Baby Weight, be Gone (Take Five) Plus One, Plus Ten or Fifteen Pounds

photoAfter this post in March, Baby Weight, be Gone (Take Five) I went on to do exactly what I said I was going to do: I got myself back on a routine I could live with, and put my cravings and overindulging in check. I went back to exercise classes, I interval-trained on the treadmill, plugged in my favorite playlist and ran in the neighborhood, whether I felt like it or not.

By the time we went to Disney World on Spring Break in mid-April, I was feeling better about myself, inside and out. I even went for short runs every day on vacation so I could skip counting calories for the week and enjoy myself. That was a true test of my dedication, wasn’t it? I had changed my habits. I was doing it!

Then we came home.

Even with a beautiful New England spring unfolding, and summer on its way, it’s always kind of a letdown leaving my favorite travel destination and a break in routine. It was back to the day-to-day, where I was feeling torn between motherhood as I knew it and becoming a work-at-home mom finding my way back to my career. I was anxious about the next step in our lives: our twin girls, who are growing up too fast, starting full-day kindergarten in the fall. I couldn’t motivate myself. I was tired of the pressure. I just wanted to live in the moment, so I rolled with my moods from one day to the next, exercising some days and skipping it on other days in favor of Chinese take-out and three Cokes.

Instead of losing the 10 or 15 pounds I already needed to, I gained 10 or 15 more – while making plans for my first 10K in February 2014. Nope, I’m not kidding.

As I work on getting myself in check, again, and again, and Seriously, Not Again… I ask myself how I could let it happen. How many times have I been Right There, and fallen so completely off, even though I wasn’t being unreasonable in the first place? How, while I was paying attention, did I not only fail to lose weight, but gain even more, bringing me to a new-all time high (and low?) And is there a point to answering this question, or do I just keep moving forward?

Perhaps a more valid question would be: how the hell am I going to run six miles in seven weeks from THIS?! Yesterday, I got on the treadmill for a 20-minute interval run, and spent 20 minutes outside afterward, doubled over in a tank top and running skirt in 40-degree winter weather, waiting for the stars and black spots to clear. This morning, although I tried to fight with them, my legs wouldn’t run at all, so I gave in and walked because it was better than nothing, and definitely better than getting flung off the treadmill and breaking something on New Year’s Eve.

I’m trying to shrug off the urge to shame myself over not being where I wanted to be, and even worse, moving backwards. I’m picking up where I left off, because that sounds better than “starting over.” I’m trying to ignore that cranky voice in my head that’s saying, “Yeah, right. How long before you’re back to eating a piece of cake for breakfast, or drinking three glasses of wine instead of going to class, when you were already wearing your workout clothes? When – and how – will you screw it up again?”

But where will I be, if I listen? I like the way I feel after I run and work out. And once I get going, I like the way it feels to work toward something better, and to be on a routine.  I can keep doing what I’m doing, but I know I won’t be any happier or healthier, and this won’t magically undo itself, or become less work for me to undo.

So, I’m moving along, and keeping my goals simple: to finish this 10K, preferably on my feet, and to stay there over the weeks and months beyond it. I’m starting there, and – well, let me not get carried away. I’ll keep you posted.

Happy, Healthy 2014 to you and your loved ones, and best of luck to you in all you do!

Baby Weight, be Gone (Take Five)

IMG_1109My twin daughters turned five last month, and while we celebrated that milestone and how far we’ve come Hope, Dreams and a Miracle. Times Two. (Plus Five Years) I also marked something else. After a couple months of busyness, snow days, holidays, a number of adjustments and general multitasking, my scale announced that I’d reached the weight I was when I was about to deliver the girls. Trust me, it doesn’t look quite so cute.

I’ve been up and down, from within reach of my pre-pregnancy weight to here. From the ever-fleeting I-can-almost-wear-anything-in-my-closet to all-I-can-wear-is-sweats-and-pajamas. I work out. And then I eat half a package of jellybeans, a couple of Lindt truffles and drink three glasses of wine. On a weeknight. Yes, I know exactly how I got here. The question, really, is why I keep torturing myself.

Three years ago, I started running. I lost some weight. Then it got cold outside and I got annoyed with my (lack of) speed, and I stopped. Two years ago, I did an awesome spring training program at the studio I work out at. I lost weight, got in shape and wore a bathing suit comfortably for half the summer. Then I got lazy. And frustrated.

Although it’s important for moms to make time for themselves and especially their health, the reality for me is that I just couldn’t stay committed. I’d do it, love it, see results, then relax and want to cross it off my to-do list before I drowned myself in the juggling act. I know it doesn’t work that way, but in the grand scheme of multitasking, the first thing to go has always been my “me” time. My exercise. My outlet. And yes, my health.

Not that it’s really helped me do anything else better. In fact, I’m certain I waste more time thinking about how bad I feel than it would take to fit a good workout into my day. So, why is it so HARD?

Because my history is on infinite repeat. A healthy weight is never something I’ve achieved while enjoying a normal, consistent day-to-day routine. As a nervous kid, my mom often had to bribe me to eat. Usually with Entenmann’s marshmallow-iced devil’s food cake, and I’d eat it for breakfast. I was thin, yes, but not exactly a picture of health. Which, I’m finally learning, counts far more than the number on the scale, no matter where you are on the weight spectrum.

As an adult, the only times I’ve ever liked the way my body looked is when I was overdoing, stressing or otherwise a nervous wreck over something. I’d get on the scale after a straight two weeks of migraines, nausea and inability to function, and relish in the number on the scale. Sick, I know. A new low, in more ways than one. I’m not proud of it. Especially now, as a mother of girls.

I’m finally confronting an unpleasant truth about myself: I’ve never had a healthy relationship with food. And that’s why nothing I do works. No matter how much I’ve tried to work out, or how much I enjoyed what I was doing, my head has never been in the right place. It was all or nothing. Under-eating or overeating, courtesy of whatever life kicked my way. I lost control and I’m terrified I won’t be able to find it again.

But I’m working on it, slowly. Part of my inspiration is my daughters, who already understand that if they don’t have fruit with breakfast, it’ll be their snack. We’ve been discussing balanced nutrition since they were old enough to talk. They tell me – and stop eating – when they’re full, run with me, and cheer me on when I’m on the treadmill, in between fighting over the correct lyrics to Kip Moore’s “Beer Money.” (Must edit my playlist.) I’ve been running and working out at home five to six days a week, at whatever time of the day I can fit it in, and practicing moderation and portion control. (Note: a bag of jellybeans is neither a serving nor what nutritionists mean when they say to “add color” to your diet.)

I’m learning and relearning old lessons, and trying to be patient with myself and not throw it all to the wind if I have a bad day – or a bad week. I’m trying to be realistic, and to do what works with the demands of the day-to-day. I owe it to myself (and my girls) to find a healthy balance in my life, and in my own heart. And with any luck, before long, I’ll be able to trade my sweat pants for my favorite pair of jeans. Hopefully, I’m on the right track to doing it for good this time.

I Love Food. I Just Wish it Would Prepare Itself.

IMG_0705I have a confession. Last week, I cooked dinner five nights in a row, and I’m pretty sure it was the first time that’s happened since – um, I have no idea when.

On the nights I don’t plan, for one reason or another, we alternate between take-out, prepared stuff from the grocery store and something from the pantry in a box or a can. Sometimes out of boredom and desperation to keep from having the “I-don’t-know, what-do-you-want-to-do, you-know-what-the-options-are” conversation AGAIN, my husband will whip something up when he gets home from work. (Insert shame.)

We’ve been going through this cycle since our twin daughters were born, when we lived mostly on pizza and salad from a restaurant down the street. (That’s around the time when I started accumulating laundry four basketfuls at a time, too.)

It’s not that I can’t cook. (It’d be a crime: I’m Italian.) Most of the dishes I can do well involve pasta or wine. Chicken marsala over rigatoni. Broccolini, tomatoes and sausage in a white wine sauce over-well, you get the idea. (At least penne with vodka sauce and meatballs is a slight variation.) I can whip up pineapple-mango salsa or guacamole; I can even make shrimp and lobster ceviche (one of S’s favorites)! I love making side dishes and appetizers. Baking is one of my guilty pleasures: from pine nut cookies to creme brulee to cake pops decorated for every occasion. But while I manage to multitask everywhere else, when it comes to the kitchen, most days I can’t seem to find the time, patience or motivation to put an entire meal together.

In fact, most days pass by before I can wonder what to do first. I’m occupied with my daughters and behind on work and cleaning, and the thought of tackling one more thing with enthusiasm is just laughable. Between preparing breakfast and lunch and snacks in between, wiping, vacuuming and all of that, the thought of going back in the kitchen makes me want to take a nap.

Oh. Right. We still kind of have to eat. So, I rack my brain.

I’m bored with soup. I love salad, but it takes too long to wash and dry lettuce and all the other stuff. I’m fairly certain the lettuce spinner is just a joke. It spins and spins and – what the hell, the stupid lettuce is still wet! (Yes, I dump out the water.)  And OH

MY

GOD!

All that cleaning… Cutting boards, knives, prep bowls, serving bowls, whisks, tongs, baking sheets, pots and pans! Yes, I have a dishwasher. I’d pretend not to notice that half of it shouldn’t go in and take my chances, but my husband would kill me.

He’s the Master Chef in our house, cooking up perfectly marinated/seasoned/cooked meat, seafood and vegetables – on the grill, in the oven or on the stove. He makes a rib roast with wine sauce or linguini and clams (which also happens to have wine in it) look effortless. Flawless. It tastes amazing, too, and he doesn’t even follow recipes. He can throw together a restaurant-quality meal after working a ten-hour day faster than I can gather the necessities to boil water.

Darn right, I’m jealous!

I decided not to make any New Year’s resolutions this year. But in my general quest for balance, better time management and good health, trying to be a little more domestic seemed like a good idea for all of us. I’m no goddess, but I’m learning that I really don’t need to be. With a full life outside of the kitchen, this may never be my favorite way to spend time. Still, planning and preparing meals does establish a much-needed weeknight routine around here. I figure as long as I keep things relatively simple, I’ll spend less time cooking than dreading the Dinner Conversation.

And best of all, I made a meal on Tuesday that the Master Chef asked for again – get this – on Friday. That was kind of cool.