Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Weight-loss vs. Fitness

I have a confession.  My favorite part of going to the gym and working out is ogling other people.  Seriously.  I'm not ogling in a sexual-kind-of-way though.  And I don't focus on one gender or the other.  I just find it fascinating to watch a well-developed body exercise.  The best part of watching those sleek, incredible bodies move is knowing that if I keep on the course that I've set for myself, I may eventually have one of those sleek, incredible bodies myself!  And then I'll get to be ogled too!  Wait a minute...I'm not sure I like that idea.  Hmmm....might have to think about that one some more!

My family's Biggest Loser challenge ends on April 8th.  I have no doubt that I'm too far away to win it.  My weight bumped back up a few pounds and has held steady there for the last month.  I'm hovering just under 230.  I have a theory...I don't think our bodies are all that great at multi-tasking.  I think maybe my body goes through cycles.  Right now, I'm in a muscle-building cycle.  I crave protein and have more of an appetite.  My weight is staying steady and not dipping down much.  But I am building more muscle and my clothes are definitely fitting differently.  My new jeans that I just bought a couple weeks ago don't fit all that well in the waist anymore.  I have a few extra inches there now and have to keep pulling the damn things back up before I start flashing a "plumber's crack".  Speaking of which, has anyone seen the new ruched panties from Victoria's Secret?  Isn't it bad enough that we see butt-cleavage already?  Now people are making it look even more like cleavage!

Anyway, back to the point....I'm not going to be the Biggest Loser in my family.  And that's okay.  Know why?  Because even if I'm not the biggest loser, I can still manage to get into the gym and work my ass off for an hour or more!  The last couple of days, I've been adding in some new exercise stuff.  I've discovered a machine that simulates roller-blading/ice-skating kind of movements.  It works my muscles differently.  So I've been doing 15 minutes on the new machine and then switching over to the hard-core, ass-kicker elliptical.  Based on what the machines are telling me, I burn about 1300-1400 calories during the time I'm on exercising!  Seriously hard-core!  Six months ago, 10 minutes on an elliptical would have made me feel like I was having a heart attack and would have left me sore for days.  Now, I'm barely even sore when I'm finished and it takes more than an hour to make my muscles even feel weary!  That's an incredible thing!  So what if I'm not the biggest loser?  I'm definitely in much better shape than I was in before I started all this and I have pride in my body.  I'm in awe of what my body is capable of doing!

As I mentioned above, I'm weighing in around 230 lbs right now.  I haven't looked at the scale in a couple of weeks, so I don't know just how accurate that is, but I don't feel like I've dropped much since then.  I met a woman at the gym the other day.  She was really pretty, sweet, friendly.  We started talking when she asked me about my bottle of water (I'm a huge fan of Smart Water's 1L bottles, but they're expensive.  Found the same thing at Trader Joe's in TJs brand for half the price!).  Turns out this amazing woman used to weigh 250.  She's lost 70 and now weighs 180.  That is phenomenal!  I was in awe of her and wanted to get across to her how proud of herself she should be for accomplishing that.  But it flew right by her.  She said she's been stuck at 180 for months and it's just not budging.  You know what the major difference is between her and me?  It's not our weights or our positions in our journeys.  It's the journey that we've chosen to take and the resulting emotions and sense of accomplishment.  We're on very similar journeys.  Mine is a journey for fitness and will never end.  Hers is a journey for weight loss and it ends when she reaches her ideal weight.  If she reaches her ideal weight.  I'm not saying one is bad and the other is good.  Any journey that gets you moving towards a healthier life is an excellent thing.  I think the major difference between the two journeys is where our focus lies.  I imagine weight-loss being like having tunnel-vision.  You look down the path and see that ideal number and you focus on that and how far you are from accomplishing that.  For myself in my own fitness journey, I don't focus on the end because it's never going to end.  It's one of those till-death-do-us-part things.  I can't focus on that kind of end!  So, I focus on what I can see.  I focus on what my body is capable of doing.  Instead of seeing the number on the scale and calculating how far it is from the ideal, I see the amount of work my body was able to do.  I see the slope from my back to my rear-end and how it's now smooth instead of lumpy.  I see the fact that it no longer looks like I have three sets of boobs because of the rolls around my tummy.  I see that my triple-chin has turned into a much more attractive double.  I know, it may not sound beautiful and wonderful to others, but it sounds fantastic to me!  I'm proud of myself and how far I've come.  I'm proud of what my body is capable of doing.  The biggest difference between this amazing woman who lost 70 lbs and me is happiness.  I'm happy with my body and I know it's going to keep on changing.  I don't look at the scale because it doesn't really matter.  Focusing on the scale makes it so much harder to see all the good things that are surrounding you, all the changes you're making, and all the accomplishments you've had so far.  It's like being in a forest and focusing on one single tree in the distance.  You miss all the beautiful sights and sounds around you!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Is it a modesty thing?

I have a problem.  Really, it's a huge pet-peeve of mine.  It bothers me, drives me nearly insane, and makes me batty.  I've been searching the stores for months.  Lily is out-growing her swimsuits and things are getting a bit tight.  She needs some new ones.  But I can't find any that I'd want to put on her!  They're either ugly or they're too skimpy!  Why are these the only choices for our children?  I really want to know!  I found this image you're seeing off to the right.  Cute?  Or do you find it disturbing?  If you find it cute, you can purchase this kind of bikini for your little one at Babi-kini.  I'm hoping I'm not going to get into trouble for stealing their image to show to you here. Really, I was just trying to find one that would get my point across.  You see, I have a major issue with what you see in this picture.  I don't judge others for how they choose to dress their own children and really, it's up to us each as mothers and parents to choose whatever style we want to outfit our babies in until they're old enough to express their opinions on the matter.  But....I would not be caught in any set of circumstances putting my child into the kind of outfit you see above.  It violates my sense of what is proper, what is appropriate.  For those who think it's perfectly fine or cute, then go ahead and do it.  I can't bring myself to think this is cute though.  It's not that I'm against bikinis.  I wore one myself when I was about 14-15 years old.  But it wasn't nearly as skimpy as what you see above.  Putting on pieces of fabric held together by little more than dental floss?  I'm just not sure about that.  For myself or for my little girl.  And really, those three words are where my problem is...MY LITTLE GIRL.  She's not even four years old.  She's teeny-tiny and adorable.  Cuter than cute and the most beautiful little thing I've ever seen.  But I can not and will not put her in a string bikini.  It's my personal view of what should be allowed.  But, I want to know...why aren't there more options out there for a parent like me?  I want my child covered.  I don't want to have to worry about a suit shifting and allowing a nipple to peak out.  I don't want to have to worry that I might have missed a spot with the sunscreen and she'll suffer a burnt belly-button because of it.  

The good news...I finally found what I was looking for.  An adorable aqua tankini with shiny little seahorses printed on it.  I just happened to check in at a Lands End store on an off-chance that they would have something.  What I found was a whole lot of somethings!  Adorable little one-piece swimsuits, rash guards, and tankinis.  The modest-conscious options far-outnumbered the skimpy little things in the store and I was finally happy.  I don't get anything for mentioning that here, but I just thought I'd put it out there in case there are others who are looking for the kinds of swimwear that actually cover more than a quarter-sized area!

And to cleanse your minds after seeing the disturbing image above, some of my adorable little, modest-minded girl in all her water-fun glory:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A fun story...

First, isn't this just the sweetest little thing you've ever seen:

He's a little devil all day long, driving me crazy and getting into anything and everything.  Today, he poured almost an entire bottle of New Skin out on his hands.  Ick!  And I found this waiting for me when I went to put on my slippers:

Squished strawberry.  I decided it wasn't worth saving.  For as much trouble as Leo is during the day, he looks equally innocent at night, when he sleeps.  He's got the most beautiful, adorable, little face!  I know if he isn't hit by horrible acne or anything like that, we're going to have our hands full when he's a teenager.  He hates getting into trouble and whenever we're upset with him for something he's done, he comes up with enormous crocodile-tears and says, "Kiss-hug.  I want kiss-hug."  You're not allowed to say no to that, no matter how upset with him you might be.  He crawls into your lap, grabs your face, and plants one on your lips.  Honestly, by that time, we're usually too busy laughing about how cute he is!

Other than Leo's messes and the two-hour-countdown that is Lily's d-care (and my own), I've also been busy with the gym.  My weight is fluctuating a bit.  I've noticed that it jumps up a few pounds every now and then and the bump up is usually followed by a plummet in the numbers.  I'm still working out a lot.  My goal is 5 times a week, minimum.  We've been sick with colds and pinkeye and have had to miss some days at the gym for that.  Overall though, I'm doing good with it still.  I'm burning close to 1000 calories each time I go, listening to my body and taking it easier when I need to or hitting it harder when I feel up to it.  I'm increasing my water consumption (FYI...Crystal Light Natural Cherry Pomegranate is DIVINE!), trying to eat healthy, and just generally getting through the days.  My wonderful husband encouraged me to purchase a new bike.  I used to ride all the time when I was a teenager and we lived in a more rural area.  I'm hoping to get back into riding.  I picked out a Novara Mia from REI and we picked up a new bike trailer to attach to it so I can start taking the kids for rides as soon as the snow starts to melt.  I'm hoping that's soon!

On to the story!  My husband turns 34 tomorrow.  I get to call him old for exactly 10 days before I join him at 34.  We just passed the 11th anniversary of our first date and since this time of year always brings back those memories of how we met and fell in love, I thought I'd share the story with you.  Hopefully I can do it some justice!

We met in February, a few weeks before we went on our first date.  I was a student at the University of Minnesota and was honestly hating it.  It was large and impersonal and I had a hard time meeting anyone there.  So I joined a sorority.  Through the sorority, I met a few frat boys.  One of my sorority sisters was dating a member of the IT-geek-fraternity.  One of my husband's friends from high school was an IT-geek member.  We just happened to meet up at a party one night.  Being the geek-frat, the parties were pretty tame.  I was usually the designated sober-sister, by choice.  I remember seeing him across the room, talking to his friends.  He had these gorgeous, light blue eyes, a single enormous dimple, and I wanted to meet him!  Isn't he adorable?

I made a comment to his friend about introducing them all to us.  Now, let me just make something clear....even then, I knew my sorority sisters were a whole lot cuter than me.  One of them was this short, lush version of Snow White...dark hair, blue eyes, red lips, and cuter than cute.  I was surrounded by gorgeous blondes and brunettes and redheads.  But for some reason, once we were introduced, he spent an hour talking to just me! I couldn't believe it.  And then I got called away to check on one of my sisters.  Luckily, the fraternity had a small parking lot.  My car was blocking in his truck and they had to seek me out a little bit later so I could move it and he and an additional non-frat friend could get home.  As I was heading back inside, he stopped me to ask for my number.  Neither of us had pen or paper, so I gave him the sorority house number because it was easy to remember....331-DATE.  Yup, by a fluke coincidence, our house number worked out to that.  Super-easy to remember, right?  But no wonder it took him 2 weeks to call me!

March 12th is the anniversary of our first date.  He happened to be home on spring break and we met up at the fraternity again the night before.  He asked me out.  I said yes.  Our first date was a lovely trip to Perkins, where we talked in between the waitress badgering us into ordering a blueberry muffin.  We followed it up by heading back to the sorority and watching a bit of a movie (and kissing a bit!) on the couch in the common room.  The next night, we went out again.  And the third night, he asked me if I'd go to his friend's wedding with October!  By the end of the first week, we were head-over-heels for each other.  He was the first to say it out loud.  But I tease him....after that first date, I went up to one of my closest sister's rooms and told her I thought I was in love.  He was amazing.  Sweet and kind and wonderful.  I knew I was lucky to have found him.

Tomorrow, I'm going to wake up with the sure knowledge that the world is a much more beautiful, much brighter, much happier and worthwhile place because of a man who was born 34 years ago!

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Hello, blog-friends.  It's been a while, hasn't it?  I have so many thoughts circling around in my head, so many issues that I'm thinking about.  And yet, I've put off coming back.  Partly because I'm overwhelmed by all the ideas and thoughts and issues.  But I'm starting to realize that there's one issue, one problem that is weighing on me so much more than any of the others:  It's been almost an entire year since my family last attended church.  I miss it. My spirit needs church.  My mind needs it.  But it's complicated.

My husband and I bought our home, in the suburb that he grew up in, just over five years ago.  We were just beginning to plan our wedding and were looking for a church that we could join, where we would feel welcomed and where we could raise our family with faith in our lives.  It was not easy to find that.  We tried several.  We went to the church that my husband had been raised in.  They hugged us when we walked in the door, handed us programs.  And proceeded to hug us again and again.  Ummmm....creepy?  We went to a Lutheran church that several of my co-workers were members of.  The pastor gave a sermon about how we need to "fight against the liberals who are destroying the moral fabric of our country".  Yikes!  My husband and I consider ourselves liberals.  We went to an Evangelical Lutheran church just down the road from our home.  It was Senior Sunday and the service was given by the students who would be graduating high school in the spring.  We didn't get the right vibe.  I decided to schedule a meeting with a pastor from each of the two Lutheran churches.  The first meeting went okay, but it wasn't any kind of WOW.  The second meeting was a different story.  We met with Pastor R.  He was young.  Honestly, he looked like he was about 12, but really, must have been about 30.  He was married to a lawyer who had run for political office (on the Democratic ticket) in the most recent election.  He was GENUINE!  He believed in what he was saying about God, he believed wholly and completely that his calling in life was to be a pastor.  We felt an instant connection with him.  We felt pulled towards God through him.  We loved him.  We joined his church.

Sounds great, right?  Well, here's the complicated part.  Pastor R was an associate pastor.  His fellow associate was Pastor Jan, an woman in her late 50s-early 60s, who was nice enough, but never remembered our names or faces.  There was a member of the church who was in the process of earning his pastoral degree through the seminary.  Just over two years ago, he graduated with his degree and the church hired him on as the pastor in charge of family ministries.  He became Pastor J.  Unfortunately, the church did not need two young male pastors, right?  Politics played it's part and the church board did whatever they did and eventually, Pastor R left the church to become the senior pastor at a different Lutheran church, just a few miles from our home.

More husband and I were married in SPLChurch.  I was baptized there.  My children were baptized there.  It's a beautiful church and we're familiar with the buildings, the grounds, the routines.  We didn't connect with many people there, but we did connect to the church.  My husband made more connections to the church than I did as he was asked to help them with some website updating and things.  I didn't connect to the church nearly as much as I felt connected to the church through Pastor R.  Does that make sense?  I felt inspired by him.  He made us believe that it was okay to not be perfect, just so long as we tried our best and put our lives in God's hands.  I never felt that connection with Pastor J.  In fact, to be quite honest, I was repelled by a few things that Pastor J had said.  Perhaps the most significant was something that he stated during baptism class before we had Leo baptized.  He stated that baptism wasn't anything magical or amazing for our children.  He didn't think there was any point in baptizing our children so young since they wouldn't remember it.  The only point was to satisfy ourselves.  I still want to cry over that statement.  To me, there is something incredibly profound and magical in receiving the rite of baptism, regardless of the age at which you receive it.  Perhaps he didn't mean it exactly as I took it, but it still damaged my view of him as a pastor and a man of Faith.

Here's the dilemma; my husband would be happy to continue attending services at SPLChurch.  For me, I feel like my connection to the church was severed, cut clean through, when Pastor R left.  Pastor R isn't far away and we could attend his church without much trouble.  In fact, his new church is one that I know a few of the members at and would be happy to attend church with them.  My husband doesn't see things the same way.  He doesn't know anyone at the new church and he feels that since we were married and had the kids baptized in the old church, we should just attend there and wait to see who they hire as a senior pastor.  I'm just not sure that I can do it.  And so we've been stuck in this dilemma for nearly a year.  No decision has been made and we're just missing out on church.  I need church.  I need the boost it gives my spirit, the reassurance that it gives that there are good things out there.  I need the reminder to put things in God's hands and trust him to lead me through the challenges that life throws my way.  I want my children to go to church, even if it's just to play in the nursery.  But I don't know how to settle this difference with my husband.  I don't know how to just give in and go back to our old church.  Which is more important, the connection to a spiritual place or the connection to a spiritual person?  I just can't figure it out and I don't know what to do...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Who's driving?

Every weekend, the same thing happens in my home.  My husband is super-amazing and incredibly wonderful.  He lets me sleep in nearly every Saturday and Sunday.  I always intend to let him sleep in, but by the time I surface from sleep enough to register that the kids are awake, he's already out the door of our bedroom with Leo in his arms.  So I sink back into sleep and fall deeper than I'm able to sleep during the night.  It's not easy sleeping in a bed with a snoring husband and a squirming toddler.  So I sleep and take advantage of the incredible gift that my husband gives me.  Seriously, sleep is the absolute most precious commodity in my home! A few extra hours is just an amazing thing, isn't it?  But there's a problem with this amazing gift my husband gives the time I wake up for the day, he's anxious and crabby and desperate to get out of the house.  You see, his anxiety is telling him that he needs to do something productive.  He's tired of sitting around and "doing nothing", even if he's actually spending quality time with the kids and bonding with them in meaningful ways.  He doesn't see that.  He sees the tasks he wants to do, the things he wants to get done, the trip to the gym and the household chores that can't be done with kids in tow.  And so when I come out of the nearly comatose state of the perpetually sleep-deprived and I surface enough to emerge from the bedroom, my husband is crabby and irritable.  And I always end up feeling guilty.  That incredibly precious gift my husband gave me is like a beautiful, perfect seashell.  But before you can pick it up and fully appreciate how perfect and amazing it is, a wave of guilt rushes in and sweeps it away.  It's not really gone, just buried underneath the waves.  My husband wonders why I don't show more appreciation for that incredible gift.  It's frustrating for us both.  I want to show appreciation for it, but I'm too busy apologizing for sleeping so long, for holding up the whole family's weekend.

Here's the problem, as I see it....when I get up and my husband is irritable and his behavior towards the kids and me is irritable, he's letting his anxiety drive his behavior.  He's not in the driver's seat, the anxiety is.  I have this problem too.  I'm constantly struggling to force my depression out of the driver's seat so I can take the wheel.  And I've been guilty in the past of letting diabetes have the wheel too.  I didn't exercise because I didn't want to deal with the subsequent lows.  I let diabetes dictate my activity level, in a very bad way.  I've met a few other diabetics who've had this problem too.  We let a fear of lows stop us from truly living, from being in control.  We fear losing control of our blood sugars.  Isn't it funny how the fear of losing control results in us not being in control?

I've been trying to get this point across to my husband and to myself as well.  This idea that we both need to be in constant awareness of our behaviors, our moods, and our degree of control over our behaviors and moods.  It's so easy to give in to the urge to let depression or anxiety or diabetes be in control, to let our conditions drive our behaviors and moods.  But it's such a destructive thing to do.  Depression and anxiety....they're negative in their very natures.  I know my husband sometimes sees his anxiety as a good thing, a motivator and a driving force.  But when it comes down to it, if we don't keep those things strongly in check and we let them take the lead, they destroy what we love.  It's a constant struggle to keep them in check, keep them from overwhelming us and from damaging what we value most.  We need to come up with a gentle, but effective way of reminding each other to keep things in check.  Some way to make the other person stop, take a breath, and resume control of the wheel.  So....who's driving?