Monday, August 27, 2007

"Have It Your Way"

"Crispy bacon, sizzling sausage, melting American cheese, and fluffy eggs piled high on a split-top bun. The Enormous Omelet Sandwich. One more reason to get up in the morning." Disgusting. This may be worse than the grits, sausage, and the other fattening stuff Krystal manages to fit into the large styrofoam cup a former colleague devoured each morning.

About a year ago my friend Ivy wrote a blog post about how fast food isn't the problem causing obesity in children; he contends the problem is that children are not getting outside and playing enough. As an example, Ivy cites himself, noting that he ate McDonalds growing up and was always active; so he didn't get fat until he went to college, started drinking beer, and became less active.

I must admit that I also grew up eating a lot of fast food and did not struggle with my weight as a child. I remember ordering a sausage biscuit and strawberry milkshake at Burger King quite a few mornings; doughnuts and the like were not uncommon either. And like Ivy, I was very active and enjoyed playing outside. But weight aside, what was that kind of food doing to my arteries? And what kind of taste was I cultivating?

A little over a year ago I was hanging out at Donatello's parent's home, and his sister came in the room with a quesadilla filled with mushrooms and salmon. I was amazed and envious for two reasons. First, I was surprised that she cooked a quesadilla when there were delicious brownies (encrusted with Oreos too!) and cookies sitting out in the kitchen; I would have just fixed a plate of those for my meal. And secondly, I was shocked that she craved something so healthy. I crave sweets, pizza, Mexican food, and the like. I so wish that I craved healthy food like Donatello and his siblings do (and am proud to report that I now crave frozen blueberries with Cool Whip). And I am working on cultivating such a taste--if I stick with it for a while, I'll start craving spinach salad with apples and candied pecans. But for the most part, eating vegetables and fruits feel like a huge chore to me and has to be a very conscious effort. It's almost like I am fighting 18 plus years of a habit that is pretty thoroughly ingrained. Fortunately I've long since broken the fast food habit, and despite my affinity for salty fries and chocolate milkshakes, I rarely indulge if for no other reason than my feeling that McDonald's represents so much of what I do not like about America. Despite pretty well forsaking fast food, I still make pretty unsound dietary choices--often letting consecutive days pass without consumption of a fruit or vegetable.

So perhaps during this time of transition (I move on Saturday), I should add one more transition and make a conscious effort to eat at least one vegetable or fruit a day. Yes, I realize that is much less than the recommended amount, but for me that would be an improvement. It'll help to be living in the land of salad, sushi and edadame, and the like again--Calhoun doesn't exactly have those types of restaurants. Sure there's a Longhorn now, but that is about the only place you'll find romaine lettuce in your caesar salad.

Anyway--back to childhood obesity--one thing I've learned this summer as I've attempted to (slowly) lose the weight I managed to find in Europe is that you can exercise a ton, but until you change your diet (significantly), you're not going to lose the weight (at least at my age:). Sure that may seem like a no-brainer to some of you, but it was news to me. And when a kindergartner is given the choice of pizza every single day, I doubt they're going to make good choices on a regular basis (and my mom reports that they now pour ranch dressing all over it too). Nachos are another typical entree. So if these children are as immature and irresponsible as I sometimes am with my diet, they'll choose the nachos and ice cream.

My med school buddies report that they are seeing more and more overweight children, and it took one of them a few weeks to realize that when the children reported that they played football and other sports, they meant on video games. I vote for boycotting McDonalds and tossing the Gameboys, so that children can return to building forts, making mud slides, and starting impromptu games of softball in the front yard. And eating food that is just as simple as fast food but more healthy, i.e. a peanut butter sandwich with sliced apples. Sure fast food isn't exactly the devil, but since most Americans eat it more days than not, it's certainly not making the citizens of our nation a better and healthier group (or helping decrease these darn health insurance premiums).

p.s I'm grateful for flip flops...better than barefoot since it doesn't hurt and your feet stay clean, but airy and light so you still get the basic freedom of being without shoes.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Want. Want, Want

Today I drove to Macon to meet a friend's one week old baby girl. She's adorable, and they're both doing well. While I was driving down I began thinking about all of the things we teach children--both intentionally and unintentionally. Unfortunately our intent often doesn't make a difference in how the lesson is perceived and retained as I am sometimes reminded when I see my nieces mimicking something they've observed me saying or doing. And it's one of the reasons I hate those stupid Bratz dolls (for those of you who are unfamiliar--imagine Barbie becomes a hooker and gets a teenager's attitude) and Junie B. Jones books (in which the main character seems to be completely incapable of correctly conjugating a verb). And this fact is a reason I think who spends time with children is so important. I've heard people say that "anyone can change a diaper"--hinting at what they really want to say: why would an educated, intelligent parent want to stay at home with his or her child? But in light of all that children learn from those they spend time with that statement seems awful short-sighted and ignorant. There's just so many "teachable moments" that obviously who does the teaching is important.

Of course, our society doesn't really lend itself to parents taking time off to stay at home. Sure, it's quite possible for some couples, but with a large number of single parents it's not feasible for many. And a lot of us don't want to give up the SUV, restaurant meals, vacations, and what not. It's amazing what all we think we "need." And somehow it's never quite enough.

As amazing as my recent trip was, I cannot wait to take another one and am filled with major wanderlust. And as many clothes as I have, I somehow still find myself browsing online. Want, want, want. It sort of reminds me of my oldest niece who has so many toys that an entire room is devoted to them--not to mention the toys outside, Gameboy, and whatnot. Yet she constantly whines that she's bored.

How can those of us with so much still want more? How can I complain when my problems are all related to wants and not needs? Sometimes I think that we feel justified in wanting or complaining because we have less than someone else (like Bill Gates...or our neighbor) despite the fact that most of us, as Americans (as well as my one Canadian reader), have so very much. Just by virtue of the fact that I have a laptop and internet access, you know I'm not struggling for the essentials of food, water, and shelter. So I wonder what exactly we're teaching children by our endless accumulation of stuff despite our possession of so much.

Hmmm...maybe I shouldn't take long drives because it leads to this sort of neverending type of question.

p.s. I'm thankful for the perfect health of little Sophia.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Beginning on September 1st, I will once again have a roommate, but I know almost nothing about her (except that she's fluent in Spanish and a Christian). I've been fortunate to live alone the last four years and have loved every minute of it. As an introvert, I need lots of alone time to recharge and like the ocassional weekend with virtually no human interaction. Thankfully I learned that I needed that sort of space when I was 18 after taking the Myers-Brigg test. At the time I had three roommates, and it was exhausting for me (especially the uber-religious, judgmental, mean one). But because I'm so outgoing it never ocurred to me that I might be an introvert; shows how little I knew.

My last roommate lasted for two years, and she was really something. I'll sum it up by saying that she was almost expelled from law school during our 3L year and basically had her face "redid" our 2L summer. She also stole a Nordstroms wool coat from me that I still miss about seven times a year. Anyway, I'm sure you all have your roommate horror stories too, but today I want to focus on good roommate stories and hopes for this future roommate.

For example, I hope she's not a vegetarian. I'd like to be able to eat meals together sometimes, and I rarely find a meal complete without meat. It'd be great if she was an excellent cook and into healthy foods, so she could teach me some new things.

I also hope she's 25 or older. Since she's not in college and has done missions for one year, I assume she's at least 23.

I'd love it if she was an introvert too. My last roomie knocked on my door all the time and wanted to hang out in my room. Annoying. It's hard to tell someone to leave your room....every other hour.

I hope she's outgoing and not at our house all the time. I like roomies that are ocassionally not there, so I can have the entire place to myself.

I hope she's got Brad Pitt look-alike, single, Christian guy friends in Nashville who are 30 years old or older.

I hope she makes my world bigger and challenges my views.

It would be great if she was athletic and fit and pushed me to try new sports/exercises.

Of course, I'll know soon enough, but it's fun to wonder about it. Even my last roommate (the crazy one) had some really positive traits. She was incredibly generous (although that was sort of offset by her stealing some of my things and borrowing brand new clothing without asking--she'd cut the tags off herself!) and often brought me double doozies from the mall. Another roommate had gained some weight, so she let me wear all of her clothes for six months while she worked on losing it. I thought that was really sweet. So if you were chosing a roommate, what would you hope for (assume your roommate must be of the same gender:)?

p.s. I'm grateful for swimming pools. As hot as it's been, they are the only reason I'm ever outside.