Sunday, August 16, 2015

Its been a while...

It's been a little while since I posted. You all must've thought I've given up by now. Not so fast. Life is changing every day and its getting harder, but I'm still here.

I've started seeing a therapist. There are talks of meds, because my anxiety is getting out of control. I work a job that tests the very last nerve in me daily. I'm thankful to have the paycheck, but I certainly can't wait to finish my degree and put it to use. 

I'm in school for Health and Wellness, I have dreams of turning what I've done here on this blog into a career for myself. I'm in my second year, have two more to go. I have a good car, an okay paying job, and have been in a relationship with the same man for two years now. Funny how life works. I never thought I'd make it this far. 

I'm feeling stagnant again though. I want my life to advance, and it seems at every turn things are just not going. Depression has been kicking my ass for weeks now, possibly longer. I have been in a suicidal brain for quite some time. I'm still here, though. I'm fighting with it every single day. I don't know what has moved me to start writing on here again, but I have got to get this stuff out. 

I've joined a local gym. This week has been kinda shitty with going, but I had car trouble. Thanks to a good friend, my car is fine now and we'll be going back tomorrow as usual. I'm not doing as great as I'd like, but I'm getting there. 

I don't need life to be easy. I get that for every person, there are struggles. I'd just like for my struggles to be because I'm moving forward, not just standing still. I'm fighting for it, but nothing is happening. I need life to be a little less hard for a minute. I've fought through so much crap in my life, you'd think these seemingly little things, the normal things, wouldn't shake me. They do. I'm so far behind my peers and am desperately trying to catch up. I'm not sure I ever will. 

I'm in a desperate place. I'd do anything to be able to quit working while I finish school, but we can't afford for me to do that. Call centers don't pay enough to even think about it. I'm actually in a spot where if something doesn't change, I'm going to have to quit school and get a second job. I don't want to quit school. It means everything to me. At the same time, do people like me ever do anything anyway? Its like our generation was designed for failure, when we're capable of greatness beyond our wildest imaginations. I don't want to get rich from youtube videos, I want to make my money doing something important. I don't ever care if I'm rich, I just care if day to day expenses aren't so hard to cover. 

I think I'm going to start blogging again, but I'm not sure what this page will turn into. I know my therapy will help me in ways I never thought I could be helped. I hope that it puts me on my path to greatness. My definition of greatness doesn't include millions of dollars, it includes doing things that help others, and in return being able to live a modestly comfortable life while doing so. I keep hoping for my miracle, so far nothing. 

I'm sorry that its been so long. I will update more from now on, I need to start getting this all out anyway, even if I'm the only one who ever sees it.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Dirty Thirty, Baby!

And so, as the night draws to a close, so does my third decade as a breathing being. 

Weird to think about it like that huh? Going into a 4th decade!? What!? Mind. Blown. 

Updates! Well I started being a distributor for It Works Global.  I'm gonna link you below in case you'd like to check it out!

I feel like my life is finally changing. Its a lot of hard work, but it feels like the right thing for me to be doing.  I've always felt like I had an entrepreneurial personality and this is giving me the chance to get my feet wet.  

I thought it'd be good to make a list of the things I want to change in my life in my 30th year on Earth. 

1. Be more positive
2. Love myself more
3. Stand on my own two feet
4. Be a better friend
5. Give back more
6. Become a foster mother
7. Right some wrongs
8. Start writing something that matters
9. Paint more
10. read more
11. bust ass in school so I can graduate this time
12. Find my center.
13. Work on my all around health, not just my weight.
14. Find a way to help my mama out
15. Be more positive (I need that one twice)

Now I know that I could probably make a much longer list, but this feels like a good start.

Here's to 30!

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Truth About Poverty and Obesity

*I wrote this paper for school. I found some very informative resources and wanted to share my paper on my blog*

The Truth about Obesity and Poverty
Jayme Stephens
 Kaplan University
CM220.44: College Composition II
William Johnson
July 9th 2014

            In a country where obesity and poverty are both often topics of conversation, it is not very common that those words are spoken together in the same breath.  Why is that? It is because the idea that an overweight person may actually be in need of food does not cross the minds of many.  After all, do people not become fat from eating too much? Eight states repeat in the top ten both fattest and poorest in this land of plenty.  The stigma on the poor and obese can be seen alive and well all over the internet.  Every article about the issue brings out the mean spirited individuals who have a big problem with someone getting help from the government in the form of SNAP (supplemental nutritional assistance program) in order to feed their families, especially if the person physically appears to be without the need for food.  Lack of access to nutrient dense foods can be eradicated with just a few steps; better education to low income families on how to shop and cook healthy on a budget, better stocked food pantries, mobile grocery stores, community gardens, and new and rebuilt parks so that those in unsafe neighborhoods have a place to be active are all things that need to be implemented to help poor families become healthier.  `

The truth is that those on SNAP do not get very much help in the first place.  A non-working family in Arkansas (the second poorest state in the country) receives, on average, one-hundred and eleven dollars per month per person for food. A working, low income family in the same state can get as much as eighty five dollars per person, but often get no more than fourteen dollars for each individual in the home (F. Glenn, personal communication, 2014).  Even with the highest dollar amount possible in assistance, it breaks down to one dollar and twenty-three cents per meal per person a day.  It forces those living on assistance, especially those with children, to be more concerned with quantity than nutritional value.  Because of the heartless way people on benefits are often treated by fellow shoppers and even sometimes grocery store personnel, many opt to make do with the very little they have. It leaves them and their family with nearly nothing for a food budget. This, again, forces them to purchase the largest quantity they can for the smallest price possible.  When a parent who is trying to adequately feed their children has to choose between a three dollar head of lettuce or three dollars for an entire thirty-six count case of ramen noodles, it stands to reason that the nutritionally void, sodium packed carbohydrates win out every time. 

People living in low income neighborhoods have limited access to nutritious foods. Communities with few if any grocers and a plethora of fast food chains are referred to as food deserts.  In this type of neighborhood there may be one small, overpriced grocery store and a convenience store or two, and then numerous fast food restaurants with cheap, calorie dense, nutritionally void items.  "In the low income neighborhood, there's a different food environment. Not only do people make less money, but they are surrounded by lower quality food, it’s difficult to get fresh vegetables, and they (the residents) are more stressed” (Elissa Epel, PhD, 2014). The grocery stores have very little selection for produce. What they do have is generally three times or more the price that it should be, with barely enough shelf life left to make it worth the effort of purchasing it.  The inner isles are stocked with ten for ten dollar and cheaper junk food items for quick if any preparation and easy consumption.  Some of these neighborhoods only have a convenience store or two. Try finding anything healthy and/or affordable at a convenience store, it will lead to nothing but disappointment.   It is very common that a low income family may not have any reliable means of transportation. Searching farther than a few city blocks means walking many miles with small children in tow. More than being a hassle, in high traffic areas it is downright dangerous. 

            Low income families have more financial and environmental stressors than those living a comfortable range above the poverty line.  Along with limited resources for food, poor quality healthcare if they have any healthcare at all, and lack of safe places for activity are heavily mounting factors for obesity in the underprivileged.  Not only does stress in its self lead to poor eating habits, it can also lend its self to depression which has a higher presence in those living in poverty than it does in more comfortable income brackets.  Stress causes cortisol (the stress hormone) to rise in the body, resulting in the body storing more fat. “Cortisol directly effects fat storage and weight gain in stressed individuals” (Maglione-Garves, Kravitz, Schneider 2006). Even more of a problem, there are many who go through cycles of deprivation.  “Those who are eating less or skipping meals to stretch food budgets may overeat when food does become available, resulting in chronic ups and downs in food intake that can contribute to weight gain”(, 2010).  Parents living in poverty will skip meals so that their children can have more. Skipping meals and eating irregularly is another contributing factor for obesity. 

            Obesity is a form of malnutrition. How is that so? Malnutrition, to most, is only thought to be caused by lack of food. It seems pretty cut and dry, right? The phenomenon known to the American Dietetic Association as “overnutrition” means that while a person is able to obtain proper calories, they lack access to the nutrients required to fight off health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. “This paradoxical condition exists because many of the diets of people living in poverty have adequate kilocalories to meet or exceed their energy requirements, but lack the dietary quality needed to promote optimal health and prevent chronic disease” (American Dietetic Association, 2007).  With so many health risks for someone suffering from both obesity and poverty, where does the help need to start?

            The solution has to start with education.  If a person doesn’t know how to be healthy, how can they possibly become so? Many communities are beginning to offer nutrition classes for low income families so that they can learn to shop and cook healthy on a small budget.  Many of the classes are even funded by the SNAP program. A study was done by Altarum Institute and RTI International, funded by the USDA, about nutrition education programs on fruit and vegetable consumption by school children and the elderly. “SNAP programs in three different states found that children participating in certain nutrition education programs increased their daily fruit and vegetable consumption at home by a quarter- to a third-cup, and were more likely to choose low-fat or fat-free milk. Participating seniors consumed about a half-cup more fruits and vegetables daily” (, 2013). If given the choice and the knowledge, people will choose the healthiest available options that they have.  These classes have to become wide spread and easy to get to for every low income family.  They’ve so far shown to be a success, hopefully it is only a matter of time before everyone in need of such a program has one available to them.
            Food pantries are a wonderful resource for those living with the need for food. They are non-profits that run purely off of donations of goods and monetary support from the communities they serve. Half of all SNAP recipients will visit a food pantry six or more times per year. In many cases, the food given is shelf stable junk. The food is mostly from the local food banks who have food drives many times a year. Some grocery stores will donate day old baked goods, and occasionally volunteers will start a garden to help keep fresh foods to hand out.  The problem isn’t the amount given. People give with full hearts and good intentions. The problem is the need versus what the average person is able to contribute.  Food banks do get some government subsidies, but not nearly enough.  It needs to be a requirement that the top five to ten biggest food distributors in each state or city, depending on the size of the area, give a percentage of their outgoing product to food banks in exchange for a government bonus. It would help the food banks and the companies in question.  The same needs to be done in a smaller scale for all grocery stores.  The waste they produce is unimaginable, but many have policies against giving the food away to food banks.  When seen tossing away produce that still easily had a few days left on it, a Kroger employee in Arkansas was asked by a customer why the management wouldn’t just let them give it to a soup kitchen or food pantry.  The employee responded that though they asked management the same question every day, they got the same response “You do not keep a business afloat by giving away all of your product” (Kroger store, personal experience, 2014).  A little generosity from big businesses would go a long way to solving this problem, and the citizens of the United States have to make the government require it if they aren’t willing to give freely.

            Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign has a program that encourages planting community gardens.  Many have started to follow the First Lady’s example and have begun growing community gardens for low income neighborhoods. The problem is, when individuals do them, the cost is all on them.  They have to hold fundraisers and hope between all of the volunteers they can find all the money and supplies they will need.  Grants for any community that wants to create a garden to keep fresh produce available for residents would be a fantastic way to not only keep low income families in fruits and vegetables, but teaches deeper appreciation for where food comes from as they learn to grow things themselves. Many types of vegetable plants yield so much excess that this alone could make a giant dent in the food desert problem.  The media is always pushing buying organic and growing your own. What better way to do that than to commit a large plot of land to feeding those in need?

            There’s been a recent trend of mobile grocery stores and produce carts that go to food deserts and make themselves affordable and available to people who have so little access otherwise.  They accept SNAP benefits, and they run off of donations, as most are non-profit.  Albuquerque, New Mexico has the not for profit, MoGro(short for mobile grocer), that is a grocery store set up in a full sized semi-truck.  MoGro, The Mobile Grocery store, uses a temperature-controlled truck to provide healthy, affordable food in communities that currently lack access due to physical location and cost”(, 2014).  They go to the less privileged areas of the city so that those without transportation or with physical limitations can have access to high quality, low cost foods.  They also have low priced memberships where you can order inexpensive produce baskets to be delivered to your door. Just one program like this in every city would be an absolute miracle to those who are struggling.  Just imagine what could happen if every large grocery chain started a mobile break away store in the fashion of MoGro. It is fantastic that individuals are getting involved and making a difference. It would be even more impressive to see corporate giants participate in making a difference.


            Food isn’t the only problem the low income and obese face.  Many of these communities are just not safe to be active in. Parks are run down, sidewalks are non-existent in very high traffic areas, and there isn’t a gym or community fitness center to be found.  Refurbishing run down parks, building new ones, and even opening small community fitness centers give people a place to safely be active with their children.  There are community centers in Jonesboro, Arkansas with tennis courts, skateboard ramps, large play grounds for children, and wrap around sidewalk tracks for anyone who wants to walk, run, or jog. These centers are often where the city police stop for group lunches or meetings, so their presence makes park goers feel safer being there (, 2014). Children get to play on safe equipment and even water toys (when weather permits them being on) and parents of older children can enjoy the sidewalk trail while their children make new friends.  Even if a county can’t find the funds to build full on community centers, building parks with a basketball court, tracks, and a small playground would give families somewhere to feel safe being while they get in some exercise.

                The problem of obesity among the poor can be fixed with education, better access to good food, and safer places for activity.  There isn’t necessarily a one size fits all solution for each community, however the implementation of some form of the three where they are needed will start to reverse obesity in adults and children alike at a speed never before imagined.  In the meantime, kindness and understanding to those in the struggle is a beautiful place to start. Who knows? Maybe that is all they needed in the first place.


City of Jonesboro. (2014, July 10). Retrieved July 13, 2014, from
Community Garden Checklist | Let's Move! (n.d.). Retrieved July 10, 2014, from
HBO Documentaries. (2014). HBO: The Weight of the Nation: Films: Bonus Short: Poverty and Obesity: When Healthy Food Isn't an Option. Retrieved June 2014, from
Maglione-Garves, C. A., Kravitz, L., & Schneider, S. (2005). Cortisol Connection: Tips on Managing Stress and Weight. Acsms Health & Fitness Journal. doi:10.1097/00135124-200509000-00008
MoGro - Home. (2014). Retrieved July 9, 2014, from
Relationship Between Poverty and Overweight or Obesity « Food Research & Action Center. (2010). Retrieved July 13, 2014, from
RTI International. (2013, December 9). Strong nutrition education can lead to healthier food choices among low-income families -- ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 3, 2014, from
Tanumihardjo, S. A., Anderson, C., Kaufer-Horwitz, M., Bode, L., Emenaker, N. J., Haqq, A. M., . . . Stadler, D. D. (2007). Poverty, Obesity, and Malnutrition: An International Perspective Recognizing the Paradox. Journal of The American Dietetic Association, 1-7. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2007.08.007

Monday, May 5, 2014

Fast over!

I do want to point out that my fast was for the purpose of shrinking my stomach, not necessarily losing weight.  I have to remind myself of that since I only lost 3lbs in those couple of days.  I think it’s because those shakes have dairy and my body isn't used to it.  Also, I decided not to work out during those days so I didn't risk falling out or hurting myself.  Anyone else considering a fast, come up with a plan you can live with. I did slimfast for all 3 main meals and either a small Kashi bar or a piece of fruit for my 2 snacks, and of course plenty of water each day.  I repeat: the goal is not to lose weight on those days as much as it is to shrink your stomach to allow the full feeling to occur much sooner.  

I'm on my first day post fast, and this morning I did do a slim fast for breakfast.  My boyfriend loves them too, so I wound up buying an extra pack of them and there were still a few left.  Not going to lie, they do taste good but I'm going to have to let him finish them b/c the dairy leaves me bloated. I steamed some broccoli for lunch and just saucer's worth of it filled me to the brim. I needed to do this again, I haven't in a months.  I used to do it at once a month to keep my portions in check (and I was thin then). Please do not mistake a reset fast for 3 days of not eating at all. Don't do that.  I used to do it sometimes and I'd hit the floor after the second day.

Tomorrow morning I'm going to start walking again. I put it off for far too long, so now's the time.  It'd be nice to have a walking buddy, but big man isn't going to bust it out that early so looks like I'm all on my lonesome lol.  Oh well, I'll be happier once I start doing it again.  I know this. I truly don't know why I stop working out, walking more specifically. I love doing it, I always feel better throughout the whole day. I just got to stop letting myself give up.  It’s good that I always get back up, but I'd like to stop falling down for at least a while. Here's to an active, weight dropping summer! I'm hoping to drop at least 50lbs by my 30th birthday in September. I'm feeling pretty determined right now, I just have to keep my determination flowing from now on!