2015 Progress Report

After  quickly eyeballing my previous posts I am happy to report that the enjoyment of down time has greatly increased both in quality and in duration. The two weeks that my kids got off school helped quite a bit, for there was no rushed morning routine, no yelling and ‘pushing’ them into their afternoon classes, homework, chores, etc.

As every year, when Christmas time approaches, I bake Blondies (See Recipes link  above for actual step by step recipe) for my close friends, kids’ teachers and some relatives. This December I completed just under 20 batches. Some with dark chocolate, with white chocolate (if you can call that chocolate), with nuts, without nuts… For almost three weeks, my house was impregnated with a sweet smell of Maple and butter. Pure torture; specially for the kids, but we all survived the baking season with some extra pounds under our belts….ok under my belt.

Following the heavy baking season, I found myself tired of the long hours of standing in the kitchen and frustrated with the excess muffin top around my pants- so I am feeling fully motivated to exercise and cut down severely on sweets, breads, pasta, rice, and all that fun stuff. Like I mentioned before, around Thanksgiving time, I was resolved to attend the gym more often. So far, so good.

This morning I decided to print out a calendar and a chart to record my weight weekly as well as my attendance to L.A. Fitness. That should definitely bring awareness to my days. I have a specific goal – date and weight-  and although they say after 40 our metabolism slows down some and weight loss becomes more challenging, I am feeling very optimistic. The only huge obstacle I for see in my near future is to resist the temptation to… CHOCOLATE.  My dear friend Chocolate, the one who is always there (in my secret cupboard), the one who always makes me feel better, uplifted and cheerful, unlike any other remedy. But I can do this, I know I can.

I assigned my daughter with the duty of “Resolution Patrol”. She has been instructed that if she ever sees me eating sweets, she is to say “Mom, resolution warning!”.

Last night my husband brought home the most delicious apple pie I have ever tried (before, not this weekend)-with lattice top and the whole 9 yards- I did not touch it, not once. It wasn’t so hard to resist, until it was time to clear dishes and leftovers, and I got too dangerously close to it. There it was, the Apple Pie, staring at me, all beautifully crusted in top, sugar sprinkled and glistening, uncovered, and the smell of apples and cinnamon, oh someone help me! Resolution Patrol immediately took action; she said ….”Mom, breath through your mouth! Just breathe through your mouth!”  She covered the pie with a cloth and removed it from the kitchen. How adorable is that!  I have a coach now.

I taught her that trick when she was just 4 or 5 and there was a bad smell on the road. “Breath through your mouths kids! You won’t smell a thing!”

Later that night, browsing channels before going to bed, I found a (bad) infommertial :  “How to get rid of your belly fat!” In the midst of the resolution, and the Apple Pie crisis, I couldn’t help but watch. Inside my head, I expected some pills -tested in rats but not FDA approved of course-, some diet, some magical 10 minute work out, but what I saw, was the most un-sexy,  grandma looking “slimming” underwear , probably so tight-fitting that it would make it an accomplishment to breathe in. So that is how you get rid of your fat? By squishing it tight under rubber looking undies?

Ten seconds later, discouraged with the proposed solution, I pressed my CHANNEL button once more, just to hear the McDonalds new commercial, proudly announcing their New Triple Burger!  How’s that for irony within a 15 second window.

Deep down, (the truth is found deeper in some people than in others), we all know that a balanced diet and regular exercise is what will provide us a with healthier lifestyle and if we work even harder, some nice muscle definition is thrown in the benefit package.

Why is it so hard to follow our common sense and make healthy choices all the time? Why is the smell of a fresh baked pizza or a steak grilling so incredibly good and the smell of broccoli streaming not so great? Why do we sometimes choose a sugary cereal instead of a hearty warm bowl of oatmeal?  Why is it so easy to fall into temptation? I say “we” and not “I” because  I know some readers will relate.

It amazes me how the whole economic and cultural system I live in, which makes it unaffordable and insensible to have live-in help, has implications to the point of: what to eat. I know, without a doubt, that if I had full-time help, I would not hesitate to plan healthier and more complex meals if someone else would prepare and clean up. It is a  no brainer! But I will do my best with the tools and time I have. I have to. We have to.

The next day, I watched Ellen Degeneres interviewing a guy, Noah Galloway, that fought in one of the most recent wars, the result of which was losing 2 limbs (an arm and a leg). After going through a bad depression, a lot of drinking and isolation, he was resolved to get out of his self pity and to work out and make the best use of his body. Admirable. With the assistance of a prosthetic leg, he now runs, lifts weights, etc and is in extraordinary shape. On top of it, he raises funds for a non profit organization called No Excuses Charitable Fund.


Feeling extremely motivated that morning, I went to the gym with all the enthusiasm I could muster, no time restrictions, lots of water to drink and a 600-page book to read while doing Cardio. (The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair- highly recommended)

Giving great thought to the Blondies I ate all through December, the box of See’s Dark Chocolate Candy that I gave myself for Christmas (and ate mostly by myself) I jumped on the Elliptical machine. I warmed up and some 15 minutes later I was at full speed at the beat of Boys of Summer by Don Henley. My heart was pounding and about to pop out of my chest, but I thought about Noah Gallaway and kept at it,  until it was over (its a long darn song!). Then, 38 Special came to the rescue with Hang on Loosely and I was able to breath normally again. I realized that I could not meet my goal in an hour at the gym; that it takes some pacing to accomplish -slowly but surely- what we intend.

It’s more rewarding for me to get to the top, if it requires steady disciplined steps than a quick drastic change in  my lifestyle, because very likely I will succumb into my old ways: chocolate for breakfast, dessert, lunch and dinner.

There are priorities in my life, and I frequently have to remind myself of what they are and what order they are in. That helps me keep perspective when guilt clouds my head about a Mac and Cheese dinner, or when I feel too tired to deal with the kids arguments, or when I am running out of patience to play a game with them or to read to them at night.

Today I watched my kids go up and down the escalator at the mall about 12 times in a row, they were following a sticker that was travelling with them on the handrail. That is how they had fun today. I was starving, I was tired, but I enjoyed watching them laugh every time they  found the sticker. It made me realize I needed to add a little “something” to my resolution, and this “something’ should last more than 2015: to enjoy those little moments of pure fun, pure innocence  and adorable company of my children, who -still- ask to be tucked in at night.


The very bad reputation of Marriage

Scene at the grocery store, on a regular school day, 6 pm.

Boy: “Mom, are you secretly dating someone else?”

Mom (jaw dropped) “What?? Of course not! When exactly were you thinking I was dating someone else? And why would you ask that?”

Boy ( absolutely serious faced): “Well, you go out at night and say you are having dinner with friends, and then you also go to the movies without Dad, so you might be dating in secret. Because that is what adults do, they cheat on each other.”

Mom: “Where did you get these ideas? I am very surprised by your questions”

Boy: “I saw it on The Secret Life of Timothy Green, that you made me watch.  So, are you?”

Mom: “No my love. I would never do that to your Dad or to you guys. I love him and respect him.I am not interested in dating anyone else, so you can stop worrying about it.”

Boy:  ” Good, ’cause I will be watching you”

This was my son and I discussing cheating and faithfulness at the store a week ago.

This is the anxiety that can grow in a 9 year old , due to the fear of even the slightest chance of losing all safety that a Mom and Dad represent and provide in a home. The fear of losing it all, quickly and suddenly, of feeling abandoned or even rejected.

I have read repeatedly that the success rate of Marriage in the United States is -and has been for at least a decade-just under 50%.  How one defines “success” is a different story. I want to think of it as a relationship in which love, strongly tied to loyalty, respect, self fulfillment and permanence are present in a healthy and evident measure.  (1)

Nowadays, divorce rate is the same sad story in several Latin American countries, including Mexico. Whatever it is that has caused this rise in the rate which used to be significantly lower in the 60’s and 70’s, can be deceiving. Where women as unhappy back then and just didn’t have it in them to leave? It is well known that women raised in the 40’s and 50’s -like my mom- were not as academically prepared  or as ambitious as we women are now. It seems to me like they settled for less – as terrible as it sounds- and social expectations seemed to be quite different before. A man was proud of a stay-at-home mom that would care for their young 24/7, looked pretty, made the house look clean and tidy and knew how to cook and mend.

Year 2014: a completely different story; I see it everywhere from my family (immediate and extended) to close friends, to not so close friends. Men want and welcome the help, men want -or need-the second income and are not shy or proud to accept it. They encourage a working wife, proud of the fact that she can juggle between the huge tasks of dealing with the (often) men-dominated arena called Office Work or whatever other respectable job she has,  and the mid century traditional chores, while showing -of course- the sweet tender loving maternal side.  I should clarify, not all men embrace this. Some still believe the wife belongs at home, doing dishes, cooking meals, and dealing with 99% of the house work, which by the way I find brutally unfair

So, back to marriage and divorce, are we all more selfish today? More demanding and less forgiving? Is the root of the problem in the home during our early formative years or does it start at the dating age, where young adults learn that marriage is not so cool anymore?

Whatever the cause is for the slow and painful loss of respect for the Marriage Institution, I have noticed it has a worrisome snowball effect.

Many children grow up lacking a vivid and constant example of loyalty, of love and respect, of spousal support, of balancing teamwork, individuality and self-sufficiency , of roughing it out through hard times and enjoying and sharing the good ones, so how are these children supposed to have the confidence, the inner strength and conviction to establish and keep good healthy relationships? Amazingly, some  do, they overcome all the obstacles they grew up with and eventually figure it out. But for many others, it doesn’t go that well. So here starts the snowball effect, because this generation will probably engage in relationships that will end in a not-so-sound marriage; they will give it a try, a couple of kids later, if it doesn’t work out, they will quit, cheat, or just stay in a very unhappy marriage (let’s not forget, some couples stay together because divorce is just unaffordable). And it goes on  and on and on.

I chatted once with a friend about who to spend the holidays with, and she told me each of them (her and her husband)  and two pairs of parents/step-parents and each  couple had their own kids, so she had to split 8 ways to visit everyone. Apparently she was the third generation of the mix-and-match trend. So I thought of two things:  The Brady Bunch and …Snow Ball Effect.  I have friends that have come from very unstable homes, dysfunctional in many ways and then find themselves in a marriage that is going  south too. Then they worry about their own kids and what they will learn or what behavior they will adopt. Well, I would be worried too.

I am not criticizing those who have failed in their marriage and decided to split. We all make mistakes; however I strongly believe that there must be something in our society that is slowly permeating down to the very core, the intimacy of the smallest social unit: the family.

It is basic and simple  values, I believe, such as respect, loyalty, self-love and responsibility that are taken a bit too loosely by all of us in this ridiculously fast paced world. Values that mold little children into honorable and respectful people, into creative and daring creatures, into caring humans that look out for and actually care for the less fortunate.

In my opinion, it is in the early years then,  that character is defined, challenged, life lessons taught , that can help a person thrive towards a happier life or spiral down -sometimes unaware- into a repeated and learned pattern. In my personal experience, it was a combination of many hard lessons, many falls and many challenges that made me not repeat a pattern that I observed, but didn’t absorb, and also a very constant example of loyalty and discipline that my parents taught us from a very early age. It saddens me to think of how these social concepts have changed -for the worse- in the last decades, but at the same time, being aware of it makes me work harder as a parent, as a wife. I can’t secure my childrens’ future, their happiness and self realization. But I can sure teach by example. Every little details counts.


(1) According to the American Psychological Association “[Happy Marriages].. are also good for children; growing up in a happy home protects children from mental, physical, educational and social problems. However, about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce. The divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher. ”


Dec. 3rd. update: I saw on the news today that divorce rates went down this year…Yey!  But also, the number of people that marry decreased…back to square 1.