Friday, October 25, 2013

Fit Friday: The Run

Gloves?  Check.
Thermal shirt?  Check.
Head wrap? Check.
Thermal pants?  Nope.  This is gonna suck.

I look out the window.  Still no sun. I say a brief prayer that the laws of the universe change and for just once, the sun pops up bright instead of slowly rising and warming the earth. I needed the sun and I needed it now. 

I don’t want to run today. Ten years in a southern climate has thinned by blood.  But it’s only fall. If I let the chill win now, it’s going to continue to win as the temperatures drop.

I look at my warm couch, topped with a fleece blanket and sigh. 

Let’s do this.

The first 10 minutes of a run always suck.  I feel heavy and tired and with every single run I have to convince myself to not turn around and call it early.  With this run I also have to contend with dropping temperatures and a slow but vicious incline.

Everything is so different that my runs in Savannah.  In Savannah, when I was on my own, without my running partner/therapist Tonya, I ran before the sun came up, trying to beat the oppressive heat and humidity.  My route was flat, down a lonely sidewalk past 4 half developed neighborhoods- all victims of real estate bubble burst.

My runs now are anything but lonely. In Savannah, my only company was the paperboy, who drove down the street at an unsafe seed, emergency lights flashing.  If I did come across another person, I usually got scared it was some creepy attacker, since fellow morning exercisers were so rare on my route.  Now, I run on busy streets with thousands of cars going past.  I have to watch for cars at each intersection, grateful for the opportunity to slow down or stop when one needs to pass.  There are other runners too. At least a dozen through the course of my 3.2 miles, all faster and more graceful than I, but all friendly and encouraging. 

On this run I’m 90% sure I passed a candidate in the mayoral race. He seemed to hate running as much as me, but he was going up a brutal hill. He smiled anyway and said hello. I did the same, though it still won’t make me vote for him.  He looked like a jerk on the last televised debate.

The elevation change on my Savannah runs was less than 10 feet.  Cincinnati might as well have mountains, with this particular route having a 500ft elevation change. I glide happily down the hills and grumble painfully as run back up, often slowing to a walk.  I like this particular route because the final half-mile is all downhill.

As I stride down the last hill, I realize I’m not cold. I haven’t been in awhile.  My nose is running and my toes are chilled but I’m pretty comfortable temperature-wise.  In fact, I feel invigorated.

I just needed to get started.   

Like all fitness and weight loss routines.  You just need to get started.

So, Mel was right.  Weight Watchers works. It's not that hard either.  Sure it's frustrating that I can't just shove any food I see into my mouth but it's empowering to know I don't have to to survive. 

Change from Last week: -2.6
Total Change: -3.6
Pounds needed to lose til goal: 21.4

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Candy Crush

Yup, Yup, Yup, Nope, Yup, I think that house is empty, Yup, Absolutely Not, Yup, I think a murderer lives there, Yup, Yup.

I mentally noted each house as I zipped passed them on my small purple Schwinn with the pedal breaks. I was canvasing my route.  I’d lived in this neighborhood since I was 4 and I knew exactly which houses to hit when the big day approached.

I thought of what I was going to wear.  Mom, who wasn’t the least bit crafty, wasn’t going to make anything.  She was also thrifty, raising 4 kids on one income, so she certainly wasn’t going to buy me anything new either. I thought about what my friends wore last year and I wondered if I could borrow something.  I couldn’t bear another year of being the non-politically correct hobo.

This was Halloween. You go big or you go home.

When Halloween arrived, I had my route mapped out.  This was before city government’s stepped in and forced Trick or Treat rules and timetables on us.  You got home from school, you changed into your costume and you were out the door before 4.  My brothers and I were old enough to hit the immediate streets without parental guidance. We made our first rounds, then returned at dusk to empty and assess our earnings.

Someone new moved into the corner house on Sequoia Drive.  A dentist.  Toothbrushes?  No thanks. Next year that house will be skipped.

As the sun set, we struck off, usually with Dad, to the next neighborhood over.  These were the bigger, nicer houses equaling bigger, nicer candy.  Mini Snickers and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were passed out instead of lame candy like Smarties, or those weird orange and black wrapped taffy’s.

And then there was the big brown house.  The one with the pool and waterslide in the back. The one that passed out the ultimate Halloween Candy prize.  You got to that house early, before they ran out.  Every kid went there because every kid new they passed out King Sized Hershey Bars.

King Sized!!  No one else passed out full sized anything let alone King-Sized.  Hershey bars weren’t even my favorite but the novelty of a full sized candy bar was too exciting to pass up.

Once we hit that house any other candy earned was just bonus.  When we candy procurement ended, we headed home to count, tally and trade our wears.  3 Tootie Pops for a Milky Way.  “Here Mom, you can have all my Smarties.”  Mom then put all our candy up high, rationing it so we didn’t instantly develop diabetes. I did notice that my stash got smaller disproportionate to my rations. I’m sure Mom took more than the Smarties I so generously offered.   

Now I’m an adult and I’m walking my child around with candy.  Soon he’ll be at the age where he can remember the best houses to hit up.  I’m sure instead of hating on Smarties, Max will be disappointed by the house passing out vegan, gluten-free, Paleo treats from Whole Foods. He’ll be polite and say thank you since no one has to participate in the Trick or Treating. But when he skips the house the following year, I won’t blame him.   

This post brought to you by Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop!

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Menu Monday: Back in the (Weight Watchers friendly) Saddle

I finally feel back into the swing of things.  Delicious meals have been produced and consumed. My house is somewhat in order. I taught Max a new trick.

(If you don’t speak 3 year old, he said “the Green Bay Packers”)

I also joined Weight Watchers, after my friend’s experiment.  Honestly, I’m not sure how much it will affect my weekly dinner plan.  Most of my really bad food choices take place during the day, when I mindlessly eat.  Or when I got out to eat. Oh, and I drink to much on weeknights.  I tend to be pretty good during home cooked dinners though I’ll cut back on baking and making recipes from my Pinterest page called “Things that will make me fat”.

My parents came to visit over the weekend and brought me these:

They will definitely be consumed on a day when I rack up a lot of activity points!!

Last Week’s Menu
I never did end up making the Pork Tenderloin with Pan Sauce, so it’s added into this week’s menu.

I loved the Roasted Pumpkin and Pear Soup, though I made it with butternut squash instead of Pumpkin as my local Kroger was out of cooking pumpkins. It’s essential to add the goat cheese at the end.  Don’t skip it! It adds a tangy creaminess to the sugar from the pears.  It’s a perfect fall eat!

The Slow Cooker Siracha Honey Barbecue Chicken was insanely flavorful.  Beware, it’s not your average dump everything in and hit the “on” button kind of slow cooker dish. It requires a bit more effort, but it’s worth it.  I just served it on it’s own, not as a sandwich topped with fried egg as the recipes suggests.  If you cut back on the Siracha it becomes a very kid friendly dish!

If you’re a smoothie person, check out the Cinnaberry Smoothie. Most of my smoothies have kale or spinach in them, so it was a nice change a pace to go greens-free. The cinnamon really makes the smoothie unique. I cannot recommend the Pineapple Kale Smoothie.   I could barely choke it down. Perhaps if you added in a banana, it might be palatable.

The Chicken with Artichokes and Pan Sauce was edible but nothing special. Brett loved the Crock Pot Tater-Tot Casserole and Max tolerated it but I wasn’t a fan.  I guess I feel that it's only good when it's called Tater Tot Hot Dish, made by someone’s Minnesota Mom and eaten after digging out from a snow storm.

This Week's Menu

Meatless Monday:  Spinach and Tortellini Soup, Windy City Crescent Rolls
Thursday: Date night to see “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me”!
Friday: Brett’s Famous Chili,  Tamales
Sunday: Leftovers

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

You're Damned if you Do and You're Damned if you Don't

This blog post has been making the rounds on Facebook over the past few days and it’s brought up an issue that has been weighing heavy on my heart. Its not so much the blog post that bothers me as it is the vitriolic, one sided comments that follow. Over 10,000 since the last time I checked.

To save you from falling down the hole that I did, I’ll summarize. Man writes a post defending his wife and all other Stay-At-Home-Moms (SAHM) from the questions “What do you do all day”. Comments explode. 

SAHMs praised the post, talk about how their job is thankless, bitch that they work harder than anyone else, discuss how society (especially Working Moms) look down at them and say that Working Moms are messing up their children by working.

Working Moms say nasty things about the post, talk about how their job is thankless, bitch that they work harder than anyone else, discuss how society (especially SAHM) look down at them and say that SAHMs are messing up their children by not working.

I’ve been a Working Mom and a Stay-at-Home Mom and I found one consistency through both:

You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.

When I worked, even part time, I ALWAYS felt judged about leaving Max behind. There was always some guilt that working made me a bad mom and that I was choosing my wellbeing over his.  Now that I don’t work I ALWAYS feel judged that I’m “just a Mom” who, because I stay at home, has no aspirations and sits around on her ass all day.

Neither side is very fun. I’m working hard to stop caring about how other people view my choices. So, in order to do that, I need to make the following two statements.

1) If you judge a mom for working- get over yourself

2) If you judge a mom for staying at home- get over yourself

(My first draft used much stronger language than “get over yourself”. Then I thought better.)
Neither situation is easy or ideal. When I worked, I had days where I wanted to tell all my co-workers where they could shove it and quit on the spot to stay at home. Now, there are days I would love to be in a quiet office where I only had to metaphorically wipe asses instead of actually wipe asses.

I’m also VERY aware that I’m lucky I have the choice to stay home. The majority of families require two incomes to survive and the fact one parent wants to stay home with the kids can’t even enter into the equation. Single moms get even less of a break. I would never begrudge anyone for being a working parent whether it be because they have to or because they want to.

As far as I’m concerned, if your children are loved unconditionally and they are being taught kindness and compassion you are doing a good job. 

Women need to stop tearing each other down for their choices. These Mommy Wars are pointless and ugly. Everyone is just trying to survive and do what is best for her family. What works for you may not work for me. And vice versa. Screaming about how you have it so tough and everyone doing it the other way is wrong doesn’t help anything.

I’m not perfect.  I’ve judged too. It’s human nature to do so.  However, I only feel shitty when I do it.  So next time I start to question a parenting decision, or roll my eyes when I hear about a different perspective on discipline that I think is alarmist, I’m going to stop at do the following.

1.    Take a deep breath
2.    Thank the universe for all I’ve been given
3.    Remind myself only I know what is best for my family
4.    Remind myself I don’t know what is best for your family
5.    Remember that everyone has their struggles, even if I can’t see them
6.    Move on

Hopefully, this will help me when I find myself getting upset at the blistering comments and opinions that can make the internet (and less often, real life) suck. Instead of falling down the hole reading anonymous folks spew hatred about how everyone sucks at parenting, I can instead walk away. 

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Weight Loss Wednesday: An Interesting Experiment

As usual, I haven’t made anything my priority recently, especially my weight loss and blog.  It’s been so hard and with no results, I basically gave up. After sharing my struggles on Facebook, my friend Mel reached out to me with a very interesting experiment. Her results were pretty shocking and I asked if she would be willing to share it on the blog. Here’s what she did:   

Many thanks to Laura for letting me share my interesting weight loss experience with you.

We have all faced that moment with weight loss.  That one where you throw your hands up and say, “I have had it!”  There may be tears or anger or stomping around, but it comes to nearly all of us at some point.  My moment came two weeks ago as I realized I had been struggling to lose the same 5 pounds for over three months with no success.  Don’t lie, we have all been there.  I realized it was finally time to get serious and execute a plan.

As I have had much success with Weight Watchers in the past, I turned there first.  However, when faced with a $50-$60 price tag for 5 measly little pounds, I said “No!”  More than $10 for each pound?  I opted instead for the FREE MyFitnessPal, thinking that curbing calories and writing things down would be almost like Weight Watchers.  And it was free!

Armed with a target of 1520 calories per day, I set out and documented everything I ate for five days.  I was rocking this.  I found that I didn’t even need to adjust my daily diet very much to stay under the goal.  Then after day five I hit a horrible realization.  The scale wasn’t going down.  No not in the least.  It was actually trending in the other direction.

I sat down and had a good pout before I let my engineer brain take over.  I had always lost on WW, but what was I missing here?  Unless my body was seriously wacked out, something with the system was wrong.  I bit the bullet and signed up for Weight Watchers again.  (Can I explain how desperate I was to lose this weight?)  I plopped down $60 for a three month online subscription.

Once I was again privy to their system (of beautiful equations), I compared what I was doing with MFP against the WW system.  Below is what I ate for my comparison day:

MFP told me this was 1,414 calories, well under my goal of 1520.   WW had given me a daily target of 27 points, with a weekly allowance of 49 extra points.  When I gave WW my diet for that day, it calculated 42 points!  For that day alone!!!  I was eating like this nearly everyday.  As I extrapolated, I realized that I would have used 294 WW points in a week eating this way.  WW was giving me a max of 239 points.  No wonder I was still gaining weight!

I realize that for my diet, WW’s multivariable approach (fat, protein, carbs, and fiber) for evaluating your diet works much better for me than just tracking calories.  Now that I switched, I can already tell the program is working.  I am making much better food choices by adding more fruits, veggies and protein into my diet, and my clothes are starting to fit better again.

Your weight loss journey may take you to a different solution, but mine has left me square in the arms of WW once again.

Thank you Mel! It appears I'll be checking out my local Weight Watchers office soon. 

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