Saturday, July 25, 2015

[Opinion Piece] I am more than that...

I am this.
Last night my husband broke his silence. He had been listening me complain about my weight for the millionth time and he finally spoke up and not too soon! I had just decided to go over my calorie limit for the day and was guiltily logging my midnight plate of sourdough and eggs.

I'm two months postpartum with a baby that is bursting out of her three month onsies and exclusively breastfeeding. This girl EATS! Regardless of this knowledge, this week I downloaded the LoseIt app and decided it was time to start dieting. I had lost all my preggo weight by three weeks postpartum but I hadn't been at my goal weight prior to my pregnancy and felt a pressure to meet this number (which is admittedly low for me but I wanted to be at the very bottom of the recommended bodyweight for my height). So I picked the least amount of recommended calories for me in my current situation and set off meticulously tracking my calories. Essentially, I had started another diet. Problem is, Peyton was not on the same page.

The eggs and toast sent me into the red almost three hundred calories and I knew there was no jogging that off before the next day (not that I ever jog). I was frustrated and disappointed with myself, a very common occurrence in regards to this particular topic. All of the sudden Justin spoke up, "This is ridiculous." He didn't say it in a hurtful or degrading way, he said it in that blunt and truthful way of his. He was telling me the honest truth, and for the first time I realized it. I was being ridiculous.

I have been dieting since I was fifteen. It was the year I gained my womanly shape and had felt that my breasts made me appear fat. I was very uncomfortable in my new, fuller, body. I had gained weight, what appeared to me to be a lot of weight. In reality it was just the weight I needed to maintain my new shape. I was perfectly healthy and not even close to overweight but I didn't look like the tiny popular girls who had stunted this growth through their intense involvement in sports. I also didn't match the slim bodies of my teammates in my swimming club. Their suits lay flat, mine didn't. I was softer and taller and this concerned me. So I started my first diet. I don't remember what diet it was. It did however mark the start of a cycle that would lead me into dangerous waters.

Throughout the years following my weight fluctuated and I researched diet after diet. A lot of the information I gained was useless, some of it useful. By the time I was in college I had a pretty good grasp on what it meant to be healthy. However after gaining a freshman thirty I promptly ignored all the good I had learned and found myself browsing blogs dedicated to "thinspiration".  I found myself yearning for bone thin legs and a back where my shoulder blades jutted out. I became obsessed with Victoria Secret angels and wanted so badly to look like them.

And thus began my three year battle with bulimia (if you don't want to read about it skip these highlight paragraphs).

It wasn't glamorous. I quickly learned that vomiting was too hard, sometimes taking an hour to get an entire binge up and out of my system. When my throat became ragged from having a toothbrush jammed into the back of it I turned to laxatives. My binges however were so large that the laxative did little more than just help me "feel empty". My weight exploded, maxing out at over two hundred pounds.

It would go as follows: a day or two of starvation, a run to the store for my "last binge" and a box o laxatives, stuffing myself to the point if pain, and then taking the laxatives and sleeping until they kicked in. I soon grew some immunity to the pills and would sometimes have to take six or seven in order to have the effect I wanted. The pills even began to make me throw up as well. When this cycle began to be back to back and I was purchasing a box of laxatives every week then I knew I was killing myself. I began to try to recover, but relapses were frequent.

Finally, after months of vigilance, I felt I was healing. I did not stop dieting however. This next step I used my good knowledge to lose almost forty some pounds. I felt wonderful. Then I started talking to this boy I had met online. We were talking for a while and then became Facebook friends. Shortly after this while we were skyping he mentioned that he saw a few photos of me that "concerned" him. He asked to see what I looked like now. I stood up and showed him. I felt fine, wonderful actually. I was wearing some of my old fat clothes and they hung very loose on me. But he looked disappointed in what he saw. He told me that my face was perfect but my body jus didn't match (he actually said a lot more than this but it's not worth sharing). He then asked if he could start chatting with my sister. I was disgusted with the level of shallowness and blocked him, but the words hurt. I relapsed, hard.

I was still going through the bulimia cycle, fighting it occasionally but mostly just letting it happen, a year and a half later when I met Justin. As things became serious I confided my struggle with him and he was supportive and loving. I was able to heal completely a few months before we got married thanks to his love and my final acceptance of who and what I was.

At least I thought I had finally accepted myself. I wasn't bulimic anymore right? I was a healthy weight and I was extremely happy! This was true I was happy and healthy finally but I hadn't accepted myself yet. Shortly after our marriage I became pregnant. I was thrilled but my whole pregnancy I meticulously watched my weight not wanting to gain a pound over the recommended numbers. I kept dreaming of the time when I would have Peyton and I would be able start dieting again. I made plans and promises to myself and eagerly awaited the day I could get started.

It wasn't an obsession anymore but I obviously was still dissatisfied with my body. After I had Peyton I lost the baby weight fast but was only back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I wasn't even that excited that the baby weight was gone, all I could see was what was left. I needed to do something! When I reached six weeks postpartum I started trying to diet, but every night hunger would hit me so hard after a day of calorie counting. I would feel like I was starving and each time give in and make some eggs or eat a sandwich. I'm grateful now that I listened to my body because I was able to maintain a good milk supply as a result of these late night meals.

Last night however Justin finally said it. He hit the nail on the head. This was ridiculous. He loved me, he thought I look beautiful, and he wasn't expecting or even desiring any large scale change. Not only that but my body had done something incredible with absolutely no serious complications. I had given birth completely naturally just two months ago and my weight or appearance just didn't even matter one bit when you looked at the healthy happy girl who was being well fed and nourished by the same body that brought her into the world. Also my body was taking care of itself. I had lost the baby weight and have been on a slow decline. A healthy one. In my obsession with this number on the scale or this magazine appearance that I haven't even come close to since I was thirteen I was missing those facts. My body was wonderful, and it was hungry. I needed to stop punishing it for doing what it had been built to do. Whether that was growing curves or growing a baby.

Justin finally sat me down and reminded me the real reason why I exercise and adventure. It's because I love it! It's because I want to be strong and flexible when I have grand babies. I'm not going to look like a super model then but if I focus on measurable progressive strength goals and flexibility goals then I will be happy with where I am. I will have long term satisfaction. I shouldn't be counting pounds or calories. I should be counting push-ups and mountains climbed. I eat healthy because I feel good when I do! Because It's important that I live long and well! And I eat ice cream because it tastes darn good!

So as of now the diet is finally over. I'm DONE. I will never diet again. I'm not stepping on that scale again. I'm going to get strong and be healthy but it will be on my body's terms and NOT because I'm trying to mold myself into something I will never be. I'm going to wear my swimsuit or cute clothes and feel good. No more holding myself back from fun and adventure because my body isn't "worthy" to be seen. I am beautiful and I am working on being strong.

I'm also a mom now. A mom to a beautiful daughter. I want Peyton to never even hear the word "diet". It very nearly destroyed me! I want her to look up at me as I take her on adventures and show her a life that is healthy and carefree (in regards to body image, she's still gotta have responsibilities). I owe it to her to never question my confidence and self-worth. What she witnesses she will follow. I want this for all my future daughters and sons. I also want my sons to seek after confident and strong women who have more to think about than their silly appearance.

Adios my destructive friend. I don't need your "help" anymore. I have a mountain to climb.



Thursday, May 21, 2015

[Opinion Piece] "Just wait until..."

All you prospective mommies out there (and I know quite a few of you). You're going to hear a lot of "just wait until..." from the moment you enter preggo-hood. Most people are trying to be helpful and don't realize what doomsayers they are being. You really don't want to hear that. You don't want to imagine that things can get "worse" then they are at the moment. Sometimes you wonder what good there is in the whole process of creating and bringing a child into this world.

I was shocked when I heard these words almost directly after birth! From my midwife no less, within like twenty minutes! Wasn't labor it? That was the hardest thing I had ever experienced and you're telling me there is more? Yes, there is more. There are more challenges to face. There are some scary things you have to get through and most of them hurt a lot. And while all of this is true there is really no reason why you need to hear it. You'll get through it whether or not someone is there telling you to "just wait for it".  I'm just going to tell you real fast that you can get through them and relatively quickly. But in addition to a bolster of "buck up, it'll all be over soon" I want to list a few "just wait until"s of my own.

Just wait until you feel that little heartbeat against your skin for the first time.
Just wait until you smell her little head.
Just wait until she opens her eyes and looks up at her new mommy.
Just wait until your husband gently kisses you and tells you how proud he is of you.
Just wait until she's home with you and you all of the sudden have someone wholly and wonderfully in love and dependent on you.
Just wait until she gives you that first smile (I know that its just gas but I couldn't help but squeal anyway).
Just wait until she finally "gets" breastfeeding.
Just wait until you actually get excited about the shear scale of poopy diapers she's dishing out for you (who knew the color of poop could be so comforting).
Just wait until grandma starts singing the lullabies that she sang to you to your little angel when she's weepy.
Just wait until she's sleeping in your arms.
Just wait until she lifts her little head to look around at the world.
Just wait until she starts mimicking your face (and making the strangest faces of her own).
Just wait until you comprehend how strong you were (it takes a couple days).
Just wait until your husband tells you that you're even more beautiful now than you were before.
Just wait until all three (or more) of you are curled up in bed together just smiling at each-other.

All that and more and that was just the first four days...

Thursday, May 7, 2015

[My Little Homestead] Getting started with our health...

It has long been my goal to be a modern day Homesteader. Thankfully I married a wonderful man who supports this goal as much as I do! With perhaps the exception of ever owning a goat (don't worry, I'm working on him). However my lofty goals of buying land, building a mortgage free dream home paycheck to paycheck, producing almost all of our food and energy within the boundaries of our land, and having a quiver full of children to help me out are all pretty heavily future tense. 

Right now I'm twenty-two, 40 1/2 weeks pregnant with my first (a little girl), and living in what might be the smallest apartment available in our college town. Right now that future (though apparently in a five year window) seems decades away from being realized or even started.

So rather than play that age-old waiting game (I thought that was over when I found my husband but it just gets worse!) I have decided to start my homestead now. In four little jars. I have decided to start sprouting all of our bread!

The whole point of Homesteading is to return to the land and become self-sufficient, or as self-sufficient as your situation allows. It is also a health movement. Return to eating traditional and traditionally prepared food. This means properly preparing your grains to allow them to be as nutritious as possible for you. You can do this through fermentation or souring (sourdough breads) or through sprouting (essene/raw breads). So I'm starting small.  

I am doing what I can to get my family and myself on a traditional foods diet based somewhat on that of Weston A. Price's research and my own (this in a nutshell). This is a process and awesomely requires that I take on a bit of the inconvenience of producing my own food! So essentially, in the smallest of ways, I am homesteading in my tiny apartment! 

So lets talk some numbers real quick if you're curious. We already know that it's going to take more time, that's a given when you're starting from scratch. I have decided that my family's health and our self-sufficiency is worth my time so I'm calling my labor free. The ingredients to the sprouted bread I am producing are what you see in the above picture. You blend the sprouts, form a loaf, bake the bread and that's it. So it all comes down to the cost of my Red Wheat Berries. 

We purchased 26 lbs of Berries for around $16.00. I plan on making one loaf out of all of these sprouted berries above (1 1/2 C dry). That means each loaf I make costs me around $0.37 and since we probably will eat around one and a half to two a week I suspect we'll spend about $35.00 to $40.00 on bread each year. 

The so called "whole-grain" bread on the shelves is actually pretty much heavily processed flour, ground to the point that it acts like sugar, with a make-over so it's not white. They usually add molasses to get that "whole-wheat color". Each loaf of that ranges from $2.50 to $3.00 (because you try and buy the healthier options right?). That adds up to $260.00 to $312.00 each year if you go through two loaves like Justin and I do. 

The sprouted bread is far more nutritionally sound and much easier on your system than the processed stuff on the shelves. So for far superior nutrition and much heartier real food I'm spending $220 to $272 less each year. Yes, I'm putting in more time. Yes, the transition takes some getting used to before you're regularly producing your demand. But I'm a homesteader! Time to get used to the work!   

Once I have this on a regular schedule I'm going to have a go at lacto-fermented water! Known as Kefir [Kuh-fear] Water. 



Monday, January 12, 2015

[Opinion Piece] "My degree is making babies and being a wife, and I'll graduate in eternity"...

This is not my picture.

Once again I faced the dreaded introductions on Sunday. We'll be doing this for the first month or two in the beginning of every relief society because lets face it, we all suck at remembering names! I do not take offense to this because I have no idea who the heck any of you are! Even though I have since had several lengthy conversations with half a dozen of you. 

Anyway, So the basic gist is for the first half hour of class every lady gets to stand up and introduce herself. 


Place of origin, 
Husband's name ,
Current apartment number (so they can deliver cookies & casseroles),
and Degree!

That last one though... I am really struggling admitting to it. You see, I had every intent on being a Biology major this time last year. I LOVE Biology. I have never had more fun and been more interested in any set of classes my whole life! These past two semesters I have saturated my schedule in Bio and Chemistry and been happy as a clam (I was getting B's and A's so I was also succeeding at it). That all changed though when Justin and I started talking marriage last March. 

We started talking about it a month or so before making anything official so we could run a quick sound check on the idea. Ask a few important questions and make sure we were on the same page. I remember one day he asked me how I felt about starting a family. Up until I had not admitted to anyone, even myself, how i felt about this topic. Most people would give the usual answer - get on some type of birth control and then wait until we have a perfect situation to start pumping out little bodies. 

Most people I spoke to actually advised me to do so. Common sentiments were "I would never have time to get a degree after that first little mouth to feed", "I would have no time for me after baby", and "You change into a mouth frothing monster and your husband wont even know who you are during pregnancy. Best to save that until after you've had some time together. ALONE". Most people however, not the two people who's advice actually counted. My Mom and God. 

I remember during High School I was having the conversation about marriage with some girlfriends around a table. We were all LDS and I really don't remember the conversation in general except the overall feeling was that Birth Control was as much a part of marriage as a wedding dress. Afterwards my mother took me aside and told me something. She said, "I don't know if you know how I feel about birth control." 

And she went on to explain that she firmly believed that It wasn't the thing to do. That she had experienced a full measure of joy in having us children and if she had waited for a perfect moment to start then she wouldn't have had any of us! She also told me how excited dad had been to have kids, that he actually started to worry after they had gone almost half a year after marriage without becoming pregnant. 

All of this had never occurred to me before - 

-Dad, a young man in his early twenties, wanted to have babies? 
-Mom and dad started having kids within that first year of marriage? The time that everyone said getting pregnant during would most assuredly destroy? 
-My mom would have missed the opportunity to have any of us had she waited? There is no perfect moment?

That of course started me thinking and years later when Justin was asking me how I felt about having children I had an answer for him. One that I had never actually said out loud but one that I had always felt in my heart. I would not take birth control, I would not wait until the perfect moment, I would have children according to natural timing, and I would have faith that God would not send me more than I could handle. 

And so here I am. Five months a newlywed and five months pregnant. I will admit I wasn't expecting it to happen so soon but here it is. It's happening. And It's high time I not only accepted the fact but also took pride in it. I have chosen to be a mom.

So when it came time to tell everyone our degree I went through the debate again in my head. I could tell everyone I was getting a Biology degree but was taking a quick break while I had this baby, Or I could admit to everyone there that I was wrapping up my schooling with an associates and being a mom full-time for a long time. Even with my convictions this second option, the one I am taking, seemed sub par. It seemed unworthy of being said. It seemed to mean that I was some kind of failure.

I nervously waited for the ladies in front of me to introduce themselves. Most had already graduated with jobs, others were married and going to school, and others were taking turns with their husbands (working and schooling). Then finally the lady in front of me stood up. She had a baby in one arm and and another running rampage through nursery. She stood with squared shoulders and introduced herself and then at the end of her spiel she said "My degree is making babies and being a wife, and I'll graduate in eternity."

I beamed. That's what I was doing! And if she is woman enough to admit to it with such pride then I sure as heck was going to! And I did. 

"My name is Julie Herbert, I live in Apt ##, and I am switching my major to what she just said this spring."

No one there was disappointed in me, in fact everyone laughed and some even gave me a few amens. The lady who fueled my courage turned around a fist bumped me. As the introductions went on three or four more girls said they had wrapped up their associates degrees and become full time moms. As I looked at them, arms full of baby and shoulders covered in moist cheerios and drool, I felt a little warm with pride. I was joining their ranks this May. And I was proud to be among them. 

I am Julie Herbert and I am about to be a Mom.

Now I am no expert yet but I do want to clear up a few things about marriage and pregnancy according to my experience. These are things that people felt they needed to advise me about.  

1 - MYTH: Men would prefer if you waited to have kids. 

TRUTH: Sexually and emotionally mature men actually do want to have a baby. It is the ultimate fulfillment of masculinity and virility. A man is happiest when he is able to father and provide for new life in a monogamous relationship. That situation is also the one that will allow him to remain fertile and virile for the longest time. 

Note: There are men who are unable to for whatever reason in this lifetime. They will be blessed with opportunities to be fathers either as stand ins in this life or actual dads in the life to come. God's got your back!

2 - MYTH: Wait a year so that your husband can get to know the real you before you explode into preggo Godzilla/She-Hulk.

TRUTH: You do not become an unrecognizable monster with a completely different personality when you are pregnant. You have some interesting things happening to your body which can sometimes send you a little off balance but for the most part you are still you and you are under control.

3 - MYTH: In the first year you are either honeymooning or screaming at each other.

TRUTH: I have only been married for a little over five months and many will tell you I haven't run into real troubles yet. I would disagree. I have had some serious trials and frustrations that could have blown up into fights and arguments. However Justin and I have yet to have a single fight. I'm not kidding! The worse its been is I've had a few lows and needed some time to think through things before I could share my thoughts with him (he usually holds me or reads next to me while I'm doing this so that the moment I am able to communicate I can). Occasionally we have requested kindly (always kindly) that the other person adjust a habit that might have been irritating to us. And I have been pregnant this whole time! You don't have to spend the first year screaming and crying! You can CHOOSE to talk to each other instead!

4 - MYTH: Wait to have kids so your husband can have a longer time with his hot wife before he has to deal with the ugliness of pregnancy and post-pregnancy.

TRUTH: Your husband finds your ever pudge-ing out self attractive. It's some sort of miracle God works for you. Somehow when you're pale, breaking out, and baby bloated your man somehow thinks you're as hot as you were the day he married you. Also, who's to say you can't be hot after pregnancy? NO ONE! Go look on the internet! There really is no reason you can't be if you choose to do what you need to do to get there. 

5 - MYTH: Don't change anything! Diet or Exercise when you are pregnant. Sudden changes will shock your body and cause your baby to initiate the uterine exodus early. 

TRUTH: Talk to your doctor about risks however making healthy changes is never a bad thing. Suddenly cutting out sugar will not harm but help your baby. Starting an exercise program after feeling crappy for three or four months will help not harm you and the baby. Just be smart about it people. 

6 - MYTH: Your experience will be like MY experience and everything I say applies directly to you.

TRUTH: Your experience is your experience and you can choose to make it the best one of your life. Trust me. I made that choice. ;)  

Thursday, September 4, 2014

[Goal] I didn't wear make-up on my wedding day...

I didn't lose all the weight, I didn't spend a million dollars on a dress, my sister did my hair, and nothing was fabulous. 

But everything was perfect. 

I am going to share something very personal with the world of my friends. Not because I want to brag but because I think maybe it might help someone one day.

I am a very self-confident and self-loving person, in what I like to think is a healthy way. I have pride in myself and I appreciate the things myself has done for me. However this was not always the case. Right around 14 I was introduced to the terrible thing called angst and the poison of drama and I was sad for a while. Though during this time I was also richly blessed with some of the best gals I could ever ask for. My friends and bridesmaids. Shout out to those gorgeous ladies.

This is not an uncommon story, So many other ladies out there have gone through the exact same thing! So many! And I won't dwell on the details. They are in the past, way behind me. But I do want to talk about one small detail.

After leaving for college and going through a handful of unhealthy relationships I developed a very unhealthy habit that was wracking havoc on me. An eating disorder called Bulimia. My path to recovering from that habit started with one definitive step. 

I stopped wearing make-up and I started loving myself again!
It was almost immediate. I am not even joking. I took off the nasty gunk that had convinced me for so long that I needed it to be beautiful, and I saw that I was. I'm not saying it was over. It took months and months of challenging recovery to completely put it behind me but I still can see the difference that one decision made towards my recovery. Since then I have had a few more run ins with the make-upstuff but am proud to say that I have been one hundred percent make-up free since April. And no Wedding beauty expectations were going to take that from me. 

So I didn't wear make-up. I let my face be. I smiled like I wanted to smile, I posed like I wanted to pose. My mom made me a beautiful and simple dress. One that was modest and temple like. It exemplified moderation, demureness, and simplicity. Something I am working on applying in my life. I let myself not care for a while what I looked like. And I let myself realize what exactly was really going on that day. 

I was sealed for time and all eternity to the love of my life. The man who made and still makes me whole. Who improves and completes me. My family was gathered around me, showering me in love and support. My friends of years and years had come and been a part of the event, hanging around in sweltering humidity just to see me come out of the temple. Just to be there with me. 

I was starting a beautiful and lovely eternal family and future.

And that's all that mattered. 



Monday, July 7, 2014

[Opinion Piece] Be satisfied with what you have, not with what you know...

This is a common enough theme to understand but it's something that has been embedded in my mind this past semester time an time again.

I have decided to return to school and study the science of life, Biology. Mostly because I've always been very curious about it. When I was a kid and just on the cusp of learning to read I would check out large stacks of nonfiction animal or earth science books from the library and learn everything I could out of them. I have also always adored reading through national geographic and once dreamed (I still secretly do) of being a  research explorer. The bigger reason though, besides those listed, is I'm not good at it. I love it and I am excited about it but I am not good at it. Not without effort.

Prior to embarking on this particular path I have considered most of the humanities for my field of study. This because I have excelled at them with very minimal effort my entire life. I am a good artist, a good singer, a good writer, and a good reader. I can pick up most any branch of humanities on the fly and do well at it without exhaustive effort. So why not major in it? I enjoy it, I know it, It's familiar, I could excel!

The thing is, I'm not here to excel. I'd like to of course but that is not the goal. I am here to learn! And learning takes work, takes action, takes a bit of failing, and it takes humility. It requires you to admit to yourself that what you already know is probably a billionth of a fraction of the picture, if that! In order for me to obtain this degree, even fulfilling the least of the requirements expected of me, I am going to have to learn something. I like that. I am going to have to admit that I am ignorant. I need that

Now time for my complaint (If you've read any of my previous posts you were anticipating this bit). WE ARE ALL IGNORANT! Even the so called educated intellectuals are so very much so! And yet, we all believe that we are not. We all believe we are smart. Heck we all believe that the information handed to us through schooling, smart phones, twitter, buzzfeed, etc. Is wholly accurate and after happily absorbing the secondhand swill we accept it as truth and allow ourselves to be satisfied with it. 

We learn something and then stop it. We get to what we believe to be the definitive definition of whatever it is we are learning and then let ourselves be okay with that. We stow it away in our minds and whenever someone brings up a topic that could be tied to it, that could potentially lead to a further enlightening and clarifying of said information we shut it out. Instead of learning something or being instilled with the desire to seek out and learn more about it we spew the knowledge we believe to be completely and inscrutably true and close off our minds to any other potential truths that could be presented to us on that topic! Because we know! We read a book! We read an article! We looked at an internet meme! It was snapchatted to us with #hashbrowns!

Why on earth should you be okay with that? Why on earth should you be OKAY taking everyone else's words for truth?  Why should you be satisfied with what you have when there is literally countless more things out there for the learning and the taking? When there are discoveries still yet to be made and philosophies unexplored? 

Are you a Christian? Awesome! Go read the Torah! There are truths there that could strengthen what you already believe and know to be true!

Are you Atheist! Cool! Read the Bible! Because it is literally the oldest book of amazing literature on the planet even if it isn't what you believe to be true!

Are you an artist? Lovely! Go learn some chemistry! Because your art can be enhanced and perfected with the study of something completely different!

Are you a scientist? Top Shelf! Go audition for a play! Because you can learn so very much about yourself when you play at someone else!

What I'm trying to say is - Stop stopping! Keep Going!

This is even true in the gospel, and WARNING I am launching into a Mormon spiel now.

We listen to talks and lessons but how often do we venture into the scriptures with the hopes of learning something new and testimony shaking? Something that might change us or teach us in ways that we haven't even heard in General Conference? You do know God has promised us endless bounds of knowledge and learning and will answer all of your questions! You know this right? Well then have a little faith in it! ACT on it! Learn something! And when you've "learned" it. Relearn it.