Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I joined the gym...

I joined the gym, y'all.

You definitely already know this if we're Instagram friends, and I sort of hinted to it in my last post,  but I felt like I owed you guys a standalone post on this topic because it is definitely a huge deal for me.

In high school, I worked out every. single. day. I played sports and did cardio/weight training during the summers, so the gym was my second home. After I graduated, though, and the sports disappeared, so did my devotion to the gym. I began to hate working out (particularly as I gained more weight), and it was the last thing I ever wanted to do.

You may remember when I lost a lot of weight before I got pregnant that I up and decided one day to become a runner. So I trained for and ran a 5K. I had honestly grown to really enjoy it but injured my foot just before the race, so I was out for a month or so. And then I got pregnant and used my pregnancy as an excuse to stop working out altogether. 


Here we are, two years later, and I decided it was time to do the thing I've been dreading most of all. But I worried that if I started running again, I may fall off the wagon like I did before. I've been inspired by several women (Meg and Diana, as two examples) who started lifting heavy weights, and their bodies are transforming. I always liked lifting, and I figured I'd roll out of bed in the mornings more willingly if I was headed to the gym to lift.

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So I bought a membership to the gym down the road from my house, and I've been going faithfully for about three weeks now. That means nothing, obviously. It's not an ingrained habit yet, and I could totally quit tomorrow. 

But I don't think I will.

If you can believe it, I'm already seeing a difference in my arms and legs, and I feel stronger. (I'm probably not actually stronger, but the placebo effect is nice. Ha.)

The thing that was holding me back from taking the plunge was the idea of exercise cutting into the time I have with Grace and Micah. But I'm working it out so that I do two workouts a week in the mornings before they wake up. The 4:30 alarm is not fun, but I force myself to get out of bed. Once I do that, I know that I might as well get dressed and head to the gym. (There's usually no one else there, which is definitely creepy.) And then I do one other workout on Sunday nights after Grace goes to bed. Micah's usually watching football anyway, so I tell myself we're not really missing any quality time together. :)

In terms of the actual workouts I'm doing, I've been starting with a modified version of this HIIT (high-intensity interval training) treadmill workout:

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I bump the warm-up and cool down to 3.7, the fast walk/jog to 4.3, and then the sprint to 6.5/6.5/7.0. I also add in an extra cycle for a total of four sprints. I realize this is slow, and many of you would probably do this whole thing as a warmup, but I'm slow and out of shape, so this is tough for me.

 photo 47BEA3DB-8A76-4EE3-A42D-45AA4671F2FE.jpgToday I tried doing actual sprint cycles instead of the above. I did a 5-minute warmup and then a total of 15 sprints at 9.0 speed for 20 seconds apiece (I straddled the sides of the treadmill for 40 seconds in between each sprint). It kicked my butt, but I have no clue how many calories a workout like that burns. I literally just ordered a heart rate monitor watch (I went with this one) so I could make sure I'm in the optimal range for fat burning and make sure I do enough cardio to burn 250 calories or so.

After whatever cardio I do, I either do a legs or arm weights workout. I like this arm workout and this leg workout (I add weights), but I also like doing squats, leg press, seated leg press, the abductor/adductor, and essentially all of the arm machines, plus free weights. But I have no clue what I'm doing, so I won't go into detail quite yet. I'm very likely going to use a trainer for a couple of weeks so I can get a feel for what I should be doing.

And just so I'm really clear about this, I have no intention of making this weight loss/fitness journey an idol. I know I'm talking a lot about it. And I've seen many relationships fail when one partner becomes preoccupied with a lifestyle change and the other isn't. And none of you probably planned on reading a weight loss/fitness blog (though so many of you have sweetly reached out and encouraged me in my efforts, and you'll never know how much it has meant to me). I also know that whatever strength and/or dedication I can miraculously muster every time I step into the gym are not my own. They're His. Without Christ, I would have forever been stuck in the place I was a year ago.

Believe me, I know all these things.

My appearance and my health will still never be something that divert attention from the things in my life that really matter. I've just finally decided to bump them up above the things that don't.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Why I'm doing it...

Maybe it has never even occurred to you guys to wonder why I suddenly decided to change my life. 
Maybe you're all healthy people who have always eaten well and exercised consistently. And so maybe the fact that this whole journey has been so significant for me is completely baffling to you.

But maybe not.

I've always maintained that my ability to make healthy choices is controlled by a (metaphorical) light switch. When it's flipped on, I've got more self control than I know what to do with. And my willingness to make one good decision motivates me to make another, and another, until it eventually becomes a habit, and the decision isn't even really a decision anymore.

 photo 49912986-E5FD-43D7-B5F4-B1F330CD8FCA.jpgAnd when it's flipped off? Well, I have zero self control or motivation. I eat what I want, when I want. I crave sugary and salty things like it's my job, and I tell myself that it's okay to have them in whatever quantities I desire. Five donuts? Sure! A whole package of Girl Scouts Samoa cookies? Awesome! Exercise isn't even a blip on my radar.

So the question for me—and maybe for you—becomes this: how can I turn the light switch on again? What will motivate me to be better?

I wish I could answer that question for you. I obviously can't. You and you alone know what will compel you to make a real change.

But I can tell you what did it for me. I can tell you what made me put It Starts with Food in my Amazon basket and click "Place Your Order."

I had an unhealthy relationship with food.
Plain and simple. I loved it too much. I still do, to some extent. I don't have that thing that makes me want to put something delicious down because I am feeling satiated. If a little is good, more is even better. I needed to find a way to reset my brain in a healthy way. To help me learn to crave the things that are good for me and to break the ridiculous sugar cycle I was on.

I like a challenge.
I'm not really the kind of girl that is continually pushing myself to be better, though I wish I was. But I do occasionally like to put myself to the test. I wanted to see what I was capable of with respect to my health. Turns out, I'm capable of a lot more than I thought.

I want to live longer.
The way I was eating would have absolutely led to health problems for me down the road. I was already morbidly obese, tired all the time, and ridiculously out of shape. Who knows what might have happened if I had continued on that path.

My husband is really, really, ridiculously good looking.
I don't mean this the way it sounds. Micah has been the most supportive, incredible husband no matter what size I've been. But I have eyes and a mirror. And I have also heard, "Oh my gosh! Your husband is HOT!" more times than I can even count. It's definitely the truth, and I always love hearing it. But what I'd really love is for him to hear, "Oh my gosh! Your wife is HOT!" for once. Not for my sake (although it would be pretty fabulous to hear), but for his.

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I'd like to make it to one dress size and stay there.
It's expensive re-stocking my closet every time I lose/gain weight.

I've got to fit into my wedding dress by next August.

I want to set a good example for my daughter.
This was probably the most motivating thing for me. I want her to see her mom as healthy and strong and active. And I can't manufacture that impression; it has to come from her own observation. So digging in and becoming the real deal was the only real option.

I want to look good naked.
I know you feel me on this one.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

A day in the life of a working mom...

5:30 a.m.  The alarm goes off. I press snooze, of course.

5:39 a.m.  The alarm goes off again.  

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I lament the fact that I am not, in fact, heading to New York and remind myself to change the title of my alarm so as to avoid this disappointment in the future. I check emails and scroll through Instagram because I fell asleep at 8:30 last night and feel so off the grid. I hate and love technology.

5:55 a.m.  I crawl out of bed, wash my face, brush my teeth, throw my hair in a ponytail, and grab a work-appropriate maxi dress because I'm not in the mood for pants today. Micah tells me all about the most ridiculous dream he had the night before and I laugh at how creative he must subconsciously be (because he's definitely an engineer on the outside).

6:15 a.m.  I gather everything I need for breakfast and lunch and decide to make a smoothie because it sounds delicious.

I also get Grace's stuff together, including more diapers for daycare and an extra outfit because she used what was in her cubby yesterday after a blowout. I kiss Micah as he heads out the door with Grace's things in hand so he can put them in my car for me.

I make Grace a cup of milk and quietly open her door. As I'm digging through her drawers to find some shorts for her to wear today, she starts to stir. We sit and snuggle and drink milk and read books for a little while. She screams bloody murder when we have to stop and get dressed. I force her unruly hair into a half-pony and add a bow. And a kiss for good measure.

7:05 a.m.  We get loaded up in the car and head to school. 

Traffic sucks, so I get into the HOV lane to save some time. I sip my smoothie and throw on my makeup at stoplights.

7:50 a.m.  We pull up to Grace's daycare and I can't resist snapping a picture because she looks like such a big girl today. 

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I walk her into her classroom, sign her in, and try to set her down so I can leave.  Not happening at all.  We read a book together, but she's still not ready for me to go.  Her teacher sweetly picks her up so I can sneak away.  She catches me and pouts as I walk out, but I hide outside the doorway for a few seconds, and she giggles as I finally let myself walk away.  She will be all smiles when Micah picks her up this afternoon.

8:05 a.m.  I pull into the parking garage at work and remember that it's my secretary's birthday.  I'm so bad at things like this, so I walk straight to the ATM, withdraw some cash, and purchase a card at my building's only store.  

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I'll order her some cookies and ice cream from Tiff's Treats when I get to my desk.

8:15 a.m.  I throw my stuff on my desk, slice my hard-boiled eggs, cover them with Louisiana Hot Sauce (which I store in my desk because I'm obsessed), and eat the rest of my breakfast while I check emails and order Jan's cookies.  I'm really running behind today, so I finish quickly and get to work.

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12:15 p.m.  It's definitely time for lunch. A co-worker and I head to our favorite lunch spot in town. She orders nachos, and I dutifully order the shrimp salad (which is fabulous). I sneak in two chips.

1:25 p.m.  Back to work. I'm writing a quick brief today, and it's taking every ounce of willpower I have to stay focused long enough to write it. I'm so ridiculously scatterbrained.

4:45 p.m.  The brief's almost done, when I hear one of my work friends coming down the hall. She has been out of town, so we haven't gotten to process together the fact that our other good friend is leaving the firm. It has been a hard couple of days for both of us, but it's so good to be reminded of the wonderful relationships I have with the people I work with. It truly is a blessing, and we will greatly miss our musketeer.

5:15 p.m.  I grab my laptop and head out the door. On the way home, I call a girl who has been recommended as a replacement for our cleaning lady (who just up and moved to Waco without even telling me). We arrange to meet tomorrow to discuss logistics and details.

5:50 p.m.  I walk through the door and hear music playing.  Micah and Grace are having a dance party, and it's adorable. Micah already fed Grace her dinner, so I start pulling out the things I need to make what's on the menu tonight: shrimp salad. Ha. I grab the shrimp I cooked the night before, plus the dressing I made earlier in the week. I chop the tomatoes and avocado, throw it all together in the bowl, and tell Micah that dinner is served.

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For the first time in awhile, we eat dinner on the couch while Grace plays with her toys on the rug in front of us.

Grace and I all walk out and grab the mail, and then we come inside and read for a little while.

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I truly have no idea why she's wearing two bows.

6:50 p.m.  It's bath time! I run the water and wrestle Grace's clothes and shoes off. I plop her in the water and Micah comes in, and we both spend this time with our sweet girl.

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We try and do most things with her together because she prefers it that way. And so do we.

After bath time is over, we wrap her up in a fluffy towel and attempt to get her diaper and PJs on. We have to bribe her with a book.

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It's time to start winding down for bed. Micah brings in her milk, and I smile because I know it's my night to put her to sleep. We usually fight over who gets to do this part because it's so sweet.

We crawl into her rocker, and she drinks her milk. Then she wants to wrap her arms around me and snuggle.

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She points out my eyes and ears and nose and mouth. She talks and giggles, and I have to tell her several times to lay back down so that she'll snuggle up close again.

7:30 p.m.  I see her eyes getting heavy, so I pick her up and lay her down in her crib. I cover her with her favorite blanket (the one my mom made her) and rub her back for a minute. As she begins to close her eyes, I tiptoe out of the room.

I walk into the kitchen and see that Micah has finished picking up dinner and the debris from the tornado Grace created during their dance party. He's such a wonderful man, and I'm so thankful he's so willing to pick up my slack when work gets crazy on days like today.

I throw six eggs in a pot and start them to boil for breakfast the next couple of days. I start my computer up, just as Micah does the same. We don't usually have to work in the evenings, but tonight we're both in for another hour or so of clicking away at our computers. I finish my brief and send it to the partner I'm working with, while Micah does something water- or soil-related. When we finish, we finally get to sit together for a minute and talk about the day. Mine was hard. So was his.

8:50 p.m.  The bathtub beckons. So I run the water and grab the Pottery Barn catalog that has been sitting on the counter for the last few days. It was probably driving Micah crazy.

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I relish these moments. Being alone for just a little while, washing away the day. Micah comes in after a little while, and we laugh about the funny things Grace did that day. She's so hilarious. And dramatic.

9:30 p.m.  After I'm sufficiently relaxed and sleepy, I dry off, slip on an old t-shirt, comb out my hair, and go through my skincare routine. Micah's already in bed because we're old. I plug in my phone in. Then I crawl into bed, kiss Micah goodnight, and shut my eyes.

It was a good day.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A life update...

I've got a wicked case of writer's block, friends.  My inability to formulate any coherent thoughts might have something to do with the fact that I've spent the last three weeks pouring every shred of brilliance mediocrity I can muster into a brief for work.

But that's done now, and I'm still incapable of writing anything significant.  So how about a little life update, instead?

Gracie is still adorable (as you may have surmised). 

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She is getting the funniest little personality, too. She's this amazing combination of happy, sweet, silly, sensitive, and self-assured. She knows her own mind, but she is definitely a pleaser.  She's obsessed with shoes. She'll dance to just about anything. She's saying new words every day.

She still adores the occasional nap with Mommy.

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This age is just incredible.

Micah and I are doing great, too.

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I'm a full-fledged Paleo convert now, and I'm still really loving it. I strive to eat clean about 85% of the time and definitely still allow myself the occasional "cheats." But the amazing thing is that it doesn't feel like cheating anymore.  It's just... normal, regular, everyday life. I eat what I want, when I want. And because what I normally want to eat is clean, I feel ZERO guilt when what I want to eat are the chips and queso from my favorite Mexican restaurant or a cupcake (or three) on my birthday.

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The weight is still coming off, albeit more slowly than when I was doing the Whole30 (which is a much more strict version of the Paleo diet, and I HIGHLY recommend it as an intro to the Paleo lifestyle).  I'm down 20 pounds since June 22nd. And more than that, I'm feeling really good. Healthier than I've been in a really long time, and more energy than I know what to do with.

But I won't keep beating you guys over the head with this.  Just know that if you're looking to make a change, I'll be happy to be a cheerleader for you.  I really mean it.

Let's see... what else?

We're still hoping to make it to the Outer Banks, North Carolina sometime this fall, but my work schedule is making trip planning difficult.

We've been spending lots of time with family lately, which is my favorite.

Oh! And I'm working with a ridiculously talented blog designer on a new look for this space. I can't wait for you all to see what she's working on...

So that's what we've been up to: making the most of the end of summer and getting excited for what's to come.  What have you been up to?
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