Monday, January 31, 2011

11 Week Challenge: Week 3

How did you do with last week's challenge to detox the pantry? I got the cookies and chips out of mine and filled it with whole grain cereal (I'm talkin' puffed rice) and carrots and snap peas (ok, those went in the fridge). I'm working on overhauling my snacking to make it healthier so I've added lots of finger-friendly cut up veggies. I also put in a couple bags of dark chocolate - but I just can't deny my sweet tooth and I figured better one small piece of Dove dark chocolate than a couple handfuls of crummy chocolate chips. :) So, on to this week's challenge:

Week 3: Make Exercize Simple

The magazine article encourages everyone to clip on a pedometer and get outside. Well, it's winter and not everyone has a pedometer (or, like me, you've lost yours somewhere in the depths of the basement) so I'm going to modify our goal. This week our challenge will be adding extra exercize to every-day activities. Whether that means marching around the living room while you're on the phone, doing squats while you fold laundry or working on your abs while you sit in traffic, we're going to seek out sneaky opportunities to get fit. Feel free to keep up your marathons at the gym if you like, but I'm just focusing on making the most out of the limited time I've got. So that's it - easy peasy - here we go!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Weekly Weigh In

Time for the weekly weigh in and progress report.

Current weight: scale this morning said 35.5. Ugh, I'm totally stuck.
Triumph of the week: Lots of veggies, went to Saturday yoga, limiting sweets
Pitfall of the week: skipped Monday yoga, haven't worked out much otherwise. Also been bad about eating in the morning which leaves me starving at lunch and then I make bad choices.
Goal for next week:Work out in some manner at least 15 min/day. Try to balance my calories more throughout the day so I'm never ravenous.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

MIrror Mirror On The Wall

I decided this morning that I need to take a break from the mirror. Check to make sure I don't have lunch in my teeth and that my hair is brushed and then walk away. And for heaven's sake don't look in the full length. Because for the most part, I feel pretty good about myself. I've actually found some clothes that fit, I've got enough energy to get by, and I almost feel like 'myself' again. Some days I even feel almost pretty. Until I look in the mirror. And then I'm pretty horrified at the old and fat image I see staring out at me. Granted I rarely take the time to put on makeup and I just chopped off all my hair and I'm obliged to wear glasses all the time - so I'm bound to feel a little 'off' - but I really do feel pretty dismal about my appearance. Of course, I need to keep in mind that I'm thinking with the same brain that used to see all my ribs in the mirror and still think I could drop a few pounds. And if I ask around most people seem to think I've already lost most of the baby weight and look pretty decent. But what I see makes me want to run right out and put a lock on the fridge. Really, it should just motivate me to run. I need to remember that I'm not 22 anymore. I need to remember that vanity is pointless and frankly it doesn't matter what I look like as long as I'm healthy. I need to remember that my family loves me not matter what. I need to spend more time worrying about being patient and gentle and less time worrying about my hips. Easier said than done. But a good step in the right direction is staying as far away from that mirror as I can. When I don't look, I feel good about myself. And when I feel good about myself, I'm a nicer person. And nice is WAY more attractive than grumpy, no matter what package it comes in :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

You've Got The Beat

I'd forgotten what an amazing motivator music can be. This afternoon I was literally falling asleep on my feet. Baby hasn't been sleeping well at all at night and I'm completely exhausted. Which means the last thing I want to do is move my big tush and get some exercize. Even though that's the one thing (other than sleep) that will probably help my exhaustion. I tried everything - chocolate, a 5 minute nap, calling anyone and everyone in my phone - and nothing was keeping me awake. My oldest kept poking me saying "Mommy awake!" I felt awful. Finally I decided to turn on some music. And within minutes I was not only awake but dancing all over the living room like a crazywoman. It was fantastic. I still feel pretty good several hours later even though the music has been off for a while. My kids were thrilled that Mommy was playing with them and I was thrilled that I was working up a sweat.

My favorite music to dance to lately is my own custom radio station at I loooove this site and it's special features. You type in the name of a song or artist that you love and it gives you a list of nearly 50 similar artists that you can pick and choose from. And if you don't like a song that it plays, you can ban it from your list. Which means that I'm spending more time dancing and less time skipping songs. My current station is based on The Cure - good tunes, good beat, good times. Check it out!

Healthy Eats: Black Beans and Rice

Here is a super healthy, super yummy slow cooker meal that'll warm you up on a chilly night.

Spicy Black Beans and Rice

2 cups black beans
1 small onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 small carrots, peeled and chopped
1 yellow or green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup chopped hot pepper (jalepeno or poblano are standard, use serano if you like more heat)
4 cloves garlic, grated
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp thyme
generous dash black pepper
2 bay leaves
28 oz broth (vegetable or chicken)
2 tbsp softened butter
2 tbsp flour (all-purpose or rice)
4 cups cooked brown rice.

Place beans, vegetables and spices in slow cooker. Top with broth. Cover and cook on low 10 hours or high 5 hours. If using low, turn setting to high. Mix butter and flour and whisk into beans. Cook another 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves. Serve over rice.

This One's For You

I've been struggling with a lot of things this week (and even gained a pound or two) so I thought I'd ask you all for some advice. I'd love to get your opinions and perspectives on any/all of the following:

1) What is your best weight-loss tip?
2) How do you motivate yourself to work out when you are dead tired? Seems like I'm getting almost no sleep lately and by the time the kids are in bed I have zero desire to exercize.
3) What's your best strategy for sneaking exercize into every day activities?
4) How do you beat your cravings? I've been giving in to cheesy grits and noodles alfredo waaaaay too much lately.
5) Anyone have some good healthy-comfort food and/or vegan recipes they'd like to share? (or sites where I could find them?)

Thanks y'all! So appreciate the support!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Environment Matters

In college, I weighed 95 lbs. And it was really easy to maintain. Here are some reasons why:
  1. Access to food was limited to cafeteria hours and/or my willingness to hitch a shuttle to the supermarket.
  2. My busy schedule limited the amount of time I was exposed to the cafeteria/my own pantry.
  3. I walked everywhere. Several miles a day.
  4. I took classes that involved movement (i.e. dance)
  5. I could walk to the gym and had plenty of friends to accompany me.
Now that I'm all grown up, I weigh a whole lot more. And this is partly because as a Stay At Home Mom I:
  1. Have access to all the food I want, all the time. I'm in the kitchen constantly getting food for my family and it's so easy to pick at things while I cook. And if we run low on food, the grocery store is just a short car-ride away.
  2. I'm home allofthetime. Which means I'm near my kitchen allofthetime. Which means I have to work hard NOT to eat (instead of remembering TO eat).
  3. I find it hard to fit in exercize. Nothing is within walking distance and in the winter I can't take the kids out in the stroller either. I have to consciously schedule time to work out - and usually that falls around bedtime when I'm totally zonked out.
  4. The activities on my list tend to encourage sitting rather than dancing (ie. story time with the kids, sitting on the floor playing, rocking the baby, etc).
  5. Don't know anyone well enough to go to the gym with me and it requires me to get in the car and drive. And most of the classes I want to take are during dinner time.
This isn't meant to be me complaining that I've got it so hard, whine fuss groan etc. It's just meant to remind me, when I'm tempted to berrate myself for 'letting myself go', that I'm in a new environment now which makes staying thin more of a challenge and so I need new goals and new strategies - that 'being lazy and lacking self control' aren't the only factors here. Environment really does matter.

11 Week Challenge: Week 2

Week 2: Detox Your Pantry

So how did you do with week 1? Last week we were making healthier choices about the foods we ate - swapping in whole foods for processed foods. This week, we're going to make those choices easier by giving our pantries a makeover! This week's challenge is to sort through our cupboards, pulling out the processed "junk" and replacing it with healthier whole-food options. So, out go the greasy potato chips and in goes air-popped popcorn. Out go the Lucky Charms and in goes the oatmeal. Or in my case, out go the cookies and in go the apples. As I said in a previous post - if you don't have it, you can't eat it!

My confession from last week: I did great while at home. Filled up on fruits and veggies and grains. Unfortunately we ate out (restaurants and relatives' homes) three days in a row and I didn't always make the healthiest choices. Night #1 I did manage to chose lentil soup over creamy chicken chipotle - but that was pretty much my only success. I followed that night up with a night of enchiladas and frozen yogurt and then had seconds on tortilla soup (filled with cheese and chips and sour cream) and nachos (more cheese and chips) at Grandma's the next day. So I'm starting out the week feeling pretty bogged down. But it's a new week and a clean slate and I'm starting off with a banana and tea and have tofu and brown rice on the menu for tonight - so here we go!

And feel free to discuss - what kinds of foods are getting the boot from your kitchen this week? What healthier things are you looking forward to adding in?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Weekly Weigh In

Time for the weekly weigh in and progress report.

Current weight: still hovering around 134 - I really need to get a new scale, this one stinks and varies by up to 5 lbs depending on where you step on it/set it. Any recommendations?
Triumph of the week: Eating fruits and veggies instead of pasta/cereal. Adding a cup of green tea in the mornings. Starting a yoga class (love it!)
Pitfall of the week: Cookies. Honestly, I split 2/3 of a box of chocolate covered sugar wafers with my 3 year old for a snack one day. Uuuugh. But, once they're gone, I'm not buying more.
Goal for next week: Adding an extra day of working out and trying to eat extra clean on the days I know I'm going to be having a junky meal (mom's night out, son's birthday, etc).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

11 Week Challenge And Giveaway

All good things are worth the wait. Even weight loss. And to keep my weight loss goals reasonable, I'll be following All You magazine's 11 Week Reality Checked Diet. Each week has a very sensible, very do-able goal to get healthy and get in shape - and lose weight slowly (the right way). So, I'm inviting you all to join the challenge with me - even if you aren't trying to lose weight, these are great goals for a healthier life. Anyone who completes the entire 11 weeks (and leaves me a comment on the final week's post) will be entered into a drawing for a $20 Amazon gift card to use on whatever you like (a new workout dvd, some healthy snack, some new jeans because you lost some weight...). Slipping up is ok, but you need to honestly attempt each goal. And yes, I know, 11 weeks is a long time to wait on a giveaway - but as I said, good things are worth it :D So, here we go!

Week 1*: Pick the Right Foods to Slim Down

This week's challenge is all about forgoing the junk in favor of 'real' whole foods. So we're giving up the candy and cheese puffs and nitrate-full lunch-meats and chowing down on fruit and cheese and whole grain bread instead. It also includes choosing healthier versions of natural foods - i.e. brown rice vs. white. And watch your beverages! This week is a tough one for me since, as I've previously confessed, I'm crazy for pasta lately. I've planned lots of rice-heavy dinners so I don't go totally carb mad - wish me luck!

*I'll be starting most weeks on a Monday, so this will be a short one

My Kids Are Making Me Fat

All the parenting magazines say it: Do not finish your kids' meals or you will get fat. Yeah, easier said than done. It seems like it never fails around here - if I think my kids are going to be picky so I don't make them much, they invariably gulp it all down and then eat half of my food too. Then I'm still hungry and graze all afternoon. If I make plenty of food for them, they don't want it and leave it on their plates. Since it doesn't seem worth reheating such a little bit (no microwave here), I end up finishing their meals too and then I'm stuffed. Ugh.

New plan: I'll make enough food for myself to have one small portion and the kids to have a reasonable amount. If any of us is still hungry when it's gone, I'll get us some fruit or cheese or another healthy snack. If any food is left over, I will put it away and give myself the culinary challenge of using it up somewhere before the week is over (there's nothing wrong with a few leftover peas in the chili...). Now if Daddy is home and he wants to finish off their dinners, so be it - he's a twig! But as for me, no more spare tires because "it's just a few more bites."

Monday, January 17, 2011

To Sleep, Perchance to Be Thin

I've been reading everywhere lately that lack of sleep can cause you to eat more. Well, I'm in trouble :p I haven't had more than 5 hours of sleep in a row (and that's rare, usually it's 2-3) in about 3 years now. So I'm always tired. Which makes me want to graze for 'fuel.' And there's something about waking up exhausted that makes me crave waffles and hot cheesy grits - not fruit and eggs and other healthy stuff. I'm still working on this one. Trying to get as much sleep as I can and in the meantime making myself eat fruit and an egg before I'm allowed to have the 'heavy' stuff - and most of the time, once I'm done with my healthy food, I don't even want the junk. And when I do cave, I just try to adjust my lunch to compensate. Whew. One of these days I'll get some sleep. For now I can just be grateful that I've learned to eat breakfast in the first place instead of running on empty all morning. That was definitely not good for my health.

You Can't Eat What You Don't Have

At lunch today I wanted pasta. Really really wanted pasta. Had planned on having yogurt and fruit, but was craving something warm. However, I didn't have pasta in the house - so I ate an enormous bowl of mixed veggies (and ok, I admit, I put on a big pat of butter). What great motivation to keep the junk out of my house!

I Can Talk the Talk

but can I walk the walk? This weekend I've done plenty of backsliding. All those great goals and epiphanies I had - yeah, out the window. It's just so easy to fall back into old, comfortable habits. Some of the things that have gone wrong:

1) Sweets. We made cookies on Sunday. I ate 7. So much for portion control.
2) Laziness. Instead of going outside with the rest of the family while they had a good romp on the farm, I sat on my rear and watched 3 hours of tv. Relaxing, yes. Good for me, no.
3) Media. Tabloid magazines, Bowflex commercials, movie previews. I had plenty of exposure to glammed up gorgeous people - which of course gets the mind rolling down the "I can never be that skinny and pretty I should never eat again" path. Not a good path to wander down. If anything my mentality should have been "gee, that working out is effective, let's hit the gym" - but like I said, old habits die hard.
4) Cravings. For several days now I have been absolutely craving a HUGE plate of amazing fetucini alfredo. Like creamy, buttery Red Lobster alfredo. Fortunately, I can't have it (the closest I can get is some Newman's Own sauce on gf noodles), but not satisfying that craving means that no matter what I eat, I feel deprived. So instead of enjoying the healthy and delicious foods I'm eating, I've been grazing my way through the house trying to find something to quell the craving.

But, it's a new week which means a clean slate for me. Heading to the Y tonight for some yoga to ease back into the working out. Put together a few outfits that make me feel thin and glam (even with 20 lbs to go). Got out my small plates and bowls to eat off of. And just maybe I'll indulge in a tiny portion of alfredo just to get past the craving - then I can really enjoy all the yummy, healthy dinners I've planned for the week. Wish me luck!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Healthy Eats: Vegetarian Chili

I have one great fall-back healthy recipe for a cold night when I want something hearty (and can refrain from making pasta). This is my favorite veggie-filled chili that's healthy from start to finish. Though the cornbread I made to go with it might be another story....

Vegetarian Chili

2 green peppers, diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large handfull spinach, shredded
2 cans beans (I like kidney and pinto), drained and rinsed
2 cans diced tomatoes with liquid
1 can tomato sauce (or 1 can tomato soup)
3 tsp chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp parsley
dash basil
dash oregano

Sautee peppers, onion, garlic and spinach until soft. Add remaining ingredients, bring to boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.

Weekly Weigh In

Time for the weekly weigh in and progress report.

Current weight: according to the doctor's scale, 134. Now I need to test out my scale and see how 'off' it is.
Triumph of the week: um....haven't had many. I've eaten a lot of veggies I guess.
Pitfall of the week: Sweets! And portions! I totally dipped into my son's 'potty training stash' of chocolate chips. And I really need to downsize my plates because I'm eating heaps of food again and then feeling stuffed.
Goal for next week: Smaller portions and healthier breakfast. Just eat too much empty cereal. Bring on those eggs and fruit.

New overall goal - I may not be trying to fit into a particular clothing size any more, but I would really like to be able to wear my wedding rings again without getting them resized. They were a little loose when I got married and now they kinda sorta fit on my pinkie. Ugh.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Don't Shop Hungry

This one is pretty basic. Always take a list to the store, and never shop hungry. Today it didn't even occur to me that I was taking the kids to Walmart at what is normally snack time. I never used to snack, but I've come to realise that I'm a much more stable person if I eat something between lunch and dinner. 6 hours is a long time to try to run on one meal. I stuck to my list strictly - until I hit the checkout. Then, of course, hunger kicked in and I bought myself a Caramelo bar. And ate the whole thing while I peeled potatoes for dinner. I was handing the kids healthy snacks while I stuffed myself with sugar. Ugh. If I hadn't bought that candy bar, I would have joined them in their snack of cheese and fruit. But I got to the register with a growling belly and caved. So next time I need to shop I should have some grapes or a handful of nuts - anything to keep me from getting sidetracked by a sugar low. And stick to my list.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Winter Weight

For most of my life as soon as the cool weather came around I gained 10 lbs. I used to joke that I was 'putting on insulation' for the winter. I didn't really mind - all those heavy sweaters hid the extra chub just fine. But then Spring would arrive and I'd find myself in a mad dash to drop all that weight in time for swimsuit season. And I'd always vow that next winter I'd skip the weight gain and just wear more layers. And every winter I'd put the weight right back on again. So what is it about winter that makes me fat?

I have to admit, I connect with food on an emotional level. It's not just about nourishment to me, it's about joy and comfort. And I love to celebrate. My favorite way to celebrate the upcoming season, and to bring myself a little extra 'warmth,' is to cook something hearty and hot. Which means heavy on the carbs and dairy. There's something about a crisp autumn day that just sends me running to the kitchen to toss a chicken-pot-pie and apple cobbler in the oven. It doesn't just feed my tummy, it feeds my soul. Cheesy I know, but it's too true. In the summer, I'm totaly happy to chow down on watermelon and berries and light salads. It's festive. But during the winter, I just crave something heavy and savory. So how can I feed my cravings and keep the weight off?

First tactic: use my other senses. I don't have to have an apple pie in the oven to make my house smell like fall. I have a drawer full of 'harvest' scented candles that do a pretty good job of making my house feel festive. I can put out pumpkins and fall napkins to remind myself of the season. And I can take the kids on nostalgic trips to get in the holiday mood.

Second tactic: modify my comfort cooking. The internet (and my huge stack of cookbooks) are full of 'healthy' updates to common comfort foods. Slimmed down casseroles and stews can taste just as good and not add to the waistline. And in a pinch I need to remind myself that a hearty dish doesn't need to be the center of a meal. Served with a big salad or a brothy soup a casserole can stretch for two or more meals - good for the diet and the wallet.

Third tactic: get more exercize. My favorite form of working out is walking. But in the winter I can't spend much time outside. So, I'll have to head back to all those strategies I created for getting a little more movement in my day. If I do cave in and scarf down a heaping pile of macaroni casserole (as I did for lunch the last two days - oops) I can add an afternoon dance-a-thon with the kids and do some damage control. Or combat the apple crisp with a yoga class. Or the chicken-pot-pie with a workout dvd.

So if I remember the axiom "all things in moderation" perhaps I really can have my pie and eat it too. And if I work really hard to keep off that extra 'insulation' maybe I'll treat myself to a nice new cozy sweater....

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Portion Distortion

I'm going to confess: I have lost all concept of what a 'normal' portion size looks like. Once upon a time I knew what a well balanced plate should be. Then came pregnancy and nursing and ravenous hunger and now a heaping plate looks just fine to me. I'm totally keeping up with my 6-foot-tall-athletic-supermetabolism husband -- except that he works out and never gains a pound and I am just getting squishy.

Back in the days when I was food restricting, I had a mantra: 'one piece, one scoop, one slice.' Of course, that wasn't healthy either, but at least I was making an effort to pay attention to how much I was eating instead of filling my plate to the rim and eating until I'm stuffed. And I've noticed, lately, that I'll eat as much as is on my plate. If I fill my plate, I'll probably eat it all. But if I don't fill my plate, I usually don't go back for seconds. In fact I've read in multiple places that if you want to get your kids to eat more of a food, you should put on their plate double the amount you think they'll actually eat. When they see more, they eat more. Apparently that holds true for adults too.

So here's my plan. We've already stopped putting the pots of food on the table and started serving at the stove. Often I'm just too lazy to get up to get more food. And I discover that I'm actually satisfied with what I put on my plate in the first place. Unfortunately, even that is often too much. Next tactic, use a smaller plate. Our regular dinner plates are pretty huge. But if I use a salad plate, suddenly my half sandwich and small pile of carrots looks filling. And 1 cup of cereal served in a mug looks like a meal - in a bowl it looks like a snack. The same goes for the tall, skinny glasses, small coffee mugs, etc. In addition to changing up my dinnerware, I need to actively measure my food. I have no clue what 1/2 cup of rice looks like and I've discovered that when I 'guesstimate' I often take close to twice as much food as a serving really is. So it's time to pull out those measuring cups and find a new food scale - at least until I can trust myself to eyeball things properly. Once I learn what 'one serving' really is, I can start from there and add seconds only if I'm really truly still hungry. (More on learning what that feels like later).

Hopefully if I stick to this plan I'll finally start eating like a thin woman again - instead eating like I'm an athletic man :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Weekly Weigh In

Time for the weekly weigh in and progress report.

Current weight: 132-ish (my scale is pretty fickle)
Triumph of the week: These maternity jeans are almost too baggy to wear! Time to pull out the 'real' jeans again! Oh, and I managed to eat at least one meal where I really savored my food - and put half of it away to eat later :)
Pitfall of the week: Pasta. One lunch included mac'n'cheese AND lasagna. Followed by a handful of chocolate chips. Time to remind myself that carbs are a side, not a main dish.
Goal for next week: More vegetables and fewer sweets. Gotta get those cookies out of the pantry.

This Ain't Hollywood

The media is a powerful tool. Which is partly what I loved about being a Drama major. Unfortunately, it's also a very competitive field. Which means that celebrities are growing increasingly glamorous - and increasingly thin. And we girls (and sometimes boys) are training ourselves to accept that what we see on the screen is what "normal" should be. In my 12th grade Humanities class 90% of the girls said they thought the Venus De Milo was overweight. And yet she was supposed to be the epitome of beauty in the Roman world. Not to mention that the average clothing sample size is 4, when sources state that the real 'average' for American women is closer to a size 14. And anyone who's tried on women's fashion in the last few years will tell you that clothing sizes vary so much from brand to brand that they're practically meaningless anyway. So how do we navigate this deceptive world of media influence?

There was a time in my life when I was so sensitive to these Hollywood ideals that I based my entire opinion of myself on them. I even once found myself sitting on my living room floor crying because I could never be as thin or pretty as Courtney Cox on Friends. Well of course - I don't have her body type. Or her personal trainer. Or a contract that requires me to look 'ideal.' As I've watched my body changing through pregnancy and childbirth I've come to appreciate its own unique shape. I try to remind myself that curves are attractive and that more than appearance, personality is what people notice first. And how do I cultivate an attractive personality? By taking care of myself and being healthy, happy and content. Which means appreciating Courtney Cox for who she is without feeling the necessity to replicate her look.

The reality of it is - I'm not in Hollywood. In fact, I rarely even act anymore (and if I did, the stage is much more forgiving than the camera). My kids barely even noticed the 40 lbs I put on during pregnancy. What they did notice was that Mommy was tired and cranky and slow all the time. And the best way to recover from that is to get fit and get healthy. When I feel good about myself I'll better be able to appreciate and not envy the 'beautiful people' I see on tv. And I can focus on adapting the things I can change - like a new hair cut or makeup technique - instead of trying to fit into the size 0 just because 'everyone else' does. Yup, it's definitely time to get real.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

'Cause Workin' Out is Hard To Do

I'll confess, I'm terrible at sticking to a workout plan of any kind. I'd much prefer to fiddle with my diet than really make any kind of workout commitment. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind being active - but I am the queen of excuses when it comes to sticking to it with any regularity. So here are my top reasons that I 'just can't work out today':

1) It's too time consuming: Let's face it - working out takes time. Not only do I have to commit 30-60 minutes a day to the actual exercize, but driving to the gym adds almost half an hour. So does loading up three kids into the stroller so we can go for a walk. And my peak energy hour tends to occur smack in the middle of nap time when I don't have childcare anyway. So, what can I do? Well, I can either spend a bunch of money on workout equipment for the house that I'll probably be too tired to use by the time the kids are in bed anyway, or I can suck it up and remember that everything worthwhile is going to require a commitement of time and then look around for a workout I actually enjoy. And it wouldn't hurt to remind myself that I can do 'bite size' workouts several times a day - in whatever spare time I find. It all adds up.

2) I'm afraid of looking like a fool: Once I finally force myself to drive to the gym I am faced with the prospect of making a fool of myself. In my eyes it seems like everyone at the Y is a gym rat who knows exactly what they're doing with each piece of equipment and I'm embarrassed to death when I can't figure out how to turn on the elliptical machine. Or how to adjust the weight bench. Or when I accidentally drop in on the Advanced Step Class and practically keel over on my step. So what can I do? Admit that I'm a beginner and ask for help. I'm sure the kind people at the Y would be glad to show me around the equipment. And they provide a handy dandy little schedule with the 'beginner' classes all highlighted for me. All I have to do is ask. So I've picked out a nice beginners Yoga class and an easy level Step class and cleared my calendar for those nights (as soon as I'm cleared to exercize again). And maybe if I'm truly feeling brave I'll ask about those elliptical machines. Maybe.

3) I get booooooored: Working out is so easy when I'm doing something I love. Like dancing. Or riding my bike. Or, um, weeding. But it pretty much takes a Firefly marathon on the little tv to keep me on the treadmill for any length of time. Unfortunately, adult dance classes are infrequent and expensive, the kids are too small to ride bikes with me, and, well, it's winter so no weeds as of yet. So what can I do? First of all, I can find another type of class that I enjoy. There's something about taking a group class that makes sticking-to-it so much easier. So I'll try out a few till I find something I like almost as much as dancing. Which brings me to - dancing with the kids. Our kids LOVE when we turn on some nice '80s music and clear the livingroom floor and dance around like crazies. Even better, they want Mommy to hold them while she dances - which makes it a real workout. And maybe some day, when they're older, I can find a real dance class to take.

4) Accountability: I am terrible about sticking to things when I know the only person I'd let down by slacking off is myself. What I need is a gym partner. Someone I HAVE to show up to meet. Otherwise it's too easy to fall back on all my other excuses. Unfortunately the only person around here I know that well is my husband, and he's got to watch the kids while I go. So what can I do? Learn to be accountable to myself. Hello - it's called discipline and I'm an adult, I should have a little. If I don't work out then my health suffers and I'm letting myself down. And actually, I'm letting my family down too. They count on me to stay healthy - and my kids count on me to set a good example. When I take care of myself, everybody wins. I just need to make that my mantra.

So - if I value my family I need to value my health. And if I value my health then I need to make exercize a priority. Even if it's only 10 minutes here and there - a dance party in the morning, some weeding in the afternoon, a yoga class on Saturday - the more I 'just do it' the easier it'll be. And the better I'll feel. So no more excuses, it's time to get this Mama in shape!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Love That Post-Baby Body

It's easy to focus on the negative ways that pregnancy and childbirth affect your appearance. Your belly gets poochy and laced with silver stretch marks. Changing hormones wreak havoc on your complexion. And you're now wider in places than you were before. In my case, however, I'm trying to focus on the good things that having children has done for my body.

I found that when I was suddenly responsible for another person, I had to take more responsibility for my own health as well. Before having kids I could go all day without remembering to eat. I could 'diet' till I was sick and sit around on my bottom all day and the only person I was hurting was myself. But when I became pregnant I had to treat myself well in order to treat my baby well. My doctor made me gain 10 lbs immediately and my childbirth class put us on a strict eating plan that made sure I not only ate 3-5 times a day, but ate nutritiously as well. I had to take vitamins, complete a daily exercize regimen, and get plenty of sleep. These were all things I should have been doing to start with, but without accountability I can be pretty lax about taking care of myself.

Now that my babies are on the outside they still keep me accountable for my health. I eat much more regularly now since I'm making meals for the kids anyway. I eat more nutritiously so I can set a good example for my kids. And it's impossible not to get at least some exercize when you're (literally) chasing a couple of toddlers around the house all day. I still have plenty of room for improvement of course, but instead of bemoaning all the ways that my body isn't youthful anymore, I just view all those stretchmarks as my roadmap to a healthier, happier self.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Forget the Fat Pants: Skinny is About Perspective

Yesterday I felt almost thin. And compared to how huge I was when pregnant, I sorta am. Granted, I was still wearing maternity jeans, but that elastic panel wasn't pooching one bit. Top it off with a flattering t-shirt and I was feeling positively svelte.

Until this morning. The maternity jeans were in the wash and I thought "hey, why not give some regular jeans a try." So I got out some jeans. My old 'fat jeans.' Not only do they look painted on, but I had to pull the 'hairband through the button hole' trick just so I could breathe. Or sit. Or not get arrested. Add a bulky sweater and I felt a bit like the Michelin Man. Ugh.

So what gives? I'm no fatter today than yesterday. Oh, that's right, it's all about perspective. When I really started thinking about it, even bone thin supermodels can look a little chunky in the wrong outfit. In all of my dieting past I would always strive to fit my body to the clothes I wanted. If I couldn't wear that one size 0 dress in the back of the closet, then there was something wrong with my body. Well, perhaps, in reality there was something wrong with my closet.

Since my new goal is to find my healthiest weight and healthiest lifestyle I'm going to have to start wearing clothes to flatter my body instead of trying to force my body to fit my clothes. And if that means dumping every outfit I've got and starting from scratch, so be it (although I'm sure it won't). As long as I'm on this journey my new mantra is going to be "if it doesn't make me feel good about myself, I just won't wear it." And frankly, that itty bitty skirt I squeezed into in college? I probably shouldn't be wearing that as a mother-of-3 anyway. So win/win again :)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Struggle with Savoring

One of the things I struggle with most in my relationship with food is mindfulness in eating. I know that in order to feel satisfied on less food I need to savor each bite. When I'm really eating consciously I can make one York Peppermint Patty last all day long. When I'm distracted I eat half a dozen cookies before only a stomach-ache makes me stop. I also tend to mistake "stuffed" for "satisfied." Here are some of the pitfalls that I encounter in my journey toward mindful eating.

Distracted Eating: One of my guilty pleasures is reading a magazine while I eat. Mealtime is pretty much one of the only times of day I can slow down for a second and relax. And since my other favorite form of relaxations is 'junk' reading (aka parenting magazines, home and garden magazines, etc), I tend to combine both activities. Not only is this rude to the other people at the table (even my toddlers get annoyed when Mommy isn't paying attention to them at lunch) but it lends itself to overeating. Oh, did I really finish that entire plate of macaroni? I hadn't noticed... The same goes for eating in front of the television, while doing work, or anything other than focusing on the food in front of me and the people around me. So, my goal here - set up a regular reading-in-the-bath routine. Now I can focus on my food and family while I eat, and destress and relax while I read. Win win.

Interupted Eating: I have 3 kids under the age of 3. Which means none of them is even alowed in the kitchen let alone able to help themselves. Which means that mealtime is "Mommy-get" time. Or "Mommy-pick-up" time. Or "Mommy-feed-a-bottle-with-one-hand-and-eat-with-the-other" time. Again, not great for paying attention to my food or my fullness meter. Not a lot I can do about the interuptions (other than try to be prepared), but I can work on refocusing my attention and tasting my food when I do have the chance to get a bite to my mouth.

Eating without pleasure: I sometimes find myself eating foods that I don't really want. I'm not talking about forcing myself to eat kale just because it's good for me. Rather I mean eating half a box of Milkduds just because it's there. Or because everyone else is eating some. Empty snacking. If I really listen to my body, it'll tell me what it wants me to eat. Yes, sometimes I even crave salad. If I listen to what I want to eat and wait until I'm hungry to eat it, then I don't load up on calories that bring me no gustatory pleasure. So when I sit down to dinner I'll be excited to taste every bite of my one helping of peas (or meatloaf, or small slice of cake).

For DH, eating is primarily about filling his stomach. And that's ok - he eats healthfully and is in amazing shape. But I'm a foodie - I love to eat for pleasure - I love to slave in the kitchen to create something that looks and tastes amazing. Now I just need to put my plan in action so I actually savor all those things I've worked so hard to prepare. And maybe then I'll be satisfied with "just one scoop" instead of waiting for a distended belly to give me a cue to stop. That's the plan anyway.

Where I come from

Now that I'm finally done having children it is my goal to get in the best shape of my life. The right shape for me. A healthy shape. And I'm not sure that's a place I've ever been. I am currently about 130 lbs. I'd love to get down to 110 lbs. But I want to do it the healthy way.

In the past I've gone to extremes with my attitude toward food. For most of my life I didn't care what I ate as long as it tasted good. I was never fat, but certainly wasn't thin. I didn't cook, didn't care to cook, and didn't much care about nutritional value. Once I hit college and really began to learn what stress was, I took a new approach to food. I still didn't care what I ate, but I sure paid attention to how much I ate. I rarely ate more than 900 calories a day and often strived for a meager 500 calories. I was sick, I was bone thin (literally, I used to count my ribs to check progress) and I didn't feel good. Of course, it wasn't really about weight, it was about control.

My new goal is to turn that mildly obsessive tendency of mine toward my greater good. It will now no longer be about how much I eat, and all about what I eat. If I'm tempted by a candy bar at the store, I can use that good ol' willpower to hold out for frozen-fruit-through-the-juice ice cream after dinner. I can be vigilant in making sure that every bite that goes into my mouth not only tastes good but will also fuel my body. And I've got tools in my corner now. I both know how and love to cook. And Dearest Husband has logged his hours researching the nutritional content in all our favorite foods (and I swear is headed down the path of veganism himself) and is behind my healthy choices all the way.

The only missing ingredient to this new healthy lifestyle plan is a fitness routine. Beyond signing up for a yoga class at the Y I am at a total loss as to how to squeeze exercize into my crazy busy (with 3 tiny kids) life at home. So that will be a huge goal for me this year.

That's where I've been and hopefully where I'm headed. Wish me luck!