Food: Friend or Foe?

I love the holidays. I love spending time with family, decorating the house, and most importantly all the special Christmas treats.

But this time of year brings out the worst of my food anxieties. Half of my brain wants to devour every sweet and delicious treat I lay my eyes on, while the other half is shaming myself for craving and/or devouring said food that is clearly bad for me. And I know I’m not alone in that struggle.

I’ve had a pretty unhealthy relationship with food most of my life. My mom never told us we couldn’t have junk food. On the contrary, if we ate the whole family-size bag of chips, half-gallon carton of ice cream, and drank that three liter bottle of Ritz soda in one sitting she wouldn’t chastise us, she would just tell us we would get more tomorrow. Sundays were spent eating five $0.39 cheeseburgers (each), bag of puffy cheese doodles (each), and whatever soda we wanted. These were good days for us. On bad days? You can’t even imagine how much we ate.

And it just went on like that most of my life. I ate when I was happy, sad, anxious, angry, got good grades, got bad grades, got into a fight with my best friend, got asked out by my crush, etc. If I didn’t have food on my person then my mind was on food. At home it wasn’t a big deal because I knew that my family was just as consumed by our consumption. Because of this I was always bigger than my peers.

Look, I don’t want to turn this into a ‘I was bullied and cried and hated my life’ post because I’m over whining about stuff I can’t change, but it is relevant to how I currently interact with food.

I was bullied because of my weight for most of my life. If it wasn’t by classmates then it was by teachers. The teachers hurt the worst because I was taught to look at my teachers as people to be respected and admired but unfortunately I was placed in the care of very nasty and hurtful people. And unlike the youth of today, when I was growing up society couldn’t have cared less about a child being bullied by anyone because it was seen as a character building life experience. Looking back today I feel like it’s a half truth but I digress.

Eventually I found my core group of friends and my weight was irrelevant. I had people that wanted to hang out with me because of our shared interests and enjoyment of each others company. I won’t say that I stopped caring about the pounds creeping on during ages 12-18 but it didn’t matter as much when I had friends that never focused on my need for two orders of Taco Bell taquitos instead of their one.

When I started college I became more aware of my dependency on excess food. I also think that’s when my friend(s) started noticing how I ate on a normal basis and they shared their concern. So I started going to the gym, attempted to eat right–let’s be honest I had an unlimited meal plan and it was my first year in college, unlimited pizza for the win!–and focused on school. I may not have gained all of the freshman fifteen but I sure didn’t lose any weight.

I wish I could say I adopted the whole working out and eating healthy thing as a new lifestyle by the time I graduated but it was a no-go. When I moved back to Miami, I got married and started looking for a ‘big girl’ job. The anxiety of the real world and my first year of marriage led me to making secret Wendy’s runs two times a day on top of whatever I had eaten at home/work. By March 2012 I was weighing almost 260 pounds (117kgs to all my non-USA readers) and literally hated myself.

I felt like I had lost control of my life. Every time I binged I would hate myself  even more but find myself unable to stop, as if there were a physical block somewhere along my nervous system preventing the sensors from my stomach to tell my brain, “Hey! Quit it! You’re poisoning yourself!” I would sit there eating until I would want to purge, my conscience yelling all the criticisms and obscenities people had told me throughout my life.

Shamu! Fat f*$%! Disgusting sloth! Sausage fingers! Jelly belly! Hamburglar! 

It’s been a few years since I’ve allowed myself to get into that deep of a depression, but there are days when I feel those negative thoughts creeping their way back from my subconscious. And recently my relationship with food has been at the forefront of everything.

Since getting released from the hospital in October I have had to focus more on food than normal. The doctors put me on a restrictive diet–for good reason–and have really been emphasizing on my need for weight loss. I was doing really well up until my mother-in-law got here for her visit. I’m sure those of you reading that have mother-in-laws can only imagine the stress and anxiety that ensues when they come for a visit.

I was totally on edge those full two weeks. So much so that I ate a whole kilo (2.2 lbs) of Nutella, a jar and a half of cookie butter, two bags of Reeses, bag of flaming hot Cheetos, and whatever sort of dessert I made for the night. Needless to say I’m almost positive I gained twenty pounds during her visit. I’m embarrassed admitting that but I figure honesty is the best policy for this sort of thing, right?

I will say that the past few months I’ve had a great support system, great friends that has been encouraging me to learn more about what I put in and on my body, cheering me on through every workout and meal planning session. I’m grateful for those in my life that have been, and always will be, there to support me when I’m at my lowest point.

I’m realizing that my relationship with food and its connection to my emotions is something I can’t work on by myself especially since I’ve been trying to do that for the past 26 years and nothing has changed.I’m afraid that my issues with food will somehow find their way projecting themselves onto Paloma. I want her to love food AND love herself. I want her to see food as something life sustaining but also something that can be enjoyed rather than depending on it to process her emotions. I’ve been debating going to therapy for awhile now to work on the deeper issues and find healthy coping mechanisms when I get anxious. I need to work on me so I can be stronger for her.

If you’ve made it to the end of this post then you get a gold star, a high five, and if you’re over the age of 18 a shot of tequila for dealing with all my long winded emotional baggage.

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Lady date in MVD pt. 1: Me Spa

I mentioned in my previous post that my sister is moving far far away! I’m still not ready to talk about her new adventure but I will say that as the day of her departure approaches we have been spending a lot of quality time together.

A few weeks ago we decided we needed a lady date in Montevideo. Get away from the baby and all the craziness that is our house. My sister is obsessed with all things beauty and is definitely my biggest supporter in taking care of myself. So she suggested we have a grooming date where we get bikini waxes and I could get my eyebrows done.

Normally that wouldn’t be a big deal for us but in Uruguay I’ve been VERY hesitant to get waxed because of some horror stories. Women have told me that some places recycle the wax (EW!) and that they don’t sanitize their utensils in between customers. I don’t know about y’all but basic human hygiene is not something I want my salon to skimp on.

As a stay at home mom I found it really difficult to find places based on word of mouth so I had my sister ask one of her coworkers what her suggestion would be. Her friend suggested we try Me Spa in Punta Gorda. It’s located in a very quiet residential area with lots of parking available in front. Beautifully decorated, both outside and in. Very spacious and welcoming aura. I decided to check out their facebook page (linked above) to see what kind of work they do. To say I fell in love is a total understatement. Lucia, owner and eyebrow QUEEN, posts before and after pictures of all of her clients. Her eyebrow philosophy clearly showed through each and every picture published. I knew we were led in the right direction.

When we got to the spa we were welcomed by Camila, the holder of all things wax, who would perform our bikini waxes. Of course the amazing sister that I am let Vanessa go first so I could hang back and check out all their stuff on display. P.S. I definitely made sure to copy jokes I saw in THIS buzzfeed listacle about getting a bikini wax beforehand. Anyway, it had been FOREVER since I had seen an O.P.I. nail stand so I was in heaven. Lucia was working on another client and I noticed it was strangely quiet for a spa/salon. Eventually I was told that Lucia and Camila work by appointment only allowing for a calm and quiet experience.

Once Vanessa was done it was my turn. Their waxing room is located in the back, really nice and small room with plenty of privacy. When it comes to getting waxed I don’t like big rooms because it just makes me more paranoid about being naked in front of a complete stranger. I appreciated the more intimate setting. Camila was super professional, especially considering it had been more than two years since I’ve gotten waxed, and friendly during our time together. If her demeanor and cleanliness hadn’t sold me yet, she told me they use a homemade all natural wax. Seriously? Could this place get any better? No burning, no rough chemicals, no bumps or redness afterwards. A+!

Shortly after it was time to get my eyebrows done. Let me say that it had been about two years since I had gotten them done professionally. When I was in Miami last September I didn’t have enough time to get to a Brow Bar at Ulta so I figured it wasn’t worth risking a spotty experience. Right away Lucia sat me down in their comfortable eyebrow chair, leaned me back and explained her process to me. I opted for the pricier design package where she would design and shape my eyebrows. Most of my previous eyebrow experience was basically all done by winging it. I wanted to see how it would go. After cleaning and prepping my eyebrows, she outlined the natural shape of my eyebrows. She then proceeded to MEASURE them to make sure they would be as close to perfectly symmetrical as possible. I had never had anyone EVER measure my eyebrows before. Needless to say, I was impressed.

Based on what Lucia told she normally does all her eyebrow designs using tweezers but since it had been so long since I had done my very bushy brows, she would use wax to clean up most of the mess. No complaints on my end. Once the almost painless waxing was over she went to work. I swear I have never been tweezed by gentler hands. It took about an hour just for my eyebrows but it was worth it. I was almost crying when she was done. Not from pain but because I looked and felt like a human again.

Lucia and Camila definitely have a return customer in me. We actually already have reservations for next week to get our nails done with them. If you’re ever in Montevideo and find yourself needing a mani-pedi or a wax it’s definitely worth making your way to them. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 11:00am to 8:00pm by appointment only. To gauge their prices a bikini wax was $250 pesos or roughly USD$9.00. The eyebrow design was a little more expensive $590 or roughly USD$28.00 but I have paid way more for my eyebrows to get done in Miami. However after the work she did if that’s not a bargain, I don’t know what is. Check them out, I promise you won’t regret it!

Since no lady date would be complete without dinner make sure to stay tuned for my review on Fusimi Buffet in Punta Carretas early next week!

The Before and After!
The Before and After!

Putting ME before MOM.

The past few months have been rough on me. Paloma has been getting curiouser, the construction on the house has been keeping me busy, and taking care of my parents has been draining. As the construction has started to wind down (today is hopefully the LAST day!), PJ enjoys playing alone more, and we are finally seeing an end to unpacking I’ve realized that I haven’t prioritized myself since January.

It’s been so easy to get lost on the teacup ride that has become my life. My contractor doesn’t buy the supplies for the house, rather he gives me a list of what to buy and I have to go to the hardware store and pray they have them. If not it’s a whole day trip to Las Piedras (the nearest city) or even further, Montevideo. Once I return home he’ll inform me I have purchased the wrong items, forcing to me grab my already grumpy one and a half year old and make the hour trek back to the hardware store. This doesn’t include the three to four trips to the grocery store–because God forbid my parents know what they want BEFORE I leave the house the first time–,the agropecuaria (a veterinarian pet supply store), the bank, the money exchange, and the vegetable stand. After this I come home, pray I brought the right things so I don’t have to leave again and start cooking dinner. All the while I have my parents telling me the internet/DirecTV/phone doesn’t work and I have to fix it along with my daughter screeching to be let out of her playpen.

Look, I know what you’re thinking. “So? We all have a million things to do as parents and caretakers? It’s our job.” And you’re right. My job is to take care of my parents, my child, and run their/my home. But have you noticed that apart from my incessant grumbling, I haven’t talked mentioned taking a second for myself?

Prior to construction starting in January I took about an hour or two a day to work out/meal plan/write/vegetate online–anything to just clear my mind from my daily pressures. As the stresses started piling up I put my personal time on the back burner, dreaming of the day when I’ll be able to have a minute to myself again. Since then I’ve been getting ridiculous headaches, body aches, nausea, and dear Lord have I been binge eating.

I went to the doctor last week complaining of my gong-like headaches in fear of having a brain tumor and even though she referred me to a neurologist, she told me she believes it to be psychosomatic. As someone with a history of debilitating anxiety and depression (what’s up Zoloft?) I wasn’t surprised to hear it. I’ve taken the past week to take a look at my life, how I’ve allowed myself to unravel at the seams and simply put, stopped caring about myself. But not anymore. I need to create order and happiness in my life. I don’t have anything to be upset or unhappy with. I have my whole family, I have a happy and healthy daughter, I have a marriage that exudes love, tenderness, and respect.

For the past week I have made it a point to get my hour or two a day back. I wake up every morning and make it a point to put on actual clothes. I apply make up even if all plan on doing is staying home–take a look to your left to my Instagram feed for proof. I started eating healthily again and am slowly easing my way back into exercise. I have spent my whole life lying to myself saying that eating like a beast makes me happy. It doesn’t. I always feel sluggish, glum, and bloated afterwards. Whenever I eat healthily I feel light and untroubled.

I need to constantly remind myself that in order for me to take care of those I love, I need to put myself first. Like on an airplane during the safety demonstration. Should your oxygen bag be deployed please put it on yourself first then place it on those traveling with you. Since I’ve made these adjustments to my daily life I’ve been so much happier and better equipped at caring for those around me.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Friendly show or an intro to bullying?

Just to get it out of the way, I let my kid watch television.

I’m not proud of it or anything but a lot of days I need a mental health break from mommy/caretaker mode and put it on for an hour to myself. For my 18 month old there really isn’t really much that holds her attention except for Teletubbies or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I normally opt for the latter because it’s easier to find on Netflix or the dish.

This morning I decided to put Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on for PJ while I unpacked some boxes. Normally I don’t give it much thought, I don’t really pay attention to the dialogue except for those ridiculously catchy tunes. But today I paid attention to the dialogue and caught Mickey throwing shade at Goofy for calling himself handsome. I remember giving the computer a side eye glance but kept on going through boxes. As the episode progressed they called on Toodles and the handy helpers to bring them a Mouskatool. I was completely appalled that one of the Mouskatools was Pete’s pants. They used them as a sail but the way that they mentioned it and then laughed that Pete got left without pants made my blood boil. I couldn’t believe that this beloved Disney character was promoting alienation and bullying of his “friends.”

I thought that this might have been just one episode. Disney couldn’t possibly be promoting these morally corrupt values to 0-5 year olds. I started watching other episodes and saw these instances recurring more and more. How is it that a show with talking mice, ducks, and dogs can encourage children to poke and make fun of things or people that are different? Are these the type of leaders and role models we want to give our children?

My job is to raise my child to be kind, loving, and generous. To encourage her to be the best her she can be. But we all know that no matter how well a parent tries to nurture these values in their child, bits of their character are molded by what they see on television.

Imagine that these little jabs Mickey gives to Goofy or Pete are a drop of water, each one collecting at the bottom of a bucket. Eventually those individual droplets fill the bucket creating a pool. That bucket is your child’s mind and those droplets form the pool that are filling it up. That pool is what your child is made up of. Images of bullying and alienation become her normal. The children watching these shows are at such an impressionable age. Should we really be allowing them to be watching these things? NO!

After today I don’t will not allow PJ to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, or any television program that advocates, no matter how stealthily, the mistreatment of people different than the social norm. All of us, no matter how cool we think we are, are quirky, weird, and dare I say it, DIFFERENT. I’m not going to teach my daughter that she has to fit a societal mold because it makes people feel more comfortable. I’m going to encourage her to be whoever she is, no matter what anyone else may say.

Pride For All the Wrong Reasons

As a mother, you get all sorts of unsolicited advice and comments about child rearing. Most of them don’t bother me except the scolding eyes I receive from my in-laws when I don’t put socks on my daughter but I digress. The other day I posted a picture of my daughter on Facebook and I got a bunch of “likes” and a few comments stating how cute and adorable she is. No problem, right? Then I got THE comment, THE comment that has been nagging at the back of my mind since she was born.
“She’s so cute! I know you must be proud :)”

Proud. Proud of what? Proud of my daughter for being beautiful? Proud of her for receiving mine and my husbands genes? Proud of her genetics that make her beautiful? I didn’t have a say in that, I didn’t get to write a letter to God asking Him for a beautiful baby. I didn’t go to the doctor and say, “Hey man, if she’s not pretty I’m not taking her!”

I don’t want this to come off as if I don’t appreciate my daughters beauty because I do. She has gorgeous olive skin, enormous brown eyes, a small button nose and a smile that could melt the ice caps. She looks like a porcelain doll. But that’s not something I necessarily find myself boasting about or finding pride in. I’m proud of her never ending curiosity. I’m proud of the moments when she figures out the round peg goes in the round hole. I’m proud of when she touches the dog in a loving way as opposed to smacking its fur. I’m proud of how she knows that a cow goes moo and sheep go baaah. My daughter is intelligent and that is something I find pride in. Again, I had nothing to do with it but I feel that spending time with her reading and playing has aided in her curiosity and overall awesomeness.

We, as a society, put so much value on looks that I don’t want her to spend so much time preoccupied with something that may or may not be there ten, fifteen, or fifty years from now. Beauty is something she will spend her entire life either worrying about and unconsciously comparing herself to others. Advertising and marketing isn’t likely to stop making us feel bad about ourselves with using stick thin models and photoshopping them to create basically these ridiculous beauty standards.
While at this stage in my life it doesn’t affect me nearly as much as it did when I was a teenager, I still remember being 13 years old sitting on the living room floor reading the latest Seventeen or CosmoGirl! and feeling awful about every little inch of flab I had that the cover girl didn’t. I’ll never forget crying in front of the mirror when I went on a fad diet and ended up binging on 3D Doritos two days later when I couldn’t handle the hunger pains anymore.
I don’t want my daughter to EVER feel like that. I’m aware that it’s inevitable but it doesn’t mean I can’t do everything in my power to show her that while yes the world will tell put value on physical beauty, the only beauty that matters is the one that lays within her.
One of my many desires for my daughter, and any future children I may have, is to be humble, kind, intelligent, loving, and dedicated to her strengths. I pray to be able to cultivate those strengths and virtues in my daughter by my example.