The never ending battle of the bulge…

“There’s plenty of time to train, work, take care of family, and race. You can run a 5K in the morning and still get the kids off to their activities after the event.” Really? I thought to myself laughing, maybe in a perfect world. I couldn’t help but think the lady who was a contributor to the article I was reading was cracked.

A paragraph later the article continued, “Sign up for a race and tell everyone you know.” Really, I thought to myself again. Risk utter humiliation by telling everyone I know that I’ve just signed up for a 5k running race when I can barely get out and walk? The reasoning, according to the article, is that by stating your intentions you will be motivated to get moving and accomplish the goal you set for yourself, not to mention the accountability that comes with telling everyone that you know. A goal, motivation, and accountability, exactly what I need I thought to myself. Exactly what I need to deal with the one thing in my life that I keep choosing not to- my expanded waistline.

You see, like millions of Americans, I am a person that is clinically classified as obese. For me to say that about myself, let alone write it for thousands to read, is not something that is easy for me to do. Forcing myself to deal with something that I haven’t for years, in a very public way, is one of the scariest things I have done- ever.  Total humiliation is the first thing that comes to mind if I fail in my attempt to reduce my plump frame.  I am hoping that by writing about my struggles there will be some accountability to my fitness intentions. I am hoping that by sharing my struggles some of you may find comfort in the fact that you are not alone in the battle of the bulge.

For me, although not obese until adulthood, weight is something I have struggled with most of my life. As a preschooler I vividly remember a parent at dance class commenting about my chubby legs. As a teen and young adult I battled an eating disorder complete with a compulsion to exercise for hours at a time, even though I was never overweight to begin with.

In my mid 20’s, after landing a desk job, having kids, and settling into adult life, the weight began to creep on. By my late 20’s I had joined Weight Watchers where I successfully lost nearly 50 pounds. I even managed to keep if off for a couple of years. It was after I quit smoking in my early 30’s coupled with my lack of diligence when it came to diet and exercise that the weight piled back on and has since been here to stay.

I could give you reason after reason why I am overweight but will spare you the excuse list. There is no excuse good enough to account for my size other than the fact that I eat too much and don’t exercise enough. It’s as simple as that. I know it. I’ve known it for years.

Remarkably, a weight problem, although very visible, can be easy to ignore. Avoiding full-length mirrors and photographs and dressing appropriately can go a long way in covering up the excess pounds. I have discovered that if I face the camera, put my shoulders back, suck it in, and smile half way; I look pretty good. It’s those unplanned side shots and glimpses in the mirror where I gasp at the sight of myself. I wonder who that pretty fat girl is. I wonder how it can be me.

In mid-August, when getting ready to move our youngest to college, I vowed to myself to tackle my weight once and for all. That very same week I was asked to walk in a 3-day, 60-mile walk next summer and I ran into Annette from Mainstreet Fitness who informed me that they were converting to a 24/7 facility. I literally laughed out loud at the obvious signs I had been given from above.

Admittedly, even though I have the support necessary to accomplish my goals, it has been slow going since August.  The extra nudge I needed came this morning when I logged on to Facebook. A link to a website called (thanks Bonnie H.) led me to the article I quoted earlier. The article that inspired me to sign up for a 5k. That’s right, a 5k.

I signed up for the Turkey Leg 5k to be ran in Willmar on Thanksgiving morning. I immediately stated my intentions publicly by posting to my Facebook world that I had signed up for a race. Now I am stating it you. Considering I can jog about two blocks at the moment, I have my work cut out for me.
Will my weight problem be magically solved because I have vowed to run race? I know better than to think that. Will it put me on track to tackle the bulge once and for all? You bet.

I have a goal and motivation. Now I have to be accountable. Am I scared to death of failing and being totally humiliated? Of course! I will definitely be seeking comfort in the fact that I am not going at this alone. With just over a month until race day; please, wish me luck. In the meantime, I will keep you posted on my progress which I am guessing will be quite entertaining to say the least.

“There’s plenty of time to train, work, take care of family, and race…” Right? I’ll soon find out.


Why I choose not to "celebrate" Columbus Day…

     Christopher Columbus; a seafaring hero that “discovered” America or a barbaric, murderous, torturer? It all depends on what side of history you choose to see. We all know that the history books are written by the “winners,” right?
     Even before Columbus Day was first made an official federal holiday in 1937, we Americans have celebrated the “great voyage” of Christopher Columbus and his crew. The voyage of the Nina, Pinta, and the Santa Maria; remember the stories and songs from elementary school?
     Americans have been taught for centuries that Columbus and his men were heroes that set out to discover a new land for the greatly oppressed people of Europe to flee to. What we aren’t always taught is that in fact, Columbus was on a treasure seeking mission for the Spanish government and believed that when he stumbled upon the Americas that he was really in the East Indies. It wasn’t until a few return trips later that he realized he wasn’t in fact in the East Indies after all.
     Don’t get me wrong. For anybody in the 1400’s to set sail on the ocean blue, into the vast unknown of the mighty Atlantic Ocean, was definitely a noteworthy feat. These men had to be extremely brave, crazy, or really yearning for the proverbial pot at the end of the rainbow (my guess is a combination of all three) to have set foot on one of those ships. The living conditions on the ships during the two-month voyage to the Americas were not all that hospitable. With crude navigational equipment they successfully sailed the Atlantic, not once, but several times. Definitely an accomplishment not to be forgotten.
     What we don’t always hear about, or we choose to ignore, is the fact that Columbus didn’t actually “discover” anything. He landed in the Bahama Islands; islands that were already inhabited.
     Columbus never actually set foot in the United States; he didn’t discover the country we now live in. Parts of North America had already been explored by the Vikings 500 years earlier. Besides North America, like the islands, was already inhabited.
     What we also don’t hear about, or we choose to ignore, is the fact the Columbus and his men (using Christianity as their shield) were responsible for the murder, torture, rape, and enslavement of thousands upon thousands of native islanders; not too Christian in my book.
     Because of Columbus’s “discovery” Europeans would eventually settle in North America bringing with them diseases that ravaged the Native American population. These diseases resulted in the deaths of millions, not to mention the war and torture that eventually ensued causing the deaths of millions more. The term “genocide” comes to mind when I think of the early history of the country we live in.
     Imagine how you would feel if suddenly the shores of the United States were invaded? If our homelands were taken (which ironically aren’t “ours” to begin with)? One needs to look no further than September 11, 2001 to get the answer to that question.
      It’s time the federal government did away with the official observance of Columbus Day. South Dakota does not recognize Columbus Day instead choosing to observe Native American Day; a day that seems definitely a more appropriate day to observe given the circumstances.
      A seafaring hero, the great discoverer of our land or a barbaric, murderous torturer? Which side of history do you choose to see?

Living in a "Rape Culture"

     Ahh, it has been a while! Shortly after the inaugural post, life got a little crazier than normal forcing me to put this blog on the back burner for a while. I have had many good intentions to continue posting but a recent opinion piece written by a dear friend and coworker finally gave me the inspiration to do so.
     Titled Evolution, this piece deals with the culture that we live in; a culture that supports rape. A culture that places the blame for rape and molestation on the victims of sexual assault and abuse. A culture that thinks it’s okay for women and children to be treated as sub-class citizens.
    When writing this piece the author used the current publicly accepted statistic that says 1-in-6 women are  victims of sexual assault. She knows along with many of us that work with victims of sexual assault and abuse that the actual figure is much higher. 1-in-3 is more realistic and when you combine all forms of sexual abuse and assault, from childhood molestation to marital rape, the figure is more like 1-in-2.
     As a culture we can continue on this path or we can get our heads out of the sand and make change happen. Please read with your eyes wide open and feel free to pass on, repost, and share…

     A process of gradual, peaceful, progressive change or development, as in social or economic structure or institutions.  
     Humans have mastered the art of evolution.  As Americans we consider ourselves more evolved than the rest of the world.  Even in these troubled times we have a powerful economy, the biggest army, the most powerful democracy, and we are the undisputed king of media. America is the world’s most powerful country.  We are tech savvy, forward thinkers, humanitarians of the world, who *POP* (that’s the sound of your American bubble of oblivion bursting) live in a rape culture. 
     Many have heard the term before.  Some may find it offensive while others doubt its existence, but I think statistics prove that it’s real.  Rape culture is 1 in 6 women being sexually assaulted in her lifetime.  76% (90% if you are a child) of these victims will know their assailant.  Our wives, mothers, sisters and daughters are being sexually assaulted by people they know, love, and trust.  A rape culture would have us believe that most reports of rape and almost all reports of child molestation are false.  The statistics on false reporting are between 1 and 2%.  In reality, only 20% of sexual assaults are reported at all.  Victims live in fear and shame of their abuse.  Perpetrators rely on this and it’s worked wonderfully for them for centuries.  A rape culture, in its attitudes and actions, support and empower the rapist.
    A rape culture believes that “no” doesn’t really mean “no”, it means that a woman just wants to be romanced, that it’s time to turn on the charm, to push, to beg, buy her another drink, to convince and persuade, to bully and wear her down until she stops saying no. In a rape culture, men who have this ability are given credit as being a lady’s man or Casanova because a rape culture believes that girlfriends and wives do not have the right to reject her partner sexually.  Most Americans do not know that marital rape is a crime, and if they do, they do not believe that it can exist.  “What’s the big deal if he had sex with you, he’s your husband.”  Having sex against someone’s will is not sex, it’s rape.
     We get angry at victims for not protecting themselves.  She should have known better than to walk to her car alone.  Why did she invite him into her home?  Her skirt was too short.  For us to believe that a woman is innocent in her victimization she would have to be a homely virgin wearing a turtleneck who got lost in a dark alley on the wrong side of town.
     Not even Hollywood is liberal enough to escape the rape culture mentality.  Whoopi Goldberg came to the defense of Roman Polanski who drugged, raped, and sodomized a 13 year girl in 1977, by saying “well it wasn’t really rape-rape”.  What is “rape-rape”?  If a 13 year old girl being drugged and suffering vaginal and anal penetration isn’t rape, what is the definition?  I wanted to ask Whoopi but she’s not taking my calls.  It’s too bad because, despite the movie “Jumping Jack Flash”, I really liked Whoopi Goldberg.  I’m sorry, but that brand of ignorance is a deal breaker for me.
     Do you remember the Michael Vick dog fighting scandal from 2007?  He was sent to federal prison, and placed on indefinite suspension from the NFL. As a guest on a sports talk show, Paul Zeise a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette stated, “It’s really a sad day in this country when somehow … Michael Vick would have been better off raping a woman if you look at the outcry of what happened. Had he done that, he probably would have been suspended for four games and he’d be back on the field.”   The comment resulted in Zeise getting fired from his position at the Gazette.  They didn’t feel the statement was politically correct and they worried that he may have offended people.  It’s true, I’m horribly offended. Not because of what he said, but because the truth in what he said is so sadly ridiculous.  Truer words have never been spoken. Can I get an “amen” from Kobe Bryant and Ben Roethlisberger? 
     In a rape culture, kind well meaning men who would never victimize a woman or a child, stand in silence when they witness domestic violence or sexual harassment.  They’re conditioned to believe that it’s none of their business or they don’t want to appear oversensitive to their peers.   
     It’s also women who won’t stick up for other women, who laugh at jokes that make them uncomfortable because they don’t want to seem uptight or worst of all, be called a feminist lesbian.  For the record, I’ve been called both and have lived through it.
     A rape culture believes in equality for some but not all.  It might be okay for women to be equal but it’s not okay for gay, lesbian, or transgender people.  A rape culture does not support truthful sex education in our schools or access to affordable contraception and a rape culture does not support a woman’s right to chose.
     Our American rape culture is so pervasive that we are hardly able to identify when it occurs. How can we possibly tolerate living in a world that is steeped in inequity and oppression?  It is real and it’s played out in our lives politically, economically, and socially, every minute, every hour, of every day.   If many examples seem innocuous and perhaps alone, they are, but added to everything we are exposed to on a daily basis, it’s an example of the sum being greater than its parts.  All too often we accept the unacceptable because “that’s just the way it is”.  Both men and women assume that sexual violence is a fact of life.  Sexual violence, however, is neither biologically nor divinely ordained.  What we accept as inevitable is in fact the expression of values and attitudes that can change.