Tag Archives: family life

How Do I Love Thee?

“I may not love you perfectly but you are perfectly loved.”


When I was a teenager, I remember being annoyed with my dad.  I thought he should acknowledge my accomplishments more than he did.  He wasn’t one for giving compliments and I found myself pouting over that issue more than once.  I wanted him to give me verbal praise for things.  I wanted him to tell me he was happy with my performance on the track, or on the balance beam or that he loved the character development I achieved in the school play, but that just wasn’t his way and it made me mad.

It made me mad until I had a realization one day.  I figured out that it wasn’t my dad who had the problem, it was me!  My father showed me each and every day that he loved me and he let me know that in ways small and large. He often made little folded airplanes for me out of matchbook covers because they amused me.  When he had a bag of pecans, he’d patiently crack open and clean one nut for me each time he cracked one for himself and he ate my Lima beans without telling my mom because he knew I hated them. He worked tirelessly and without complaint so that my sister and I had the material things we needed (and some we didn’t but just wanted). A huge chunk of his paycheck went to the Hamlin School for Girls…an academically challenging, private school in San Francisco.  He let us buy books and magazines whenever we wanted.  He never said “No” to reading material, be it comic books or my very own encyclopedia set (which I enjoyed immensely especially on rainy weekends).  I had tap dancing lessons, ballet lessons, horseback riding lessons, tennis lessons and swimming lessons. My dad took the family everywhere he traveled because he wanted us to experience other places, people and cultures.  In other words, he was a great dad but I chose to focus on the one thing he didn’t do…give verbal compliments.

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My dad and I. I think I was about 4 in this photo.

Once I gained the insight to look at the whole picture and to take what he gave me with gratitude, I was a much happier girl.  It changed our relationship for the better since I was no longer childishly demanding he do something entirely foreign to his nature.  I opened my own heart and suddenly, I could see what I should have all along…that I was always loved and always appreciated whether he gave words to it or not.

It’s a lesson I’ve carried through all the rest of my life.  People love you in the way that’s most natural to them.  It’s a waste of time to fret over the things they don’t do (like bring you flowers) if can see that they show you appreciation in other ways (like happily fixing your car when it’s broken).  Sometimes you can make your own happiness by simply adjusting your own perspective. 

*One year, my dad started going to McDonald’s constantly.  He hated the food there but ordered his Happy Meal and dutifully ate the thing several times a week.  One day my older son who was about 3 at the time said “Grandpa sure does love McDonalds.”  I smiled and said “No, he sure does love YOU.”  He was going to McDonald’s and ordering Happy Meals in order to collect the toys included in meal.  He was on a quest to get each and every Teeny Beanie Baby in the collection since he found out his precious grandson liked them.  Now that’s love!

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My dad, my older son (who is now 19) and Matt the dog.


Olive Oyl Is An Ectomorph But What Am I?

There are roughly three main body types in the population.   They are known as Ectomorphs, Mesomorphs and Endomorphs.


To help you visualize what an ectomorph looks like, think of the physique that Olive Oyl had in the old Popeye cartoons.

Olive Oyl

She was tall and slender.  She had little body fat and no curves.  I looked a lot like her before I started lifting weights (except that I was never tall).   In the days before my love affair with the gym started, I was very slight.  As a matter of fact my friends made up a poem about me.  It went, “Lynnie is skinny from too little dinny.”  Yes, we were an incredibly talented and creative bunch!

Thinking about body types brought to mind a post I wrote a couple of years ago.  I thought I’d share it here.

Reasons I’ll Never Have a Swelled Head

A while ago, I picked up my boys from school.  I waited for them out front then walked them down the hill to the car.  As I bent my legs to get in, I felt that particular soreness that only heavy squats can bring.  “Ow, ow, ow” I muttered as I slid into the seat.  My older boy, ever the sweet and compassionate child piped up.  “What hurts now?”  I explained that my legs were complaining and told him proudly about my fantastic leg day and how happy I was because I’d managed a personal best for the dreaded squats. He wanted to know how much weight I had used.  I told him and he retorted “Oh mom, that’s so pathetic!  Mike can do so much better than that!”  The Mike he was referring to happens to be a Bodyspace friend who is a completely amazing , freak of a human being…a true gym beast.  I laughed because the comparison was so outrageous and went on to explain that there was no way for me to squat like Mike.  “First of all” I said, “I’m a woman.  Not only that, I’m a small woman…slender with little bones….kind of like a fairy or a sprite.  Matter of fact” I went on, “there is a name for my body type.  I’m what’s called an Ectomorph!”  Right then, my little one piped up from the back seat.  “What did she say?  What is she?”  His brother turned to him and said “She thinks she’s a fairy…or a sprite or an…an…Ectodwarf!” They both burst out laughing and I had to listen to chants of “Mommy is an Ectodwarf” all the way home.

In case you were wondering, they haven’t forgotten it.  Just last night my older boy leaned over the banister to call his brother for dinner.  “The Ectodwarf says come up here…it’s time to eat!”  It’s not funny, not funny at all!  They can’t remember to take out the garbage or bring in the milk but they can sure remember that!  Geez…

Try Something Out of the Ordinary

Now and again it’s good to try something new.  I’m a true gym rat and love spending time inside lifting weights and training hard.  Some people could never imagine getting pleasure out of such a thing but I certainly do.  Still, after so many years of doing the same thing it’s invigorating to give something else a go.  Not too long ago we took a family trip to the mountains.  It was incredibly beautiful and we thought it would be a good idea to try a hike.  Now I like walks, strolls around pretty ponds or along lovely beaches but a serious high altitude (above timberline) hike is something I don’t take on very often. 

Here are the boys…getting ready for our high mountain adventure

The boys were game so we set out at a brisk pace.  We reached the peak and the view was worth the labor of getting to it!  It wasn’t easy.  It was challenging, a serious cardio workout but very gratifying in the end.  We stood up there for quite a while enjoying feeling like we were on top of the world.  Our out of the ordinary activity didn’t stop there. We hiked down the mountain then got in the car to drive back to where we were staying.  Halfway there the boys insisted they were starving to death.  They explained that they weren’t kidding and they assured me they were about to meet their maker.  The little one said something about his eyesight going dim. I offered to share my tuna in a pouch and wheat crackers with them but they thought that was actually a bit worse than impending death.  We passed a Burger King and their cries became more strident and pathetic.  I did something I never do.  I pulled in the parking lot and in we went.  Now since they don’t often get fast food, my older boy wasn’t sure what to order.  He looked the menu over and then asked the guy behind the counter if one of the specialty burgers was good.  The man replied “Yeah, that’s a good burger.  It’s the only one that’s 100% beef.”  There was a long pause and then my son asked what the other burgers were made of.  The man stammered, clearly uncomfortable and said “Well those are 99% beef.”  Yeah, right!  The expression on my son’s face was priceless.  He was horrified.  I’m sure there were all kinds of things he was surmising had been mixed in with the beef.  Now, my little boy couldn’t care less.  He was dancing around happy as a clam and got a Whopper meal.  According to him, everybody he knew dined at Burger King and they weren’t dead. That was good enough for him.  The older one ended up ordering a shake and fries and waiting to eat until we got home.  He swore in the car that he’d never eat at Burger King or McDonalds again…and I believe him.  He’s a good athlete, trains hard and has started watching what he puts into his body for fuel (which isn’t to say he doesn’t like treats now and then).  As we pulled out of the parking lot I laughed to myself.  One of our out of the ordinary adventures was a fantastic new experience and one of them that day wasn’t so fantastic but was still a great learning experience for my older son….the little one told me his food was delicious and that he couldn’t wait to go back.  Ah well…one lesson at a time….

A little celebration at the top…

Down With Death Food!

 One of my rules regarding food purchasing is that whatever it is,  it cannot contain any Trans Fats….no Partially Hydrogenated oil of any kind (no hydrogenated oil or fractionated oil either).  This policy has defeated my sons’  hopes time and time again as we tread our way up and down the supermarket aisles.  Their desires for adding  boxes of most crackers, biscuits, cereals, loaves of bread, pancake mixes etc. to the cart have been dashed repeatedly by a close inspection of the ingredient list.  Before my youngest son could even really read, he could recognize Hydrogenated Oil on the side of a box…similar to the way he couldn’t actually read the word Target but he knew what the letters T-A-R-G-E-T with the red and white bullseye stood for. He understood that if he saw those particular letters together it translated into, “No, no! Put that back…no way under the sun you’re going to put that in this cart.”  He understood the rule perfectly.  As a toddler I had to teach him not to point to other people’s items and yell out things like “That lady only has Death Food in there” and “Look mommy, he’s not making good choices. He’s letting his kids eat Death Food.”  That’s when I’d give my best aren’t-children-so-cute sheepish smile and maneuver quickly to the next aisle…Oh my!! 

Grocery store shelves are full of products containing partially hydrogenated oil! Lots of hard to resist stuff, especially for young children who love the bright packaging not to mention all the clever marketing aimed at the young ones!

Hydrogenated oil is in all sorts of products.  It’s used to make food items last longer on the shelf.  Longer lasting food means more profit for the food companies.  They don’t have to rotate and destroy old product as often.  The problem with it is that it’s terribly unhealthy for humans to consume.   The following article is just one of hundreds devoted to explaining the ins and outs of the negative effects of trans fat consumption.

Looks good but beware...

Trans fat is double trouble for your heart health

Trans fat raises your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and lowers your “good” (HDL) cholesterol. Find out more about trans fat and how to avoid it.

By Mayo Clinic staff

When it comes to fat, trans fat is considered by some doctors to be the worst type of fat. Unlike other fats, trans fat — also called trans-fatty acids — both raises your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and lowers your “good” (HDL) cholesterol.

A high LDL cholesterol level in combination with a low HDL cholesterol level increases your risk of heart disease, the leading killer of men and women. Here’s some information about trans fat and how to avoid it.

What is trans fat?

Trans fat is made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil through a process called hydrogenation, which makes the oil less likely to spoil. Using trans fats in the manufacturing of foods helps foods stay fresh longer, have a longer shelf life and have a less greasy feel.

Scientists aren’t sure exactly why, but the addition of hydrogen to oil increases your cholesterol more than do other types of fats. It’s thought that adding hydrogen to oil makes the oil more difficult to digest, and your body recognizes trans fats as saturated fats.

Trans fat in your food

Commercial baked goods — such as crackers, cookies and cakes — and many fried foods, such as doughnuts and french fries — may contain trans fats. Shortenings and some margarines can be high in trans fat.

Trans fat used to be more common, but in recent years food manufacturers have used it less because of concerns over the health effects of trans fat. Food manufacturers in the United States and many other countries list the trans fat content on nutrition labels.

However, you should be aware of what nutritional labels really mean when it comes to trans fat. For example, in the United States if a food has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, the food label can read 0 grams trans fat. Though that’s a small amount of trans fat, if you eat multiple servings of foods with less than 0.5 grams of trans fat, you could exceed recommended limits.

Reading food labels

How do you know whether food contains trans fat? Look for the words “partially hydrogenated” vegetable oil. That’s another term for trans fat.

It sounds counterintuitive, but “fully” or “completely” hydrogenated oil doesn’t contain trans fat. Unlike partially hydrogenated oil, the process used to make fully or completely hydrogenated oil doesn’t result in trans-fatty acids. However, if the label says just “hydrogenated” vegetable oil, it could mean the oil contains some trans fat.

Although small amounts of trans fat occur naturally in some meat and dairy products, it’s the trans fats in processed foods that seem to be more harmful.

Trans fat and cholesterol

Doctors worry about trans fat because of its unhealthy effect on your cholesterol levels — increasing your LDL and decreasing your HDL cholesterol. There are two main types of cholesterol:

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL). LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol transports cholesterol throughout your body. LDL cholesterol, when elevated, builds up in the walls of your arteries, making them hard and narrow.
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL, or “good,” cholesterol picks up excess cholesterol and takes it back to your liver.

A high LDL cholesterol level is a major risk factor for heart disease. If your LDL is too high, over time, it can cause atherosclerosis, a dangerous accumulation of fatty deposits on the walls of your arteries. These deposits — called plaques — can reduce blood flow through your arteries. If the arteries that supply your heart with blood (coronary arteries) are affected, you may have chest pain and other symptoms of coronary artery disease.

If plaques tear or rupture, a blood clot may form — blocking the flow of blood or breaking free and plugging an artery downstream. If blood flow to part of your heart stops, you’ll have a heart attack. If blood flow to part of your brain stops, a stroke occurs.

Other effects of trans fat

Doctors are most concerned about the effect of trans fat on cholesterol. However, trans fat has also been shown to have some other harmful effects:

  • Increases triglycerides. Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood. A high triglyceride level may contribute to hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) or thickening of the artery walls — which increases the risk of stroke, diabetes, heart attack and heart disease.
  • Increases Lp(a) lipoprotein. Lp(a) is a type of LDL cholesterol found in varying levels in your blood, depending on your genetic makeup. Trans fats make Lp(a) into smaller and denser lipid particles, which promotes a buildup of plaques in your arteries.
  • Causes more inflammation. Trans fat may increase inflammation, which is a process by which your body responds to injury. It’s thought that inflammation plays a key role in the formation of fatty blockages in heart blood vessels. Trans fat appears to damage the cells lining blood vessels, leading to inflammation.

Avoiding trans fat

The good news is trans fat is showing up less in food, especially food on grocery store shelves. If you eat out a lot, however, be aware that some restaurants continue to use trans fat. Trans fat is sometimes a part of the oil restaurants use to fry food. A large serving of french fries at some restaurants can contain 5 grams or more of trans fat.

How much trans fat you can safely consume is debatable. However, there’s no question you should limit trans fat, according to the Food and Drug Administration and the American Heart Association (AHA).

In the United States, food nutrition labels don’t list a Daily Value for trans fat because it’s unknown what an appropriate level of trans fat is, other than it should be low. The AHA recommends that no more than 1 percent of your total daily calories be trans fat. If you consume 2,000 calories a day, that works out to 2 grams of trans fat or less, or about 20 calories.

What should you eat?

Don’t think a food that is free of trans fat is automatically good for you. Food manufacturers have begun substituting other ingredients for trans fat. However, some of these ingredients, such as tropical oils — coconut, palm kernel and palm oils — contain a lot of saturated fat. Saturated fat raises your LDL cholesterol. A healthy diet includes some fat, but there’s a limit.

In a healthy diet, 25 to 35 percent of your total daily calories can come from fat — but saturated fat should account for less than 10 percent of your total daily calories. Aim for consuming less than 7 percent of your fat calories from saturated fat if you have high levels of LDL cholesterol.

Monounsaturated fat — found in olive, peanut and canola oils — is a healthier option than is saturated fat. Nuts, fish and other foods containing unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids are other good choices of foods with monounsaturated fats.

(© 1998-2012 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. “Mayo,” “Mayo Clinic,” “MayoClinic.com,” “EmbodyHealth,” “Enhance your life,” and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.)

The good news is that now that the public is more aware of the dangers of consuming trans fats food companies are removing them from some of their products.  Whole Foods is an upscale supermarket that doesn’t allow foods with trans fats to be stocked in their store at all.  Your best bet as always is to eat minimally process foods and don’t forget to read labels!

Just Say....NO!

Pull Up a Chair and I’ll Tell You a Tale

Once upon a time there was a sweet, nurturing, diligent, caring and hardworking mother.  She had two sons whom she raised with tender care from the moment they were born. She fed them at her breast and later made special baby food for them from organic fruits and vegetables that she lovingly chose at the Farmer’s Market.  As they grew she packed tasty, healthy lunches for them to take to school, made them a good hot breakfast each day and prepared dinners that included a wide variety of veggies combined with delicious lean meats.  She taught them about good health practices and proper nutrition… And because of this they grew strong in mind and body. Both were capable of sharp, nimble thought and both demonstrated unusual athletic skill. 

 One day the sweet, nurturing, diligent, caring and hardworking mother sent her children on an unsupervised trip to the grocery store.  They were to pick up a few items like orange juice, eggs and flour. The flour was for a pie she was planning to make from scratch for the children to eat after dinner while watching the Superbowl (you see they weren’t deprived of occasional sweet treats).  When they returned home she could hear great sounds of merriment floating up from the garage. She went down to see what delightful thing could cause all that beautiful laughter. 

 This is what she saw.

OMG...and note the big smile...

 When the sweet, nurturing, diligent, caring and hardworking mother demanded an explanation the boys told her that she should be happy because they had made a great economic decision.  The supermarket was running a special so if they bought two boxes of soda they got an additional three boxes for free.  Never mind the fact that soda wasn’t on the shopping list or that it’s not even allowed at their house (they may only have it as a treat at restaurants and parties).  They didn’t have an exact reason for adding the Hostess doughnuts or cupcakes other than they’d never had them before and they were SURE they were the best tasting things on the planet.


The sweet, nurturing, diligent, caring and hardworking mother has sons who may chop and stack firewood, shovel snow and detail  automobiles (coincidentally, all of which they had a chance to demonstrate right after the trip to the store) but they may never, ever go grocery shopping alone!

Going Commando

This morning my eight year old son came into the kitchen and announced that I didn’t need to buy him underwear ever again. His exact words were “I don’t like them. It’s a lot more comfortable without them and I’m going Commando from now on.”

I laughed and thought about that for a minute. I think he takes after me in that regard. I wear underwear but I certainly like to be comfortable especially so in the gym. Just the other day I saw a little, thin woman working out in a big sweatshirt, sweatpants and fur lined Crocs. It’s a little chilly in the gym sometimes but I’d definitely overheat in that outfit, plus the idea of walking around swathed in big, heavy, sweaty garments makes me cringe. Seems like a little slice of horror I can do without. She’s not the only one who dresses in outfits I can’t fathom. A couple years ago there was a guy who wore a silver space suit. It looked like mechanic’s coveralls but it was made out of shiny metallic material. He’d work himself into a tizzy and his whole head would turn red. Other than his hands, that’s all you could see. I’m sure it was supremely uncomfortable and I’m also sure he thought it was doing something good for him. I don’t care what he thought the benefits were, as far as I’m concerned nothing is worth over baking in a giant tin foil wrapping.

I like to wear body hugging clothes when I exercise. Lycra is my friend in the gym. I don’t want baggy clothes that can get caught in machines, interfere with my range of motion or cause me to overheat. I also have to have my hat on. I don’t want hair swinging round or sticking to me in wet strands. Yuck! I have lots of different hats I wear to the gym. Every last one of them is black. I’ve tried wearing other colors but I’ve discovered they drain my strength…..like Kryptonite for Superman.

I’m thankful that I’m not weird like the little lady in sweats or the guy in the silver suit. I’m also thankful that since I no longer have to buy underwear for my eight year old I’ll have some extra money for new black hats!


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