Monthly Archives: March 2015

Making the Cut; or Cutting your losses by tossing this book

A couple years ago, Scott and I did the 30 Day Shred, part of Jillian Michael’s exercise program. It developed muscles I didn’t know existed. My shoulders suddenly became my best body part, and I never had given them a second thought before. So when I was looking for a non-fiction book, I decided to give Michael’s book, Making the Cut: The 30 Day Diet and Fitness Plan for the Strongest Sexiest You a try.

I really should have thought twice. This book was a waste of my time.

She posits that her book will revolutionize you life, and address food, exercise, as well as psychological and spiritual aspects. It addresses the first two. The second two are vaguely referenced in random quotes interspersed within unrelated pages.

Secondly, she lays out a diet plan based on your “metabolic type”. Regardless of your type, she recommends that you eat as cleanly as possible… after all, if you’re eating calorie free, or fat free, or carb free, what are they replacing the calories, fat or carbs with? And when you get to the meal plan, what is she pushing? Specific calorie free, fat free, or carb free options from companies likely paying her money to mention them.

Even worse is in addition to the meal plan, which specifies exactly what you are to eat, she recommends a shopping list of additional food to have on hand! Even more ironically, she repeats, for each metabolic type, that the most important thing is that you not go over your daily caloric intake. Word for word. Three times. That makes for thrilling reading.

Finally, when you get to the exercises, you think “Ok, this is intense. This will get me where I need to go to be the Strongest Sexiest Me!” and yet, the final chapter pretty much tells you all those exercises won’t get you anywhere, but here are a slew of chemicals and supplements you’ll need to actually do it, but don’t actually use them because they’re bad for you, ok?

My blood boiled through the book, to the point where I didn’t bother even considering doing what she said. Too much hypocrisy.

Book: Making the Cut: The 30 Day Diet and Fitness Plan for the Strongest Sexiest You
Author: Jillian Michaels
Rating: 0/5
Features: Contradictions, vague meaninglessly placed quotes about karma, and the feeling that you’ll never actually be good enough
Who should read: Michaels’ fans

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Categories: The new identity | 1 Comment

Six Month Wake Up Call

When we were in school, they devoted an entire day to teaching us all about babies. Not about how to prevent getting pregnant. No, we were taught how to RAISE a baby. Because that’s definitely the message you want to send teenagers. Of course, being teenagers, the only thing most of us remembered from the day was “Don’t shake the baby!” It even made it into our graduation speeches.

I can only remember one other lesson from the day: you can’t spoil a baby under 6 months old. Well, little Charlie is now 6 months old, time for her to say good bye to the gravy train, right?

Maybe it isn’t so much C that’s been spoiled these last few months. I found myself at a direct sales home party (the modern day Tupperware party, if you will), being coerced by the consultant into hosting my own party. “Oh no, I can’t. I’m a new mother! I can barely figure out how to get a shower in a day. I can’t imagine getting ready to host a party!” I said to her, immediately recognizing how fraudulous this story was, especially in the context of being a guest at a party hosted by a new mother whose son is considerably younger than C.

I’ve used C as an excuse to avoid taking phone calls (“I keep my phone on silent so it won’t wake her if it rings”), for when I’ve forgotten to reply to an email (“I sat down to write it, but then C started crying”) and for day to day duties (“Supper’s not made. C needed me”).

There is a fair amount of justification to be made — my life did change drastically 6 months ago — 6 months from now it will change again when I return to work. I can continue to bury my head in the sand for 6 more months, and then wake up to a scary reality overnight, again, or I can slowly start getting my life back in check now.

Categories: The new identity | 1 Comment

A Short History of Indians In Canada: Or Looking Too Far into a Story

I spent a lot of time trying to think about how to write about Thomas King’s A Short History of Indians in Canada. I had trouble finding a single story where I could clearly pinpoint a moral in any one story. I enjoyed them, but I couldn’t figure out what the lesson was. They all seemed unresolved. Ultimately, I decided the solution was to read more: what did others say about it? Afraid my tired brain (because most of my reading happens in the middle of the night) wouldn’t handle academic papers, I found myself on book review sites to find out what I was missing.

After stumbling upon the Quill and Quire review, I discovered I wasn’t missing anything. King is one of Canada’s most notable Native writers, and he has actually written analyses of Native fiction, ultimately positing that many of these stories are without resolution, moral but rather focus more on entertainment (as a means of survival, a very common theme amongst many Canadian writers).

So knowing that I did the right thing (reading for enjoyment – how novel!), I feel a little more comfortable discussing this book. King is a fabulous writer – I read his novel Green Grass, Running Water in my second year of University. This book stood out from the rest of the reading list as the one book that was actually funny. And not deeply hidden levels of irony funny. Actually funny.

It was kind of a relief to see race relations discussed in the vein of humour. As I’ve written before, conversations on racism, particularly with the Native population of Winnipeg, have become tense recently. As a result, the student government at one of the universities in the city would like to move towards creating a compulsory class in Indigenous Studies for all degrees. While that has been met with mixed reviews, it isn’t all that revolutionary for some. After all, it is a requirement for Education degrees in some institutions (when I went through for my education degree, they had attempted to make it a class examining the different social, cultural and economic values that influence everyone. Some how, I ended up doing a presentation where I created a felt cutout of myself and posted pictures of my life on it. I’m sure I also learned something as well). Yes, there are serious issues at hand, but what I like about King is that his humour allows me to take a look at the Native culture and interaction with other culture in a less tense, and less heated atmosphere.

Book: A Short History of Indians in Canada
Author: Thomas King
Rating: 3/5
Features: Humour, and lots of it. Not necessarily laugh out loud humour, but the occasional snicker did sneak out and wake the baby.
Who should read: people wanting to delve further into race relations in a low-pressure environment.

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Adventures in Sleep Training

8:50 – It’s been just under 2 hours since Charlie woke up. Yup – there’s a fussy sound emanating from her play mat. Perfect – nap time is on schedule. If this nap goes well, we’ll be able to get the next nap done in time to go to Fitness class.

9:02 – She’s asleep. According to the Sleep Chart, I hold her for only 2 minutes before putting her down. It’s day 2 of 2 minutes, this should be getting easier.

9:04 – Soother is spit out milliseconds before she hits the crib. A scream follows it.

9:08 – Refuses the soother. Try a different one. Refuses it.

9:14 – Soother in. Asleep. Start timer. Still in good shape for the day.

9:16 – In crib. Soother out. Screaming.

9:24 – Soother out. Still in arms. Just drifting off. Forget fitness, we just have to get this nap done.

9:26 – In crib. Screaming.

9:45 – Calmed. Asleep. Soother firmly in mouth. Fourth time’s the charm? She may be winning the “fitness class timing” battle, but I’m going to win the “nap” war.

9:47 – screaming, hovering above crib.

9:48 – Baby playing in crib. Mom on couch crying.

10:11 – Wailing. Maybe it’s time for Ferber. 5 minutes on the clock

10:16 – greeted at the door by stench of poop, pick up baby in soggy sleeper.

10:20 – Cuddling on the couch with promises to never let her cry again. And never try to sleep train again. Until next nap.

Categories: The new identity | 1 Comment

Currently: In March

It’s apparently March — I know February is a short month, but wow did it fly by this year! Spring is around the corner… but before we get there, here is what I’m up to Currently.

Dreaming: about spending the summer outside. I’ve been working through every summer for a decade, and even when I’ve been so lucky as to have vacations, they’ve always been filled with travel and little relaxation. I’m looking forward to spending my days out on the grass. I’ve never worn a lot of shorts, but I think I have to invest this year.

Planning: to start Charlie on solid food next week. Where did my little baby go?

Making: soups and soft foods. Scott is getting his wisdom teeth out on Friday. I’d take it as a culinary challenge, but I already know that Scott considers anything that has been in a blender or food processor as “previously been chewed”.

Baking: Crazy cake. My brother-in-law and his fiancée came over on Sunday and I took advantage of their pending visit to do some last-minute baking. Of course, I tried a new recipe and decided not to subject them to my attempts, especially since I bought the wrong kind of coconut milk, and couldn’t make the topping the way I had envisioned so I got a little… creative.

Watching: Hockey is on right now (not my choice), but I’ve been watching more Border Security than I wish to admit, and I’m still working my way through Friends.

Thanks Anne and Jenna!

Categories: Currently, The new identity | 3 Comments

Bringing Up Bébé Or What I Wish I Would Have Read 5 Months Ago

I picked out Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman thinking it was a humourous look at parenting. It turns out it’s a parenting book with some humour mixed in. While it was not necessarily what I expected, it was just what I needed.

Druckerman examines the differences in between French and American child-rearing. Having heeded the French habit of doing, what the author terms “la pause,” (observing the baby for a period of 5 minutes before responding to them, a technique which is so innate to the French that they do not have a term for it) would have (at least in my feeding-the-baby-in-the-middle-of-the-night logic) likely resulted in much more regularity in “faire les nuits” (“doing their nights” or sleeping through the night). Alas, this technique has to firmly put in place in the first three months in order to be effective (apparently, most babies in France sleep through the night by 2-3 months. Oh, and they also only feed 4 times a day. If there was a section about babies never having blow-outs in public, I would have just picked up and moved to France).

Fortunately, there are a good number of tips and tricks that can be employed over the years, such as advice on how to deal with improper behaviour (viewed as éducation as opposed to disclipline), feed children vegetables, and most importantly, how to find the right balance between being “femme” and “maman”.

I will not say that French way of child-rearing is the be-all-end-all. In fact, many downfalls are noted, such as the pressure a mother feels to have returned to her pre-pregnancy weight within 3 months of birth (coincidentally, at the same time she would likely return to work), or the fact that breastfeeding beyond the first few weeks is rare.

But what resonated with me the most was the fact that there are so few parenting resources used by French mothers. As a chronic over-researcher, finding out that mothers don’t follow their child’s development in weekly email digests from conception to graduation and yet still raise competent members of society let me breathe a little easier. Sure, the society seems to follow very similar rules that we, as North Americans, don’t seem privy to, but these rules seem so innate and commonsense that perhaps we’re just drowning them out with research.

Book: Bringing Up Bébé
Author: Pamela Druckerman
Rating: 4/5
Features: A quick(er) reference at the end which summarizes the book without anecdotal or scientific support called “Bébé Day By Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting,” perfect for the poor parent who has to deal with phrases like “That’s not how the French would do it” from the parent that read the book.
Who should read: Everyone wanting to be a parent

Categories: The new identity | 1 Comment

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