Dear Reebok...

Recently Reebok has been running commercials that I don't like. To say the least. (I will post the ads at the bottom of this post). The first time I saw them I said, "Ew, yuk, how sexist!" and moved on about my business. The second, the third, and so on.....I had ENOUGH. I wrote to Reebok and have pasted the letter below. I hesitated at first, and thought, "What does it matter? They won't pull the ads, or apologize." But then I looked at my 3 month old daughter smiling away at me. I did it for her. Someone needs to stand up for the next generation. I'm not sitting silent anymore. I will carry my soapbox around with me and climb up on in whenever I feel like it and well, just read for yourself:

To whom it may concern:

I wanted to take a moment to contact you regarding your ads. I am an avid runner and in the fitness industry as a certified personal trainer and life coach. I am also a mother of two young children. I am horrified at your latest commercials, three of which are so sexist they are cringe-worthy. Two of the ads feature women and their faces are never shown, obviously an indication that these women are merely tits and ass. And speaking of T & A, one of the commercials shows those two body parts having a conversation. Have you cowered so low that you have to only show this in order to sell what is obviously a fitness gimmick?

I hope that my daughter grows up in a world where companies like Reebok are long gone, companies that view women as sexual objects and nothing more all in the name of the almighty dollar. We have come too far to put up with crap like this. I can only assume that your marketing team is made up of chauvinistic men, preying on the insecurities of women. Well then, good for you. I hope your mothers are proud of you. I am here to tell you that I will NEVER buy your products again.

Shame on you, Reebok. Have some integrity and apologize for your lack of respect for women.

Andrea Owen

Here is one ad that I suppose it supposed to be funny...

This one promises a better butt and legs, because obviously yours aren't good enough if they don't look like hers:

And this one is my favorite. It speaks for itself:

If you would like to drop Reebok a line, here is the email I used:


Edited to add:

Here is the response I received from Reebok:

Hello Andrea,

Thank you very much for your feedback. All consumer feedback is helpful, as it provides us with an understanding of the public perception and opinion of our products and marketing.

The Reebok EasyTone ads were created to clearly illustrate the unique benefits of the footwear in a fun and bold way. The feedback we have received tells us that many consumers look at the ads in exactly that light, however we acknowledge that some consumers do take exception with the content of the ads.

You can be assured that your feedback will be relayed directly to our marketing team.

Reebok Corporate Communications

Can we ever fully recover?

Recently, I finally got around to reading the book, "It's Not About the Food" by Esther Kane. Esther was kind enough to personally mail me a copy months ago and being pregnant and then having a newborn, it has sat in my living room calling out to me every few days. I wanted to touch on one thing she writes while telling her own story of disordered eating because it jumped out at me at a perfect time. She writes:

Recovery has not come quickly or easily; eating problems are complex and difficult to overcome. After all of this time in recovery (approximately eighteen years) and through my years of work as an eating disorders therapist, I no longer believe that one can completely recover from a severe eating disorder. Even after all these years of recovery, I still have a little voice inside my head that tells me life would be perfect if only I was thinner or that I would be more successful in every area of my life if, somehow, I could change the way I look.

I read this and thought, "Thank GOD I'm not the only one!" I write a lot about body image and eating disorders and have been pretty open about my own struggles. I've come a tremendous way in recent years, but every once in a while....I slip. I do love my body and do my best to stop negative talk but every once in a while I find myself wishing something was different in hopes that it would make me happier. I am quick to recognize it and usually laugh it off. But, I wonder how others feel- other women (and men) who find their passion in helping others free themselves from body loathing and/or an eating disorder. I've met some amazing people on Twitter and Facebook who share my passion and I wonder if they feel the same way.

A few months ago I went to see Jenni Shaefer speak here in San Diego. She was promoting her new book, "Goodbye Ed, Hello Me". It's her second book and while I haven't got around to reading either of them (yes, it's on my long list of books to read!), I do look forward to it. I recently came across a review of the book and it got me thinking about recovery from eating disorders. Jenni talks about fully recovering and that it is possible. When I heard her speak I remember wondering if she ever slips. Ever? I know, I should read the book before I assume anything, but I have a hard time understanding how people that have struggled with disordered eating and/or exercise can 100% recover from it. I'm not just talking about people that have full blown eating disorders, I'm talking about the average woman who perhaps has outgrown these behaviors either on her own or with therapy.

Mental disorders are so difficult to paint as black and white. If someone has diabetes, a simple blood test tells them how they are doing. With high blood pressure, another simple test will give you measurable numbers. But any mental disorder is many times difficult to diagnose and treat. I, myself have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Luckily I have been able to manage it without medication, but I never know when it will unexpectedly creep up on me. Sort of like a very unwelcome house guest. I believe the same is true with eating disorders.

I'll share with you a personal example. (big deep breath)

I have been thinking lately about cleaning up my diet. And when I say "clean up" I mean basically just cut out the junk. My background is fitness and I know what I should be eating to feel better, sleep better and all that good stuff. But I continue to covet tater tots galore. And I consume enough sugar to make Willy Wonka blush. I listen to my body and she's telling me I need to at least cut back some on the sugar. So, here I am, eleven weeks postpartum, not thinking strait and carrying an extra 12 or so extra pounds. Perfectly normal at this stage, especially since I am breast feeding. However, with the holidays coming, along with it comes phone book size Victoria's Secret catalogs, and a bazillion magazines at the checkout stand screaming at me about how to lose weight this time of year. Then I hear about a 30 day sugar detox. Absolutely no sugar for 30 days. Or anything that acts like sugar (i.e. carbs) Now, I know better. I even know the physiology about why carbs are good for our bodies. But..........that little voice whispers, "It's only 30 days. You'll feel better AND (wait for it...) you'll lose weight".

At first this all sounds appealing, feel better (ha!) because of no sugar and I'll lose those pesky few pounds so I can fit into my regular clothes again. I mean, how long can I get away with wearing my maternity clothes? Then the voice in my other ear freaks out! "Wait!! No!! Don't do it! You know you can't stop at 10 pounds! 10 becomes 15, then the scale comes back out every day, then old jeans come back out to play...."

It's still a battle. And sometimes it makes me sad. Like the kid with the broken leg that can't play with the other kids in the sprinklers. But, I am grateful I can recognize that something as simple as a 30 day no sugar fiesta is like swimming in shark infested waters. At least for me. And I'm sure for a lot of other people too.

So, I don't know if we can ever be fully recovered. But I would love to know your thoughts.

Photo courtesy of ashley_rose via Please visit the link to read more about the story and inspiration of to write love on her arms.

Can we really have it all?

I remember when I was 25 and it was the year 2000. That birthday was hard for me, because I remembered 10 years prior, when I was 15 years old thinking of all things that I wanted for myself when I was 25. I thought I would have it all. I would definitely be married, have at least one child, have gone to college and had an awesome job. I grew up hearing I could be anything I wanted and I believed it! So, at 15 years old thinking of 10 years down the road; I couldn't wait for the new mellenium and my 25th birthday. I would be happy beyond my wildest dreams. So, when 25 rolled around, I had an associates degree in a field I didn't like anymore, I had been in a so-so relationship for 8 years with no engagement ring, no children and was just completely lost. What happened to having it all? Kids, marriage, career? I longed for it because I just knew it was the golden ring to my happiness.

Nine years later I have the great marriage, two beautiful children, the college degree in a field I love and my career is just within reach. This is it! Right? Then why do I lay in bed each night, thinking and feeling guilty about having both? If I put my kids in daycare to work on a career that I love, I miss out on them. If I give up the career to stay home with my kids I miss out on doing something amazing that I know will leave a positive mark on others. If I do both part time I run the risk of making myself crazy which in turn bleeds onto my kids and my husband. A couple of weeks ago as I told this to one of my girlfriends on the phone, I said, "If this means 'having it all', then I don't want it."

And how dare I say that! With all the opportunities I have. A fantastic education, the gift of fertility and healthy children, and a hard-working husband who is an amazing father. Women would give their right arm to have some of the things I have, if not all! But here's the thing: As women who grew up hearing "you can be anything you want" topped with society's pressure of doing it all well, the overwhelmingness of it all can be unbearable.

I recently read an article by Jill Berry where she states,

"The truth is that modern women can't have it all. They may succeed in their careers and they may succeed as mothers, but to do both at the same time? No, that is not possible without making huge sacrifices which many will find simply too much.
The fact is that life is not a level playing field. Men and women may finally have equal opportunities, but that doesn't mean women should make the same choices as men. The sexes are different.
Most women want children and they want to be the principal carer. Encouraging young women to aim for the top at the same time as raising a family is unrealistic and, I would argue, damaging."

I have to agree with Ms. Berry here. But what do we teach young women? I can't imagine telling my daughter, "Honey, let's be realistic. You just can't do both. Choose one. Go to college, but don't go for your dream job because you'll just end up wanting to leave it anyway when you have children. Or, don't bother having kids, they'll just get in the way of your awesome career."

When I had children, I finally understood what it meant to want to give them the world. They smile, and I want to hand it over. But has a disservice been made to my generation? Courtney Martin talks about the "feminists unintended side effect" in that women who were told they could be anything grew up feeling like that had to do so and do it perfectly. Our mothers only wanted the best for us- better than what they had. But they had no idea that they may have been setting us up for disaster.

I am the first person in my family to graduate from college. I'm so proud of that. And I have always wanted to go to grad school and am encouraged by my fellow girlfriends, most of them mothers. But when I really sit down and think about it, it sounds absurd. Grad school, 2 toddlers, a career, a marriage...with a side order of cranial lobotomy, please. When my son turned one, I went back to school to finish my degree. I bought a ticket for the crazy train and took 21 units. That was the hardest 16 weeks of my life. Regardless of how the gap of parental roles has closed (somewhat), mothers are still the primary caregiver. It was difficult to leave him to go to school, study, write papers, be a wife and a mom to a toddler. I have a hard time believing women who say they don't feel guilty leaving their children 40 hours a week. I feel like they are either lying to me, or themselves. Or both.

So, what's your take? I'm curious what other moms think, or even if you're not a mom, do you feel like you were pressured to do one or the other? Or perhaps you have spent so many years on your education or career, now your biological clock is quietly whispering to you?

Oh my gosh, my life is over!

Todays post is written by Pamela Candelaria. She and I have become "cyber-friends" through a VBAC support group and Pamela herself has had 3 VBAC's!! Please enjoy this beautiful ode to motherhood. Thanks to Pam for letting me re-post this.

Every time I've been pregnant, I go through a period of blissful happiness, envisioning the sweet tiny newborn I'll be holding, the quiet moments we'll share during 2 a.m. feedings, the soft innocence of that new life cradled in my belly. I close my eyes and breathe deeply, and I swear I can almost smell that precious new baby, so new to the world.

And then at some point, the pregnancy becomes real. The sweetness does not go away, and I'm not unhappy, exactly, but I find myself longing for my life before. I think of all the changes this baby is going to bring- and it's number four for the love of God, not like I haven't done this before- but I think of the changes and I have some kind of premature need to reminisce about my life as a mother of three. And two. And one. And, of course, none. I think of the freedom, the spur-of-the-moment trips, the parties, the concerts, the smoking and drinking and laughing and sex and spontanaeity and overall coolness I had. I think of the career I gave up to stay home with my kids, the financial sacrifices my husband and I have made, the difficulties we've had in our relationship as we've adjusted to our roles as parents. I realize we haven't even found our groove after adding our daughter to our family, and yet we thought it was a good idea to go ahead with another baby- what were we thinking?!?

I remember when I was pregnant with #3, I had left the kids at home with my husband and was driving to the library to check out some baby name books. I was stopped at a light when a song came on the radio- I don't remember which one and I guess it doesn't matter all that much- and in the second it took me to reach for the volume knob and start turning it up, I was overwhelmed with the realization of how much my life had changed, and was about to change again. I ended up pulling into the library parking lot and sitting there in my minivan- so not my Miata- crying my eyes out because this was "me" time. Getting baby name books at the library without having both my boys with me. What had become of the woman I'd been? I felt so lost, so uncertain about the new role I had taken on. Motherhood is so much more than having a child, it is a soul-deep shift that forever changes how I view myself, and the world. Every child I have has increased my capacity for love and learning and life- but every child has taken me further and further from my life before. Every flutter I feel in my womb is a reminder that my potential is being passed down now; the future will soon enough be in their hands and not mine. One day they will exceed my ability to shelter them, and one day I will look into their faces and see all the things I used to have.

So I sat in that parking lot and cried. I cried for the woman I had been, and for the woman I am, and for the woman I will become. I went inside and got my baby name books and drove back home. I pulled into the garage, reached over, and turned the radio down so it wouldn't be too loud when I got in next time, with the boys. When I walked into my house, I was greeted by their little voices shouting "Mama!" and asking what I'd brought them.

And I realized then, as I will again soon, that my life was not over. It had really just begun.


Random musings of my feminist nature

I read somewhere on a list of rules for bloggers never to start a post by apologizing for not posting to your blog if it's been a while. So, while I won't apologize, I did want to mention it because thinking about it is what brought me to open this blank page and start typing.

As many of you may have noticed, my blog took on a life of it's own as I started writing about body image. I attribute it to my own evolving life and I have to thank my coach, Annamaria Poluha, because over the many months I was coached by her, I was able to pull out my own passions and live them authentically. It's still a work in progress, but coaching sort of thrust me to live for what I was meant to be. Pretty cool, huh?

At any rate, today marks my daughters 8th week of life and as I type this she sleeps peacefully against my chest in the baby Bjorn carrier. I've been feeling guilty about not writing, and many times have forced myself to sit with my laptop and start a post. I have 3 or 4 started that went nowhere. So I started thinking maybe I lost the gusto. Maybe I was just meant to serve cut up hotdogs to my toddler and wipe spit up off my t-shirts and that's it. That I'll just go back to work at a gym training clients that don't really want to work out in the first place for not much more than minimum wage.

Wait a minute. Is that who I really am?

I started thinking about how I got to be so fiercely passionate about empowering women. It suddenly dawned on me that it didn't just happen over night. I didn't wake up one morning and think, "You know, it would be cool to encourage women to kick ass and stand up for themselves and to live their best life." No, I truly believe I was born to do this.

I was a shy child. Believe it or not, I was that kid that clung to my moms thigh and hid from new people. But once the teenage years started I had an awakening. There was something about men disrespecting women that really got under my skin. My friends can attest to the fact that I would flip the bird to any man that would whistle or cat call at us when we were 14. It would embarrass my friends, but I didn't care. I thought it was so rude (and gross) that a grown man would be that way towards young girls. Eventually I would yell back at them to leave us alone. One sophomore year during a spring break trip to Palm Springs a man probably in his mid to late 30's grabbed my butt while walking by with a group of his friends. I promptly turned around, ran after him, hit him in the face and told him not to touch me. His friends laughed at him.

The behavior on my part was obviously immature, but at that age, I didn't know how to channel my feelings. As I got older I learned to censor myself somewhat but I never lost the drive to want to put a stop to what I felt was wrong. When I was 20, I moved out on my own for the first time and had 2 roommates. One of my roommates came home crying and told me some construction workers paving the parking lot asked her where she was going. When she told them she was going to work they said, "Where do you work, Hooters?" She did have large breasts, but that was unacceptable. I called the leasing office and had those men fired. I hope their mothers were proud of them.

Years ago when Howard Stern began filming his radio show to be on the E! channel I saw an episode where women allowed men to throw bologna at their butts. It was a game. I shouted at the TV, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING? ARE YOU STUPID?" I didn't get it- why would you think it was funny to be totally degraded? And no, you're not in control. You're letting people throw lunch meat at your butt. It burned me to see women act this way.

I remember learning that 1984 was the first year women were allowed to participate in the marathon race in the Olympic games. I was 9 years old in 1984. I was astounded that in my generation I was seeing historical things like this. I thought sex discrimination was a thing of the past- something my grandmother had to face. But I was wrong.

No woman deserves to be disrespected or discriminated against because of her gender. And as equally as important, every woman deserves to feel beautiful and to live her life the way she wants. To find what lights her up inside and go for it.

Perhaps I was a born feminist. Or just a mouthy girl from the suburbs. Call it what you want but I hope my granddaughters remember me as the crazy lady that crusaded for all women to love their lives and embrace what makes them happy.

Photo courtesy of DownTown Pictures

Fat Free Talk Week

October 19-23 marks the 2nd annual Fat Free Talk Week; an international 5- day body activism camapign to draw attention to body image issues and the damaging impact of the ‘thin ideal’ on women in society. Please watch the following powerful video:

So I've been thinking a lot about what "fat talk" is. It may be different for everyone, certain phrases we use more often than others to describe ourselves or others. For me, the traditional "I feel fat" is one I used to use a lot. It makes absoultely no sense really because fat is not a feeling or emotion. What I was really saying was, "I feel insecure" which is what I felt a lot. I will never forget one night several years ago, it was the weekend before I married my ex husband. At that point I had starved my way down to my own "thin ideal". We had gone out with friends and were coming home, my ex husband and his brother and myself were walking up our front porch. We were laughing about something, I can't remember what, but out of no where I said, "Wait, stop, I need to ask you something" They both stopped and looked at me, "Do I look skinny?" They both cracked up laughing, and I laughed too, but I never told them that I wasn't joking. As ridiculous as the question was, it was my own fat talk, my own cry for help. I was the thinnest I had ever been, and the most insecure.

The women of Tri Delta are asking you to make an honest effort to stop the fat talk during the week of October 19-23. This goes beyond making comments about yourself, but also about other people.

Do I hear crickets chirping?

Here are some examples:

She shouldn't be wearing a 2 piece.
Ew, he has man boobs.
Is she fat or pregnant?
Holy cow, did you see her picture of Facebook? She's gained like 50 pounds since high school.

I know, I know, we're all guilty of a little crap talking now and then and we may think it's harmless. But I think the damage that is done is that it reinforces the fact that thin is better than fat. And really, isn't that the root of the problem?

I should also mention that fat talk also is also phrases like, "If I only had your thighs, I could..." or "I would give anything to have a flat tummy like yours." Talking badly about yourself or comparing yourself to others is what I consider an all out assault on your self esteem.

So for 5 days let's all try to make a change, and hopefully (fingers crossed) it will make a difference in your life and in someone else's that you tell about it. Hint, hint. Pass it on.

Go to this website to sign the pledge to end fat talk!

Love vs. Peace

This is a post I have been thinking about writing for some time now, but the topic is something I have been somewhat confused about.

I talk a lot about loving your body. I've had my own body image struggles and have tried hard to heal them. I think I've come a tremendous way and it's become my mission to help others. However, I've come to the realization that as I spew "Love your bodies, girls!" it's a much bigger journey than expected and harder than just saying "let's do it". I have this image of us all running through the daisy fields in our bikinis with rainbows in the background, singing about how much we love our bodies. Not likely, I know.

So how do you do it? Well, I don't have a hard and fast answer. It's a different journey for everyone, but I do have some steps that will help. The first thing I want to tell you is that instead of thinking you need to love your body, first try to make peace with it. Some women really hate their bodies. They've grown up hating the way they look, have trouble looking at themselves naked in front of the mirror and have a hard time being intimate with their partners. If these are some feelings you have, starting out by making peace with your body may be what you need to make the first step to be free from body loathing. These steps are small, and the bigger picture is just that, much bigger, but here are some simple things to get you started.

First off, and this may sound crazy, but start off by admitting how you feel about your body. We live in a world where it has become so normal to hate our bodies, we have become accustomed to it and are not feeling the feelings and emotions that go along with it. If it means having to strip down naked and look at yourself in front of the mirror, go ahead and do it. Take the time to really ask yourself what you think of your body. Don't feel like you have to lie about what you see. Be honest, even if it isn't nice. If you're going to make an honest effort in making peace with your body, you need to start by really understanding your own feelings which may be hiding. If you have to cry, then cry. Trust me, I've been there. This isn't a time to beat yourself up or make you feel worse, just a starting off point. I encourage you to journal about this.

The next thing, which is so important (they're all important, but this one is grand), is to stop the fat talk. Take note of how cruel (yes, cruel) you are to yourself when you talk or think about your body. You may want to do something so you have to stop and notice it. For instance, I always wear a pony tail holder around my wrist. What I do is switch it to the other wrist every time I say something negative about my body or even have a thought about it. This can even be if I am watching TV and see someone that I wish I looked like. The rubber band goes to the other wrist. You may be surprised how often you are switching it back and forth. This is to make you realize how often you beat yourself up and hopefully will slow down.

Hopefully these two things will get you started. Don't underestimate how much body loathing bleeds into other aspects of your life. Once you learn to accept and love your body for what it is, you'll be amazed at how much it will change your life.

I'll close with this short video. I think this 4 year old little girl sums it up best...

Birth Story, Part III

September 15th, 2009 was by far the most adventurous day of my life.

If you've read the birth story of my son, you'll hopefully understand my thoughts and feelings concerning the upcoming birth of my daughter. I was in personal predicament, being pulled in two different directions; on one side was my obstetrician strongly recommending I have a repeat cesarean section due to "risk factors" and the other side were my instincts telling me myself and my daughter were healthy enough to handle labor and that a natural vaginal birth was best for both of us rather than a surgery, given before she was even ready to be born.

That morning I had an appointment with my obstetrician. I brought my husband Jason with me because I knew it was going to be tense. The week prior, I had agreed to tentatively schedule a repeat c-section for Thursday, the 17th, which was one day before my due date. My OB and a perinatologist recommended I not go past my due date because of risk factors I mentioned in my last post. During the appointment as my OB is telling me he really doesn't think I should push the date back to wait until I go into labor on my own I broke down in tears. I was hoping to not get emotional, but at that point I was tired. Tired of fighting, tired of arguing with a medical professional, tired of unsolicited advice from others telling me what I should do. I felt my body and my daughter were telling me something: That everything was fine. All the recent tests (including one that morning) showed she was healthy. But there was a little part of me that felt compelled to listen to this man who had the medical degree and 25 years of experience. My husband asked him, "Are my wife and daughter in danger?" and my OB replied, "Well, there's always the possibility of sudden stillborn."

As below the belt as that comment was, I still knew, I just knew that we were okay. I went home and cried my eyes out and trying to come to terms with the fact that I should just give in and have another c-section. My doula, Linda, said we didn't need to make any decisions today, and that I had until Thursday morning to decide. She said to do my best to relax. That was much easier said than done.

At 5 pm I went in our back yard to sit with my son while he played. As I tried to get comfortable on an uncomfortable wooden patio chair I felt some movement down below and a warm trickle. I told myself not to get too excited that my water broke and stood up. Sure enough, warm clear fluid raced down both legs and if you've ever had this happen before (the same thing happened with my son), it's pretty obvious that it's not pee. I was in somewhat disbelief. But OH MY GOD IT HAPPENED! All the tears, all the worry, stress, indecisiveness and frustration, all came together and this was it. I still didn't know how it would all turn out, and there was still worry that my daughter wouldn't handle labor well, like the doctors warned me she may not, but at least I was going to get the opportunity to try to labor like my body was meant to.

Jason got home from work about 10 minutes later, we scrambled to eat and get some last minute things together. I called my doula, Linda and she was ecstatic. She said to call her when we got checked into the hospital because it would most likely be a while before my labor began. And away we went.

In the car the contractions started. They were uncomfortable, but bearable and I could still talk through them. But pretty much all I was saying was, "Ouch, this really hurts." They were steady at 5 minutes apart. We got to the triage floor and I approached the front desk where there were 3 nurses there. No one looked up for several seconds and that, for some reason, really irritated me. I suppose I expected them to see me, throw all their papers in the air and start yelling, "Oh my God, she's here!! The girl that wants a VBAC is here! Everyone get ready!" No such luck. They were very busy, but got me checked in and into a room. At that point time started to go really, really slow and I was very impatient. They took entirely too long to do everything, (which in hindsight they weren't, but in my position it was taking too long to do anything). My contractions were getting noticeably stronger and I felt like I had to go to the bathroom (yes, poop). This happened twice and both times I had to unhook myself from the monitors and tip toe across the triage room to the only bathroom. I had to stop a couple of times for contractions to pass.

The nurse came back and checked my cervix. I was 2 cm dilated and 90% effaced. So, no big emergency. Yet. She said they were really busy and would check again for a room. At this point time seemed to go as slow as molasses. People could not move fast enough. The only thing that was moving fast were my contractions and I really, really, wanted to get to a delivery room. Now, I don't consider myself a high maintenance kind of girl, but I told the nurse I needed a room, NOW. The next thing I knew I was getting into a wheelchair (which before then I thought only sissies had to be wheeled from triage to labor and delivery. I thought for sure I would be walking. Insert hysterical laughter on that thought). I asked the nurse to stop twice on the way while I had a contraction.

When we got to the room, I immediately had to throw up. I was trembling and shaking like I had never experienced before and began to feel like I was completely out of control of my body. Like it wasn't even my own. I made it to the bathroom and told my husband and Linda that I wanted some privacy. I sat on the toilet and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I had one hand on the wall and the other clutching the safety handle bar. I was pale white, sweating, and a little confused. Was this early labor? If I was only 2 cm dilated, didn't I have possibly hours and hours before I even make it to 4 cm, when the active labor stage starts? I left the bathroom and the obstetrician was there. For some reason I was relieved to see that it was a woman, perhaps I thought she would be more supportive that I wanted a VBAC. I managed to make it into the bed and the OB began asking me question, after question after question. About my health history, about this pregnancy, about my previous c-section, about my pain. I couldn't talk through contractions and even in between was difficult because all I wanted to do was be still and not utter a sound in fear that my voice vibrations may conjure up another contraction. I finally said, "I'm sorry, I don't mean to be rude, but isn't all this information in my file or on some computer here?" With that, the OB said she wanted to check me again. Perhaps they know when the laboring mother gets feisty, things are moving pretty quickly, who knows. I finished a contraction and told her to hurry and check. I had my eyes closed and heard her say, "She's a seven".

Excuse me? Seven centimeters? I immediately thought of a book I had read, Your Best Birth where Ricki Lake describes the transition phase of labor going from seven to ten centimeters as something like, "This is the part where you're not fucking around anymore!" And boy was she right. I have also heard women say that at this point you sort of leave your body. It was like that for me. It was all happening so fast I could do nothing but think of how to stop the pain. I had previously decided to have a natural child birth. (Again, insert hysterical laughing here). However, when given the option to have an epidural when my head was spinning around, guess what I said? I would have taken a shot of tequila with a hit over the head with a frying pan.

The anesthesiologist arrived and I had to sit through transition contractions while he administered the medication in my back. He kept saying, "Don't move!" Ummm, okay. As soon as he left the room the OB checked me again and said, "She's complete." I heard the nurse tell me she was sure I was complete before he even started the epidural and that I had just gone through what takes most people 10 hours of labor in one hour. I've mentioned in other blog posts that I've always been the type of person that does things in a hurry. Apparently this was no exception.

I kept asking if the baby was doing well and the nurse told me (after I asked her for the 10th time) that she was doing better than a lot of babies that come in with no "risk factors" like mine. After the epidural kicked in things were a lot more peaceful. They left me alone with my husband and Linda so I could "labor down" and just let the baby come down naturally. After more than an hour the nurse said I could practice pushing and I said, "Like a dress rehearsal?" It was a little strange to push with no feeling down there, but practicing did help. They said they could see her coming. I was impressed with my husband who previously said he wouldn't want to see her come out at all, but he did in fact look. Part of the baby's head showed and I asked him if she had hair. He said yes. The nurse decided to call the OB to deliver. I was ecstatic!

It was 10:30 when the OB came in and sat down. I did about 4 sets of pushing and her head was out. One more push and Sydney Marie was born at 10:37. The OB put her on my chest and it was totally quiet. I didn't cry like I thought I would. I didn't say anything. I was stunned. Stunned that I did it. Stunned that she was here, finally and she was fine. Stunned at how beautiful she was. And stunned at how beautiful labor and birth are.

They let her stay on my chest for at least 30 minutes, I can't remember how much time passed. I think I finally cried, as did Jason. The placenta was delivered with no problems and the scar tissue was still attached to it. I didn't have any tearing. I kept thinking it was too good to be true, that everything went so well, even with the fast and furious labor. I said a few times that I felt like I was dreaming and that I would wake up and it would be earlier that same day. Linda pinched me and said, "You're not dreaming, you did it!"

I want to close this post by saying that the reason I wanted to share all of this was to emphasize the importance of listening to your body. Sometimes it's easier than others, but if we try and open ourselves to it, our bodies will communicate with us. I never once felt like anything was wrong during this pregnancy. There were times when I had to stop and ask myself, "Am I lying to myself?" and the answer was always no. I spent time alone, relaxing to become in tune with the mind/body connection and my body responded by opening up and communicating with me. I had to trust it and let go of fears which was probably the hardest part. In all that I have been through over the last several years, doing this has been the most empowering and healing reward I have been given.

Sydney Marie- 2 days old


*I also wanted to give a special thanks to the staff at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women. The nurses and obstetrician were so helpful and played a major role in the safety and smoothness of my birth. Without them and their support that night, I'm not sure how it would have turned out. I don't believe there are enough words of gratitude.

Photos courtesy of author. Please do not duplicate without my permission.

Birth story, Part II

I've been putting off writing part 2 to this trilogy of my birth stories, only because the last couple of weeks has not turned out exactly like I had planned it. I'm not sure what I was thinking; pregnancy and birth can never be planned, many times there are bumps in the road and sharp turns need to be made. But if you read my last post, you know that I didn't have the best experience with the birth of my son and that my cesarean section left me feeling, well.....scarred for life.

With this pregnancy I had planned on a vaginal birth. My situation is called a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean, called a VBAC (pronounced "vee-back"). There has been much controversy over the years about VBAC and I won't spend time going over all of the research I have done, but in a nutshell, I felt that a vaginal birth was completely safe for me and my baby and my obstetrician was in agreement and supportive. I was ecstatic to be able to have a baby the way nature intended.

At 18 weeks things began to go slightly downhill. I was told I had what is called a uterine synechiae, basically scar tissue on my uterus connected to the placenta. Basically it was caused by my previous c-section. Another thing to add to my list of "why my c-section sucked". They said they are usually harmless, but weren't going to say a for certain "yes" to my VBAC until they checked it again, at 34 weeks. So I had to wait until then for them to not only check that, but check the baby to make sure she wasn't harmed by this and for them to tell me what they thought about the safest way for me to birth.

Week 34 came around and the synechiae was almost MIA, apparently it's typical for it to get pushed aside at that point. So, my VBAC was agreed by the perinatologist that I would be a good candidate. Hooray!!! I was so excited! I hired a doula and threw myself into researching about VBAC, natural childbirth and just birth in general. I couldn't wait to experince the magic of childbirth. Of course I knew that there was always a chance of another c-section, but I was content knowing that I would be able to allow my body to do what it was meant to do: Give birth.

At that appointment, I was told that my daughter was measuring small for her gestational age. She didn't seem too worried and asked about my son's size at birth. When I told her she said, "You're probably just one of those women that have small babies". Okay. She told me to come back in 2 weeks to monitor her progress. They don't mind if she's still small, but they want to make sure that she's growing adequately. For some reason I wasn't worried. Something told me it was fine and that my baby was growing as she should be and there was nothing to worry about. So I went to the next appointment feeling confident that they would tell me she was still small, but okay. They didn't. The doctor came into the room and said, "Last time you were here your baby was small, now she is officially small, in the 8th percentile for her gestational age. And your placenta is showing calcification, a sign that it's aging".

Time stopped. My mouth feel open as if to say something but nothing came out. I promptly burst into tears.

My head was spinning. Thoughts flooded: "What did I do wrong? I'm 34, I'm too old to have a baby. Why isn't she growing? What is wrong with my placenta? IS SHE DYING???"

I think I asked a question or 2, but the doctor might as well have answered in Chinese because I wasn't listening. I did ask what her recommendation of birth was for me; a vaginal birth or a cesarean section and she said I could go for what is called a trial of labor, they will monitor the baby the whole time, if she's fine I can go ahead with labor, if she seems stressed they will take her via c-section. Fine by me. I drove to my husbands work to tell him the news in person.

So for the last few days I have been going back and forth from being a complete mess about this, to feeling confident that everything will work out fine. The reason I wanted to share this is because of this:

I have learned (a little late) that opinions on this topic vary greatly. It's one of those things that if you have never been there it's impossible to say how you would feel and what you would do. It's a highly sensitive matter. Backing up a little, let me share with you my personal feelings about this. Keep in mind; these are my feelings, and I am not speaking for all women here.

I have come to the conclusion that women are given vaginas for 2 reasons: To make babies and to birth babies. We are put on this earth to reproduce and as a female, it is our inherent right to give birth. Modern technology has given us the gift to make sure our babies are healthy in the womb and have saved many, many lives of both mother and baby. If I had had the same pregnancy I had with my son 100 years ago (breech position and severe hypertension), there is a good chance I would have died during childbirth, as well as my son. I do think the best decision was made when it was decided to have a cesarean section. It goes without saying that I am grateful for modern medicine.

That being said, it still doesn't take away the feelings of failure that a surgical delivery brought to me. I feel like a natural child birth is something I was meant to do and it was taken away. My mother did it three times, and her mother did it 11 times (all at home by the way). I can't help but think: What is wrong with me?

At this point I have no idea how I will end up birthing this baby. The constant back and forth of decisions, feelings and emotions is almost too much to bear. One minute I think I should throw in the towel, schedule the cesarean and deal with the emotions later. The next minute my instincts say, "Wait a minute! I can do this! I was meant to do this! She is healthy and will be fine." Whichever voice is louder at that moment wins, and the process starts over. Sometimes it's unbearable. This is not how I imagined my last few weeks of pregnancy to be. Worried sick about my daughters health and doctors telling me different things about how I should birth. Not knowing what's best and running out of time. The whole time thinking how powerful it is to love someone so much that I haven't met yet. That there are so many people fussing over her and she is blissfully unaware of it all.

Then there's the question of selfishness. Why is this birth so important to me? Is it really best for both me and the baby? Is natural labor really just as safe? Biologically and scientifically I believe yes, I have done the research both ways to come to this conclusion. Sometimes it's not, and in my situation as I type this, I'm not sure what the right answer is for me, if any. I suppose I will find out within the next 2 weeks.

I think as women, many of us put a lot of pressure on ourselves to have the perfect birth, the perfect magical experience, blissful breast feeding, etc. And when it doesn't go that way, combined with all the hormones, it's the perfect storm. I can only speak for myself in that sense, but I beat myself up a lot over those things. This time I am working on letting it go.....I can only control so much and most importantly I can control my emotions, my reactions and leave the rest up to God.

In closing, I have had to ask myself why this birth is so important to me. For me, I am at the end of my child bearing days. Pregnancy is beautiful and I have never felt anything so alive and amazing as having my child grow and thrive inside of me. I am very lucky to have experienced this. I have always imagined what it would be like to be in labor, to feel my uterus actually contract and begin to push my baby out of me, a new life ready to experience a life of his or her own. For me, this is the essence of womanhood.

*Note: Although I love comments, due to the sensitivity of this matter, please do not comment if you are going to tell me what you think I should do or to be snarky. I posted this because I feel there are other women who probably can relate to these feelings and that it's normal to feel them.

Photo courtesy of soartsyithurts

Old posts revisited

One of my favorite sites, Girl, Get Strong has posted 2 of my old blog posts recently. You can read, "Sweet Revenge....or is it?" here, and "Every party has a pooper, that's why we invited you" here.

Birth story, Part I

I'm compelled to write my son's birth story for two reasons. One, I've never documented it, and since he just turned 2 last week I know the detailed memories will fade soon. Secondly, I have high hopes that my next child's birth in a few weeks will be different and I would like to look back on both years and years later.

I remember during one of the birthing classes Jason and I sat through the childbirth educator said that statistically 3 of us in the class would end up having a c-section (there were 9 other couples). I looked around the room and thought, "Ugh, not me!" The teacher herself had 2 c-sections and even my sister had 2 herself because of a heart condition she has. But I knew there was NO WAY I was going to be one of them. This baby was coming out the way nature intended as far as I was concerned.

Fast forward to week 32. My blood pressure was continuing to slowly rise with each visit to my OB/GYN. I was put on a pregnancy safe medication early on for high blood pressure because I have chronic hypertension even when I'm not pregnant. Because of this the doctors also like to check fluid levels in the womb and that turned out fine, but he saw that my son was in the breech position (which is butt first instead of head first). He said ever-so-casually, "Well, if he doesn't flip within the next few weeks, we'll just schedule a cesarean section."

Um, excuse me? I don't think so.

Never having even THOUGHT about this, I asked him if I could birth my son in this position. My doctor explained the risks, the only one I remember standing out in my mind was that the umbilical cord could come out first, get pinched and cause major problems (come to find out later, this could happen when the baby is head down as well). As I continued to ask questions the conversation ended with "No obstetrician at this hospital will allow you to birth a baby that is in the breech position."

I left the appointment with the hope that maybe this little baby would figure it out and flip within the next few weeks. My blood pressure kept getting worse and with each appointment they would confirm that he was still breech. At my 36 week appointment my doctor informed me that they had already scheduled my cesarean section for August 30th. My son was due September 5th. I told my OB that I didn't feel comfortable having them take him before he was "ready" to be born. I wanted to go into labor on my own, go to the hospital and then they could proceed with my surgery. Doesn't a woman's first labor typically last 12 hours or something? Was that asking a lot? Apparently yes, and as I can't recall his exact words, I remember feeling like it wasn't really up for discussion. I also later found out that they like to schedule c-sections at 39 weeks so the mother's DON'T go into labor on their own. In a nutshell, it's more convenient for the doctors and the hospital.

I left there feeling completely helpless and deflated. I was a statistic. My OB also prescribed bedrest because my blood pressure was still rising and I was already taking the maximum dosage of medication. I went home to prepare myself and try my best to come to terms with the fact that I wouldn't get the birthing experience that I wanted. My son had his first appointment of his life: To be born.

The next day was August 11th, 2007. I was at my in-laws house with Jason relaxing and talking to him about these being the last few days of just the two of us. We came in the house after laying by the pool (did someone say something about bedrest?), I laid on the couch and reached over to pick up a bottle of water and felt something shift inside of me, unlike the baby movement. The sound of it was strange too, like something popping. I thought I probably had to go to the bathroom, stood up and took a few steps and felt the warm rush.

"I think my water broke" I said to my mother-in-law. She replied, "Well, don't just stand there, go and check!" I shuffled into the bathroom and sat on the toilet. My bathing suit and shorts were soaked and it wasn't pee. I sat there for at least a full minute, totally silent. Oh. My. Shit. I vividly remember thinking, "How am I going to get out of this?" He was only 36 weeks along....IT'S NOT TIME!!! I poked my head out of the bathroom and told Jason we needed to go to the hospital. When we got there and I got out of the car my shorts were soaked. As we walked in the front doors I could feel it trickling down my legs and asked Jason to walk behind me. He assured me that I was not the first pregnant woman to walk into a hospital with amniotic fluid soaking my clothes and running down my legs. Thanks, honey. We got to the triage floor and I politely told the nurse that my water broke. She asked if I was sure. I said, "Well, I'm standing in a puddle of it so you can come around and check if you want." I don't think they found the humor in that.

I was put in a room and I can't remember much of what happened next except a nurse casually said, "Okay, looks like you're going to have a baby today!" NOTHING can prepare you for a perfect stranger saying those words to you. Nothing. She left the room and I burst into tears. Sobbing I sat on the edge of the bed and put my head on Jason's chest. I said to him, "Why is he so early? Is he okay, what if he's not ready? I'M NOT READY!!!" And I wasn't. Sure, I didn't have a bag packed (I was in my bikini, shorts and a tank top for pete's sake) and we didn't have the carseat ready, but I wasn't ready for surgery. I wasn't ready for this. I had never had a chance to come to terms with the fact that this is how my first born would come into this world. Less than 24 hours before that my doctor told me it was certain that I would not get to birth the way I wanted. I had never in my life even had a surgery before. Never even had a cavity! I was terrified.

I can't remember how we got to the labor and delivery floor, but shortly after we met the obstetrician that would deliver my son. Oh, nice to meet you, you're about to cut me open to pull my child out of my abdomen. Oh, and the anesthesiologist. You're about to stick a needle into my spine. Great! Glad I got to know you both for 5 seconds. I feel MUCH better. Here, let me just pull my heart out of my chest and hand it to you while we wait for an operating room. Wait.....what is that feeling??? Oh-you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me those are contractions starting.

As Dr. About-to-cut-me-open and Jason chatted, a nice nurse prepped me for surgery. I watched the clock as the contractions kept coming. There were 4 total every 5 minutes that lasted about 30 seconds. Knowing what I know now, I was in the early stages of labor and those contractions were a picnic as compared to what was to come. But, I never got to know. Away to the operating room I went. Alone. Jason was not allowed to join me until they were ready to cut me open.

Much of the next couple of hours is foggy. I was given the spinal to numb my entire lower body and I was helped to lay down on the table. I gasped out loud as I felt a nurse pull my legs open (not gently) and slightly felt her looking for where she was going to insert the catheter. No pain, but I could feel something. Then I heard one of the nurses say, "Uh, oh. Meconium." which I knew wasn't good. (Meconium is a sign that the baby has made a bowel movement in utero and could cause an infection if ingested.) I asked the other nurse if that was really bad. She was a heavy-set African American lady that said, "Honey, your baby's butt is wedged in your pelvis right now. Your contractions are literally squeezing the shit out of him. He's fine". Love her.

Jason was let into the room and sat down next to me, the anesthesiologist was on the other side of me. They both had their haz-mat suits on, masks and all. The doctor I had met previously then introduced me to another doctor that would be assisting him. Another stranger digging around in my innards. Fantastic! They told me they were about to start. Then I smelled it. Jason asked the anesthesiologist, "What's that smell?" I knew exactly what it was but was so horrified I could not speak it. The doctor said, "Do you really want to know?" Jason replied, "Oh, nevermind" as he figured it out.

It was the smell of burning flesh as they cauterized my skin open. Gross. The smell is unmistakeable. I focused on the huge bright surgery light above us and just prayed. Prayed that it would be over soon. Prayed that my son would be healthy. A few minutes later they removed him from my womb and held him up for me to see. I memorized his face right then and there. I knew I wouldn't be able to hold him until God knows when, so I wanted to be able to recognize him in case they accidentally switched him with another baby like you see on Oprah. I really don't remember details after that. I was sewn up, taken away to recovery, and suddenly there was Jason and my sister. I kept telling Jason to go and be with the baby instead of me because I didn't want him to be alone. It BROKE MY HEART that I couldn't be with him right away. His first minutes of life and he was in an incubator, being held by someone else, in a kangaroo pouch bouncing down the halls, I didn't know!?!?! All I know is that I couldn't move and I kept thinking, "Am I sleeping? Is this real? Dreaming?" I really couldn't decipher between reality and dream-state. I don't know how much time passed and they brought him to me. I was able to nurse him and finally be with him. But it was still strange. I never felt fully awake until hours later.

The point of this whole post is this:

It took me a long time to be at peace with the birth outcome of my son. I do believe a cesarean section was the best decision, given that I had a breech baby and hypertension. Had I not had high blood pressure I know in my heart I could have given birth to him vaginally if given the chance. But I can't take it back so I had to come to terms with it. Both for my own sanity and preparing for the birth of my daughter.

Which brings me to my next point. As mothers giving birth, we are taught to focus solely on the outcome of our baby. There is little regard to the feelings and emotions of the mothers. Cesarean sections have become so common and part of birth that our society has accepted it as almost as normal as a vaginal birth. And it's not even close. I can't tell you how many times I have heard, "Well, at least you have a healthy baby. And that's all that matters." And I nod back with a lump in my throat. There is an overwhelming feeling of shame for being unhappy about your birth outcome. It's looked at as selfish. Of course I am happy I had a healthy child and that I was safe. That goes without being said. But giving birth is one of those things that most of us know we are going to face someday. It's a monumental day, one that will live in our memories forever. I think it's not unlike our wedding day, it's something we think about and hope that day turns out perfect. And when it doesn't, it can be devastating.

I just want to put it out there that it's okay to be angry, frustrated, sad and just plain pissed off about your birth outcome. Feel the feelings so that you can move on. If you hold it in, it doesn't go anywhere and will just get worse. It wasn't until I admitted how awful it was, then I was able to shrug my shoulders and say, "Okay, I'm done and ready to move on."

If you have a similar story or even a different opinion, I would love to hear it!

*I should note that not all mothers have these feelings after a c-section. I personally know a few that had easy recoveries, and even elected to have c-sections rather than a vaginal birth. I think it's fantastic that these women can be happy with their birth outcome. I can only speak for myself and the many other women I have talked to that have had the same feelings that I've had.

Photo courtesy of David Maddison

How pregnancy has helped my relationship with food

In the past few months I've talked a lot about eating disorders and my own struggle with disordered eating and exercise. I've had to really think about my relationship with food and quite honestly, I thought it was a crock that people even had a "relationship with food". I thought that was only for over-eaters who used food as a coping mechanism or for other various reasons personal to themselves. Then I took a good, hard look at how I viewed food and realized that it probably wasn't the healthiest. I have a history of sporadic bingeing and purging (either vomiting or exercise, or both), and would ration the amount of calories I would eat every day. For instance, I would starve all day if I knew I was going to go out and have a big dinner with friends. And when I lived alone, I would look forward all day to coming home and eating an entire pizza all by myself. It's laughable that I thought I didn't have a terrible relationship with food.

When I became pregnant in early 2007, I truly felt what it was like to be hungry. Yes, I'd been hungry before, very hungry, but the kind of hunger that wakes you up in the middle of the night and speaks to you. Literally, I would have to get up out of bed and get a snack because I was so hungry. So began the "eat when you're hungry" notion.

Wow, it was just that easy.

At that point in my life I was just beginning to honor my body by listening. Listening when I was tired and truly needed to rest instead of exercise. Listen when I was injured and needed an ice pack or a doctor instead of pushing to run more miles. Listening and enjoying how good it felt to be fit for reasons of taking care of my body and nothing else. But food, eating and nutrition were still confusing, somewhat disordered and the last thing to fall into place.

When I was pregnant, I truly had to listen to my body when it came to feeding it. I was lucky the first time in that I had minimal morning sickness, and quickly I learned that I had to pack with me snacks to be able to eat at a moments notice. One minute everything would be fine and the next minute it was like my body said, "IF YOU DON'T GET SOMETHING IN THIS STOMACH IN 10 SECONDS ANY STOMACH ACID YOU HAVE WILL BE COMING OUT THE FRONT DOOR! 10....9.....8....7...." And the dry heaving begins. I am not exaggerating. If you've ever been pregnant or been around someone in her first trimester of pregnancy, you probably know the feeling.

The second time I became pregnant, I was much farther along in my recovery of disordered eating and exercise, so I became more conscious of all things related. During the first trimester I again noticed having to eat when I was hungry and it was smaller meals more frequently. But a huge "aha" moment I had was in the third trimester when the uterus gets so big it begins to push all the internal organs up and basically just smushes them. Therefore, the stomach and intestines are being sat on. Literally. There is nothing, I mean nothing, fun about over-eating during this time. A few weeks ago I did it once. I made lasagna and served myself way too much. As I'm slowing down and looking at the bowl my mind said, "You're full, please stop, no more. Can't. Take. Any. More. Pasta." But it was sooooo yummy, and there was only about 1 or 2 (okay 10) more bites, so I went for it.

Big mistake.

I had to hold my hand over my mouth and stay still for about 10 minutes while my husband cleared the table. I was afraid it I moved that my baby would do a David Beckham soccer kick and it would all be over. It was truly uncomfortable and I learned a hard lesson. when you're hungry and stop when you're full. Who knew?

So, I'm not saying the secret to healing your relationship with food is pregnancy nor am I saying I'm completely the expert when it comes to eating and nutrition, but my main point is there is something to be said about listening to your body for all things including food. Simply put, when I gave my body what it needed in terms of nourishment, I could almost hear it say "thank you".

Photo courtesy of TowerGirl

Miley Cyrus at the Teen Choice Awards


I recently read an article about Miley Cyrus' "pretend pole dancing" at the Teen Choice Awards. Miley is 16 years old. I finally saw the video of the performance and although it wasn't as bad as I originally thought, but as a mother, I definitely raised an eyebrow.

This story made me think back to when I was a teenage girl growing up in suburbia. I had my first french kiss the summer before I started high school, so I must have been 14. I waited that long because I simply did not feel comfortable doing it before that. Ironically, the boyfriend I had at the time ended up breaking up with me because that's as far as I would go with him. I remember being 15 and 16 being the ages that the hormones really kicked into high gear. I believe I can speak for most girls when I say this is the time that we go bonkers in the boy-crazy department. Some are in tune to the attention they can get from boys, some are not (I wasn't). Some love the attention and seek it out to no end where as others, like myself wait a few years and then finally realize "the power". So, that being said, I suppose Miley is just doing what comes naturally to herself and along side her is her management team with their tongues wagging, nodding in agreement.

I thought about it more and really had to decide if this bothers me. As a woman, not so much, but as a mother, yes. I remember years ago, before I had kids and the whole Janet, "Miss Jackson if you're nasty" Superbowl incident happened. I saw it live and didn't think it was a big deal. So what? A boob. But now as a mom, and although I have years before I will have an impressionable young daughter (she's still in the womb as I type this), I would be peeved with Janet for this.

I never thought I would say this but here it is: When I was young--things were different. And I'm not that old. In the mid-80's our version of Miley Cyrus was Debbie Gibson and Tiffany. We had the Saved by the Bell girls, Alyssa Milano and Kids Incorporated. When they were 16, they kept their clothes on, didn't pole dance and to my knowledge, weren't hyper-sexual. What happened so quickly to change all of this?

Is this just how it's supposed to evolve? I had a friend (a guy) tell me to "lighten up" about Miley. I just feel that if we lighten up so much...what's next?

Hiding behind the notion of control

I’ve recently done some thinking about control. In my “old life” I was a complete control freak. Before my wedding to my first husband I even controlled everything about my bridal shower. I was so picky about the decorations I went out and bought them myself. I wanted everyone to wear pink and only pink. And the wedding itself was even worse with all the details that I was obsessed with.

In the last 10 years or so that I have known someone or known of someone with an eating disorder, I have always thought it was about control. I would think about the persons life and see something going wrong- a dysfunctional relationship, perfectionistic traits or just plain unhappiness. It made perfect sense that someone with disordered eating (weather it be calorie restriction, purging or binge eating) and/or exercise was really the persons way of controlling something in their life. And in this case it was the food they put in their mouth and their weight. For me, I don't think it was something I ever analyzed when it was happening, but it started out as something I thought I could control. I controlled what and when I ate and how much (that was the most important part). I controlled how much I exercised, therefore I controlled how I looked. Unbeknownst to me, my disordered eating and exercise took control of me. Very, very quickly.

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine, Kendra Sebelius and I asked her what she thought of this, having experience in recovery herself. I asked her if she thought that people with disordered eating that tell themselves and others that their issues with food and exercise are their own way of being in control is actually bullshit. I thought it was and wondered if she agreed. She had been doing some reading about this particular topic and told me, "if you have to control something, it is out of control". And I totally agree. She went on to say,

If they [people with disordered eating] only could control the other people in our life, control external stress, control work, control life - THEN our life would be "perfect"... it's once you say you are powerless - over people, things, situations, that is when you recover. The illusion of control is false in all aspects of addictions, and it is often misplaced on external issues versus internal strife. I don't think it ever controlled anything for us - it always controlled us. It became a coping skill to CONTROL the outside things affecting us. A very self centered approach, in my opinion. We care only about ourselves, this illusion of control - thinking if things are in control will mean we are OK. We can not control an eating disorder, just as people can't control drinking - the whys are bullshit. We could be addicts, impulsive by nature, come from shitty pasts etc. It is an illusion - a big fat smokescreen. it becomes the red herring - a way to AVOID the actual issues. A way to place blame & make excuses.

For me, it wasn't until I was well into recovery (in many aspects of my life) that I realized that saying my disordered eating was something I had control of was total BS. The outcome that I wanted- perfection, thinness, beauty, the illusion that I was strong- was all something that controlled me. It had a grip over me that was suffocating and it lied to me. The feeling of power that I had when I could restrict my eating and the feeling of superiority of watching my body change was enormous, but both of those things were very temporary feelings that I constantly had to think about and work for. I've also come to realize the control was something I thought I had over others. My ex would make comments about the way I ate (not how much I ate, just that I should eat healthier), so I would binge just to spite him. Many times he would never even know. It was my way of hating him. The illusion that I had control of my life because I could control my eating and exercise then led me to believe that if I let that go, everything else would fall apart. It would be like falling down a ski slope with no hope of stopping. And there was no way I was going to let that happen.

Years later, through many experiences, therapy and other ways of healing, I have come to know that real life is monumentally better than a life that I thought I had to control. When making plans for my baby shower my mom kept asking me what I wanted at the shower. A theme, colors, etc. I told her I didn't care, that whatever she thought was fine and I would be happy. I said, "Mom, I'm not 'that girl' anymore." She half-jokingly replied, "Thank GOD!". We both got a laugh out of that.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please get help. NEDA can help.

Photo courtesy of Esther_G

Jessica Simpson gets revenge by losing weight?

This is my first post about a celebrity. I usually avoid this because I think the sensationalizaiton of Hollywood is ridiculous and out of hand. And you probably already know how I feel about the media. But this struck me for 2 reasons. One, how my heart goes out to this girl and two, that I have done exactly what she seems to be doing.

I heard that Jessica Simpson got dumped the night before her 29th birthday by her football star boyfriend, Tony Romo. Now, backing up a little, Jessica was recently blasted for her weight a few months back and some photos emerged. These images were splashed across magazines and bloggers went crazy.


Fat? Really? When I was looking for a photo for this post, I happened to see a comment on a blog that read: "If you think she's fat, you ain't ever met a fat chick." It's amazing to me that something like this can cause so much discussion. What was she, a size 8?

A few months goes by and the news hits that she was dumped. Then while grocery shopping I saw this magazine cover while waiting in line:


I rolled my eyes and didn't pick the magazine up. But I couldn't help but think about her and what she was going through. At 29, she's probably ready to settle down and have a family. Being dumped anytime in life sucks, but this was probably a real ass kicker.

In my experience, as soon as it became a reality that my first marriage was over, my own disordered eating and exercising spiraled out of control. Part of it was depression, but most of it was not. I'll never forget about a month after my ex and I officially split, I had stopped by his parents house to wish my former mother-in-law a happy birthday. I didn't know my ex would be there and he asked if he could talk to me. I reluctantly said yes and the first thing he did was look me up and down and ask, "Have you been eating?" He looked genuinely concerned and I immediately replied, "Not much". I instantly regretted my response in that I didn't want him to feel that it was because of him. I suppose I thought the reason was because of him, but in reality looking back, it was all because of me. For a brief second I loved the concern he had about me, but 2 minutes later it was gone. And I was still left with me.

Haven't we as women all done this? Or if not, at least thought about it? A guy you're in love with dumps you and you make a pact with yourself that you are going to be the hottest, thinnest most amazing looking woman EVER! And if he dumped you for someone else, watch out! He'll want you back! ......won't he?

So upon seeing this magazine cover, I couldn't help but think of myself. I googled the story, read the magazine article online and saw a quote from her "friend" saying, “She doesn’t want to give anyone more reason to not take her seriously. She’s tired of weight being a talking point.”

Wait, what????

Yes, I think it's ridiculous that a female celebrities weight determines everything to her, and that's how it is in the real world as well, but does she really believe that she'll be taken more seriously if she is thin? Sadly, YES! The poor girl was made fun of less when she was portrayed as stupid and even did commercials capitalizing on this. But I can bet the comments of calling her fat hurt her feelings more than ever and that's when she really thought people weren't taking her seriously. Wow.

I keep reading that Jessica is coming out with a new reality show chronicling a trip across America that deals with body image. Well, I've got news for you Ms Simpson: Your first episode needs to be about your realization that losing 10 pounds in 10 days because your boyfriend dumped you is not the way to heal your body image issues. Tony Romo is not going to see you and say, "Oh man, she's so thin now. I want her back!" It doesn't work that way, and if it does, he doesn't deserve to see you naked anyway.

I hope Jessica finds peace with her body, and herself.

Self-fulfilling prophecy

I have mentioned before in previous posts that in 2003 I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (click here for an explanation of what GAD is). It was very hard for me to accept this because of the the sheer close- mindedness I had at the time of all mental disorders. In the very back of my mind I knew that something was wrong or different about me, but even that thought made me angry so denial was just a more comfortable place. I suppose I finally reached my breaking point, made the appointment with my doctor (after the urging of my therapist) and was my anxiety disorder was classified as "severe".

Several years later I am happy to say that I don't need medication anymore, but every once in a while it creeps back up. Interestingly, in both of my pregnancies in the first trimester my anxiety came back, but the episodes are few and far between now. I felt it coming back once when I had a coaching session with Larry Laprade and decided to bring the topic to my session with him. This is probably not a topic I would normally bring up, it's more of a therapy topic, but Larry was up for the challenge. As I told him about my worries, he asked me, "What is worry?" I asked him to elaborate and he wanted to know how I would explain the concept of "worry" to an alien from another planet that did not know what it was, or had never felt it. As I tried my best to explain it, I realized just how ridiculous all of my worrying really was.

Later, as I thought about it more, I wondered if all my worrying and anxiety was some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. Wikipedia defines a self-fulfilling prophecy as: "a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior."


Now, I don't want to undermine the severity of GAD or any other mental illness, what I'm talking about here is general worry, stress, etc. That being said, my session with Larry got me wondering if all of our thoughts are little announcements to the universe of a desired outcome that we may or may not want in our life. Especially if a thought is repeated over and over again in our mind (or out of our mouth), that it gains momentum and energy. I don't think that it's a coincidence that when I worry and stress about about something in particular that things seem to fall apart, but when I concentrate on how well things are and all the positive, it breeds just that.

I'm a firm believer that anyone can train their mind to bring what they want into their lives. I also think that it takes more positive energy to counteract whatever negativity someone has manifested about a certain topic. Sort of how we remember the bad and hurtful comments someone makes to us much more than we remember the compliments. Affirmations are a great way of doing this.

If there is anything you do to help with this, or any experience you've had with this, let me know!

Photo courtesy of spaceodissey


In early 1994 I sat in a therapists office for the first time. I don't remember how my parents talked me into going, but there I was, 18 years old, a couple of months after I found out my parents were officially getting divorced. I was stone faced, arms crossed over my chest. The therapist was very nice, drinking her tea and her first question was, "Do you know why you're here?" I can't remember how I responded exactly...but casually told her I came because my parents wanted me to and that they wanted to make sure I was "okay". I spent the rest of the hour telling her, "I'm fine", "It doesn't bother me", and "I'm totally okay with it". And I clearly remember never, ever shedding a single tear. I was tough. I was strong. And no one would think otherwise. I had a few more unproductive sessions with her and the only thing I remember (and was very proud of) was that I never cried once. 

The only person that saw any of my inner turmoil about it was my then-boyfriend who later became my husband (then became my ex-husband). He was 19 at the time and did not sign up to be the one to take all of my messiness on. I told no one but him. I guess at the time he was the only one I trusted to still love me even though I was such a mess. I expected so much from him and at 19 years old, he gave me as much as he could, which wasn't a whole lot. And when he didn't provide for me what I needed, I was wrecked. I had no coping skills. I would rather die than have the world see me fall apart, so I stuffed it all away and told everyone "I'm fine". 

Now I know why they call it "baggage". 

I carried that shit around for years. Taking it out on my boyfriend who encouraged me to talk to someone, anyone (besides him) about it all. But instead, I stuffed my bags as full as they would go and carried it around until I was too tired and too weak. Finally, one day I snapped and it all came crashing down in my doctors office in 2003. 

During those teenage years I had no idea what perfectionism was, that I struggled with it or that it was even a bad thing. In my mind I thought if it all looked great on the outside then it had to be okay on the inside, right? I mean, everyone else had it all together, so it was imperative that I did too, whatever the cost. I was disgusted at weak people and thought people that had hang-ups really needed to get over it, and themselves and simply move on. Seriously, I thought that. And now, today I see people that think that way and my heart goes out to them, only because I know they are struggling with their own baggage, their bags are spilling over and they are getting tired. I wonder how much more they can take. How many more times they can roll their eyes at people that have struggles and difficulties and that are simply just human. 

Through my own experiences I've learned that it's okay to ask for help. To say that you're overwhelmed, hurt, afraid or confused. Or tired and need a break. Or whatever. No one is perfect and feels nothing. Transparency is beautiful. It doesn't make you weak or a baby. I don't apologize anymore for it. And my baggage is unpacked. 

Photo courtesy of Noel Zia Lee