Friday, January 27, 2017

Our dog, Zoey

Dogs. Who would have thought that I could love a dog? Like really love a dog. On any given day of my life, if you asked if I was a dog person, I wouldn’t hesitate to say yes. But I have never been one of those over the top, “my-dog-is-my-life” kind of people. Once I had kids, my view of dogs changed drastically. The dog I had at that time became a dog. And my kids got first priority.

And then, after years of saying I would never get another dog, I met Zoey. Taking my girls to the Humane Society was a weekly ritual that we had been doing for about a year. And I was never tempted. The dogs were cute and it was sad to see them, but I was never compelled to take one home. But the minute I saw Zoey, my heart raced and she made me smile…on the inside. I had to have her. And of course, my kids were thrilled.

Zoey was roughly 9 or 10 when we adopted her. So, going in, we knew that her time with us may not be all that long. We pressed on anyway.

Over the last three and a half years, Zoey made it clear what her role was. She was not here to do the cooking, but she would have no problem eating our dinner before I got the chance to serve it. She was never going to clean the carpets, because then she would have a hard time remembering where her pee spot was. And she would definitely not be participating in a game of fetch if my intention was to throw her favorite toy more than three times.

Her role was simple. It was to love. And in a world full of so much hatred, she is a beautiful reminder that living with love in your heart is a much better way to go through life. Zoey frequently demonstrated her version of love by slapping her paw on my leg, slobbering all over my pants, breathing her horrid dog breath in my face in hopes of getting a lick, or dragging me down the street faster than my legs could carry me. It may not have been the way I would choose to be loved, but it was love all the same. 

And I didn’t realize it until today that without giving all that much (in the ways humans deem necessary of other humans), she gave our family everything. She was our constant. And in a few hours, when we say our final goodbyes at the vet’s office, this family’s world is going to change. Maybe not enough for anyone to notice, because to them, she’s just a dog. But to us, she is family.

And though I may not even come close to being the “doggiest” dog person alive, I am and always will be a Zoey person. And as she rests beside me now as I write this, my heart is heavy, but thankful that she showed me how the simplicity of a dog’s love could change my heart forever.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Post Like Nobody's Watching

I have a confession. I may fall into the “oversharer” category when it comes to Facebook. Mostly, I shamelessly share and re-share my blog posts, but I also display funny memes, pictures of my kids, and I do check-ins like I’m getting paid for it. And now that I’ve got my news feed perfectly filtered with only the people I actually care about, I truly love seeing what my friends deem worthy of sharing with me.

However, recently, there was a popular meme shared by a few people in my Facebook circle, which said something like, “if you feed the homeless and put it on Facebook, you are feeding your ego.” I actually spit out a bit of my coffee when I read it. No disrespect to my homies who posted it, but I found the meme both hypocritical and quite humorous, simply because Facebook is the very basis for egocentricity.

Posting anything on social media is an attempt to show what you are proud of. And pride…well…that is your ego. So, throwing shade at someone else by promoting the idea that one type of post feeds your ego more than any other is absurd.

Personally, I would much rather see more pictures of people doing good for this world than to see random day-to-day pictures that are cute, but less inspiring. For instance, I have a friend who regularly posts pictures of herself doing charity work. To me, it isn’t self-serving. It is motivational. She made me want to seek out local opportunities that I can participate in with my family. And when I found one, you bet I posted about it! Not to show how awesome I was. Not to “feed my ego”, but rather, in hopes that maybe I would inspire someone to do the same, just like my friend inspired me. It only takes one chain of events to make someone’s life better. And suggesting that we should keep these moments to ourselves is silly.

I mean, can you imagine waking up to your Facebook feed, and instead of seeing animal pictures, or pictures of someone’s scrumptious dinner from last night, or SNL videos of Alec Baldwin impersonating Donald Trump, there was a barrage of pictures revealing how your friends were helping their communities or participating in events that actually make a difference? Wouldn’t it make you want to do the same?

But I digress.

I completely understand and agree that there are certain instances that would benefit from privacy, rather than being blasted on Facebook. And for whatever reason (a love of drama, a need for attention), some of these “should-be-private” life events somehow make it to the public realm for all to see.

But for the most part, Facebook shows us what people are proud of, what makes them laugh out loud, what makes them happy to wake up in the morning, what makes them passionate, and most importantly, what makes them who they are. Is posting details about our daily lives egocentric? Yes, for all of us, even for those with the best intentions. But it is okay.

It is okay to share the moments in your life that fulfill you. It is not “fake” to post only about the things that make you smile. And on the same note, it is not misleading if you choose to keep your bad days private.
What you choose to share is up to you. It’s your life.

So, don’t let anyone tell you that you have an ego problem if you decide to post that picture of your daughter at a charity event, or winning an award, or doing well in school. Don’t shy away from posting a selfie in a public bathroom because you look slammin’ in that dress. Don’t feel shameful about posting your 5K training stats.

Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about posting your moments.

Let the haters hate. Post like nobody’s watching. And keep enjoying your Facebook life…your way.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A T-Shirt Dress...for Winter

Stock photo courtesy of Rotita

For those of you who aren't familiar with my blog, you probably don't understand my obsession with summer t-shirt dresses. Let's just say that I own too many, but I wear them often. I've even passed one down to my twelve-year-old daughter, who hates all dresses, but loves t-shirts. And although she's not as psyched about the dress as I am, I've at least introduced her to the concept that dresses can be just as comfortable as her pajamas (which, by the way, are oversized t-shirts).

As I've mentioned in a previous fashion post, Florida winters are pretty much non-existent. But that doesn't necessarily stop me from purchasing some winter-ish garb for the colder days. However, when it comes to winter fashion, I am a bit more selective, simply because I have fewer days to make use out of each piece of clothing.

So, when I saw this dress, I knew I had to add it to my closet.

I have to admit that I was hesitant to order when I learned that Rotita garments ship from China. Having ordered items from China before, I've found that fit is not comparable to American sizes and shipping can take up to a month. But not to worry-this dress from Rotita is true to size, and I received my package in under two weeks!

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the fit is baggy and comfortable, just like my favorite t-shirt dress! It hangs, but in a good way. And the material of this dress is quilt-like, making me feel like I am wrapped up in a blanket. I especially love the cowl neck! And for the low price of $25.91 (plus free shipping), it's hard to pass this dress up. My only trouble now is deciding which shoe to wear with it.

Happy shopping!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Choosing Your Fitness Team

I graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in Nutrition, but it only took six short months after being on the job to abandon that degree. Though the field wasn’t for me, I learned a lot and can happily apply that knowledge to my own life. So, it wasn’t a total loss.

Recently, a local personal trainer displayed a nutrition certificate that he was able to obtain from an online course in a few months. While I applaud his efforts to further educate himself about the world in which he works, I feel it is part of my old job to tell my fitness buddies to proceed with caution when accepting a diet plan or diet advice from a personal trainer.

Back in the day, I worked as a nutritionist for a doctor. When patients came to me, I already had access to their charts-medical history, family medical history, blood work, blood pressure, and current medications that the patient was taking. Based on all of this information, I was able to make informed decisions on realistic diet recommendations for each person.

In contrast, other than whatever information you decide to divulge about yourself, personal trainers do not have any information on you in which to base their nutritional guidance, nor are they trained to deal with any underlying medical conditions. The blunt truth is that even if they did have your chart work, they would not be able to properly utilize the information to give you a diet plan that is truly best for your body.

Before I discovered running, I tried the gym thing…twice. I hired personal trainers both times. The first personal trainer I hired suggested protein bars (which were actually loaded with sugar) prior to the workout. I declined and just stuck with a snack that was more appropriate for me. However, the second trainer (let's call him Tim) encouraged me to try his diet, which pretty much consisted of protein shakes and fruit. Other than my height and weight and a quick BMI calculation, Tim had no further details about my health. So, when I decided to inform him that I was a type 1 diabetic, I expected him to alter his diet advice. Instead, Tim's response was, “Great! So, a protein based diet is perfect for you!” I was amazed that, even with his obvious lack of knowledge, he was still confident in his advice...for a type 1 diabetic.

It was then that I started wondering about the accountability of personal trainers. What if I didn’t tell Tim about my health, followed his diet, and wound up in the hospital? Is he liable for giving me a diet plan that he technically is not licensed to give? Or does the responsibility lie on the client to disclose medical issues before going on a diet suggested by an unqualified person? I don’t know the answers to these questions. But my gut feeling is that a trainer is the expert at fixing the outside of your body, while a dietitian is better qualified to fix the inside.

I'm hopeful that my experience with Tim isn’t the norm. But I think it's important to be cautious when accepting generic plans. This is not only limited to advice from personal trainers, but also from your buddies who swear by products that incorporate shakes, pills or some other type of fad into your diet. While I'm sure their intent is not malicious, before committing to a product or a plan suggested by a non-professional, ask yourself if you could see yourself using this plan/product for the rest of your life. Ask yourself if the person promoting it is qualified to tell you what to put inside your body. Ask yourself if you are 100% sure that it is safe...for you. If you are unsure of your answers to these questions, then I urge you to move on and consult with a registered dietitian, or at the very least, your doctor, to find a plan tailored to your body and to your health goals.

(Tip: There is a difference between learning how to eat right and going on a diet. Sometimes, they aren't the same thing. Keep this in mind when making food and supplement choices.)

I am a huge supporter of being healthy and fit, but I firmly believe that getting there the right way is imperative. Seeking the right health plan for yourself may take more work than simply ingesting a shake or signing up for a gym. Remember- this is your fitness journey, and cutting corners shouldn't be an option.

It's hard to lose if you surround yourself with professionals who are most capable of devising the best plan for you. So, choose your team wisely, and then simply follow your sculpted path to the healthiest you.

Good luck and happy new year!

*This piece was published on Reality Moms on January 7, 2017.