Category Archives: Weight Loss

I ran 13.1 miles & all I got was this lousy self-esteem

People do dumb things. It’s one of the few things you can rely on. You’ve probably heard that old quote that goes “the only constant is change.” But really it should be amended to “the only constants are change and people do dumb things.”

I should know. I am a people and I just did something dumb.

I ran a half marathon on Saturday.

Not dumb enough for you? Just wait, there’s more. I ran a half marathon during a Nor’easter, which is a wicked storm featuring heavy rain and snow and strong winds.

Still not dumb enough for you? Here’s the best part. I paid not-dumb people $80 for this privilege.

If you would have told me 20 years ago that I would one day sign up to run a half marathon, I would have rolled my eyes so hard at you I would have seen my brain. Shoot, if you would have told me just last year that I would sign up to run a half marathon, I…well, I wouldn’t have heard you over my screaming children. But after I asked you to repeat it four times I would have responded by laughing so hard I probably would have woken up the baby and then I would have thrown a pan at your face for making me wake up the baby.

And yet, there I was. On Saturday in Cape Cod. Running 13.1 miles. In a row. On purpose.

Not only that, I trained for it. For months, I was getting up at 4:30 in the morning and strapping on my shoes and running four, five, six miles in the dark. On the weekends, it was seven, eight, nine miles. All on voluntary terms. All without anything chasing me. And all with no other purpose than I needed to run a lot to get ready to run even more.

Like I said, dumb.

On the plus side, it was also hard and painful and exhausting.

But it was transformative.

For some reason in our society we have this idea that people don’t change. Maybe they do. Maybe they don’t. But I do know we evolve.

We evolve with each trial and tribulation we overcome. We evolve every time we learn something new. With every new experience, every new person we meet, we evolve. We evolve every time we fall in love. We evolve with each heartbreak. We evolve when we hold our children for the first time.

And we evolve every time we conquer what we think is the unconquerable.

That’s why I signed up, dumb as it was. It’s easy to think that the way things are, the way you are, is how it will always be, how you will always be. I was a tired, overwhelmed mom who was getting increasingly frustrated at both herself and the way the world was.

But change is the only constant. And that’s why I ran (limped) for miles in a storm. To prove I could evolve. That I could become the kind of person who crosses the finish line. That I can be whoever I want.

And now that I did, I have a whole list of other unconquerables. I want to write a novel. And a children’s book. To become a decent photographer. To buy a house and foster orphaned pets. To be the best mom and wife and daughter I can. And, lord help me, to run a full marathon.

And there are now fewer doubts in my mind that I can do all these things. Because I evolved. Because through this experience, I became a better version of myself.

And look, this could just be the endorphins talking here, but finishing that half marathon gives me just a little bit more hope for all of us. We can be better. We can make this world better. We can do the impossible because history has shown us that doing the impossible is what humans excel at.

All we have to do is try hard. Forgive ourselves. And try harder.

And yes, I realize how naive this all sounds but hey, we could all stand to be a bit dumber that way.

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But I still can’t define irony

You know how when you have kids and you look down for just a second to tie their shoe or pick up their Legos and the next thing you know it’s five years later and everything is different and you have no idea what is going on outside of your living room? Well, I just looked up and somehow, between getting knocked up with my first child and celebrating the second birthday of my youngest child, every single person I have ever met has jumped, to varying degrees, on the personal improvement bandwagon.

Everyone is on the path to wellness.

I mean, I scroll through Facebook and they’re signing up for 5k’s in droves. They’re posting 6 a.m. gym selfies. It’s been four months without a cigarette and two years without a drink and nearly half a decade since that demon gluten has touched their lips. They’ve changed their entire way of thinking about food and diet and sustainability and are consuming whole foods they got at Whole Foods. They’re eating like cavemen and dinosaurs and feeling amazing. AND they lost 17 pounds on whatever a keto is.

The ones who used to complain about people complaining about them smoking are now the ones complaining about the people smoking. They’re meditating and traveling and replenishing their souls. They’re politically active and raising money for charity AND doing it all while raising politically active, charity-minded families.

Because they have all turned into time management GODS. They work eight hours, maybe ten, hell, sometimes twelve, and then go home and record a podcast, or an album, or both, which they do while also sewing quilts, which they sell on Etsy, which they in turn use that money to pay for the food and medicine all the rescue dogs they are fostering need.

If it sounds like I’m making fun, I’m really not. I think this collective transformation I’m witnessing whilst splayed out on my couch is amazing and life-affirming and inspiring. I just felt a little out of the loop because one, I was in survival mode with my small children for so long that it’s hard to imagine everyone else doesn’t also buy cookie dough and wine in bulk. And two, I’m old enough to remember what counted as “wellness” before Goop and Instagram came along.

Sit down and let Auntie Aprill give you a brief “wellness” history lesson, kids. See, when I was a kid in the 80’s, being healthy meant eating giant tubs of pretzels and then burning those calories off by half-assedly participating in one of the 78 VHS workout tapes you owned. In the 90’s, no one even ate food. All our nutrients came from Diet Coke and cigarettes and our only exercise was ripping very elaborate holes in our jeans that we all claimed were from legit wear-and-tear. And none of us could afford therapy so we just watched “Reality Bites” over and over and over again. 

In the early 2000’s, wellness consisted of wearing gaudy pink tracksuits with “Juicy” written on the butt and taking over the recommended dose of those diet pills Anna Nicole Smith was shilling. We also cut down our indoor tanning time by, like, a fourth, because cancer or whatever. By the time Obama was in office, we were mixing our vodka and Red Bull with a dash of vitamin water like the responsible adults we had become and, as long as we were doing less drugs than Lindsay Lohan, we pretty much considered ourselves in good shape.

But now, well, now people are striving to get healthy in actually healthy ways. Long term ways. Scientifically proven ways. In ways that address their physical, mental and emotional needs.

It’s a potent idea. So potent, it’s even rubbed off on me. ME. The person who used to consider binge-watching “My 600-lb Life” as exercise because, hey, I wasn’t ON the show or anything. But, now that I have kids, I want to live forever. Even more importantly, while I am living, I want to feel good and be present and be content. For them. And my husband. And me. (WELLNESS!).

Which is why I signed up to run a half marathon this October. And it’s why I drink more moderately now (although it’s a Boston moderate, which is still enough alcohol to kill your average Californian). And it’s why I cook most of our meals. From INGREDIENTS. And why I’m busy making outlines for the books I want to write. And why this summer I didn’t sign my children up for anything and we just explored and traveled at our leisure. And why I’m saving up my money, not for things, but for experiences. And I’m reaching out to my friends more because loneliness is a silent killer. I’m even donating to the occasional goddamn charity.

22-year-old me would hate 37-year-old me.

But screw her. I feel better. I do. I ran almost seven miles Sunday morning. And then went gallivanting around the city with my family. And then still had the energy to go out to a coffee shop and write for a couple of hours before heading home to put the kids to bed. And then I collapsed on the couch, exhausted. But a good exhausted. Life’s too short for unhealthy coping mechanisms.

All in all, I’m quite proud of myself. Of all of us. We’ve come a long way, baby.

Which is also why I won’t feel guilty when, as soon as I post this, I’m going to mix this can of Diet Coke with some whiskey and watch “Reality Bites.”

You know, for old time’s sake.

I’m a Fitbit person now

Guys, it’s been nice knowing you. You’re all swell, really. But eventually all good things must come to an end. So, while I enjoyed our time together, it’s a new year and time for me to move on. Time for me to leave you in the dust as I walk exactly…*checks wrist* …6,101 steps away from you.

I’m a Fitbit person now.

Yes, dear readers, thanks to my husband and a very merry Christmas, I am now the proud owner of a Fitbit, those magical little devices that shoot laser beams into your arms and let you know just what a lazy sack of human pudding you are on a near constant basis.

What a time to be alive!

Needless to say, I instantly fell in love. There is something weirdly intoxicating about having every single movement and moment of your day logged by a tiny robot who gives you electronic stickers and trophies when you do good (like walking in a circle around your house while eating frosting straight from the container instead of eating it on the couch like some kind of barbarian). I should hate it. The lazy me terrified of Big Brother that I have been for the past 30-odd years should absolutely loathe it. But I don’t.

Because I’m a Fitbit person now.

And don’t worry. It’s not like because I have a Fitbit now that I’m a better person than you or anything.

Except I’m a better person than you now.

Just look at how this divine little watch has improved not only my life, but the life of my family. Our house is now filled with health-conscious conversations such as this:

Me: Guess how many steps I’ve taken today!

Husband: Is it much different from the amount you told me 15 minutes ago?

Me: 879! Wanna know how many times I was restless last night while sleeping?

Husband: I haven’t even had my coffee yet, babe.

Me: You only have yourself to blame.

And this one:

Husband: Hey, can you run upstairs and grab me the tape? I don’t know where you put it.

Me: No.

Husband: Um…please?

Me: I can’t. My Fitbit is charging.

Husband: …

Me: I want credit for walking up the stairs.

Husband: …

Me: You only have yourself to blame.

And this one:

Toddler: Momma, can you carry me?

Me: I wish I could, sweetheart, but then my Fitbit doesn’t log my steps when you’re in my arms.

Toddler: …

Me: You only have your father to blame.

I mean, can I help it that I’m pretty much the healthiest person alive now? I have a resting heart rate of 55, thanks to lugging around two adorable children (who I’m pretty sure are made up of chicken nuggets and quark-gluon plasma, the densest material ever created) all day around the city. And thanks to living on the second and third floor of our rented house, I climb on average 18 flights of stairs a day. Shoot, I burned 43 calories just in the time it took me to eat half of a leftover holiday cheeseball.

And, AND, I managed to get 15,000 daily steps in last Wednesday, enough to earn me the Urban Boot badge, thankyouverymuch. I can’t believe I spent all those years walking around without a computer logging every step like some kind of idiot. What a waste!

Alas, clearly, my family doesn’t understand.

I guess I can’t blame them. I mean, I’d be bitter too if I had never earned the Happy Hill badge or the Weekend Warrior trophy.

But I’m hoping, my dear readers, you do. That you do understand why my health has become my top priority and why I only want to talk to other people who know at any given moment exactly how many steps it took them to walk to Starbucks in their fancy athleisure wear.

So, please, by all means, keep reading my blogs and columns. But if you see me in person, let’s just ignore each other and awkwardly avoid eye contact. Which should be easy enough. I’ll likely be looking at my wrist anyway.

I’m a Fitbit person now.

 

I’m running away from home

If you would have asked me 10 years ago what I saw myself doing in the future, arguing for 23 minutes with a toddler about appropriate places to poop would have been fairly low on the list (which, by the way, the bathtub, Momma’s bed and the dairy aisle at the grocery store all equal Not Appropriate for any of you toddlers out there reading this).

Winning the Pulitzer Prize, divorcing Orlando Bloom so I could marry Ryan Reynolds, sailing on a fancy boat with a clever name like Ship For Brains; all of these answers would have probably come tumbling out of my mouth (No, YOU were a delusional 25-year-old!).

Even jail wouldn’t have been too outlandish an answer (No, YOU have issues with authority!).

But running on a trail with actual running shoes when nothing was chasing me and/or I wasn’t trying to make it to the liquor store before it closes? That wouldn’t have even made it ON the list.

Running for fun? Pffft. In my book, those two things are mutually exclusive. Much like, say, a delicious vegan meal or a funny Kevin James movie.

And yet, here I am, sweaty and gross and begrudgingly emitting an aura of health because I just got done with a run. A run I did ON PURPOSE.

It all started because after I had my second baby my body was 80 percent mush. And, to be honest, I’m not really comfortable in my own skin when I’m above 75 percent bodily mush. So, as much as I hated it, I gritted my teeth and ran (well, did a weird walk/sad jog hybrid before working my way up to my current level of just a sad jog).

But then a funny thing happened. I started to look forward to these runs. So much so, in fact, that I was actually willing to do them at 6 a.m., watching the sun rise while my perky ponytail swished back and forth like I’m goddamn Kate Hudson in some rom-com. Not because I started to like to run. Oh god, no. It’s the worst. But because that 45 minutes hoofing it around the park gave me an escape from my kids.

I love my kids. Of course I do. You know I do. Just like I know you love your kids. Children are amazing human beings we occasionally want to murder.

And so that we don’t murder them, we do insane things like literally run away from home (albeit temporarily).

The best part is that even though my main motivation while running is that at some point I will stop running, all this exercise is helping me get back to myself. To the person I was before I considered a trip to Target by myself as a luxurious vacation.

It’s easy to lose yourself in the demands of parenthood. To remember that you are not just a glorified sippy cup re-filler and breathing boob milk dispenser. Having children changes you to your very core but it doesn’t erase your former self. That person is still in there, waiting to come out occasionally so they can look around and say “why the hell are we running?”

Running helps me remember that I’m a complex person with interests outside achieving the perfect brown color on a grilled cheese sandwich. And on the other end of the spectrum, although I have yet to feel that mythical runner’s high, I have experienced what I call “cranial radio static.” This is when your brain just stops and there’s no thought; just music and pavement and your feet going one in front of the other and heavy breathing and chaotic jiggly butt movement. And as a mom and a writer and a woman who keeps up with the news in 2016, anything that helps you turn off your brain even for a short while is a miracle.

But most importantly, now that I have kids, I want to be healthy enough that I live forever. I want to be the unbelieveably old lady with the leather face that says wildly inappropriate things at Christmas about losing her virginity and terrifies her infant great-grandchildren because she looks like the Crypt Keeper and sounds like Marge Simpsons’ sisters. But she don’t care. Cause she lived through both 9/11 and the Kardashians.

 

 

The Case of the Missing Dino Nugget

It’s lunchtime.

Again.

I know.

You can’t believe it’s lunchtime again. Wasn’t it just lunchtime yesterday? And the day before that? How many times does this kid need to eat?

But so goes the life of the parent of a toddler.

Only, the thing is, this lunchtime is different. This lunchtime, you’re already hour 16 into your new diet. That stupid, stupid new diet you Googled and pledged an oath to after not insignificantly injuring yourself on that deceptively sharp pork chop bone at dinner last night.

But what? Like, you were supposed to waste food? There was still a slightly visible morsel left clinging on there. And people are dying, man. Of hunger. That bandage on the upper right side of your mouth is proof you have a heart and care and stuff.

And so, you make lunch. Again. A semi-acceptable lunch (depending on who you talk to as long as who you are talking to is not Sienna, mom of Coco, from the playground) of corn on the cob, peas, applesauce and dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets for junior. And a plate of vegetables (a.k.a. tasteless dirt fruit) for you.

Within 10 minutes, you’ve already inhaled your carrots and hummus* and assorted green crap (crap meant quite literally here as, at some point, some cow probably defecated on all these things).

*Fancy word for “not ranch dip.”

lunch_kale

Which means, you have a good 45 minutes left of sitting at the table just staring at The World’s Slowest Eater as he happily smears ketchup into not only his hair but also his ears. Which, luckily, gives you plenty of time to reflect on just how hungry you are. And you ARE hungry. You’re starving. I mean, look at you. You’re wasting away. You’re practically a stick figure.

lunch_stick

And then there’s that last dino nugget. Just sitting there. All lonely on his plate. Getting colder with every passing second. Chockful of delicious fat and salt and cancer-causing chemicals that magically makes boring, old chicken taste like deep-fried unicorn.

He wouldn’t even notice, you reason to yourself. Look at him. Completely oblivious. Too busy leading the corn on the cob on a Viking-esque raid against the defenseless peas. Smash. Smash. Smash. Meanwhile, the nugget sits all alone in the southwest corner, completely undefended. You should eat it just to teach him a valuable military strategy lesson.

No. No! You would never do that. My god. Stealing food practically from your child’s mouth! What kind of monster are you?

EXCEPT…”technically” the nugget is nowhere near his mouth. I mean, he doesn’t seem to have any interest in it or anything. It’s so bad for him anyway. The only reason you gave him the dino nuggets is because it’s the only way you could force some protein down his tiny adorable throat. And he’s already eaten four of them. You eating that last one would only make his lunch all the more healthy.

No. No! My god, woman, think about what you’re proposing here. He’ll want that last nugget. You know he will. Just as soon as he’s done drowning the defeated and maimed peas in applesauce. Rise above this. Find some willpower, lady.

Just one taste, though. A tiny bite. Just to make the temptation go away. And he can have the rest.

No. No!

But then, without even realizing it, you look down in horror and see the nugget is gone. And you are chewing. And then swallowing. And it’s too late now. That hormone-stuffed, vaguely shaped Tyrannosaurus Rex is already halfway to your stomach.

lunch_nugget

Maybe he won’t notice.

And that’s when the crying begins.

Now, you have three options here.

Option 1: Confess and Bribe

“Baby, Momma’s so sorry. She didn’t mean to. It just…happened. And, I mean, I’m not trying to pass the buck here or anything, but really, it’s society’s fault for making me think I have to be skinny. So, in a way, you could say it was Vogue magazine that ate your nugget. Now let’s go get you some ice cream!”

Option 2: Straight Up Lie

“I don’t know what happened to your last nugget, honey. Maybe you ate it? Yeah, I think I remember seeing you eat it. By the way, and this is in no way related to the missing nugget, but I’m totally buying you a new car when you turn 16.”

Option 3: MacGyver Your Way Out

“Don’t cry, sweets. Momma is just going to reach down into your onesie and see if we can find…yep! Look here! A perfectly good half-eaten nugget stuck between your Buddha belly and chest. Oh! And 13 more peas! And soggy Cheerios from yesterday. See, no reason to cry.”

The thing to keep in mind here, terrible though your behavior has been, is that he’ll never even remember that this happened. So relax.

That is, of course, unless you’re the idiot who posted the whole thing on the Internet to live on for all eternity.

lunch_remember1 lunch_remember2

How I lost all the baby weight (and then some)

weight loss 1 weight loss 2 weight loss 3 weight loss 4 weight loss 5 weight loss 6

Here’s my excuse for my post-baby body

Here’s a fun fact you may not know. When you are in the hospital after having a C-section, you are issued several pairs of giant disposable netted hospital underwear. If you’re having trouble picturing that, let me help you out: They are incredibly unattractive. I mean, these things are hideous. And completely see-through, leaving absolutely nothing to the imagination. (And trust me, immediately after having a baby, you want most, if not all, things left to the imagination).

body after baby 1

Now, I’m assuming these things have something to do with the giant gash you recently received on your lower abdomen. And since you did just undergo major surgery and infections are nothing to sneeze at (heh), you are in no position to argue when the doctor says you have to wear the giant netted hospital underwear.

Never being one to defy authority (or at least not the authority that is steadily supplying me with amazing weapons-grade pain-killers) I obediently followed my doctor’s orders. Although I can guarantee he probably wished that I hadn’t taken his words quite so literally.

I was in the hospital for four days. And for four days I wore those see-through granny panties. And only those see-through granny panties.

body after baby 2

It didn’t matter who was in the room, if the door was open or closed, or what I was doing, I was, for all practical purposes, buck naked. All. The. Time. With my body looking arguably the worst it ever had, I had it on display for all to see. Every stretch mark, every wobbly bit, every “hmm, that used to be much higher” body part.

It wasn’t that I had suddenly turned into an exhibitionist. Or that…pffft…I was actually happy with how my body looked. I just had a million other things that required my attention other than clothes, such as:

  1. The amazing human I just created.
  2. Getting up from the bed to go pee, which was a Herculean task that required six nurses, a crane and three, sometimes four, horse tranquilizers shot directly into me by an orderly standing a safe distance away.
  3. Debating what would hurt more, cutting my boobs off with a dull ax or continuing to breastfeed.
  4. Deciding continuing to breastfeed would probably hurt slightly less and then attempting to feed him again while 17 lactation specialists roughly squished together my boobs and his head.
  5. Trying to sleep during the 47 seconds I had in-between feedings, comforting my crying baby, nurses checking my vitals and eating an unhealthy amount of cheeseburgers from the hospital cafeteria.

So, being naked all the time just made everything so much easier. I was exhausted and sore and overwhelmed and screw wearing pants! Burn in hell, stupid bra! Even the hospital gown seemed too complicated, what with its TWO whole ties in the back.

Now, a woman choosing to be naked in the comfort of her own hospital room may not seem like a big deal to you, but for me, this was not only uncharacteristic, but downright unheard of.

Yes, I was one of those women who, like any good white girl raised in the Midwest, hated her body. I was never thin enough. Or hairless enough. Or shaped enough like a 12-year-old boy. So to hide my perfectly healthy and normal weight body, I mastered the art of changing clothes without flashing any actual skin. I wore overpriced bikini cover-ups to the beach, only taking them off once I was deep enough in the water to not let anything south of my chin show (and then flinging the cover-up back onto the beach). After a shower, I would race to my room while clinging to my towel for dear life (because God forbid I flash someone in my family my offensive upper thighs).

But now? Shoot. You’re lucky if you actually catch me with clothes on. I’m always walking around with my shirt hoisted up above my chest because I couldn’t be bothered to pull it back down after feeding Riker. After a shower, I walk around in my birthday suit because a towel is too rough on my chewed up nipples. And I’m still too exhausted and sore and overwhelmed to care about pants.

Of course, this doesn’t mean I am now completely comfortable with my body. I don’t know if that day will ever happen. But it does mean that I have a new appreciation for it. Because now it has a purpose other than looking good for other people. My breasts being perky matter less than the fact they are a food source for my son. My arms being toned matter less than them being strong enough to lift him and carry him around for hours on end. My hips being narrow matter less than me having a convenient perch to rest him on.

And let me tell you, it is completely freeing.

Because, quite frankly, my dear, I no longer give a damn.