Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Oh the Profanity


So I made the mistake of indulging in some morbid curiosity and did some math this afternoon. I've been doing Weight Watchers for a little over a year now and I wonder how much weight I'd actually lost, not counting the weight I've gained back occasionally when I have a stupid and stop tracking for a while.

Because I mean I know reached 25 lbs below my starting weight at one point but I've gained some back. It was my fault. I stopped tracking and started doing emotional eating and thats like taking an alcoholic to a bar. I swear I'll be okay, it will just be one drink and then 8 pounds later I go, "Oh CRAP!" and start getting serious again. I tell myself its okay, I just need to forgive myself and move on. At least I'm lighter than I was before, yada yada yada.

But I'm really kind of annoyed with myself at the moment because I have gained and lost the same 8 pounds THREE TIMES NOW. And its all my fault. Weight Watchers is a totally livable program. I can absolutely do this. The problem is that I get lazy or stressed or whatever and I stop tracking my points. I tell myself its okay, I know what I'm doing now. I'll keep track in my head. Its just for today. Then today turns into a week, and a week turns into 3 weeks and then I finally break down and face the scale and its bad.

I, Ami, am addicted to food and I cannot control my eating with out help. Seriously.

So even though I hit 25 lbs below my starting weight, I'm sitting at more like 18 pounds below starting at the moment.

And I was curious - how much weight have I lost total? Not including the gain backs? So I looked it up  on my weight trackers. I figured it would probably be in the mid 30 pound range, right? Sounds reasonable. Not too bad.

Oh no. 52.8 pounds. Thats right. You read that right. In the last 14 months I have lost a total of fifty-two-point-fricking-eight POUNDS. And what do I have to show for it??! 18 pounds and some change.

Thats it.

Oh. my. God.

I would be well over a third of the way to goal weight. Almost half way to my goal weight if I hadn't taken those little binge holidays. OVER A THIRD OF THE WAY.

I have worked my butt off to lose over 52.8 pounds and I only have 18.6 pounds to show for it because I lack the consistency and dedication and HUMILITY to admit I cannot control myself and I have to track my points because with out accountability I will screw up. Hell you'd think I would have got the message when I was staring down the barrel at 300 pounds and decided to start doing Weight Watchers because clearly I don't know how to feed myself with out gaining weight! But no, I clearly lack real conversion to that principle because otherwise I'd have 52.8 pounds to show for it and not 18 pounds.

So that means while I lost 52.8 pounds, I've gained 34.2 of it BACK. And I didn't do it all at once. I'd lose 10 pounds gain back 2. Lose 6 pounds, gain back 1. Lose 9.5 pounds, gain back .5. Lose 3 pounds and gain back 6.

52.8 pounds!!!!

REALLY. I could be THAT MUCH LIGHTER RIGHT NOW. I could have FIVE of those lovely 10 pounds lost ribbons on my board in the kitchen instead of the 2 I do have. OMG.

I'm in shock. Can you tell?! I'm good old fashioned flabbergasted!! HOLEY-CHIT MAN!!

52.8 pounds!!! 52.8 POUNDS! FIFTY-two-point-eight POUNDS!!! O. M. G.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

My Thoughts on the Missionary Age Change

So today was the first day of General Conference (Mormonese Translation: General Conference is a big shindig the church throws twice a year in April and October, where they gather all the bigwigs together and have a big two day long conference, 5 different sessions, 2 hours each and you hear talks from all the current Apostles and the Prophet and his counselors plus an assortment of other church big wigs. Its broadcast world wide and is generally a big frickin' deal for the Mormon folks).

And generally if theres going to be any sort of big announcement it happens at the Saturday Morning session of Conference.

And today there was a BIG announcement!!

You can read it there but basically they've lowered the ages of the missionaries. Previously you had to be 19 for young men or 21 for young women to serve. Well that's changed. Now it is 18 for young men and 19 for young women.

And I think this is flat out the awesome sauce. And let me tell you why. Some of this makes sense to anybody, some of this only makes sense if you understand the strange world that is Utah Mormon Culture (which is its very own little funky thing).

For the guys lowering the age to 18 is great for those who are ready. You don't have to go right at 18 if you're not prepared or whatever but for those who are ready it means you don't have to go, get started on your first year of college, finally get everything all straightened out and then drop out, move home and leave for 2 years on a mission. That can really put a kink in your academics (but I can testify from personal experience that if the Lord wants you to serve it will all work out regardless but it does add to the anxiety and makes the planning more complex). So now the guys, as soon as they graduate high school can just go straight out into the mission field instead of going to school for one year, THEN going on a mission.

That's nice.

But what I'm really, really excited about is the age drop for the sisters. See they've always had the sisters be older, mostly b/c it helps to keep relationships in the field "mission appropriate" if the sisters are older. (FYI: There is NO dating whatsoever as a missionary. None.) But see one could argue that 21 was perfect b/c that way most of the girls can finish college and THEN serve. Nice right?

Except for this nagging cultural bit of STUPIDITY (I'm callin' it like it is people): If you go out on your mission at age 21, you get home at age 23. And at age 23, in Utah, one of my former roommates had her 6 year old niece come up to her and ask, "Aunt Maggie*, Why are you an Old Maid?" (I would like to note here that Aunt Maggie decided shortly after that experience that it was time to leave Utah and move to Texas where people aren't so very..... Utarded). So yeah. Women in Utah get home from their missions at age 23 and are instant old maids! (Yes I am well aware that the average age for a first marriage for a woman in this country is 27. Utah is weird. Welcome to the dark side of Mormon-Land. Please note this is the culture NOT the doctrine.)

And see what REALLY bugs me about that is that in our culture the common preference is for men to date/marry women their same age or younger. Its increasing in cultural acceptance (see the "Cougar" phenomenon) but its still not the norm. Especially among the Mormon crowd, where probably the most famous tradition (please note tongue in cheek) is this:

Girl and Boy Date and Fall in Love -> Boy goes on Mission and Girl Promises to "Wait For Him" -> Shortly into Mission Boy receives the infamous "Dear John Letter". Girl marries some Hot New RM (Return Missionary). Boy is heartbroken -> Boy finishes Mission, comes home. Finds some sweet YOUNG thing (Who is also "Waiting For Her Missionary"), woos her, wins her and leads her to break some other poor shmucks heart with a "Dear John Letter" and thus the circle continues.

Note if she's "waiting for her missionary" odds are she is between the ages of 18 and 21 (b/c the boys all go at 19 and get home at 21). See now how 23 year old single sister fits awkwardly into this picture. Most of her 23 year old peers at home already have 2-3 children by this point.

And you wanna know the saddest part of it? Those 23 year old "Old Maids" are the fricking cream of the crop. I mean no disrespect to those who don't serve but it is truly amazing the depth of knowledge and testimony you gain as a missionary. That's WHY they send the guys. One could argue that its for the Work of God but lets be honest- a big part of it is to get their moronic twerpy stage over with in a hurry.

In my experience most 18-19 year old guys are twerps. (I am actually quoting my Mission President's Wife here...) And left to their own devices they don't grow out of that until they're 25-30. But a mission is just this incredible thing that if you work, and study and teach and pray and really give your mission your all... It is the greatest refiners fire and when you're done you have Men (and Women) of God.

And these sisters.... I can't think of a better preparation to be a Mother. I have 18 months of serious experience teaching the gospel that I know will help me teach my children. I've learned how to work and study and have the Spirit with my companion. When you get a companion as a missionary - its a complete stranger and you get thrown together for at least 6 weeks and you have to figure out how to get a long with no tension whatsoever so that you can effectively do the work of the Lord. That can be quite a challenge if your personalities are.... less compatible. Its fantastic prep for learning how to work and communicate and study and pray with your Eternal Companion (aka Your Spouse).

So these AMAZING sisters who you would think the guys would be LINING UP for a date with them, often take YEARS after their mission to find their spouse, largely b/c "They're Older".

How stupid is that?!

Oh and lots and LOTS of sisters just plain don't get to go b/c they get married long before they got anywhere near 21 and could even think about praying about, "Should I go on a mission?". But now they're 19. The guys have been gone for a year so hopefully some of the hormones have cleared their heads and now they get the chance to really pray, "Am I supposed to go?"

Its more complicated for sisters than it is for most guys. For most guys, since the 70s or so the standard has been, "Every worthy and able young man should serve a mission." But for sisters, not all of us are called. And yes if they're supposed to stay home and get married straight away that will still happen but I just think it will be easier and more sisters will be able to serve.

And that is just so fricking exciting. And I am so happy for them. And jealous really. My father called me and was like, "Wow, only 15 years and Caleb can serve a mission!" And my Mom started to scold him for stressing me out and ya know... that thought doesn't stress me. I want him to go with my whole heart. The thought of him getting married and leaving my house, that stresses me, but a mission? I'm just excited and crazy jealous.

Because I loved my mission. I absolutely did not want to come home. I missed my family but that was it. If I could have still seen my family regularly as a missionary they would never have gotten me to leave. I will still resolutely say that it was flat out, hands down, the single best thing I have ever done FOR my whole life. And I'm so grateful for the chance to serve and if it wasn't for my family now I'd be beating down the door for them to let me serve again. I still dream about it actually.

So yeah. Just my two cents. I'm sorry if it really sounds like I've got the hate on for the Utah Mormons. They're okay, mostly. Just certain cultural quirks make me twitchy.

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Colloquial vs Technical

I'm gonna go off on a little wild hair thats been buggin me for a bit here (and please keep in mind I'm still semi loopy from the muscle relaxer I took LAST NIGHT) and that is when people confuse/freak out over colloquial vs technical usage of terminology.

B/c see the nagging thing about language is that a word ultimately means what the user thinks it means, in their head, when they say it.

Read that last line twice to make sure you got it. Yes one could argue (rightly) that what a word means is whatever it is defined as meaning in a dictionary. Except see dictionaries change over time (The Oxford English Dictionary is the awesome sauce for this reason b/c it not only tracks what the word means now but what it USED to mean and when the meaning changed. Very important.) and the dictionaries change to reflect current usage. And some people seriously get their panties in a twist when some body gets the current (colloquial) usage wrong vs the technical (current dictionary version) usage or even visa versa.

Personally I think both usages are valid and you have to know your audience and the context they're being used for to know which version to go with.

Abstract rambling I know but here let me give you some examples:

Shoe Fetish

I like to say I have a "Shoe Fetish" (or at least I did before I screwed up my ankle and had to start wearing shoes for comfort and not looks). Now TECHNICALLY the term "Shoe Fetish" implies that I get off on shoes, sexually speaking. You periodically hear stories in the news about freaky little men who break into their coworkers apartments to steal shoes and they find them in some little apartment attic somewhere with 2000 stolen worn shoes that they just have to have for sexual reasons. Ew.

This is NOT what I mean when I say I have a "Shoe Fetish". I purposefully abuse the technical term (for the sake of humor) and go with the colloquial usage which has come to mean "I really love shoes! They make me giddy happy when I find a new pair ON SALE!!".

Most people understand that this is what I mean when I say the term "Shoe Fetish" and they go "OOOOh me too!" and I only occasionally get crap from the more technically minded (usually male) individuals. And I've learned to judge my listener and I can usually tell if they'll be okay with the "Shoe Fetish" term (and find it humorous) OR if I should go "Ohhh I seriously love shoes" just so I don't get that, "Ewwww you freak" look from somebody.

Antisocial vs Asocial

Similarly my husband is forever getting bent when somebody "misuses" the term "Antisocial". My husband is a strictly technical person. I periodically have to calm him down about this and I've found telling him "Its okay Sheldon" (The Big Bang Theory reference. If you don't get it, go start watching immediately after reading this post), helps him get a grip on things and take a deep breath.

Because see the colloquial usage says "Antisocial" when what they really mean is "Asocial". Technically. Because "Asocial" means somebody who is just not social. I.e. a homebody, someone with few or no friends who doesn't get out much and dislikes large groups (you could also describe them as introverts). But most people don't use "Asocial" to mean that (it is kind of a weird, if accurate, term). Most people use the term "Antisocial" to describe such a person.

Except in psychology Asocial vs Antisocial are two very different things. An Antisocial person is somebody more like the Joker in Batman Begins. Violent, aggressive, with no regard for the feelings of others or societal norms. They might really like large groups of people but mostly so they have an audience full of victims.... Colloquially this type of behavior usually gets termed "Psychopath" but that term may or may not encompass this set of behaviors depending on which dictionary you're looking at.

Confused yet? I know.

So basically, I tell him that YES "Asocial" is the correct term. However, the general populace doesn't KNOW this term and doesn't get the difference. So for clarity's sake if I'm speaking to a group of lay people I will use the term "Antisocial". If I'm speaking to a group of psychologists I'll use the term "Asocial" and ya know what, one could argue in both situations I'm using the right terminology, because its the one that my audience can understand.

Mentally Retarded

Now this one irritates me b/c some people don't get the difference between the colloquial usage and the technical term. They assume they are one in the same. And they are NOT.

For example: If you call some one a "retard", this is a derogatory term synonymous with "Stupid".

One could argue that usage of the word "retard" as a derogatory term is cruel to people who are actually "mentally retarded" and while they are probably right, at least personally, thats not what I mean. I would never, ever call an actual mentally retarded person a "retard". I generally reserve that term for a high functioning individual who is choosing to be an idiot. Its a fine distinction and probably means I'm a bad person and I should probably abandon its usage all together but it slips out occasionally, so there.

However, the technical term "Mentally retarded" does NOT mean "Stupid". It just means "Slow to learn."

For example: you might have noticed that nothing now days is "Fire Proof" this is because ANYTHING will burn if you get it hot enough, and thus the Sheldon's of the world (or more accurately, their lawyers) have declared that things must be called Fire Retardants, which means "really hard to catch on fire".

Likewise a mentally retarded person is not stupid and incapable of learning. Okay, point of fact, in some extreme cases, such as a permanent vegetative state, one could argue that such a person is in fact incapable of learning, and then somebody else would argue that you don't know what their brain is actually absorbing and down that road leads to madness. So for our purposes we're going to say that as long as they're capable of consciousness and some form of communication, they are still capable of learning.

It might be really hard, and they might be slow to learn but they are learning and that is all that mentally retarded means. They're not "learning proof", they're just "slow to learn". So before you get your panties in a twist that somebody is calling some one you know "mentally retarded" and you think that means that they are saying your loved one is "stupid and incapable of learning", it is NOT the same thing. It just means "slow to learn" like fire retardant means "slow to catch fire".

Flip side for law and policy makers out there: just because a child has been termed "mentally retarded" does not mean that they are incapable of learning and therefore you shouldn't even try or spend resources and time teaching them, it just means they need extra help and are still "worth" assisting.

So yeah. Long story short: please be aware that there are differences between the technical and colloquial definitions of terminology and that its important to use contextual clues to tell which one is being used to avoid misunderstandings and also using the version that is appropriate to your audience is important for clarities sake.

Any examples of technical vs colloquial that get your dander up or am I the only one with this problem? lol