Thursday, February 7, 2013

Please Ignore My Ranting

Just to forewarn you, this post is nothing more than a compilation of complaints.  If you don’t like listening or reading about someone whining over trivial matters, move on to the next tweet or Facebook post or whatever in your list.

Since my second son was born nearly three weeks ago, I’ve been driving straight to work rather than the circuitous route I previously took to drop my first-born off at school and my wife off at her job.  Yes, my wife drives, but we enjoyed spending our mornings together by carpooling, and it naturally saves on gas.  Anyway, she’s been at home with baby since mid-January, and I’ve been driving a different route straight to work.  And I don’t know if I hadn’t paid as much attention before, but these past few weeks have proven to me that people drive like idiots.  Yeah, I said it.  Idiots.

This past week alone I’ve had four people tailgate me relentlessly, watched three people blatantly run red lights, saw well over ten people run stop signs in my neighborhood, and nearly saw an accident that could have been fatal (car turned left into, of all places, a methadone clinic right in front of a huge box truck).

What’s the rush, people?  Traffic signals and speed limits are optional because you couldn't wake up five minutes earlier?

A couple of months ago, some local guy was killed while checking his mail because a driver was speeding to get to work.  I’ve almost been THAT GUY way too many times.  My house sits at the beginning of a long stretch of flat, straight road, and despite posted 25 mph signs, people will fly down it at speeds in excess of 40 or even 50 mph.  My mailbox sits along the side of the road right before a bend to the left, and often when another car is coming in the opposite direction, people will drive off the road to avoid the other car.  That is, off the road directly where I stand to check my mail.

Seriously, what’s the rush, people?  Getting to your destination is more important than the life of another human being?

For all my readers out there, please slow down.  If you hit someone who is walking or checking his/her mail, like me, that’s on you.  There’s no defense for driving too fast and striking a pedestrian.  And if you know someone that speeds, please encourage that person to slow down as well.

I’m not done with this little rant just yet.  Switching topics completely, I have a tremendous amount of respect for my wife.  In the three weeks since our baby was born, she’s been up three to four times a night feeding and changing him.  This baby is the loudest baby I’ve ever been around, grunting and passing gas and screaming when he gets hungry.  Last night I heard her say, “Please, Ben, I’ve only had an hour of sleep so far,” and I turned and looked at the clock and saw it was 3:30 AM.  I know some fathers get up during the wee hours of night to tend to newborns, but I’ll admit that I’ve never been great at doing that.  Luckily my wife has been able to take time off with the baby, and I know that when she goes back to work I’ll have to start picking up some of the slack (or else we’ll be going to bed at 8 every night).  But my wife is one heck of a great mommy.

Some women aren’t cut out for motherhood.  Some would choose to focus on their career or are frightened by the thought of raising a little one.  And I have no problem with women who personally decide not to have kids.  It’s their choice, and I have a tremendous respect for people, both men and women, who make choices and stick to them.  Parenthood isn’t for everyone.

But sometimes I am moderately annoyed over the reasoning some women use for not having kids.  One of the biggest excuses I’ve heard is that they do not want to ruin their bodies.  I’m sure we all know a woman who has said this.

Now I don’t personally know this particular unnamed lady pictured below (minus her head—I don’t want sued!), but in a conversation a year or so ago, she stated adamantly that she would not be having kids because she didn’t "need a kid ruining" her body.

Seriously?  Seriously.

I’m a bigger guy myself, and I’m not poking fun at her size, but really, lady?  You think birthing a child will ruin your body, but the excess food you consume and your lack of exercise won’t?  She’s not even that big, apparently, and perhaps this picture isn’t all that flattering, but to say a child will ruin your body when you’re obviously carrying around quite a few extra pounds seems asinine to me.  And besides, let me just set the record straight by saying that watching my wife care for my sons is one of the SEXIEST things I’ve ever seen in my life.  Yes, she may have a few stretch marks and a few pounds to lose to get back to her pre-pregnancy weight, but if you are a woman who is concerned about changes to your body due to child birth, don’t be.

BTW, that lady above could quite possibly have some other issues unrelated to children.  I know I shouldn’t judge her, but she seems to have a narcissistic personality.  For example, her husband is a very effeminate man—so much so that many people have reportedly mistaken him for being gay.  I mean absolutely no disrespect by that, just to be clear.  But continuing on with my point, she also didn’t take her husband’s last name, even in hyphenated form.  Again, no disrespect there either.  But add it all up, including her comments regarding childbirth ruining her body, and it really tells you something about her, doesn’t it?  I mean, by all observations, it would seem that she’s simply a strong-willed, slightly masculine, career-oriented woman, and that’s totally cool.  But if that’s the case, lady, don’t tell mothers-to-be that you don’t want kids because “kids will ruin your body.”  Just say you don’t want kids because that’s the choice you’ve made.  End of discussion.

I’ve also heard women say that they can barely take care of themselves, let alone kids.  This one isn’t quite so annoying, as I’ve seen a lot of women out there who should definitely NOT be mothers, but shouldn’t that be a bit of a wakeup call for them?  If they can “BARELY take care of themselves,” shouldn’t they take some steps to get their personal lives in better order?  I don’t think I’ve ever been at a point in my adult life where I could “barely take care of myself.”  Yeah, maybe you shouldn’t be having kids, but maybe you should be getting busy doing other things like creating a better life for yourself.  Just a thought.

And finally, switching subjects completely again, I don’t understand why restaurants have to use so much sodium in their meals.  I’m sure I could Google it, and my inquiring mind probably will as soon as I’m done typing this, but if you eat out anywhere in a typical day, you are likely to get two times your recommended amount of sodium.  High sodium has been proven to contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and a number of other nasty, life threatening diseases.

I’ve been tweaking my diet the past few weeks, really trying to make a conscious effort to go from a bigger man to a, well, slightly-bigger-than-average-sized man.  I’ve been more active, trying to walk in place as often as I can and squeezing in twenty minutes or so of exercise every night.  I’ve cut out sugary sodas and have cut back tremendously on sweets.  I’ve been trying to keep my calories below 2000, and I’ve been fairly successful at that.  But, wow, my sodium levels haven’t budged.

We grab take-out probably three or four times per week for convenience.  We have always done this, and when my wife goes back to work, that trend will only continue.  We don’t get home until nearly six most nights, and by that time it takes entirely too long to make a complicated dinner.  I’ve been much more conscious of what I’m ordering on the menus of restaurants, but since I started tracking sodium, I’ve been at a total loss.  It's next to impossible to get a low-sodium meal from a restaurant.

Take, for example, Panera and their seemingly healthy food choices.  Last night I ordered a chopped Thai chicken salad, a cup of broccoli cheddar soup, and a French baguette.   Sounds like a healthy meal, right?  And really, it should have been.  In total it was 950 calories comprised of 101g of carbs, 39g of fat, and 54g of protein.  It even had 13g of fiber.  Great stuff…until I looked at the sodium content.  In all, the meal was 3080mg of sodium, the equivalent of one and a half tablespoons.  Yuck.

Aside from the above-mentioned health issues, sodium makes you retain water.  If you eat foods that, in total, contain the daily recommended allowance of sodium (typically 2500mg), you’ll be fine.  If you eat much more than that, the next time you hop on the scale you’ll find that you probably haven’t lost any weight—and quite possibly gained some.  That’s because your body is filled with water.

I looked up all of the ingredients to make the Panera meal I mentioned above, and the total sodium content I came up with was much, much less—closer to around 1200mg.  So why are they adding sodium to an otherwise healthy meal?  I’m sure it has something to do with preservatives or taste or whatnot, and I’ll be Googling it like I said, but it really makes me think that the healthy way to eat is to eat at home where you can measure out your own fresh ingredients and know EXACTLY what you are putting into the food you consume.

That’s all I have to rant about for now, I guess.  I feel better now.  Thanks for reading.

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