Making some changes

A few weeks ago I stepped on the scale and saw a number I’ve never seen before and never hoped to see. I tried not to be too hard on myself about it. The last few months have been full of upheaval — finding a house, buying a house, renovating a house, moving a new member into the house and then going straight from that into my busiest time of year. It’s been a lot and I’ve been eating my stress.

So I thought I’d see if running didn’t help me get back on track. It’s always been so helpful at bringing up my energy and metabolism, which in turn makes me feel better and eat better. I started the Couch to 5k app and it felt good. I eventually got up to running about 2 miles. But after 6 weeks I hadn’t lost a single pound. In fact I think I gained 1 or 2. That was a humbling moment.

I’m the kind of person who lives inside my head a lot of the time, so this made me really think a lot about all the times I’ve been in this position and all the things I’ve tried that didn’t work in the long term. There was obviously some connection I wasn’t making. Of all the things I’ve learned about food and nutrition, none of them have helped me find one healthy weight and stick to it. So what I was looking for then and what I’m working on now, is a way to eat for the rest of my life. Because running is not going to save me from overeating, and diets aren’t going to help me deal with being an emotional eater. That has to come from inside. 

So I kind of made the quiet decision to work on that. To ask myself what is the worst thing that could happen if I didn’t eat this or that unhealthy thing. I thought it might help to make up some food rules — ways to create better habits. 

I realized that even the super healthy cleanses I’ve done are effectively diets. They’re temporary and they don’t represent the way I eat normally. I went back and read a journal I kept around 2011 (after I had lost 27 pounds) and it actually had a lot of the same thoughts I’m having now. It was good to be reminded of them.

With the exception of sugar, which is absolutely addictive for me, I’m not trying to eliminate any one thing from my diet. I am trying to eat just enough to be full and nothing more. I’m trying to fill a smaller plate and not go back for seconds. If I eat a really big meal, I try to compensate by eating a smaller one later. It’s actually like a weight lifted just to have those “rules” in place. And wouldn’t you know, I’ve lost 11 POUNDS. 

Most of that has been after our trip to Kansas (travel always gets me overeating) and the Thanksgiving leftover bomb. That feels like a big accomplishment. I think the running helps, but I would attribute almost all of the weight loss to eating better. Of course this month is the hardest to resist temptation, and I have definitely indulged in a few things. But overall I feel like I’m finally dealing with bad habits I’ve had my whole life and just trying, little by little, to be better. It’s amazing how many things I’m realizing I do just because I’ve always done them.

I don’t have a weight loss goal in mind. I don’t even know what I should weigh. I’m just going to see how this plays out. I actually think the exercise part is harder right now. I’m working day and night to finish orders and I just don’t have a lot of extra time and energy right now. Plus it’s the rainy season so, for once, we have weather conflicts. But even that I feel pretty good about and I’m set to run a 5k with Mike’s coworkers in March. 

This morning I read this post from Nourished Kitchen, which really resonated with me. It led me to this post about how the cycle of diets/binges/guilt is actually our addiction. I love this part:

It’s such a thrill to start a new diet, like paleo or juice-fasting. We’re like blushing virgin brides each and every time, looking forward to the pleasures to come… adapting recipes, finding new packaged foods, joining groups of people who eat like us, bringing our own food to every social event… (Geez, when I type it out like that it sounds pathetic.) Moderation, by comparison, is dull.

It’s so true! Moderation is totally boring to write about, but it’s the only thing that’s working for me. I have way too many things going on in my life right now to try to overhaul my meal planning, shopping and cooking and try to make it palatable for my entire family. The best I can do is try to be reasonable about food, so that’s what I’m doing. It’s weird. I’ve never really looked at it from this perspective, but I’m hopeful. 

I’m not going to do a bunch of before/after photos so that I can fat shame myself, but I will share anything that works for me going forward, just in case it’s helpful. One thing I noticed after the first month of doing this is that when I started eating a little more (i.e. not feeling stomach-growling hungry) I lost more weight. Also, a few times I skipped breakfast because I wasn’t that hungry in the morning and that wasn’t good. Instead of processed cereal, a longtime fave, I’ve been making omelets with cheese or whatever leftovers I can find. It’s a good protein boost in the morning. 

If you have other advice, especially at getting through the holiday feasting, please share!

Dressing a post-baby body

I don’t have to dress for an office every day, so usually the style I’m going for is comfy-cute. But I realized I was looking more like bedraggled-new-mom lately. I had this uniform of skinny jeans, a stretchy tank top and a curvy fitted cardigan that I thought was flattering. But the way the sweater curved out at the bottom was actually just highlighting my stomach, which is the part I least want to highlight. 

So I tried to find some affordable and truly flattering pieces that would take my style up a notch, but still be practical for my lifestyle. I have to carry a toddler, bend over constantly and play in the dirt. So anything I wear has to work with that, plus be nursing friendly for a little while longer. So that’s pretty limiting, but I’m finding some basics that are working really well, and I just wanted to share. 

1. Merona sweater dress, on sale for $16.08 at Target
I grabbed this on clearance without even trying it on, and it has become one of my favorite pieces to wear. After I washed the dress, it got shorter, so it’s more of a tunic now. Throw on a belt if you want to define the waist a little more. The zipper detail on the shoulder is key!

2. Old Navy linen shirt, on sale for $20.
Button-up shirts don’t usually work for me, but these are softer and more comfortable than most. They’re super cute layered over a tank top, and they have shape without being too tight over a less-than-flat belly.

3. Toms cordones, $69 (get their emails for coupon codes)
I love these shoes because they’re just a little bit more stylish than your average slip-on. I don’t have time for laces anymore, so I leave mine out. Best part about Toms — you can throw them in the washer anytime they get dirty. I got these in a grey color, but I probably should have gone with black.

4. J.Crew Jackie cardigan, $65
I bought 3 J.Crew sweaters when they were ridiculously cheap on clearance, and this one is by far the best. It’s short and fitted and really comfortable. I should probably get rid of 2/3 of my cardigans and just have a couple of these. 

5. Denizen modern skinny jeans, $27.99 at Target
Over the holidays my pants were getting too tight so I went to Target and bought another pair out of desperation. I normally would not pay nearly $30 for Target jeans, but these fit so perfectly, I had to. And I’m so glad I did because they’ve become my absolute favorite pants.  They’re fitted enough to be flattering, but stretchy like a jegging. And $27.99 is really not a lot to pay for good jeans.

6. PACT cropped leggings, $29.99 (I got them during one of their 30% off sales)
I’m wearing a lot more dresses lately, so tights have become essential for chilly nights. I love pretty much everything from PACT — they’re a great eco-friendly company. Next chance I get, I’m ordering more of these.

7. Old Navy bermuda shorts, $24.94
I bought two pairs of these last season when they were on sale for $10. They are so perfect for when you need something casual to wear on a warm day. I have short legs, so I roll up the cuffs a little higher. 

8. Old Navy jersey tamis, $10
As I’ve said before, I live in these. They’re nice and long, which is an absolute must for me. Plus they’re stretchy and they come in lots of cute colors. If they ever stop making these, I will be totally screwed.

9. Old Navy terry sweatshirt, $17.94
There’s a lot of Old Navy here because I think they make the best variety of inexpensive basics. That store has saved me! (Though I am starting to explore our new UNIQLO store.) Anyway, I included this sweatshirt, because it is the least frumpy looking sweatshirt I’ve ever seen. It’s another great layering piece that I’m finding I can’t live without.

What are you wearing these days?

One step at a time

So far my plan to lose the baby weight has not been a smashing success. I thought I was ready, but in hindsight I wasn’t quite there yet. I improved on the exercise front, but not so much on the diet part. (Uneven sleep has been a big roadblock.)

But this week, I’m doing better. Tuesday morning, after a good night’s sleep, I put on my running shoes and decided to jog a little bit. I felt like I had bricks strapped to my shoes, but I managed to get in about 10 minutes of actual running.

Wednesday I went again, and was up to 12+ minutes. This morning I rode the bike trainer downstairs. I’m thinking that if I keep changing up my routine I will stay interested in it. It sure is nice to have a half hour to myself in the mornings, and I know Mike likes to get in some extra time with Harper. With the incredible weather we have, I certainly can’t use that as an excuse.

As has happened in the past, the exercise seems to have helped me eat better. I’ve been able to skip a lot of temptations this week and focus on other things. I think it really helps in this process to give yourself something to lose, as in progress made with exercise.

Body after baby

Now that Harper is 6 months old and starting solids, and my breastfeeding load is lightening, I think it’s time to focus on losing the baby weight. Honestly, I haven’t tried at all, so I think any effort would be helpful at this point. I have really enjoyed all the indulgences, but I’m feeling tired of carrying around the extra weight and eager to get back into all the clothes I used to wear.

I gained 43 pounds with the pregnancy. I was on track to gain about 35, but the last month was just nuts. With all the stress of the first month after Harper was born, I pretty quickly lost 30 of those pounds. But then I basically stayed there, and maybe even gained back a couple pounds.


“Mom, let’s do this thing.”

When you know you’re supposed to be eating extra calories for breastfeeding, it’s kind of confusing to know what and how much to eat. I couldn’t do the cleanse I normally do every January, so I missed out on my “jump start” this year. Then when everyone in my moms group went back to work, my exercise routine kind of died down, too.

My body has definitely changed post-pregnancy. I can feel my ab separation (creepy!) so I have that pooch that makes me look like I’m still pregnant. I totally see why you would look pregnant sooner the second time around. And speaking of that, why bother trying to fix the separation if you’re just gonna have more kids in the near future? I think the only goal that makes sense is just overall weight loss. And maybe trying to get some core strength back.


Feeling too much like a ‘before’ picture.

So here’s my plan to revive some healthy habits:

• Try to focus on eating healthy during the week and save splurges for weekends. I still need some extra calories so I don’t need to be super strict. But I think this is a very practical way to cut back on excess.

• Eliminate daily desserts. The sugar is always what gets me stuck in the overeating cycle. I’ve already cut back some and I can tell a difference.

• Watch portion control. I’ve allowed myself a lot of seconds during the eating-for-two phase, but I think I need to be done with that.

• Try to add more fruits/veggies and drink some green juice. I’ve been buying some green juices, but I think I might get a Nutribullet. I love my juicer, but it’s a pain to clean, and our blender isn’t strong enough to pulverize the greens.

• Review my old recipes. I learned a lot from doing cleanses before, so I have a pretty good resource in my own blog. I’ve been looking back at my nutrition posts, and finding some inspiration there.

• Switch the emphasis on meal planning from easy to healthy. Of course, anything I make still has to be relatively easy. But how I eat during the week all starts with planning and shopping. I’ve been trying to buy more healthy snacks too (hummus, trail mix, whole wheat fig bars and the like) so I always have good choices around me.

• Bring back my exercise grid. I kind of dropped this once I got mired in morning sickness, but it worked wonders for me before. I just check off boxes for the equivalent of 30 minutes of exercise each day.

• Set up the bike trainer in the basement. This way I have a built-in exercise machine I can use anytime.


The grid doesn’t lie.

• Invite moms to walk with me. There are still a few of us home all or part-time, so I need to take some initiative in getting us together.

• Dare I say try running again? It sounds weirdly appealing. I think it’s the “me time” aspect. Hey, whatever gets you to run.

• Find a yoga or pilates class to take occasionally. Money is tight with Mike taking Fridays off, but I think it would be worth the investment to take some classes.

So I think between all those things I ought to at least be able to shed the 13 pounds, and maybe eventually more. I know sleep is key to getting your weight under control, and that’s always a factor with a baby, but we’re making progress.

Made me think

Just popping in to share a link before I forget.

I really loved Joanna’s post on how we talk to little girls. Specifically, how we tend to tell them they’re pretty rather than asking them about books or other pursuits.

Something to think about.

Transformation

I don’t have a ton of pictures of myself from the past few years. I’m not terribly photogenic to begin with. And then you see enough images of your multiple chins and it’s like, OK, I’ll just pretend like that‘s not happening.

But I did find some outtakes from our engagement session that make for a good comparison of my before/after weight loss.

I can’t believe I’m putting this on the Internet. But I suppose it’s good motivation to stay fit.

The crazy things we do to get fit

Some of us were chatting during the stretching part of our Nia class tonight about all the torturous exercise classes we’ve put ourselves through in the past. And not that it’s not important to push yourself in the name of fitness, but some of the stuff we’ve done has been truly insane. I paid a personal trainer to time me doing planks (a move I hate more than just about anything) and balance on a half-ball thing with weights in each hand. Another girl took a class where an instructor screamed at her until she cried. It’s no wonder we quit after a while.

I think maybe we just stopped believing there was a way to work out that wasn’t painful or miserable.

Finding Nia was such a blessing after all that. I love the music (and you can buy Nia Sounds CDs just to listen to – they’re even on sale right now). I love that we all have different body shapes, including the teachers, and nobody cares. I love that we’re dancing and moving and sweating, and all the sudden an hour’s gone by and we’re still sitting around talking because no one’s ready to leave.

My neighbors probably think I’m crazy when I’m dancing around my living room practicing routines. But hey, at least I’m happy doing it. I give you permission to dance around, if that’s what feels good to you.

See? Fun!


photos from nianow.com

Have you found the exercise that fits you perfectly? What crazy things have you done in the name of fitness?

Deep breath, I’m gonna go there: body image

Sunday was nasty cold and windy (so typical of fall – it’s warm! it’s cold! it’s warm! it’s cold again!), so I decided to make the best of it and pop in my Nia DVD for some exercise.

I got about 35 minutes through it. I was dancing around, sweating pretty good, feeling good that I wasn’t sitting on my ass on the couch.

And then, the power went out.

No more DVD, no lights, no internet. Just me, standing in my living room, exasperated.

And that’s pretty much how exercise has gone for me. I do something for a while, until something happens to alter my routine, and then I’m back to my fat pants, feeling like crap. It’s a great source of instability, both mentally and physically.

And so, how I feel about how I look? Well, it’s not good. It never really has been good, except for a few years when I was in fantastic shape. I’m sure you know how that goes — you spend the rest of your time wondering why you can’t be like that again. It’s soooo pointless. But we all do it.

This whole thing with my back has really thrown me for a loop, too. Things I used to be sure about, I’m not sure about anymore. I don’t want to hurt myself more than I already have. Even though I had surgery, I never really changed the lifestyle (doing major desktime on the job, bad posture, not enough stretching) that got me the problem in the first place. So I have lingering pain. I’m already a pretty low-energy person. When my back aches, I just want to crawl under the covers.

But I’m getting seriously plumpy lately, so I’ve got to figure something out. I figure I probably weigh what a woman my height should weigh…if she were 9 months pregnant. It’s just not good.

In some ways I think my body image is okay in the sense that what bothers me is not so much the number on the scale, but just the visible body fat. I know it’s not healthy, and I don’t want to make myself sick.

As a lot of people who’ve struggled with their weight would probably tell you, I know more about what a person should do in terms of diet/exercise than just about anyone. That’s not the point. Your motivation not to rock the shelf butt in your pants? Not really the point either. I think, after all this time, and all my ups and downs in sizes, the point is simply whether you can find something you love to do. If I truly loved anything I’ve done before, I’d be doing it now. I wouldn’t be able to stop. That’s how I am! I will knit until my knuckles ache and I can hardly see through dried out contacts. But I’m sure as hell not getting up at 5 a.m. to lift weights. I just don’t care about the gym. It might as well be filing TPS reports for me. There’s no passion there.

So what I’m trying to do, is find the passion, so to speak. I truly believe that health is a cycle — start exercising, start craving healthy foods, start seeing results, keep going back for more exercise. How I eat is a whole other blog, but what I’m saying is that at least for me, without the exercise part, the rest falls apart.

I have high hopes for Nia. It’s sort of holistic dance and martial arts, a cardio version of yoga. It’s hippie dippy for sure, but I can’t pretend I don’t like that stuff. The bottom line is that it’s meant to be exercise that doesn’t injure. And when I do it, I want to do it more. Tonight, after work, I restarted that DVD where I left off and I finished it. I felt much better after that.