LESSONS LEARNED

Things I’ve learned as a parent, or want others to learn.

Quarantine, Obesity, and the Voices in Your Head

May 27, 2020 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

I’m excited to once again work with Med-IQ to help raise awareness about obesity and the misconceptions surrounding it. After reading my post, please take a few minutes to complete the survey linked at the end. I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Novo Nordisk to write about the realities of obesity as a chronic disease. All opinions are my own. 

quarantine, obesity and the voices in your head

When it comes to managing weight, the most difficult obstacles can be internal. Self-conversations. Inner dialogue. The voices in your head. Whatever you call them, if you’ve spent years (or a lifetime) dealing with overweight or obesity, you’re familiar with how powerful the messages we tell ourselves — both positive and negative — can be.

Now add to this a months-long quarantine due to a worldwide pandemic. Between an increase in stress and anxiety, separation from friends and other support, and limited access to fitness and nutrition routines, it’s a recipe for a misstep on your weight loss journey.

I’ll admit it’s all been overwhelming at times. Yet similar to the last time I blogged about obesity, writing this post has given me the chance to reflect: on how far I’ve come, where I’m at now, and what things I can do to ensure I stay on a healthy path.

A lot of my success comes from the things I tell myself and the external input I subject myself to. I got some excellent input recently when I participated in a conversation with a couple of experts on obesity and weight management. Between their insight and the things I’ve learned on my own, I’ve come up with a few conversation starters to interject some truth into those internal chats about weight.

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Motivation and the Power of Before & After

July 31, 2019 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

 

Motivation and the Power of Before & After

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES

I love a good before and after photo as much as the next person, but seeing my own is a whole extra level of amazing. When I look at these images, I not only see a slimmer, healthier version of me, I see the months and months of hard work and lifestyle changes that went into it.

But now that I’m a year out, what motivates me to keep going?

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How Important Is Support for People With Obesity?

May 6, 2019 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

I previously worked with Med-IQ on their campaign about depression. I was excited to work with them again, this time to raise awareness about obesity (and obesity support) and to share my own story. After reading my post, please take a few minutes to complete the survey linked at the end. This is a sponsored post — I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Novo Nordisk to write about the realities of obesity as a chronic disease. All opinions are my own. 

Over the course of the last six months I’ve lost more than 85 pounds, and it’s been truly, literally life-changing. I achieved this through gastric sleeve surgery, radical changes to my diet, and regular exercise.

But I couldn’t have done any of this on my own.

A while back I wrote about my obesity journey — the ups and downs of my life and how that affected my weight and health in general. Now I want to focus specifically on how support from others helped me along the way — to where I am today. And where is that? Happier and healthier than I’ve been in… well, longer than I can remember.

Again, the details of all the words can be rather cumbersome and tedious, so I’m employing my doodling skills once more to share my experiences and drop some knowledge. See whimsical graph thingies (and important data) below.

Support = Science = Success

Studies at the Mayo Clinic show that identifying and connecting with supportive and understanding relationships improves long-term success with weight management.

This graphic shows some of the different ways I’ve found support for my own health and well-being.

Obesity Survey

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My Plan to Be 50 & Fabulous

March 22, 2019 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

50 and Fabulous

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2019 is a fabulous year to turn 50.

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The list of things, events and people hitting the half-century mark this year is staggeringly impressive — but not in a commemorative “remember when they were cool” kind of way. Five decades in, and they’re still making an impact, affecting change, and knocking our socks off.

For example… Sesame Street continues to gently teach children us all to understand and include everyone, regardless of gender, race, disability, or fur color.  In the spirit of the original “Peace, Love & Music” festival, Woodstock 50 boasts a lineup of talented, activist artists partnering with charities dedicated to the environment, gun violence, and vulnerable youth populations. The Stonewall Riots kicked off the modern LGBTQ rights movement — which is still going strong, and still very much needed.

Famous folks turning 50: J Lo just got engaged to A-Rod, and hosts nearly every reality show competition. Gwen Stefani hosts the rest of them. Jay-Z gets to stay married to Beyoncé. Peter Dinklage is an Emmy and Golden Globe-winning star on the most epic TV show of all time, which is gearing up for its final, most epic season of all time. Paul Rudd is a freaking Avenger.

A few honorable mentions go to the Moon Landing (let’s see how this Space Force stuff plays out), The Internet, Very Hungry Caterpillar, and Tic-Tacs.

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SuperLunchNotes: Black Superheroes Edition

February 20, 2019 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED, POP CULTURE

There are lots of ways to teach children about diversity… and not just during Black History Month. Certainly it’s important to introduce your kids to African-American culture through leaders like Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and Dr. King. But I’ve found some of the most effective lessons are those integrated into everyday life.

As a family of gay fathers and an adopted son, it’s vital our child feels visible, included and loved. Beyond surrounding ourselves with other queer and adoptive families, we also make racial diversity a priority. This has informed all aspects of our lives — from where we chose to live, to the friends we make, to the school our son attends. It also factors into the books, TV shows and movies we expose our son to. And of course that includes superheroes.

black superheroes

For those new to the blog, I’ve been creating superhero lunch notes for my son since preschool. They’ve been a great way not only to send him a bit of encouragement (or remind him to flush), but also a fun tool to introduce him to a wide array of heroes. And since this is Black History Month, I thought I’d highlight some of the awesome black characters I’ve doodled for my kid over the years.

I’ve listed family-friendly sources under each note so you and your kids can learn/watch/read more about these heroes. Feel free to copy or print the notes for your family’s lunches — be sure to send me a photo if you make your own!

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BLACK PANTHER

Black Superheroes

This is the black superhero everyone now knows, thanks to the record-breaking, history-making Black Panther film. WAKANDA FOREVER! GOOD LUCK AT THE OSCARS!

FUN FACT: Black Panther was originally conceived by artist Jack Kirby as a character named “Coal Tiger.”
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My Obesity Journey: There & Back Again & There & Back Again & There & Back Again…

February 13, 2019 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

I previously worked with Med-IQ* on their campaign educating people about depression. I jumped at the chance to work with them again, this time to raise awareness about obesity and the misconceptions surrounding it. After reading my post, please take a few minutes to complete the survey linked at the end. I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Novo Nordisk to write about the realities of obesity as a chronic disease. All opinions are my own. 

Obesity

On October 22 of last year, I had 75% of my stomach removed. After struggling with my weight for nearly three decades, I decided to undergo laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, also known as gastric sleeve surgery. This decision was neither easy nor quick, but it was the best one for me.

My journey with obesity and weight loss is long, bumpy, and full of (literal) gut-wrenching twists and turns. I initially had written a whole bunch of words chronicling the ups and downs, progress and regress, complete with years and weights and BMIs and such. But I realized that didn’t tell the full story — at least not a story others could relate to and that would make the points I want to make. So instead I doodled this whimsically twisty timeline/infographic thingie…

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Guest Post: A Legacy of Voting

November 6, 2018 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

As an English teacher and writer, my mother has been a huge influence on my own love of words. She and I have also enjoyed a lifetime of spirited political discussions. We’re not always 100% on the same side, yet there’s always a willingness to listen and an attempt to understand one another. 

One of the first things I remember reading of my mother’s was a story about my great-grandfather (her maternal grandfather). While she describes him as a staunch Republican, both the GOP and Democratic party have evolved considerably since the 1960s and 70s. The takeaway is the importance he placed on voting, another value I proudly inherited from my mother… who obviously had a strong influence of her own.

Grandpa and Grandma Keylon - a legacy of voting

My great-grandparents, Lewis & Elizabeth Keylon. Union, AR, circa 1960. Photo courtesy of Beverly Almond

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A Frank Note About Voting in the Midterm Election, Part 2

October 31, 2018 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

There’s nothing scarier than not being heard. And yet so many in this country still aren’t voting. This Halloween, as the November 6 midterms are looming, watch this silly/spooky/filled with pun(kins) video, then COMMIT TO VOTE.

If you’ve watched my previous video, then you’re already registered and rearing to go. But in case it’s still unclear where you vote, here’s a handy tool to help you find out your polling place — whether you’re voting on election day or voting early. Keep in mind, depending on which day you vote, your polling place may be different!

Stay tuned for part 3 of this epic video series, wherein I hound  you to the ends of the Earth to VOTE VOTE VOTE! Just kidding… sorta.

 

A Quick Note About Voting in the Midterm Election, Part 1

October 17, 2018 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

Voting in the November 6 midterm election has never been more important… or easier! Watch this short instructional video I whipped up, then REGISTER TO VOTE! You can also check your registration status here.

MIDTERMS, SCHMIDTERMS!

I used to have that attitude about those annoying in-between presidential elections, too. But that was before our country elected the most unqualified, immoral, and dangerous POTUS in its history. So every election — even these weird ones nobody cares about — matter. A lot.

BUT WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT THE MIDTERMS?

These are a few of the things that motivate me. If these don’t do it for you, find what it is that lights a fire under your butt.

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How a Mother’s Day Card Made This Gay Dad Proud

May 23, 2018 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, LGBT STUFF

Mother's Day Card

Before I got deep into the mechanics of actual parenting, what gave me the most agita was this whole open adoption thing. The stress was there from the beginning — like the weirdest arranged marriage you could imagine, with a baby thrown in for good measure. It evolved into a whole different kind of anxiety when we were actually paired with birthparents, growing incrementally as the due date crept closer.

After our son was born, the distance increased and contact lessened. Yet the relationship with birthmom and dad was still there, looming off in the horizon like some celestial monkey wrench, a constant (perceived) threat to our familial peace and harmony.

Our son has been told his story from the get-go, as we continually remind ourselves this transparency is for the best. But there’s always the fear of the unknown, be it far off or soon. Fear that our son will be teased for being adopted; that he’ll learn something disappointing about his biological parents; that he’ll throw the “You’re not my real dad!” grenade in the midst of an argument.

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