Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In less than 24 hours I'll be on a plane to make our annual trek to visit my husband's family with his 4 younger sisters (one can't make it this year) their kids and some spouses.  This is a trip that I look forward to quite a bit.  Living in the midwest, we have only my mother of all our extended family that lives nearby.  So it is a big treat to get my kids together with all their cousins.  I also like being around my in-laws.  I should confess, when I was dating my husband, meeting his family and seeing how they relate to one another with a great deal of kindness and respect solidified the deal for me.  It's a privilege to be accepted into another's big and loving family.


 I wasn't happy about our chosen meeting place this year.  We'll be going to Arizona in the heat of the summer.  I know - everyone claims that it's dry heat.  But it's really, really intense dry heat.  Now that we've made all the arrangements, I'm still pretty happy.  We'll have a lot of time poolside, a side trip to the Grand Canyon, and an adults only venture to Vegas (where I'm excited to hang out at a pool and spa for three days straight).  There will be a chess marathon between my husband and his dad.  Endless board games around the enormous dining table.  Yard games.  Outings.  Sparklers.  Everything you can think of because my sisters will have already thought of it and will make sure we do it. 

I'm looking forward to sharing my raw recipes this year with the family - tempting me to pack up my Vita Mix and juicer.  My mother-in-law has always fed her family very healthy and she is especially interested in my raw vegan adventures.  One sister has gone gluten and dairy free.  And the rest just love food and are willing to try anything new and delicious.  After a month of enjoying the food feast that my house guests have brought to my home, I'm determined to shift my focus back to raw foods as I share this with my family.

But I'm not going to be so raw that I can't indulge in my once a year favorite, Navajo Tacos.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Couch to 5k, Beginning to Run

Move forward.

(Because I don't have any photos of me actually running, nor would you really want to see them, I've included photos of places I see on my runs.)

I've been running lately.  Well, that might be an overstatement, to which you might respond, "Who cares?"  I have a friendly acquaintance from my homeschool co-op whom I haven't seen for about a year.  She was overweight, like me.  But maybe not like me, because we all took different paths to gain our weight, and then to release it.  I put my kids in school and I would have lost touch with her, except with the advent of Facebook, I see her periodic updates and we comment on each others' page.  Then I saw updates referring to the Couch to 5K program.

What pushes your butt to get going?

I was really jealous.  I used to run a lot before I had kids.  Never a marathon, but it wasn't unheard of for me to run 5 miles a day, 5 days a week.  When running like that, I could drink all I wanted because I would get up early before work and run off a hangover.  It worked, but it felt like crap.  I could eat like a pig because I could increase my miles to undo the damage.  I never got super skinny like many lithe runners, but I was strong and had great endurance.

Gorgeous harbor.  How I'd love to have a boat - or better, a friend with a boat.

Then I got pregnant and gained a ridiculous amount of weight (65 lbs!).  I got plantar fasciitis that never seemed to go away in spite of my best efforts.  My knees got bad, like all of a sudden.  My doctor said it was arthritis, which never sat well with me.  Really?  Like you can get a sudden attack, like out of nowhere?  Then my hips.  Broken ankle.  Then my back.  Then my head.

Ah, more boats.  Blue sky.  Bright sun.

A few physical therapists asked me to stop running.  I was depressed, so instead of working hard to overcome my aches and pains, I stopped.  I had switched to cycling, the elliptical machine, pilates, swimming, personal training and walking.  Nothing I've done since has gotten me back to that beautiful moment when you've completed the first few miles and your body is weightless and everything feels like bliss.  On even the coldest or wettest days, knowing that I could get to that state of mind would hurry me out the door.

If I make it to museum campus, I'm doing really good.

Fast forward a few years.  Last summer around this time my feet hurt so desperately, I was seeing my podiatrist twice a week for treatment.  He'd freeze them, inject them, stretch them, wrap them, cast them.  Finally we talked about scheduling surgery for each foot.  I thought I had done everything I could and this was the only option.  Only I chickened out.  A year prior to that I had dislocated an ankle which broke all the surrounding bones.  I had surgery then and had to stay off my foot completely for at least a month and then with a camwalker for an additional month or so.  There was nothing to schedule then as I had no choice.  I couldn't think about who is going to carry my baby.  How will I get my daughter to school.  How could I possibly get a wheelchair in and out of my ancient loft that was not accessible?  But to plan surgery?  I just couldn't get there.  I stopped seeing him.  I retreated into my world of pain to just deal with it.

Ewe!  That's not from my run.  My dislocated foot, dangling off the end of my leg.  Just keeping it real.

Then something remarkable happened.  The pain went away.  Part of that is the result of fall and winter coming on.  I wear better shoes and kept my insoles in them regularly.  I then started to lose weight.  Just a tiny bit.  And just a tiny bit of weight loss removes an exponentially greater force from every step I take.  I feel the difference.  My clothes don't know I've lost weight, yet (that stubborn jelly-belly), but my knees and feet know every ounce that is missing.

Whew!  Back to the pretty harbor.

Months after Anna, my friend, posted about working the C25K program, I had decided to give it a try (oh, and Anna?  She lost a TON of weight.  I've got to ask her if I can share her before and after pictures because she's amazing - a total inspiration to us all!).  I stopped telling myself that I can't run.  I just decided to try to run.  The program is simple, especially if you have an iPhone app, but that isn't even necessary.  The first week, you start with a 5 minute walk to warm up.  Then alternate walking for 90 seconds with running for 60 seconds.  My running began more like shuffling because I was so afraid to hurt something.  Then I tried to really get off the ground and I found that it hurt LESS to run when I wasn't trying to AVOID getting hurt.  Amazingly simple.  Do you know what else?  It didn't kill me.  I haven't landed at the orthopedists office and my plantar fasciitis hasn't gotten all wacked out.

Buckingham Fountain.

I'm only on my second week, so I can't really announce this as the great success, yet.  I can tell you, the greatest injury is what we tell ourselves we CAN'T do.  It's not all those little aches and pains.  It's the big mental block in our head.  The reasons to not try something can overwhelm the courage to just get out there and give it a shot.

Lovely, little boat with Jasper's favorite "Rocketship Museum" in the background.

Do you ever feel like that?

Here's to overcoming our negative thoughts and trying something new.  Big hugs to everyone today.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

New Old Clothes

This morning I was looking for something white and billowing to wear over my skinny cropped jeans.  I dug out this cute little number from my "way-too-small" dusty archive and slipped it on.  And ya know what?  It billows.  Yay, hurray.  Losing weight is like winning a free shopping spree.  With even a ten pound loss, there are so many clothes that I had ordered and kept with the fantasy that someday, somehow, I will lose some weight and get to wear it.    Now to get through that pile of papers that plagues the corner of my desk top.

Monday, June 04, 2012

On a Lighter Note

Love, love, love!!! by dominique ap
(Before you all pick on me for not having bike helmets, we do, and we wear them always.
These guys were just messing around in our garage when I got home with the new toy.)
We just picked up this beauty last weekend. I'd been shopping around for a new bike (for two years!) that I could use to haul kids, groceries, beach blankets, picnics, etc. 

I had been really jazzed up by those swanky Scandinavian numbers with the elegant big bucket in the front by Trio, Bakfiet, or Velorbis.  There are others, and they all seem to be in the $4k and up range.  I tried the Velorbis and it was a challenge.  Nothing about it was smooth, so that $4k price tag didn't sit so well.  This type is built as a tricycle with the two wheels in front.  When you move the handle bar to turn the bike, you are manipulating the entire front package, kids, gear, two wheels (that really want a straight even surface) and the contraption that holds it all.  Believe me when I tell you, this is no simple task.  I imagine that over time one could get used to it.  I just couldn't imagine it would work well for swerving in and out of traffic in Chicago.  One of my goals for this family hauler is to ride the kids to school.  Even though we've succumbed to commuting to school over choosing a neighborhood school, I'm determined to get out of the car and into the world.  I think those three wheelers might be really useful for occasional, meandering rides - much like those contraptions the tourists use up and down the lakefront.  Not for a real ride.  I was also concerned that after my little one no longer needed a ride from me, I would find little reason to keep this around.  However, if I still had that 120+ pound mastiff, I would be the proud owner of a new bucket trike.

On the other hand, there was the two-wheeled Bakfiet types of which there are many.  After the store owner said that he had some trouble keeping it balanced when accelerating, I didn't even bother trying.  I'm not an experienced cyclist so the idea that I'd be all wobbly at every intersection was not very appealing. 

I chose the Yuba Mundo.  Some of my route includes popular bike routes and I've been seeing a lot of these cargo bikes of late.  Much to Chloe's embarrassment, I made her roll down her window while waiting at an intersection while I shouted down a cyclist to ask about his ride.  He was happy and proud to declare it was a Mundo.  The push to purchase had a lot to do with Jon from J. C. Lind.  I came in knowing I wanted to try this bike, but he gave me all the good instruction, tips, and knowledge from someone very passionate about family biking.  He didn't even ask for ID when I took it out for a spin.  Respectful.  I appreciate that a lot.  This bike has accessories for every possible odd ball thing you'd want to attach to the bike.  Including a bunch of kids.  Jasper is capable of holding onto the handle bars in back, but he's still little enough that he gets sleeping on a long ride.  I've got a child's seat attachment that's a little more mature than a baby seat coming to me in about a week.  I'll feel more confident with him buckled safely in that until he gets a little older. 

It can haul up to 400 lbs, maybe more, and still feels like a ride in the park.  Maneuverability is a synch and accelerating is like any old bike.  No problem.  Little Jasper was in tow and for the hours that I was in this shop, he was so patient.  Weird, I know.  It was the mechanical interest he has for all things that move.  When tuning it up before taking it home, Jon let Jasper share his chair and hand him his tools.  That's enough to warm my heart and hand him my credit card.  Getting the bike into the back of my Element was tricky, but it worked.  We cheered.  I almost hugged him.  He photographed us.  And then we drove home with the back open, super excited to take it for a ride.

We had planned to go to our farm in Indiana that night, but no way could I leave with such beautiful Chicago weather in the forecast and my brand, spankin' new bike itching to get moving.  Sunday we packed up a picnic and headed south along the lakefront path to check out the new playground and harbor at the 31st Street Beach.  Thank you CPD for building such a glorious lakefront park.  Jasper whooped and cheered with excitement as we rode along the lake.  He exclaimed, "Mommy, thank you for buying me this bike!  You are the best mommy ever!"  Oh, my heart.

We could have stayed at the park all day if there were more shade.  This will be the perfect oasis when those baby trees mature.  As for now, I'll make use of my awesome storage bags to pack a beach tent to make it an all day excursion. 

If you live in or around Chicago and you're looking for a great ride, you must go to J. C. Lind Bike Co. and meet Jon.  Trust me, you'll be glad you did.


Slipping, Cheating, Falling Off the Wagon, Binging, Bottoming Out

It's been a rough month for my diet.  Not for me, in general, so I'm baffled and confused at what is stopping me from achieving my goals.  I think it began with my 14th year wedding anniversary (going strong baby!), then Mother's Day, which was soon followed by my daughter's birthday, a week long visit with my Dad, and now unexpected, but delightful house guests who may stay for the month.  Both are fabulous chefs, so the quality of meals around this home have increased exponentially.

I remember celebrating Mother's Day at the farm with my mom and indulging a bit on cooked and sweet foods.  As I was packing to return home to Chicago, she'd asked if I wanted to save any of it.  "No, I'm jumping back on my diet tomorrow."  She marveled openly at my tenacity.  Yet, on my return home, my little slips had grown into big cheats.  The big cheats were so consistent that I had completely fallen off the wagon, no longer participating in the supportive forums, shopping from the bi-weekly lists, or even checking the daily menu plan from The Garden Diet that I've been on.  I've been binging for the first time in almost a year.  Ugggh.  How did I get here?  The weight is sneaking back on.  As I painfully stuff my body with food it no longer wants, I wonder if it is even possible to bottom out with food.

These words I use for floundering with my diet are similar to the ones common in the rooms of NA and AA.  Yet, it still seems somewhat comical to me to relate overeating to that of alcoholism and drug addiction.  A bag of potato chips, a super-sized soda, an entire pie just doesn't have the same romanticized self-destruction to that of a line of coke, shot of heroine or flask of scotch.  Okay, let's get real, self-destruction is never romantic, unless you're in it... then that fix is highly romantic because boy, there is no human lover that could please you more than a chemical substitute.  Yet, here I find myself looking at the line of cars at the fast food drive-thru, lying to myself that it's just for the kids when my will dissipates the moment I place the order.

Helpless?  Hopeless?  The destruction may be slower and takes longer, but I contend that compulsive eating can be the fiercest among all addictions.  An addict can choose to avoid other addicts when trying to get clean.  I mean, who really wants to hang out in those piss smelling, rat invested dark alleys trying to score a hit?  A little trickier for alcoholics.  Easy to empty out the cupboards, avoid the bars, but social events become challenging.  But when can one ever truly avoid the temptation of eating?  One must eat.  Period.  I can choose better food to populate my pantry shelves.  I can learn about better nutrition.  I can plan my meals ahead of time.  All the while I am still eating.  I cannot stop, or I will die.

At the same time that food is nourishing, whether it is junk or the best, organic healthy food available, it is also pleasing and challenging my addiction.  Every morsel of food invokes my brain to respond, more.  More.  Feed me.  More.

Our healthy bodies at birth are built with elegant mechanisms to ensure our survival.  We feel hunger.  We eat.  The food triggers hormones that eliminate the hunger.  The tiny stomach expands sending nerve messages to the brain to stop.  In time, the addict abuses those systems, confusing the brain, destroying those mechanisms that help us remain sound.  The stomach enlarges and needs more and more substance to feel full.  Hormones become imbalanced.  The brain having been ignored for so long, begins to have little command over the willfulness of the addict.

So how do I fix that which I broke?

I wish I knew.  At the moment, I am feeling a little helpless and hopeless.  It helps a little to write about it.  It helps to tell my husband that I'm struggling.  His hand in mine expresses his love and concern.  It helps to tell my guests that I am dieting.  Please don't plan on feeding me.  And thank them for graciously sharing their delights with my family.  It helps to join others with the same struggle.  Participate in the forums.  It helps to be honest and call out for help.  Help.

I've learned a little trick from a good friend.  When she slips up and eats unhealthy food, she tilts her head to the side to kiss her shoulder.  This little affirmation shows that we can make mistakes, but still love ourselves.  Perhaps that is what keeps me from the bottom.