Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Health Update: Perspective

I feel like I owe myself (and you, if you’re a faithful reader :)) an update on my health journey.  No pictures this time… I can only subject you to so many shots of me in workout clothes ;).  Most of my past updates have been cheery and optimistic and this one may veer more toward reality.  Don’t get me wrong, I am still happy with my progress and feeling good about how things are going, but I’ve recently had a few moments (or longer) of frustration. 

I’ve been working out with my trainer now for two months.  The workouts have definitely gotten more intense and I can tell a difference in my strength.  There is another lady who trains at the same time as me, with a different trainer.  If I had to guess, I’d say she’s about my age or maybe a couple years younger.  We often are working out right next to each other.  With my competitive nature, it’s hard to ignore her and not watch what she’s doing.  While I am doing push ups on my knees, she is doing them in an inverted position with her feet up on a box.  That’s just one example, but you get the picture.  Honestly, this brought me to tears earlier this week.  Now I know that I had open-heart surgery in January and a baby shortly before that.  I also hadn’t worked out in over a year.  BUT…seeing her made me feel like a lazy lump (if I’m being honest).  After a few minutes of feeling sorry for myself, I thought back to my first workout after surgery.  I could not do one pushup on a table, let alone think about doing it on the floor.  I’m routinely doing multiple sets of 15 now.  I also started going to my favorite class at the gym again last week.  It’s a dance/zumba class that allows me to relive my college dancing days…minus the liquid courage.  It’s a high energy, high impact class and I’ve now survived (thrived even) it twice.  While I still want to wear a shirt to the gym that says, “I just had open heart surgery,” I am trying to keep perspective and focus on my own progress and myself. 

The other minor setback came while getting ready for a night out last weekend.  My wardrobe consists of a small amount of clothes that fit right now and the rest is either too big or too small.  I’ve been holding out on buying anything new in hopes of fitting into the “too small” ones soon.  I was hoping that would happen Saturday night, but nope…not yet.  I’m pretty sure most women, and maybe even men, can relate to how it feels to try something on and have it not fit or not look good, especially when it used to fit well.  Frustration tops that feeling list, followed closely by sadness and disappointment.  I’d like to say I have a positive twist on this one, but it really just sucked.  I know I just have to be patient and keep at it, but waiting has never been my strong suit.  To not end this paragraph on a bad note, it was a nice night out and I enjoyed my first beer in a looong time. 

After writing this out and thinking about how I’ve dealt with these setbacks, I know I am making progress.  Not just in the health department but my resilience in general.  Each day, being active and eating well feels more like just what I do rather than something I’m trying to achieve.  I can’t expect to go from zero to fit in such a short period of time (but wouldn’t that be nice).  But I’m sure I’ll be keeping up with that girl and shopping in my own closet in no time.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Fear Not...

Happy Monday!  I hope you had a nice weekend.  We went to the park yesterday and walked a 3-mile loop (Aiden ran the ENTIRE time, luckily we have long legs and only had to jog here and there) and ended with a trip to the playground.  Aiden likes going down slides, but prefers that I go up with him the first few times, so I did my fair share of climbing and sliding.  At one point, I decided to try a short cut and climb up these discs that were a little wobbly.  Now before my next statement, let me preface that this was a “big kid” playground and it was pretty high (really, it was!).  So I started to climb and when I got to the top, I looked down.  My heart started racing and I was full blown scared.  I quickly, and carefully, climbed back down and kept my feet closer to the ground the rest of the time.  This may (ok, does) classify me as a wimp, but it got me thinking about fear. 

I love Sex and the City and one of my favorite quotes is this:

“When you're young, your whole life is about the pursuit of fun. Then, you grow up and learn to be cautious. You could break a bone or a heart. You look before you leap and sometimes you don't leap at all because there's not always someone there to catch you. And in life, there's no safety net. When did it stop being fun and start being scary?”

As an adult, I’m sure you can relate to this quote.  Thinking about my fear yesterday of a piece of playground equipment…in my younger days I would fearlessly jump off the 10 foot platform at The Beach, I did that bungee swing at Kings Island, I jumped off a 30 foot cliff while white water rafting.  So where did this fear come from?  Life.  Experience.  I now know that climbing can lead to falling, which can lead to an injury.  The same can be said about living life.  As a child I’d walk up to another kid at the playground and ask her to be my friend.  Now I get nervous when I’m around a group of peers who I don’t know. 

Now I’m sure I knew back then that jumping off a cliff could injure me and I certainly knew that kids could be mean and not want to be my friend.  So why wasn’t I afraid then?  I believe one of the big reasons is resilience.  As a child, one day seems so long and you are recovered from a misstep or rejection by dinnertime.  As an adult, we replay those moments over and over and vow to never let it happen again.  We’ve been taught that we should learn from our mistakes, so if I put myself out there and was rejected, why would I keep doing it?  The fear of going through it again takes over.

I used to be completely fearless when it comes to the ocean.  I would run right in with my boogie board, swim out pretty far and not once think about sharks or jellyfish or strong tides.  Now I walk in shuffling my feet, I don’t like to go deeper than the top of my legs and am always looking around for signs of danger.  The fun and enjoyment is definitely not the same and I recognize that.  I don’t want it to be like that, I want to be fearless again.  I will tell myself, what’s the worst that can happen?  Sharks are VERY unlikely, I’m a strong swimmer and I’m pretty sure I’d recover from a jellyfish sting pretty quickly.  But the fear keeps me from relaxing and enjoying something I love.

I know I don’t have the answer to this problem.  I know that by letting go of this fear that life could and probably would be more enjoyable and carefree.  I especially don’t want my children to grow up with this fear, as I want them to experience life with open hearts, eyes and minds.  I hope that by recognizing this fear, I can face it and push past it.  I saw a quote at the gym today that said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”  My life is fairly monotonous right now, so it’s time to step outside that comfort zone.  I don’t know exactly what that means for me yet, so stay tuned to find out.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Meaningful Mail

When was the last time you got an actual letter in the mail?  Not an email or a Facebook message, but a real life letter?  In the past few weeks, I’ve received two and both have had a significant impact on my emotions and mindset.  Both were very unexpected and both are now prominently displayed on my refrigerator so I have constant reminders of these efforts made by two people, who made a much bigger impact than I’m sure they realize.

The first came a couple of weeks ago, shortly after I decided to take next year off of school, extending my leave of absence.  I’d had a tough few days in a row with the kids and was also having anxiety about not only the obvious financial challenges but finding time for myself, which I have found I really do need.  The letter came from a family friend, who had spoken to my mom recently about my decision.  She took the time and energy to write to me and share that staying home when her kids were young, while sacrifices were made, was a decision she’s never regretted.  She said, “It is a choice that provides benefits far greater than the dollars you have foregone.”  I needed to hear that.  Little did the author know that her small act of affirmation was exactly what I needed at that moment.

The next letter came in the mail yesterday, in the form of a card with a very surprising letter inside.  A quick back story…my mom, very randomly, received a phone call from my 5th grade teacher several weeks ago.  She called just to see how I was doing.  How unbelievable is that?!  Well, my mom passed on my address and my teacher apparently passed it on to the sender of yesterday’s card.  When I saw the return address, I immediately knew it was from my Girl Scout leader/senior year college professor.  This woman, who was very important to me at a young age, came back into my life at Miami, as she was a professor of mine during my senior year, which also happened to be her first year of teaching college.  No matter what you teach, your first year is incredibly difficult, and she did not try to hide the fact that she was struggling.  I remember trying to make her feel comfortable when possible and answering questions when she asked, but I know it was hard for her.  But, I haven’t thought much of it these past 11 years.  Until the letter yesterday.  She also took the time to send me a thank you card for my (very small) actions all those years ago.  She accredited my support to her perseverance and shared that she went on to be a very successful professor.  Tears definitely came to my eyes while reading this, as I had no idea I had that kind of impact on someone and it meant SO much that she took the time to reach out. 

After receiving these, it’s become very clear to me that small acts of effort and kindness can truly make a difference.  I immediately wanted to “pay it forward” with my own meaningful mail.  I’m sending a letter to that 5th grade teacher, thanking her for the impact she had on my life.  She was a kind and loving constant at a time when my life was very confusing and difficult.  She’s the reason I became a teacher; I even used some of her lesson ideas in my classroom, over 20 years later.  So if you are reading this, I challenge you to take 5 minutes and send someone meaningful mail.  It may feel random and even uncomfortable, but you will no doubt make a difference in that person’s day and maybe even their life. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

What I Ate Today

I apologize now if you have zero interest in this topic.  Feel free to skip this post :).  I, however, enjoy reading about what other people eat.  I follow certain people on Instagram and Facebook solely for their recipes and meal ideas for adults and kids.  I mentioned in a previous post that I am trying to lower my sugar intake and increase protein.  I’ve been at it for a few days and it hasn’t been too bad!  Yesterday was a major challenge at my daughter’s baptism party.  I helped plan the meal and we made sure to have some healthy options, as well as crowd pleasers.  I can honestly say I didn’t feel like I missed out whatsoever with my choices.  I ate ham, a mini quiche, fruit, power food salad, carrots and celery and a couple slices of cheese.  Because of these choices, I was able to splurge on a piece of cake.  It takes effort and a little planning, but it is definitely doable to maintain my healthy choices, even at parties.

So back to today.  Here’s the breakdown with a few pictures.  If I do another one of these, I’ll work on adding more pictures.  If you made it reading this far, thank you for sticking with it!

Two scrambled eggs
Leftover fruit from party
Coffee with stevia and skim milk – This is new for me. I’m not quite used to drinking coffee this way, but I’m going to try it for a while and see if I can grow to like it!

Two slices of leftover ham from party
Half an avocado (Audrey is working on the other half)
Colby Jack cheese stick
Raw green beans, dipped in avocado (don’t knock it ‘til you try it)

Smoothie – I made this for the first time today, making adjustments to a recipe I found on pinterest. 
Ingredients: 1 frozen banana (I sliced several last night and froze them), ½ cup of leftover coffee from morning, ½ cup skim milk, 1 Tbs. peanut butter, 2 tsp. cocoa powder, 1 scoop of protein powder – put all in blender – it was really good and very filling!

Turkey meatballs with marinara and spinach
Broccoli, cauliflower & carrots with Mrs. Dash

Outshine fruit bar (no sugar added)
My chocolate banana peanut butter protein smoothie

Ingredients.  I need to find a good turkey meatball recipe to make my own.

You can't even taste the spinach, I promise.

My little helpers

This feeder is awesome!  Chowing down on avocado.

Finished product

This brought me in just under my calorie goal (1820) with 130 grams of protein and 62 grams of sugar, both very close to my goals.  Sodium is high today because of the ham and meatballs and fiber was a little low.  But overall, a good and satisfying day!  I also drink lots of water throughout the day, at least 5 of my 24 oz. Tervis cups.  Hopefully I’ll see all of this pay off on the scale in a few days!