesome cookies that she helped make, and hopefully, permission to not have to make the dough balls perfectly round every time she makes this specific type of cookie.   And by giving her permission to not be perfect, I also reminded myself that I don’t have to be perfect. 

It really is okay to not be perfect, to not do it right the first time, every time.   The cookies come out tasting great even if they are a little lopsided.   And, as another saying goes, the proof of the pudding (or cookie) is in the eating.

Color outside the lines.  Make lopsided cookie balls.  Learn to love the process of learning.  Give yourself permission to screw up once in a while.  And most importantly, remember that just because you make mistakes doing something (whether it’s something new or something old to you), that does not mean you are a failure.

The Magic of Christmas Snow — Saturday Fluff

Friday’s post was circumvented by a migraine.  I will still post it either today or tomorrow, after I get done making more cookies.  Here’s Saturday’s fluff post though.

When I first met my husband Conall, he warned me that as long as I was with him, I’d never see another “white Christmas.” He was convinced he was cursed to never see snow on Christmas in his life. He had some good reasons for this conviction he had.

For as long as he could remember, he’s lived in the south-ish part of the USA. So, of course, getting snow for Christmas was going to be an iffy thing. When he grew up, he joined the military, and was stationed for a year in Germany, on the top of a mountain. He arrived in Germany in December, and was excited, thinking that FINALLY, he was going to see snow for Christmas. After all, he was in a very northern geographical location, on the top of a mountain. How could it NOT snow? It was an unusual year for snow that year. It had snowed some before he arrived, but not much, and it never got cold enough for the snow to stay. The whole month of December, it didn’t snow. Not even flurries. Everybody was commenting on how unusual it was. Needless to say, there was no snow on Christmas. Two days after New Year’s, it started snowing. And didn’t stop for 3 weeks. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back with his belief that he was cursed not to ever see snow at Christmas.

See, it was things like that, and like the time (before he went to Germany) when he was stationed in Texas. El Paso, Texas. They NEVER get snow there. He went “home” to Maryland on leave for Christmas, and thought that maybe he might have a chance to see snow, because at least Maryland was north enough to get snow. That year, Maryland had 70 degree weather on Christmas Day, while El Paso, Texas received (you guessed it) a freak snow storm, dumping 12 inches of snow on the area.

So, he had good evidence by his way of thinking, for his belief that he was cursed never to see snow on Christmas.

The first year I lived with him, it was a balmy 50+ degrees, and of course, no snow.

The second year, I asked the universe for a Christmas miracle for him. Not anything that would muck with the weather, but if conditions were right, and it wouldn’t hurt anything, if there could be some snow on Christmas.

The week before Christmas had been cold, and there had been an ice storm almost exactly one week before Christmas. Even though everything was all sparkling in the sun and beautiful, it wasn’t snow, and it wasn’t ON Christmas. Conall was disappointed, but decided to appreciate the beauty he was able to see around him. As the week went on, it got warmer (as it does in NC, one day it’ll be 20*, the next 70*). Conall had resigned himself to not seeing any snow again.

I increased my prayers for snow for him.

Christmas eve day dawned cool, and cloudy, but it was supposed to get colder as the day wore on. I was working hard at getting things ready for Christmas (cooking, baking, wrapping presents that were left to the last minute) and by 1 am (technically, Christmas Day), I was exhausted. I was planning on taking a shower, and going to bed. I was cranky from doing all the work, and just not feeling the Christmas spirit that year.

While I was getting ready to take a shower, Conall came into the kitchen, and showed me his hand. It was full of snow. My first response was, “I’m about ready to take a shower, what do you want?” Conall just stood there, showing me his hand full of snow, and said “Look! It’s SNOWING!” I responded with, “Yeah? It’s snow. So what???” Yeah, I’m dense sometimes, but in my defense, I’m a Chicago girl, and snow around Christmas was normal for me. Then I looked at his face.

His face was so full of childlike wonder. Here was a grown man who, for as far back as he could remember, had never seen snow on Christmas, outside of on the tv or in a movie. His eyes were alive with wonder, his whole face was filled with boyish wonder and awe. He positively glowed.

I told him to give me a few minutes to take my shower, and let me get dressed, and I’d go outside with him and watch it snow.

We went outside together, and just drank in the energy of Christmas Snow.

Since then (ten years ago now), Conall’s seen Christmas snow a couple of times, but he always remembers his first Christmas Snow.

Seeing his face that night reminded me what the season is really about. It’s not about the latest video games, or how many presents you get or the dollar amount of each present. It’s about Peace on Earth, and Goodwill to Men.

And it can be found in something as free as atmospheric conditions being completely perfect for a 37 year old man to see snow on Christmas, for the first time in his life.

Happy Holidays everybody. May the light and love of the holidays warm your hearts into the New Year.

Holiday Excess?

I was checking mail on hotmail, and saw an advertisement:

Hot Chocolate  2,000 steps
Cookies  4,000 steps
Cranberry Sauce 8,000 steps
Get rid of the holiday excess
Track your progress at Health Vault

Of course, when you click on the link, the first thing you see is

Lose or maintain weight

Take the first step with HealthVault

Carrying extra pounds can contribute to a host of problems. Even a little weight loss can improve health and energy. Whatever your focus, we’ve found the tools that can get you results.

The steps on the first page have to do with tracking your exercise by using Microsoft Virtual Earth to figure out how far you’ve gone.  This step also encourages you to get your friends signed up too, so you can compete with them on how much exercise you do.

The second step tries to get you to buy a specific pedometer so you can upload your steps automatically into your computer.

As you go further into the site, you see “one family’s story”:  They use HealthVault to keep track of the 11 year old’s health data so they don’t have to keep track of paper.  Also, the 11 year old is seeing a nutritionist, but the nutritionist’s computer program and HealthVault aren’t compatible, but that’s no problem!  All you have to do is upload all the information manually.   They also use HealthVault to manage the father’s blood pressure (by plugging the blood pressure cuff into the computer and uploading the information directly in).  The father also gives his doctor permission to see the information stored in HealthVault so the doctor can see how things are going with his BP.  And finally, the mother wants to stay fit and uses HealthVault for that purpose.  She can choose to let others see her progress, and chooses to let her sister see her exercise progress, but not her food diary, “that’s too personal.”

While the program is trying to do more than just nod at ‘health’ concerns, it’s main focus is on losing weight.  Everywhere you go on the site, you are being given advice on how to lose weight, whether it’s by establishing healthy meal plans (with a section that reads Food can be friend or foe, but can’t be avoided—we all eat. Make food work for you by developing a healthy eating plan), tracking your exercise, competing with others on exercise. 

Of course, they also want to sell you all the gadgets, the pedometer (normally $60, on sale now from Amazon at $32), the heart monitor (normally $240, on sale now from Amazon at $195), and the blood pressure cuff (normally $90, on sale now for $65). 

The first problem I have with this is that it’s a glorified weight loss site.   It does what just about every other weight loss site out there does — basically, tracks your calories in and out.  It states that it provides motivation (so do other weight loss sites), and provides you with a place to put all your vital health information.

That might actually be the one saving grace of this program, except that it’s not compatible with other programs.  For a time saving device, it’s not very time saving when you have to do data entry every time you come home from the nutritionist.  (And an 11 year old going to see a nutritionist?  Really?  That’s not setting the 11 year up for years of problems later.  “Yeah, I was so fat, my mom made me go see a nutritionist when I was 11!”)

Never mind that something online is only as good as your password.  Your information is always at risk, no matter how secure the site is (ask anybody who’s had people hack into their bank accounts — of which I personally know two).  I may be just a little bit paranoid, but I have to wonder who else (besides my physician) would be able to get their hands on my personal medical information, and what purposes they’d use it for.

But really, do we need another diet site out there?  Isn’t there enough with all the ones in the ethernet already?   I guess Microsoft thinks they need to get on the diet (for your health, of course) bandwagon.  

Since it’s the holidays, here’s my “Christmas wish” (that will take all the ‘magic’ of Tim Allen’s Santa Clause in The Santa Clauseto pull off):  For once, I’d like to see a program that tracked exercise, and healthy eating without the goal being weight loss.  I like to challenge myself, and it would be really cool to plug in how long I spent on the exercise bike, or how far I walked in the Garden of the Gods, or that I did my yoga tape x amount of days a year.  It would give me a sense of accomplishment, really.  But I’m no good at making spreadsheets (I know some people are whiz’s at them, but for me it’s a struggle), and writing it down and not having a tally (x amount of days for yoga, x total miles walked in Garden of the Gods, etc) isn’t much good.  I know, I’ve tried it.

So, Microsoft and any other program developer out there?   You want to get me to use your program?  Then design it without all the encouragement to lose weight.  Design it so I don’t have to wade through the daily tips on how to not engage in “holiday excess”, and if I do, how many extra steps I’m going to have to walk to get rid of that hot chocolate.  So I can utilize the parts I want to utilize without wading through all the parts I don’t want.  Heck, if you could even make it so I can personalize it and opt out of the in-your-face dieting stuff, I’d be happy. 

Cuz, yanno, when it’s 16 degrees Fahrenheit outside, home made hot chocolate (with cinnamon in it and mini marshmallows on top) is just the thing I want.  And I’m NOT thinking about the extra mile I’ll have to walk to ‘atone’ for drinking it, either!

Can anybody tell me?

This is a bonus post, because I’m genuinely curious here.

According to PopSeoul!, a twenty year old rapper Yoobin, of the group Wondergirls, is having troubles with her fans being upset with her for being fat.

Could somebody look at that picture and tell me who the alleged fat rapper is?  Because, I honestly don’t see any difference between the woman on the left, the one in the middle, or the one on the right (as far as weight is concerned).

I also could go into a whole post about how this is what happens when people buy into the fat epi-panic brainwashing that’s going on:  A person gains a pound and everybody gets upset because she’s ‘chunked up’.  But when you look at her next to her peers, you don’t see anything amiss. 

I could, but I’m out the door in a few minutes with appointments, and don’t have time. 

But really, which woman is the ‘fat’ one?