Monday, October 12, 2015

Open Letter to Yogurt Companies From a Cranky Mom

Hello, Yoplait, Oikos, Chobani, or as we say in Texas, "All ya'll" who make yogurt:

Why in the heck do you add so much sugar to your yogurt?

Yogurt is my go-to calcium source for my kids who are not big milk drinkers. Unfortunately what is supposed to be a healthy snack is a sugar buzz instead. Yogurt is now dessert. Some of their favorite flavors have up to 19-21 grams of sugar. That's FIVE teaspoons of sugar in each serving. I checked the sugar content on a serving of Breyers cookies and cream ice cream and there are 14 grams of sugar. Do you know how crazy that makes me? As much or more sugar in yogurt than decadent ice cream? How did we get here?

I work really, really, really hard buying, preparing and serving healthy food to my family. I need to count on easy snacks (convenient and that kids will actually want to eat). Yogurt is something that should be a no-brainer. I took for granted that my kids were eating something healthy when they opened up a container of yogurt. But yogurt, it turns out, isn't so healthy.

Please do something about your yogurt. Cut the sugar in half (or more). No one needs that much sugar in their yogurt, I promise. Feeding the fit family shouldn't be that hard. I want to feel good about serving my kids yogurt again (without going through the trouble of mixing plain and flavored yogurt together).


Kara Thom from Mama Sweat

P.S. And enough with the no-fat yogurt. Please more offerings with 2% fat or more. How else are those fat-soluble vitamins going to get absorbed?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Supporting Young Athletes

"I love watching you play."

That's it. Those are the only words you need to say to your child after a game/performance.

The advice comes from Changing the Game Project, whose mission is to return youth sports to children and put the "play" back in "play ball."

Tonight I'm going to hear author and speaker, John O'Sullivan, from Changing the Game Project, because I want to hear more about what kids need and don't need from sports and how I can play my part as a parent and coach to keep sports fun. For me it's not about winning or losing, it's about finding your fitness passion(s) and staying active for a lifetime.

Check out the site and Ted Talk for great insight and resources.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Book Review: Silent Running

I realize "summer reading" is officially over, but school is in session (and with it, more time for moms to read!) so the next few weeks I'll bring you book reviews from Mama Sweat readers who are writers themselves.

Our first review comes from Jenn Nienaber. Jenn is a designer, writer, wife, mother, friend and dreamer. She drinks tea in the morning and wine in the evening. (My kind of gal). She says she loves having long conversations with her first-grader and trying to teach her dog to talk. "If I’m not on the porch reading a memoir," Jenn says, "You can find me walking the speechless dog, running, biking, swimming or playing hockey." Jenn blogs her "wee bits of creativity" at Paper & Clouds.

Silent Running
by Robyn Schneider, written with Kate Hopper

I tend to judge a book by how long the characters stay with me after I’ve finished reading it. The best ones leave me with a feeling of homesickness: I know that the characters will keep going, living and exploring, while I am left gripping a finished book and wanting to keep going along with them. For days, weeks, even months these characters will haunt my thoughts and dreams — and sometimes creep in even as I’m reading a new book, or writing about characters of my own.

Robyn Schneider’s memoir, Silent Running, is one of these books. I keep thinking of her, of her sons Alix and Jamie, of her husband Allan, and I wonder: How are they? Are they still running? Are they happy?

The title, Silent Running: Our Family’s Journey to the Finish Line with Autism, contained so much intrigue for me: Twins, Running, Autism. I know little about autism, but I love running and I am also a twin.

I was unfamiliar and, honestly, a bit uncomfortable with autism. I think it’s every parent’s fear that their child will be different, or not healthy. At the pediatrician’s office, before every appointment, I filled out the autism checklist and I was so grateful that my daughter laughed, made eye contact, and got frustrated with me.

The boys were just over a year old when Robyn and Allan started noticing that the boys were not responding to their names. Were not making eye contact. Were repeatedly banging, banging, banging. So when Alix and Jamie were diagnosed with Autism my heart broke for Robyn and Allan. But Robyn tackled their diagnoses head-on. She didn’t settle for just any therapy, she researched and trained her whole team. And as the boys grew older and changed, her methods altered and changed. When the boys were in their teens she and Allan introduced them to running. This, for me, was the heart and soul of the book. Robyn and Allan weren’t runners. But this — this is what good parents do for their children; they explore and learn and grow and find what works. The boys were naturals. And they loved it. And they were really, really good at it.

I can understand their love of running. I ran a bit in high school, but I didn’t start running seriously until after my daughter was born six years ago. After just a few months of forcing myself to go further and more often I fell in love with running. The “runner’s high” is truly a “high.” And to me, there’s nothing a brisk jog can’t fix.

After supporting Alix and Jamie’s running for years, Allan, and then Robyn also start running. I think each of them ran for their own reasons, but it also brought them together as a family. Alix and Jamie are non-verbal, but running has wrapped its arms around this beautiful family and brought them to a new place. I can picture the boys, with their parents cheering for them, running a marathon, their long legs graceful and strong.

At the end of the day, this wasn’t a story about autism — although I am thankful for the new perspectives I have gained and for what I’ve learned. And it wasn’t a story about running — even though that’s what drew me in to begin with.

In the end, this is the story about how a family grew together, and about the choices parents make to build the strongest families they can. This is a story about courage — and, of course, love.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Is "Athlete" the new "Princess"?

Recently a mom from Oklahoma, Betsy Gregory, snapped a photo of her daughter's softball team and it went viral. Why? Because this team, "The Freeze," played softball in dresses from the movie Frozen. Today, even the girly girls are playing sports. Athlete isn't synonymous with being a tomboy anymore. You can be fierce and sparkle.
That's why I love Go! Go! Sports Girls new campaign: "Athlete is the New Princess."

These memes are on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Please feel free to share!

It's all about #girlpower. More great comparisons coming. Follow @gogosportsgirls on social media to see them as they come out.

Go! Go! Sports Girls just launched a new monthly contest to celebrate our girls in sport. If you want to be entered to win free product, all it takes is loading a photo of your favorite girl playing her favorite sport/being active/getting dirt on her skirt. The photos already loaded on the page are A-Dorable!
This month's giveaway includes both soccer dolls and the soccer book.
As a mom of three daughters who have grown up playing with the Go! Go! Sports Girl dolls I feel like I did something right as a parent to be able to give them dolls that represent who they are, versus something I DON'T aspire for them to become (are you listening Monster High and Bratz dolls?) They have a Go! Go! Sports Girls doll for just about every sport they've tried (and so they have a lot) but I loved buying them because I felt I was validating their life just as it was (helps that the dolls are built in specification to a real girl's body, too). You don't have to be glamorous; you don't have to aspire to wear high heels; you don't need blowfish lips and heavy eye make-up. Even if you do want all that, can't we save it for later? Do we really need to push that on 6-year-olds?

Athlete is the new princess because 17 million girls play an organized sport every year.

Athlete is the new princess because Title IX helped create this new line of royalty.

Athlete is the new princess because we have women like Maya Moore and Serena Williams holding court. Women like Missy Franklin, Gabby Douglas, and Hope Solo showing girls how to shine.

Athlete is the new princess because dress up now includes team uniforms, cleats, and sweatbands.

Athlete is the new princess because strong is the new pretty.

Monday, September 14, 2015

What I Need vs. What I Want

This summer I looked up the schedule for various weight training classes at my gym, wrote them down and said I would START something that looked like weight training at least once a week after school started. School started. I went to the gym and promptly walked right into a Pilates group fitness class. That wasn't at all what I was supposed to do. (But I hadn't taken Pilates in more than a year and I missed it). The next week I went back to the Pilates class, telling myself I would go to a barbell strength class that week too, but didn't. I took a Pilates reformer class instead. Oops.
A photo posted by Kara Douglass Thom (@lifeasafitmom) on
I'm fighting the urge to do what I want versus what I need.

I feel certain that a woman my age (46, there it is) needs to be lifting weights to keep up with the deteriorating bone mass, which I hear kicks in sometime during your early 30s. I was down with that during my CrossFit years (2009-2012), but then (as long-time readers know) my body quit on me. Ever since, I've embraced my exercise detox program, which included Pilates, yoga, and walking.

I've been detoxing now for two years.

I have told myself that I do lift: I give my son piggy back rides; I carry (heavy) bags of salt to the water softener in the basement; I haul bags of compost to my garden. In yoga, I sometimes jump from standing to straddle or from downward dog to the top of my mat.

I'm also running more, not a lot, but once or twice a week. Is all that enough? Probably not. To know for sure I conferred with Google, which confirmed my suspicions.

I found a great post on osteoporosis and exercise written by a physical therapist. Even running, she says, isn't all that for bone building:
What about Running? Running may initially have a stimulating effect on bone but to continue running for several years would obey the bone law of diminishing returns. This is possibly demonstrated in one study showed that runners who ran more than 20 miles per week showed a decrease in BMD. Novel stimulus or “surprising the bones” is really good for getting bone turnover but the same exercise after a while is not going to have a significant bone response. We really have to vary our activities. 
The good news here, for folks like me with Exercise Attention Deficit Disorder, is that doing a variety of activities is good. Here's the thing though: I need to jump more. I need make things a little harder on my muscles to get those bone cells reproducing.

What to do? What to do? And can I make what I need, what I want? I know I've got physical therapists reading this. Please, feel free to share your knowledge in the comments!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Snack Attack

"What do I eat for snacks?" someone asked recently. My favorite (healthy) options, include:

Sliced apples and raw almonds sprinkled with cinnamon and drizzled with honey.

Carrots dipped in sun butter.

A chocolate rice cake slathered with peanut butter.

A mix of plain and honey greek yogurt (because you might as well eat ice cream if you go whole hog on the honey) with fruit or granola or both.

Perhaps, my favorite snack (or breakfast) and one my kids love too is the chocolate/peanut butter/banana shake made with almond milk and chocolate dynamic greens (kids know there are vegetables in this powder and don't care because it's so good). Toss in some ice and blend. Yummo!

Do you have a favorite healthy snack to share?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

School Started--Yeah!--Who Am I Again?

Have you seen me?

First week of school: Day #3.

From the kid most excited to go to school on Day #1 I heard: "I don't wanna go."

Tough $h!t kid.

Summer was overwhelmingly awesome. So awesome that I forgot I had a purpose outside of driving to camps, softball games and swimming pools. If you emailed me between June 3 and August 31 and never heard back from me, that is why.

We tried to prepare for the reality of a school schedule (middle school bus comes at 6:58 a.m.) but we were having too much fun to take it seriously. So Sunday night, T-10 hours, came hard. In search of my son's missing sneaker, I entered the family room--a room I had not set foot in since the beginning of summer because it became the "kid cave" and knew it would only make me crazy, an emotional state I was trying to avoid for the sake of the kids.

The kid cave/family room was as bad as I imagined (heaps of blankets, pillows and sleeping bags; piles of legos, socks, game pieces; scatterings of water bottles, headbands, empty granola bar wrappers) but I held my mental breath and stayed focus on the missing shoe. I found two other pairs of shoes, but not the one sneaker. I pictured it in the middle of a road or abandoned on a playground. I've seen such shoes and wondered how they came to be left. I still don't know, but someone, somewhere, is wondering the same about my son's sneaker.

In addition to the shoe search there was a flurry of last-minute-laundry when one of my kids (I'll retain anonymity) said she didn't have any clean underwear. I said, "It's 9 pm and you're telling me this now?" And she said, "I can just wear some that are only a little bit dirty."


Let's all pretend we didn't hear that. To overcompensate, perhaps, I started ironing first-day-of-school outfits. The first day of school is the one and only day my kids will wear ironed clothes.

I wanted to send them off properly. Something thoughtful before refocusing on having the days to myself, or at least the hours between 8:30 and 3. There is so much to do. So much. I feel like I need at least three weeks to dig my way out. I feel intimidated by what my to-do list would look like if I had the guts to make one.

This week at least, my daily plan is to do a little work, tackle one minor manageable house project, get in a good workout (so far a long walk, a fitness pilates class, and hoping for a bike ride this week) and something frivolous. I will also keep my eye out for that missing sneaker.