Welcome to WEEK 4 of #ChingonaFest Fridays on Aspiring Mama. Technically, it’s week 5 because I missed last Friday due to the NYC craziness for Rick Najera’s #AlmostWhite book launch, but let’s not dawdle on the Me Dropping the Momentum Thing, shall we? I’ll be talking about all of THAT craziness on Monday. For now, let’s get back on the Spanglish Bitchfest Wagon.

 

If you’re new to the blog, here’s the link to the my Latina Dimelo column that sparked the conversation that’s still going strong. The premise is this: I want to raise my daughter to be a Chingona — on purpose, Las Tias and cultural backlash be damned. If you like the column, I’d love for you to share with your social media circles, leave a comment on the link, or whip up a happy lil’ Letter to the Editor telling them how you feel and send it off to Editor@Latina.com. You may not think that kind of thing makes a difference, but trust me when I tell you that it does.

 

Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? Lori Luna and Veronica Arreola were two of the most recently featured wonder women. Each week, I’m featuring one fabulous Latina who’s moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy features in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing.

 

This week’s Chingona is Helen Troncoso, doctor and title-holding beauty queen with her heels firmly dug into the feminist camp. Helen has been featured pretty much everywhere (including Latina Magazine as a Top Ten Health & Fitness Blogger) Her most recent endeavor is as co-host of a new show,“El Bien Estar del Hogar con Casa Latina”, on V-me TV, the first national Spanish-language network to partner with American public television, and the fourth largest Spanish network in the United States. This show will follow Helen as she will work with women to transform their health and lives. Catch up with Helen on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and check out her site for some healthy motivation.

 

And now! Time for the interview!

 

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Dr. Helen Troncoso

Dr. Helen Troncoso


 

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

 

 Helen Troncoso: I’m not a big ice cream fan, but when I indulge I’d rather go for something more fun like butter pecan.

 

PC: Okay then… *pushes The Box Helen Doesn’t Like to Be Put In to the side*. Let’s try this one…What’s your favorite quote?

 

HT: “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream” by C.S. Lewis. I found that many times we as women tend to get caught up in other people’s dreams and forget about the ones we made, for the good of the family or the relationship. In my case, I totally reinvented my life and health just 4 short years ago. To make a long story short, I left an abusive relationship, broken engagement and had to move to a new state and start all over. I was scared sh**less, and yes there were lots of times when I didn’t want to get out of bed, but I did it.

 

PC: Starting over can be a huge pain in the ass. Go You for making it happen. Do you consider yourself a feminist?

 

HT: Feminism is defined as, “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.”  I know some may not consider a woman who has done beauty contests a “feminist” but I do! Beyond equal rights, I believe a woman should have the right to choose what’s right for her life. Feminism is not a, “zero sum game” as Nancy Redd once said. It’s not about having to look or act a certain way so that other people can feel comfortable labeling you. We have certainly made strides as women in many different fields, but, it’s no surprise that we still have leaps and bounds to go. Whenever I talk to young women, I always tell them to support their fellow sisters. We have so many other people coming down on us, that we need to stop the attacks and division amongst us. How are we supposed to tell women “si se puede” when our own words and actions don’t reflect that.

 

PC: Yes, people will bitch because that’s what people like to do. I, for one, am all for going against the grain. Feminist Beauty Queen? Why not? Now, describe yourself in third person.

 

HT: Helen is probably the most determined and hard-working person you will ever meet. She’s also one of the most sensitive women ever. She’s a dreamer and a doer who completely reinvented herself and is fearlessly living the life she always imagined.

 

PC: You said “probably”. I say “Definitely”. Who inspires you?

 

HT: All of those women who fearlessly continue to go after their dreams, no matter how many times they may have failed, or how crazy their ideas may seem. 

 

 

PC: I’m a fucking mess, which — if you connect the dots inside my head — means I inspire you. This is where you lie to me if I’m wrong.  Everybody else does. So, who is it you hope to inspire?

 

HT: Any woman who feels like she may have gotten off track and wonders if her dreams can really come true. Women who can’t recognize who’s staring back at them in the mirror. I’m there to tell them sometimes God’s rejection is blessed redirection.

 

PC: Redirection is a good thing. Do you dream in color or black and white?

 

HT: I don’t dream often, but occasionally I do dream like what can best be described as a black and white film. 

 

PC: I like black & white. Let’s play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say…

 

HT: Pa’que tu lo sepas!

 

PC: Orale, mujer! How do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?

 

HT:I don’t think we’re represented correctly, but I think that applies to all women. I don’t thinker should bash Sofia Vergara (who is actually an amazing business woman) or think to be successful you have to be just like Sonia Sotomayor. We have enough labels and boxes people (our families) put us in, that we need to stop doing it to one another as women. If we want how we’re represented in the media to change, then we need to do more than get mad for a few moments and then forget about it.

 

PC: You’re damned right about that. One childhood memory that has stuck with you…

 

HT: My dad is truly my best friend, and I don’t ever take for granted our relationship. I grew up knowing that I was loved, and that I could do anything, and he would always be there right by my side.

 

PC: I love hearing that. Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?

 

HT: All of the above. English is definitely my dominant language, but I’m finding myself speaking Spanish more so nowadays. It’s all good! If I’m tired or you’re a good friend and you won’t judge me, you’ll probably hear my crazy Spanglish. 

 

PC: Is there any other kind of Spanglish? Exactly. Now, what’s your favorite dish? Why?

 

HT: Pollo guisado. To this day there is not one restaurant, or another person that can make it as good as my mom! It’s the ultimate comfort food.

 

PC: *Sigh* I miss my mom’s homemade flour tortillas. Do you feel “Latina enough”?

 

HT: I think I’ve come full circle. I grew up in Long Island, and went to high school where I could count on one hand the number of Latinas. My “Latino” experience was limited to my family members. It wasn’t until years later that I began to understand how amazing being a Latina was! It’s not about speaking Spanish (although that’s important to me), nor is it the color of our skin. It is about our culture and traditions and the intangible things that make us Latinas.

 

PC: *Nods head* One Latina stereotype you despise?

 

HT: That we have tons of children out of wedlock. Hello! No kids, and if that’s how the Universe wants it, not having them until someone puts a ring on this finger. 

 

PC: I’ll let Beyonce know. Last one! One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

 

HT: That we’re family orientated.

 

And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet e with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out this week’s Dimelo Advice column on Latina Magazine and be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

 

Check out my Mexican in Maine Etsy shop for Sassy Spanglish Digital Quote Prints and sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter (Look at the sidebar, y’all)! Follow me on Twitter, instagram, and here’s the FB fan page! I know. You’re welcome.

 

 

 

 

Yes, it looks like baby food. Deal with it, y'all.

Let me start by saying that I am not a food blogger. In my five years of blogging I think I may have posted two cooking projects on the blog, so be kind if I look like I have no clue what I’m doing.

Now, while I stick to the literary stuff over here, my instagram feed is full of What I Ate for (Insert Meal Here) pics. A lot has changed in the last few years regarding my health and necessary dietary changes are the rule, not the exception. Instagram has been a connector in that its allowed me to find others on the same #paleo bandwagon as me. (Yes, I just hashtagged that. Because that’s how I roll. And those nifty little hashtags once known as pound signs preceeding each key word are the rabbit hole of Insagram-Land leading you to everybody else who drinks the same Kool-Aid you do.)

I’m allergic to everything and I’m not exaggerating. Apples, dairy, all grains, gluten, eggs, soy…. you name it and it’s probably on my list. To make things even more interesting, I have to avoid natural stevia products because it tends to mess with my insulin resistance. It seems that sugar or not, my body treats it the same and then just hates me when the sugar it expected never actually hits my system, leaving me with more insulin my body can’t process.

And then there’s the autoimmune protocol diet I’m following to combat my numerous issues. That takes away all beans (including coffee, cacao, and vanilla), tomatoes (bu-bye spaghetti squash happiness), and so…much..more. I’m also sensitive to phyto-estrogens and have to avoid a lot of the little I had left keeping me sane. Olive oil, sweet potatoes, pistachios and almonds, asparagus are just a few of the newly banned items. I could list them all, but that would just depress both of us, I think, so I’ll stick to telling you what I can eat.

Ready? Just don’t blink cuz it’s gonna be quick…

* Wild caught fish

* Grass-fed beef

* Bison

* Coconut EVERYTHING

* Avocados

* Cucumbers

*Kale

 *Spinach

* Scallops

* Maple syrup (in small quantities)

* And?

Wait. Never mind. That was pretty much it.

All this fanfare isn’t to make anyone feel sorry for me. Yes, traveling is a bitch and going out to eat is pretty much not something I can do, like, ever, but it is what it is. Suck it up and deal, my friends. Also? It’s a miracle what you can come up with with such a severely limited diet. Necessity is the mother of invention, my friends, and this mother isn’t about to let a little food allergy issue keep me from having a good time in the kitchen.

A few nights ago I posted a picture — yes, on instagram — of my latest concoction. I needed something sweet after my canned wild-caught salmon and sliced avocado dinner and I got to work in the kitchen, mentally mixing flavors in my head with the safe foods I have available. I ended up with what I call Breadless Banana Bread because that’s what it reminds me of. The result was magic, my kid hated it, and I didn’t complain because that just meant more for me.

 

What you need:

* 1 banana (I used a ripe one because I hate fruit flies)

* 4 cups of good quality shredded coconut (and no, I don’t mean the crap that tastes like paper sold in the baking aisle)

* 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup (or according to taste)

Now for the directions. Hold on to your hats, boys and girls, so you don’t get lost.

Ready?

 

Step 1: Throw that shit in a food processor or a Vitamix and process it until it looks like cookie dough.

Step 2: stick a spoon in that bad boy and smile.

 

And there ya have it. Maybe one day next week I’ll try making it and adding a dollop of homemade coconut milk whipped cream on top. For now, though, the rest of my Breadless Banana Bread is sitting in a pretty little covered bowl in my fridge for when I need another bite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise and The Eating Disordered Mind

I just had a 20 minute argument with The Husband about his need to be excited about EXERCISE and GOING PALEO because he just read A BOOK and now he sees the proverbial light. He wants EXERCISE and is full of suggestions for what I NEED TO DO and and it’s all in the book (which I have promised to read) and LET’S GO, TEAM!!!

It’s probably a good time to point out that I can’t eat anything that isn’t Paleo anyway and am allergic to most of the Paleo diet. I read the things he is reading now last year and saw the light with regard to how my own body responds to sugars and carbs and grains (not realizing allergic issues played a serious role, also) and then got pissed off when the doctors told me I can’t eat eggs because there went most of my meal plan. In any case, I am happy he’s now understanding things I have been saying for so long but I’m also not able to explain to Captain Cheerleader that I don’t respond well to the RAH RAH RAH when I’m just keeping my head above water.
Here’s the problem: I am eating disordered.

My Body Image issues are fucked on a level I can’t even understand, and I carry an epi pen for the very food allergies which I ignore when my brain is in self sabotage mode. I need to be active without thinking it’s EXERCISE because if it’s EXERCISE my mind will shut down and I will swan dive into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

Ice skating is the perfect example of something I can do without feeling like I’m doing anything at all. Just to get an idea, I did plug in my current estimated weight (I don’t know the actual number because it’s a trigger for me) and figured out that an hour of recreational skating was more than enough to feel good about. I just started and love it. My legs hate me when I’m done, but I can do it and I go back for more.
Yoga is the next step back to normal. Once I am one with my Ohm I can breathe in some serenity and move on to Zumba or something else I know I enjoy and can stick to and that isn’t just EXERCISE! I love this man, but how do I explain to someone who has no concept of an eating disordered mind trying to claw it’s way back to normal that there is absolutely NO FUCKING WAY I am lunging from the kitchen to the living room because it’s simple and easy to do because it’s not just going to be something I’ll stick to. I’d pay lip service. I’d go for the “college try.”

And I’d put on a pretty decent show before falling flat on my ass, figuratively speaking, because I’m not going to stick to lunging from one room in my house to another because I didn’t want to do it in the first place. It’s just an open invite for the next pity party to start before the celebration even got a chance to kick off.

It’s gotta be one step at a time. My therapist nodded today when I explained to her how if I focus on anything 0ther than how I feel, I’m back at square one and square one tastes like brownies. She’s only been seeing me a short time, but she at least pretended to understand with a thoughtful nod and well-timed chuckle. The Husband, however, is at a loss for what to do.

He is excited because he wants to support me. He is excited because he loves me. He is excited because EXERCISE isn’t a bad word to him. He’s I love him. I love his support. And I understand his concern. I also want to strangle him whenever he gets all Pollyanna on me and starts chirping about EXERCISE and then gets all annoyed when I glare at him for being an asshole.

Okay. No. I get it. He’s not being an asshole. He’s trying to help me.

But sometimes his idea of help is getting all I CAN FIX THIS and YOU JUST NEED TO STOP THINKING THE WAY YOU DO because he is the kind of person who has the mental strength to make things happen just by thinking them. I love that about him. I also hate that 1) My mind doesn’t work like that and 2) I wish it did.

But then, if I saw things the way he did, I wouldn’t be referring to myself as a life-long recovering bulimic, would I? And if he did get it, that would mean he saw the word EXERCISE the way I did, for the same reasons I did, and we’d both be a raging mess.

I’m pretty sure he is right and I argued illogical things because that kind of goes par with the course. But the fact remains that I know myself. And right now, it’s one step at a time. If I jump into the deep end before I’ve even gathered the strength to tread water for a sustained period of time, I’m just going to end up letting myself sink. And I don’t intend to let that happen anytime soon.
So we argue. About the inside of my head. Because I can’t explain. Because he loves me. Because I feel like an asshole for not being as excited as he is about EXERCISE because the word leads me down a worm hole of calories burned and weight lost and BMI and self worth and you’re a fat ass and here’s a brownie and Ben & Jerry’s is NOT a single serving food and then I find myself hitting bottom again, wondering how the hell I got there and cursing yo-yos.

And there’s that epi pen in my purse to think about.
I just fixed my head again. I’m working on the rest of me.
I just need time to move out of this fog and into the place where EXERCISE isn’t a bad word. I’m not there yet. And it makes him mad because he only sees the woman he married fighting his support and concern. It makes me mad that I can’t explain it without turning into a five year old with my arms crossed yelling I DON’T WANNA!
But that’s where I’m at and that’s where it is and he loves me and we argue. And he thinks I’m blocking him and I explain that no, I’m actually not because blocking would be nodding my head like I’m okay with everything he is saying and all for it and then dipping into the Hershey candy bar stash we have in the pantry for his work lunches after he’s gone to bed. Me arguing? Me bristling in front of him and telling him to shut up and just listen and let me grab my ice skates and head for the rink for open skate time? Me telling him that I’m not lunging in the house just for the sake of lunging in the house because lean muscle mass matters? Me rolling my eyes and calling him an asshole for not understanding?

People? That’s progress. That’s communication. That’s me not bullshitting and then closet-eating with the chocolate I’m allergic to. Because my body doesn’t function well with sugar. Because I am allergic to the world. Because I function best on a strict paelo diet not because it’s a diet but because that’s how my body needs to be be nourished.

Because I am eating disordered. And because I’m trying to focus on loving myself just the way I am and then starting over every time the sun rises.

So he goes to bed. Not understanding.

And for that, I am grateful because that means he’s still going to push and I’ll continue to push back.

Every time he pushes, I’ll push back.

And become stronger for it.

 

 

If you’ve been reading the blog for more than five minutes, you already know that I’ve generally held out on reviewing or mentioning anything other than books and writers since I hit publish for the first time. Mainly because of my years on the newsroom and the knee-jerk reaction to not allow The Big Bad Advertiser to take precedent over The Words That Matter.

I know…this isn’t a newspaper. But I do use this space for Words That Matter.

That being said, I didn’t automatically hit delete when I saw an email from aer1™ filter brand, a new line of portable filter technology which can be paired with their Holmes and Bionaire line of air purifiers.. You see, unless it’s a product I truly need and can speak to honestly, I’m not going to waste anyone’s time. Mainly….mine.

Have I mentioned my severe mesquite allergy? Or the fact that Buttercup is also so sensitive to mesquite that she has to use an inhaler before going outside to play? Or my allergy induced asthma that suddenly appeared after moving here? Living in Tucson kind of sucks when I’m allergic to a tree I can’t walk two feet without tripping over. Even staying home bra-less and in my jammies — cuz it’s classy — when the pollen count is high doesn’t work because I’m suffering through 10 minute sneezing fits and watery, burning eyes before I even get out of bed.

And yes, I’m perfectly aware that allergy meds exist. Only problem is I’m allergic to an ingredient used in so many allergy medications that it’s safer for me not to take any and just suffer.

Note to self: Contact Alanis Morisette and ask if she’s interested in updating the lyrics to “Ironic.”

So long story not so short, the Aer1 Brand sent me a fancy schmancy air purifier and a filter and asked me to try it out for a few weeks and then tell you how I liked it.

I can do that.

Ready?

The Aer1 Brand sent me a fancy schmancy air purifier and a filter and I tried it out for a few weeks and I liked it.

I might have relied on just keeping my windows closed and cranking the air all summer long out here in the desert as a way to limit exposure to pollutant and allergens, but it turns out the level of indoor pollutants can be up to 100 times higher than in my own backyard.

Seriously?

Must be. Because in the time I’ve had my Bionaire air purifier and the allergy filter,  life has sucked much less. I can breathe again. My sneezing fits are fewer and farther between.

As long as I stay inside, that is.

Click here for a $20 coupon off of any aer1 ready air purifier. Or you can keep reading for a giveaway that can literally help you breathe easier.

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The aeri1 filter brand has generously offered one Aspiring Mama reader the chance at their own air purifier and filter. To enter, simply do one of the following (or more for extra entries!) Each counts for it’s own entry, so be sure to leave me one comment letting me know what you did so I can add up points! Also make sure I have a way to contact you.

To enter:

*Simply leave a comment on this post for one entry.

* Tweet this for one entry and leave a comment : Allergy season sucks. Check out @aspiringmama for a chance at an aeir1 brand air purifier. http://bit.ly/I3arcm.

*Sign up for the AspiringMama RSS for one entry.

*Like my AspiringMama Facebook page for one entry.

*Keep track of your families allergy symptoms (sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, etc) and what triggers them. Come back in a few days and leave a comment telling the aeri1 brand what those symptoms are. This counts as its own entry.

* Comments will be accepted through midnight, EST, on Wednesday, April 18. Remember that for all of your entries to count, each has to be included in its own separate comment.

* One winner will be selected via Random.org and will be able to select one of these air purifiers along with a filter set of their choice (allergy, smoke, total air, etc). The winner will be announced here on Aspiring Mama shortly thereafter.

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Not-so-fine-print: I received promotional consideration such as gifts, samples, content, or other incentives related to a product, service in exchange for writing about this product. Translation? They sent me the air purifier and told me I could keep it if I wrote a review. Either way, what I wrote is all my own opinion. But you already knew that.

 

 

 

 

 

I didn’t realize I missed smoking cigarettes until I found myself waiting for my husband to leave for work this afternoon. I had a bag of food hiding in the back of the Yukon with taboo things like Reese’s Pieces and Cheeze-Its for me to bury my feelings with once the coast was clear.

But it’s not completely. Nick Jr. is on and I can say with absolute confidence that the coast is definitely preoccupied. At least I hope she is.

I’m 34 going on the fifteen-year-old in my head. I may call myself a recovered bulimic and, more amazingly, may actually believe it more often than not, but the truth is I’m more of a non-practicing bulimic than anything else. That, my friends, pretty much leaves me with nothing else to describe myself as but a binge eater.

Or a binge eater who only thinks about throwing up.

No, wait. I’d be more accurate if I called myself a Binge Eater who Obsessively Works Out, Avoids All Processed Foods and Sugars, and Puts on a Great Show for the Public for Weeks On End Before Secretly Falling Apart Inside of my Head and Diving Head First into a Pool of Self-Loathing and Chocolate in a Misguided Attempt to Make Myself Feel Better….Who Only Thinks About Throwing Up.

Yeah…

That’s exactly it.

Funny how I don’t see that listed as a condition in any medical journals. Also? It would probably look awesome on a T-shirt.

I was fine until I stepped on the scale yesterday at the doctor’s office. I was there to discuss my need for a higher dose of anti-depressants and what I thought was just a bad habit but is actually an OCD condition called dermatillomania because normal is the new boring, and of course I had to step on the scale before it was time to get down to business. I won’t say what the number was because Ill just trigger myself again, but I will tell you that after giving up (until today, that is) all grains, all forms of sugar including maple syrup and honey, all gluten, soy, and dairy (the last one is allergy-related) I’m down one pound and — even more depressingly — am just nine under what I was the day I gave birth 4.5 years ago.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should be smaller and happier and thinner and more confident and smaller. And happier. I’ve been working out (until a few weeks ago) daily, eating only fresh fruits and vegetables and quality meats and juicing so much spinach I may need to get myself a girlfriend named Olive. Instead of listening to the countless media messages that tell me I should be disappearing before my very eyes, my body is instead working hard to prove it is an exception to the rule. There are doctors and unexplained weight gain and and hair loss and tests for various autoimmune diseases and lifestyle changes (that don’t normally include Cheeze-Its) and more waiting and wondering and woe is me.

Sometimes I’m able to convince myself that it’s all about health and not the number on the scale and that health is more important than weight and that I need to concentrate on how good I feel and not how I look when I get off of the elliptical.

And then I see the number that isn’t supposed to matter and am reminded that it does indeed when it’s not moving in the direction in which I had hoped. It matters much more than it should.

Had I not quit smoking, I’d have lit up and celebrated the fact that I wasn’t binging. I would have not distracted my daughter with television so that I could eat the feelings I am not able to process until the new medication takes my brain to a happy(er) place. I would not be just thinking about throwing up.

Instead, I’d be out in the backyard on the patio, the sounds of Nick Jr. carrying through the glass door, as I smoked away my anxieties and smiled smugly about being stronger than my own mind.

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