Conquering Our El Guapos: Dieting, Parenting, and a Healthy Does of Ramble

I’m back on a diet. Again. Why? Because I just can’t seem to not eat in moderation. Not consistently, at any rate. I know I’m not alone in this. I also know it’s my fault. Not McDonald’s. (I hardly eat fast food ever anyway.) It’s not the way I was raised. It’s not what my wife makes for dinner (well, maybe some of that bread . . .). It’s me. When I get stressed, I eat. When I eat, I feel better. No one makes me eat. I do it all on my lonesome.

And so I end up on this stupid roller coaster of dieting. Not that the roller coaster I’m on has particularly steep ups and downs. It’s more of gentle climbs, followed by mildly exhilarating dips. I’ll get my weight down some, and be having some success, and then get busy and lose focus. It’s not that I start ballooning out of control. I still eat pretty healthily. But I like to bake. And I like to eat what I bake. And even when I don’t overeat, an extra brownie here and another slice of cake there tend to add up over time.

Why do I blog about this? Because when I’m public about my goals, I seem to do better with them. I’m also using the topic today to springboard onto something else I wanted to discuss today: parenting.

I came across this article in the New Yorker, focused on why American kids are becoming such brats. I don’t agree with it 100%–I know many parents who are doing admirable jobs of raising wonderful children–but I do think it makes some very good points. When Denisa and I first had TRC, I remember how hard it was. Feeling like we had to do our best to make sure everything was perfect. That he was happy all the time.

That lasted for a good two weeks, I’d say. We were losing it. Denisa was extremely low on sleep, everybody–including TRC–was cranky. Not good. The big turning point came when we realized something: it’s okay for babies to cry. They do it all the time. I remember talking to my cousin, who was a big advocate of Baby Wise–something Denisa and I started to follow and still heartily recommend. She told us how she would set a timer when her babies were crying. If they were still going after 15 minutes, she’d check on them–make sure everything was okay–and then put them back down and repeat the process.

I remember the first time we tried that. TRC was crying. And crying. And only 2 minutes had gone by on the timer. 5 minutes. 7. And then at 10, he stopped crying and went to sleep. Slept happily for his nap.

This was huge. Mainly, I think the change was going from a child-centered life back to a parent/spouse-centered one. TRC was no longer dictating what we were going to do. We had a plan, and we stuck to it. We’ve been doing that ever since. TRC and DC get some say in what we do as a family, but they also recognize that the parents have the final call. They have chores, and there are consequences when they don’t do them. It’s not easy, but I think it’s much easier than it would be if the kids were using me as a doormat every day.

How does this relate to my dieting?

It’s all about that personal accountability thing. We’re all responsible for our own happiness. Each of us, individually. I can’t make anyone happy. That’s a choice they have to make for themselves. This includes my children. If I went around each day trying to make them happy–to do everything in my power to make sure they had no want left unfulfilled–I would be doing them a disservice. I would be teaching them that someone else is supposed to make them happy. Supposed to handle the Big Problems. I’m happy to be a support, but I can’t be the only one.

Just like me and my diet. I can’t turn the keys over to Denisa and tell her to make sure I eat right. In the end, it all comes down to me. And while I’m capable and competent in so many other things, eating healthily 100% (or even 75%) of the time doesn’t seem to be one of them.

That’s okay. I’m working on it. We’re all working on things, trying to improve ourselves–hopefully, at least. This all made sense in my brain before I wrote the post, but it seems to have come far afield now. And when that happens, the best thing to do is show a YouTube clip and walk away. Have a good Wednesday, folks.

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