2017 So Far: Constant Family Illnesses and Political Shitstorms

Oh, hi. Hello there. I am out of practice with blogging, but let’s see what happens here:

I was laboring under the illusion that I would suddenly have all kinds of freedom and autonomy when the twins started daycare in January and I don’t know whether to laugh or weep at how wrong I was. Parents, I know y’all know what I am taking about.

So far, the babies have experienced: norovirus (twice), RSV, Hand Foot and Mouth, and various respiratory viruses resulting in several hard-to-treat ear infections. (They now have ear tubes, so fingers crossed that pattern is over.) From the twins, I myself have caught the noro, RSV, and various colds, resulting in sinus infections, bronchitis, ear infections, and pneumonia. My husband has been similarly affected. It has not been pretty.

So basically, this is how daycare works: we pay daycare as much money as we pay to our mortgage every month, but much of the time the kids are too sick from GERMS THEY PICKED UP AT DAYCARE for them to actually GO TO DAYCARE.

ANYWAY.

We’ve had at least one child home sick every day this week. Fine. Not like we have jobs to go to or anything.

GOD.

So in addition to being sick and caring for sick people and barely — just barely — managing to perform my full-time job at a proficient and productive level, I have had time for … approximately nothing. It’s fine. Whatever.

I don’t even want to get into it, but also politics lately are sapping any emotional energy I may otherwise have had leftover. I’m sad and disappointed and anxious and suspcious and bubbling over with pure, white-hot, brain-melting RAGE.

I’M FINE.

In other news that has happened since the last time I posted:

I have been officially promoted at work to the highest rank possible for my position (to take effect when fall semester starts) and received a college-level teaching award. Not to brag, but I guess I’m pretty all right at my job.

I joined Biggest Blogging Loser, a friendly weight loss/good choices competition among my online lady friends and it helped me stay motivated to lose about 15 pounds from January-March. We just started a new round this week and I’m hoping to lose about 15 more, which will put me back at my pre-pregnancy weight. (The only problem being, of course, the constant family illnesses and political shitstorm are both driving me to comsume too much comfort food and wine.)

I’m back to hitting pretty decent paces on the run, which has me feeling good about my fitness and is a nice reminder that fitness and weight are not necessarily the same.

I have about 150 final exams to grade and then I will be done with spring semester. Deep breaths.

We are planning some summer travel, hopefully to include a visit to my friend on the gulf coast, a visit to in-laws in Iowa, and maybe a stop in St. Louis to see another friend on the way back.

Had to run an errand on campus, so these little bunnies got to run around on the grass for a while. ūüźįūüźį Lew + Ella. ūüíôūüíó

My children are gorgeous, amazing little maniacs who keep it dialed up to eleven at all times and I love them so much.

 

Fitness & Food Highlights: Week 8

Last week wasn’t the greatest in terms of meeting my workout goals, but I finished strong! I took some unplanned rest days in the middle of the week because my weird sore foot (I have, like, three distinct problems bothering me with my foot off and on, some of them since the twins were born, and I don’t want to get into describing it all, but it is occasionally totally fine and occasionally totally frustrating). By the end of the week, though, I was feeling better and had a great run on Saturday and a strength session on Sunday.

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Here’s what went down:

Monday: Rest Day. Would have worked out if I’d been on campus, but Labor Day threw it off.

Tuesday: Ran 3 miles (31:04). I did speed intervals on the treadmill and it felt great in terms of pace and fitness! My fast intervals were easily sub 9:00, which is pretty good for me at this point! I’d planned on making it four miles, though, but my sore toe problem forced me to stop earlier than I wanted.

Wednesday – Friday: Rest Days (foot issues)

Saturday: Ran 4 miles (44:42). This was my best outdoor run to date in terms of distance, pace, and attitude. The slightly cooler weather helps me SO MUCH. The last mile of this route is normally quite grueling and I have to take sad walking intervals, but on this day I had no problem powering through despite the hills and humidity. I even cranked up the pace to around 9:15 for the last quarter mile — totally surprised myself!

Sunday: Body Pump Class (60:00). Body Pump is my favorite group fitness class BY FAR. I have so much trouble motivating to do strength training on my own, but I love doing it in this type of setting. I’m not able to make any of the weekday classes due to scheduling, so I was just DELIGHTED to find out that they added one on Sunday afternoons and I can make it work. I got a little overzealous on the squat track, though, and my legs are sure complaining today — in a good way, though.

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Food Highlights: My husband’s perfect poached eggs, brie and grapes,¬†and all the prosecco we drank while celebrating some good news.

Goals for the Coming Week: Weigh in. I haven’t done that in a while and I always get nervous about it. Better just get it over with. Don’t exacerbate sore foot. Stay mindful of my eating plan and calorie goals (this has been tough lately).

Fitness & Food Highlights: Weeks 6-7

I didn’t get a chance to do my update last week, and now it’s almost Thursday of this week, so I’m very behind in my critical F&F posting. I’m sure you’re all on the edges of your seats. (Being very generous using the plural you, there.)

At any rate, I have had a good couple of weeks. I weighed in last week and am now down a total of 15 pounds since I started this mission. It feels good. My clothes are fitting better (some pants are quite loose now!) and I can see I’m making progress.

Here’s what went down the past couple of weeks:

Fitness Goals: I wanted to figure out a rough workout schedule for the semester, which I think I have done. So far, it’s gym cardio on Mondays, run on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and¬†Saturdays — at least once with the stroller– and more gym cardio on Sundays. The problem is that I am not going to be able to fit in a body pump class and I haven’t been pushing myself to do any other strength workouts, such as barre3. I need to get that back into the rotation. I’m going to try to figure that out this week.

Monday: Elliptical (30:00). A shorter workout because I had to get home in time to give my husband a ride to pick up his car from the shop. Still worth the effort to get moving!

Tuesday –¬†Friday:¬†Rest days due to back pain¬†and scheduling issues. Wednesdays and Fridays are rest days anyway, so I only mised two workouts this week.

Saturday: Ran 4 miles (48:09). It felt hot and grueling even though I went as early in the morning as I could manage. I took quite a few walking breaks in the last mile, but I got it done.

Sunday: Elliptical (45:00). My usual Sunday afternoon cardio at the gym while watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Monday: Elliptical (45:00). See above.

Tuesday:¬†Ran 2.8 miles (31:40). Evening run. I haven’t run in the evening in YEARS (I used to do this on the reg in college, but not since then). I really don’t mind it, except for the very full after-dinner feeling. It was a good way to fit in a workout on a busy day! Unfortunately, the days are getting shorter and I won’t have many more chances to run after the babies’ bedtime (due to it being dark too early).

Wednesday: Rest Day.

Thursday:¬†Ran 3 miles in the neighborhood with the stroller (36:54). Stroller runs in the summer heat and humidity and hills, y’all. They’re BRUTAL. But it got done.

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday:¬†Ran 4 miles (45:33). Best outdoor run I’ve had in quite some time. The weather was just a touch cooler and less humid on this day, and I could feel an immediate difference. I normally have to stop and walk in the last (hard, uphill) mile of this route, but not this time!

Sunday: Elliptical (45:00).

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Food Highlights: Food has involved quite a few things I normally would avoid while trying to lose weight. We had a friend over for pizza, for example, and he brought fancy gelato. Which I very much enjoyed. I had a couple of days of over-indulgent snacking for various reasons. But I also ate really well and mostly kept to my moderate plan. Highlights were the aforementioned pizza and gelato, my BBQ tofu salad, and this stuffed baked sweet potato with arugula and a poached egg. I am really enjoying arugula right now, dressed simply with olive oil, salt, and lemon juice. Recommended.

Goals for the Coming Week:¬†Work in a strength or barre3 session; do at least 3 cardio sessions; don’t exacerbate sore toe.

Fitness & Food Highlights: Week 4

This week was pretty successful! I did not manage to weigh in at all, so I don’t know if I had any results in the numbers, but my overall fitness and food goals fit in nicely with regular life, which is its own success. This is becoming a nice routine — and of course, fall semester is about to come along and throw a wrench in it! We’ll see how that goes.

Here’s how everything went down last week:

Fitness goals: Run ten miles (yes!), do at least one strength workout (yes!), workout at least 5 days (yes!)

Running? Again? Really?

My workout buddies. This week, it’s E who¬†is less than enthused about the early-morning stroller ride.¬†

Monday: Elliptical (45:00). Boring, but effective. I would always rather be running, but I am very prone to injury if I run more than three days per week, so here we are.

Tuesday:¬†Ran 3 miles with the twins in the jogging stroller (38:50). Last week I made it my goal to get to three miles with the stroller and I did! I had some long sections of walking (uphill), but the average pace wasn’t TOO terrible, considering the circumstances.

Wednesday: Rest Day.

Thursday: Ran 3 miles in the neighborhood (no stroller) (~36:00). This was just a hard run. I have been running mostly indoors (in the air conditioning) on a treadmill, so real outdoor running is still a bit rough right now. I expect that to improve.

Friday:¬†Barre3 video (30:00). Some day I’ll start doing the longer videos. This was not that day.

Saturday: Rest Day.

Sunday:¬†Ran 5 miles on the treadmill (54:00).¬†I beat last week’s 5-mile time by over a minute, so while it is still a much slower pace than I am used to, it is getting better.

Salad

Food Highlights: The above southwestern chopped salad with cilantro-lime-yogurt dressing, my chana masala, all the iced coffee.

Goals for the coming week: The week will be busy and stressful: classes are starting and we’re interviewing nannies. I hope to keep up with at least 4 total workouts, run at least 8 miles, and do at least one barre3 workout.

Food & Fitness Highlights: Week 2

Good morning, internet! I am here to report what I’ve been up to in the world of fitness and food over the past week. I’m experimenting with doing this type of post every Monday, so here goes!

Fitness and Exercise Goals this Week: Five workouts per week (yes!), run 10 miles per week (still no!), do at least two strength or barre3 workouts, i.e. one more than last week (yes!).

I keep posting that one of my goals has been to run ten miles in the week, and I keep not reaching it because I’m only running two days a week. I will not reach this goal unless I run three days per week, which is what I normally prefer to do anyway. The reason I’ve only been running twice is that I swapped out one of my normal run days for a spin class. That’ll change in the coming weeks, though, since the gym’s group fit schedule is changing with the end of the summer term. Look for 10-mile running weeks in the near future!

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My theme song for the week. Every now and then, Britney Spears is just the thing.

Monday: Inclined walking on the treadmill (30:00) and spin class (45:00).

Tuesday:¬†Barre3 video (40:00). This was my first time doing a 40-minute barre3 workout since the babies were born. Felt good! It’s a rush to try to get in a longer workout + shower during the babies’ morning nap, which is usually only an hour, but it happened on this day!

Wednesday: Rest Day.

Thursday:¬†Ran 4 miles on the treadmill (44:00). Treated this like a track workout and ran the first mile as a warmup, then 4×400 fast with 400 recoveries, then a mile cool down. “Fast” pace is 10:00/mile, currently. Could do better than¬†that!

Friday:¬†Body Pump class (60:00) + Elliptical (30:00). This was the last body pump class of the summer! Boo. Just as I was getting into a good groove, too. I use the university rec center gym, and they have limited hours and no group fitness classes during final exam week and the times between semesters — so groupfit won’t be available again until August 15th.

Saturday: Rest Day.

Sunday: Ran 3.65 miles on the¬†treadmill (40:00). I had intended to do four miles, but my foot was too sore to go on in the end. I’ve been having issues with my right foot since the babies were born, and it was just acting up quite a bit on this day. Not sure what that’s about and hoping it will just magically go away. Hmm.

Currently obsessed with: fresh dill

Food Highlights: Greek salad and these vaguely falafel-ish things I made, homemade pizza Saturday night, so much iced coffee.

This week I weighed myself at the gym on Thursday and I am VERY PLEASED to report a 5-lb loss over the past two weeks. In retrospect, when I weighed in two weeks ago, I must have been retaining a lot of water due to PMS (my cycle just came back after weaning, but I didn’t know that at the time). So this probably wasn’t “real” (fat) weight loss, but it sure is a relief to see the scale moving in the right direction again in accordance with the effort I’ve been putting in.

Let Me Tell You about my Fat Pants

Last week I received a big order of work clothes from Gap, including three pairs of dress pants I’d bought in a size larger than what I thought I needed. I really didn’t want to risk them being too tight and making me sad and uncomfortable, so I sized up. Well, they were still too tight. Unwearably tight. Infuriatingly tight. What the HELL.

I am currently still carrying all of the fat I put on during my pregnancy with the twins. I lost a little bit at one point, but for the most part I’ve been steadily maintaining and even occasionally gaining weight. I couldn’t cut¬†calories while breastfeeding, but now that I’ve weaned, I can. So I’ve been trying seriously to lose this pregnancy weight for the past month or so, but I haven’t seen a lot of results. It’s time to kick things into gear around here if I want to get back in shape and feel more like myself. Carrying around an extra ~40 pounds is a very noticeable discomfort and I am done with it. DONE.

While exercise is a big part of feeling better mentally and physically, exercise alone has never helped me lose weight. For me, I have to be very careful and conscious of what I eat. Left to my own instincts, I eat much more food than I really need — bigger portions, more often, and more high-calorie treats. If I’m paying closer attention, which I can do best with the help of a food-tracking app (I use Lose It!), I can eat much more appropriately.

I’ve been working hard on that and I’ve seen where I was getting most of those excessive calories and I’ve taken steps to start new habits. Eating lunch on campus was a big hit — the healthy-looking sandwiches and salads at the campus eateries are a lot more calorie dense than I’d thought, for one thing! So I studied the menus looking for the best choices and also started packing my own lunches some days. I also stocked up on fruit and vegetable snacks for the house so I could grab that instead of a granola bar or a huge piece of cheese. CW and I are collaborating on making some lower-calorie meals for dinners, too. So hopefully this will help!

I decided I’d also go back to posting a weekly fitness update with my week’s workouts and maybe a brief comment about some food highlights. Hopefully I can do this every Monday.

My workout buddies
Gratuitous picture of my workout buddies in the jogging stroller

Here’s what last week looked like:

Fitness and Exercise Goals: Five workouts per week (yes!), run 10 miles per week (no!), do at least one strength or barre3 workout (yes!).

Monday: Walked on the indoor track (~20:00) and spin class (45:00).

Tuesday: Barre3 video (30:00).

Wednesday: Rest Day.

Thursday: Ran 2 miles with the jogging stroller (26:00).

Friday: Elliptical (45:00).

Saturday: Rest Day.

Sunday: Ran 4 miles on the treadmill (~43:00).

Food Highlights: Fresh peaches from the farmers’ market, the return of fried eggs over kale for breakfast, CW’s vegan bolognese over shredded zucchini.

A pretty good week! I haven’t weighed myself recently, but maybe I will get back into regular weigh-ins soon? I do think it’s helpful feedback to see, but I don’t like to get into weighing myself too often. We’ll see.

I know I have a few friends out there who are also working on a fitness/training/weight loss goal – I hope your week was good, too!

Lumbering Along: A Postpartum Fitness Report

Saturday I ran three miles for the first time since the twins were born. The first time since early in my first trimester, actually. (I was still running when I got pregnant and only quit because I had both a small subchorionic hematoma and a huge post-ovulation ovarian cyst, so the doctors advised me not to exercise.) It felt both more difficult than I imagined and more satisfying to be back running what used to be an easy base/maintenance run for me.

When I started getting active again after the twins, I focused on some transverse abdominal work to help rehab my core (thanks to the always helpful advice of my friend Kathleen of Oh Baby!, who is a fitness expert — check out their videos if you want some great prenatal & postpartum fitness tips). Then I started walking. After a while, I threw in a block or so of running here and there, and damn, y’all, it felt SO WEIRD. My core still felt really weak, like there were no muscles there at all. My hip flexors felt weak and sore and otherwise just not right, to the extent that it felt difficult to lift my legs up. I felt like I was just flopping around out there. I also was so intensely focused on engaging my pelvic floor and transverse abs that I had to concentrate really, really hard. It felt a million miles away from the effortless, easy running I (felt I) had earned after years of work. Bodies, man.

Since those first awkward, floppy blocks, I slowly built back my time and distance. I started the Couch-to-5K running program as a way of giving myself some easy interval work. This program is a proven success as far as I’m concerned — it’s how I got running again in my early 30s after a long hiatus from health and fitness. I figured it surely could help now. The first four weeks of the program were great, but once I got to the point of doing run intervals of 3-5 minutes, I figured I was ready to take the reins myself. I started running straight 5:1 intervals around my very, very hilly neighborhood loop, which turned out to be a little over 2 miles total. Once I felt comfortable with that, I went to 10:1 intervals and then started dropping the one-minute walks as I felt ready. That got me up to 2 miles of straight running. Then I started adding distance: 2.5 miles, then 3. And here we are!

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On days when I don’t run, I might do a long stroller walk with the babies. Pushing a double stroller for 3 miles in my hilly neighborhood is a much tougher workout than you’d imagine — and it’s a good way to coax them into the afternoon nap they usually like to resist.

I’ve also been doing some barre3 online workouts, which I just love. So far I’ve only been doing the 30-minute videos, but I hope to work up to 40 or even 60 soon enough. These are great for me to do at home when the babies are napping (whenever I am so lucky!) and sometimes I can even manage it if they’re happily sitting in the swing & bouncy seat. I love that barre3 also has tons of 10 minute videos to work into my day if I can only get a little bit of time. It’s easy to just roll out the yoga mat and go — I don’t even need to change clothes, as leggings and a nursing tank are perfect for this workout. Bonus: two of the women in the postpartum “bounce back” workout are moms of twins — one woman’s twins were only 3 months old at the time of filming. If she can do it, so can I.

Afternoon Calisthenics
What’s this? An off-topic photo of the twins I am including purely on the basis of showing you them doing their daily workout? Guilty.

So fitness is going well — difficult but rewarding. It always feels great to get out there and get moving. Weight loss, however, is not happening. In fact, I have gained back 10 of the pounds I initially had lost, so that feels shitty. I’m now 35lbs above my pre-pregnancy weight, exactly where I was at my 5-weeks-postpartum checkup. Apparently this is a normal thing, though. The body wants to save energy for making milk, hormones are out of whack, what have you.

Nursing and pumping make me extremely hungry — there’s never a time during the day that I don’t feel hungry, even during night-time feedings. It’s torture. So I’m eating a lot, whenever I can. My meals are generally pretty healthy, and I do try to include healthy snacks, but I also still have this unshakeable sweet tooth leftover from pregnancy. I just want to stuff myself with sweets 24/7. Doughnuts, cookies, pie, candy, cake — you name it; I’m eating it. I have eaten two mini Twix bars while typing this paragraph. I’ll probably eat 6-8 more today. I bought a 2-pound bag of Swedish Fish on Friday and it’s half gone. It’s ugly.

I think part of it is the craving from pregnancy that turned into a habit and now I’m addicted to sugar. I think another part of it is that eating sweets during the day, especially when I’m home alone with the twins and busting my ass to get through the day, feels like a way of treating my self. TREAT YO SELF, I say, reaching for the fifth cookie of the day, you survived another rough nap time/synchronized crying meltdown/messy diaper/projectile spit-up. I also don’t often get the time for a lot of self care or, hell, even basic needs. I don’t get to shower every day, for example. I often forget to brush my teeth. I don’t get time for leisurely trips to the bathroom to take care of, ahem, business. But it only takes two seconds to stuff my face with sugar, so I guess I’m doing THAT instead. Yikes.

So anyway. I don’t plan to try cutting calories deliberately until E&L are at least 6 months old. I assume that cutting calories will cause at least some dip in my milk supply, and I’d like to keep providing as much milk as I can for the first 6 months. After that, I’ll reevaluate. Right now, I am planning on trying to tackle the sweets issue. Once these bags of candy are gone, I’ll refrain from buying more. I’ll try to stick to food with “good” calories as opposed to “empty” ones (with the exception of wine/beer because like hell I am giving up my nightly glass right now). I’ll still eat as much as I want, but just not as much candy as I want. The Twix might be gone by tomorrow. I still have a pound of Swedish Fish left, though, so that should last me until at least…Wednesday. After that time, be prepared to hear my bitter, candy-free wail ringing through the air. You heard it here first.