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I’m Sierra. I live in the Boston area with my family.

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Hard at work on homework

by Sierra on March 14, 2014 · 0 comments

in Uncategorized


So this is my little girl, at quarter past her bedtime, hunched over a packet of worksheets.

She’s adorable, still wearing her ballet outfit from the afternoon. And she’s feeling pretty good: she’s getting to stay up late & have some special, focused time with Mommy. She breezes through the worksheets; the material is no trouble for her.

This is pretty much the best case scenario for elementary school homework, and it’s terrible. Why does my six-year-old have paperwork to do after dinner? Is it to acclimate her to doing paperwork? Hot tip, school: worksheets aren’t an important life skill.

Even if homework wasn’t actively harmful to learning (and there’s evidence that it is) she’d get more benefit from playing, reading & taking a bath and getting a full nights sleep. All things she had to give up yesterday to do her homework.



Weighing My Weight

by Sierra on March 7, 2014 · 10 comments

in Uncategorized

A few years ago, I abruptly started gaining weight. Several things seemed to collude around it: I stopped breastfeeding, I hit my mid-30s, and my work became more sedentary all at once. I didn’t worry about it.

Over the past three years though, I’ve put on over 40 pounds. That’s a substantial portion of my body weight. I haven’t really known how to be in relationship with the changes in my body. Do I celebrate my new curves or try to drop them? Is there a way I can be in love with the body I have and also work towards more fitness? What would that look like? Is there a Right Size for me to be? Etc. It’s all been pretty complicated up in my head when I look in the mirror.

Overall, I’d made my peace with these body changes. I exercise, though not as much as I’d like. I eat pretty well and could do better. I like the way I look. In the fall, I had a wonderful brief period where I was exercising all the time and eating pretty well and I felt AMAZING.

Then I started a new job and took up studying Spanish and it got cold. The time and motivation for exercise dried up and my diet slipped into more comfort and less care. I don’t feel as great in my body now as I did six months ago.

Which is all OK. I’m not suffering over my weight, and I don’t think my 25-year-old figure was the Holy Grail. I threw out all my skinny jeans a long time ago.

But my doctor is concerned about how much weight I’ve put on. I trust her, a lot. She’s a really grounded sensitive person. I know she’s not recreationally telling me to drop these pounds because she thinks I’d look cuter in a bikini if I went back to being a size 4.

She first brought this up with me at my annual physical, and I saw her again today for a follow-up visit. She wants me to make some pretty substantial changes to my diet and lifestyle, with the aim of losing the weight I’ve gained. She also wants me to revamp my whole family’s eating habits. Apparently, we are doing it wrong. Where by wrong I mean eating too much starch and cheese. Which, OK, I pretty much knew that.

I have ALL THE FEELINGS about this. I do not want to get on the weight loss roller coaster. I think I look plenty cute as is. I would like to be more fit, and have more energy, and stop eating foods that aggravate my allergies. I hate our cultural fixation on being thin. I would love to be stronger. I trust my doctor and her concerns about my health are real. More vegetables and fewer starches is just a good idea. I’m not giving up chocolate. Etc.

The changes she wants me to make mostly sound good to me. She wants me to adopt a gluten-free, low-carb, high-protein diet, to replace one meal a day with a smoothie (she recommended these) and to get more exercise. That sounds challenging but overall like an improvement to my health.

I think I like this idea more if I don’t see weight loss as a goal of these changes but just a likely side effect of making some healthy adjustments in pursuit of other goals, like supporting my mood stability and increasing my energy and not having a sniffly nose all the time.

I’d love to recapture that sense I had last fall (when I was still slowly gaining weight, fwiw) of taking really good care of myself and feeling really good in my body. I would love to continue not caring what pants size I wear.

So I have questions, and they’re for all of you, the fitness nuts and the voluptuous beauties and the people who love being fat & happy  and the people who love weighing out portions and measuring muscle mass and those who are all of the above and those who don’t care at all about this topic but maybe have interesting life hacks around forming new habits or tracking data. Help me find my way through this so I can stay healthy both in my body and in my relationship to food and weight?

What helps you feel good about how you look? What helps you feel good about your body and being a physical embodied creature? How do you make healthy food choices? What supports you in sticking with changes to your food habits? How do you fit exercise into a busy day? How do you invest emotionally in being fit and healthy without caring about the number on the scale?

Etc. etc. etc. Help me figure this out, please? For bonus points, do it in a really body positive, person positive way without any fat-shaming bullshit.


Belatedly, the new year

January 28, 2014

Each year at the winter solstice, my loved ones and I set intentions with a word or phrase that we hope will sum up our coming year. Am I allowed to change my word of the year, even if that word was stability? I say yes! A month in, I’m coming to realize that what [...]

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Would you like to wrestle…

November 18, 2013

Serena has been playing this game with the toddler we take care of, where she asks him if he’d like to wrestle under a variety of circumstances and he says “Yeah!” enthusiastically. She always does this when they’re riding in the car together, and at no other time. Not really sure what’s up with that. [...]

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If You Give A 9-Year-Old A Cell Phone…

November 14, 2013

People. This is what happens if you give a 9-year-old a cell phone. She calls you in the middle of the day from the park (what park? who can say?), to tell you that there are no trash cans there and there’s a lot of litter, so she wants to call city hall and let [...]

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This Moment

November 13, 2013

There’s a toddler asleep on my lap. I’m sitting here, reaching over him gently to type and realizing that I’ve been doing this move – reaching across a sleeping baby to write – for almost ten years. And probably not for much longer. My own kids are big. The biggest one is growing fast towards [...]

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“Vacation” at Home

November 11, 2013

I’m on “vacation”. I haven’t gone anywhere, and I don’t plan to. I’m not taking the week off from work, and my kids are going to their various school and extra-curricular events. Nothing’s really changed. Here’s what I’m *not* doing this week, though: everything else. No doctor’s appointments. No theater tickets. No dinner dates with [...]

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The Bridge from Summer to Fall

August 29, 2013

So we’re all home from Maine now, and catching our breath. It’s the last gasp of summer, with a foot already into fall. School starts next week for the little one, Parts & Crafts starts a week later for the older. I’m going back to my temp gig at Harvard next week, too. We’ll all [...]

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Of Wasps and Words and Other Things

August 22, 2013

Today Serena clamored out of the lake and said, “A warm towel! A warm towel!” as she wrapped herself in fluffy goodness. Then she paused and said, “Mama, was there ever a time when there weren’t towels? When towels hadn’t been invented yet?” “Yes,” I said. “What did people do to dry off then?” she [...]

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Rethinking Food In My Life

August 14, 2013

I’ve been a vegetarian for 31 of my 35 years on this earth. This week, I’ve tentatively begun experimenting with eating some meat. This has been a long time coming. Several years ago I went through an elimination diet and discovered that I’m sensitive to wheat and soy; they exacerbate my chronic sinus problems. I [...]

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