Running in the Rain

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Running in the rain today. Yeah, I’m hardcore like that…

{image via Oofos}

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Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain

Kennesaw mountain trail

My friend, Elizabeth {rockin’ guest post from her coming to you later this month} recently reviewed an article in Forbes Magazine entitled 14 Things Successful People Do On Weekends. I may not be a C.E.O., but I am a M.O.M. and by the time Saturday comes around, I am just as in need of some refueling as a Fortune 500 exec.

My go-to activity of choice is distance running, but as our family’s schedule gets more packed during the week, I have found myself cramming in my weekly miles either before or after Clark goes to work. I am not a fan of cramming since the whole idea behind distance running is to get out of my head and re-energize, and I loathe the feeling of being under the gun. Recently, I rearranged my routine to save the bulk of my mileage for the weekend. Now, I have something to look forward to during the week. When the kids {and the husband} go down for a nap on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, I plug in a few podcasts and hit the mountain trails. {Although this past weekend, I let my curiosity get the better of me and I disobeyed one of those barred entrances. I ended up a half-mile off course booking it through waist-high weeds for fear that I would be bitten, stung, or mauled before I resumed the straight and narrow– oops}.

When I am on the mountain {and abiding by the recreation rules}, it is the only time during any given week that I am not thinking about laundry or unanswered voice mails. It is quite simply a sweet slice of time and space to discard the stress that  has me by the throat the rest of the week. I barely get phone reception out there, so I am quite literally “unplugged”. It is glorious, and I am more ready to face the demands of the week ahead.

How about you? How do you recharge your batteries on the weekends?

{Photo by Colin Athens}

Weekend Recovery Quote

running print quote

…yesterday’s 10-mile trail run mantra. However, if you need me at any point today, I will most likely be recovering… on the couch.

Happy Monday!

The Body Budget: My Weight Loss Story

Heidi Klum gained 40 pounds during pregnancy.

Beyonce gained 57 pounds during pregnancy.

Jessica Alba gained 60 pounds during pregnancy.

You {my lovely readers} gained an average of 61 pounds during pregnancy.

Salina Beasley gained NINETY POUNDS during pregnancy.

Pregnancy deals a different hand for each woman. For me, the combination of raging hormones, a stalled metabolism, fickle appetites, profound fatigue, ravenous hunger, and unsatisfiable cravings resulted in a whopping 90lb expansion site from my chin to my ankles. I don’t have many pictures of myself during that season and for good reason. I looked like I swallowed a sixth-grader.

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An appropriate caption for Salem’s expression might read, “Are you going to eat me too, Mom?” It’s a crummy photo, but like I said, I avoided the camera like I avoided the scale once I hit my third trimester with Mia.

Up until this point, I had kept my weight around 145 {give or take 5 pounds} with a comfortable dress size 6-8. I had run with the Vegan Extremists and been named among the Organic Nazis in my early twenties and had landed among the Clean Eaters who shopped natural, chemical free, locally raised… yada yada. I wasn’t the type of woman who viewed pregnancy as a free pass to Club Ben & Jerry’s. In other words, my quality choices hadn’t changed all that much. What I didn’t take into account was that my pregnancies were a metabolic game-changer. I couldn’t get away with making the same decisions when it came to the quantity of foods I was consuming.

At two weeks postpartum, I weighed in at a measly 22 pounds less than the day that I delivered Mia. Nursing and chasing Salem may have shaved off another 20 pounds-ish over the next few months, but my neglect to balance my caloric intake with my activity level kept me at a cruising altitude of 190 pounds well after Mia’s first birthday. It wasn’t until I put my body on a budget that I began to see results.

My Body Budget operates very much like a cash budget. If I don’t track it, the likelihood is that I will spend what I don’t have. If only my waistline shrunk like my wallet and my credit score. Ironically enough, I was living lean everywhere else but my waistline. Speaking of cash budgets, ours was on life-support. I did not have the time or the money to join a gym or Weight Watchers, or to shop at Whole Foods, or to buy supplements or appetite suppressants. Chances are that if it wasn’t a BOGO special or on a coupon in the Sunday paper, it didn’t end up in the shopping cart. I needed a plan that was both economical and sustainable.

My Body Budget looked something like this:

Baby Step 1: Buy a scale {This might sound painfully obvious to you, but the truth is that I never owned a scale until after I turned 30. It was high time I put on my big Big Girl Panties, bite the bullet, and buy the thing.}

Baby Step 2: Step on it twice a week.

Baby Step 3: Eat fewer calories than I burn.

Baby Step 4: Burn more calories than I eat.

It was insultingly simple. Notice that I didn’t say it was easy. It just wasn’t as complicated as I had always made it out to be.

My Fitness Pal app

Practically speaking, I am hopeless when it comes to math, therefore, I had never been a calorie counter. Enter My Fitness Pal. Once I got the hang of this free app, I developed the habit of tracking everything that went into my mouth… from the cream in my morning coffee to the mini Cadbury egg in my daughter’s Easter basket. {Don’t judge me. You know you eat your kids’ holiday candy too.} Yes, it was a pain, but no more uncomfortable than walking around with an extra 90 pounds weighing me down. Dave Ramsey {The Total Money Makeover man} advises to give every dollar a name. In keeping with this philosophy, I gave every calorie a name. Granted, not all calories are created equally. My Fitness Pal charts your carb/protein/fat ratio according to your profile goals too. Once I learned that, I had virtually no excuse for neglecting my Body Budget.

Couch 2 5k

When it came to exercise, I opted for Couch to 5k for economical {and purely selfish} reasons. Running is free, not to mention portable. As long as I have my running shoes, I can do it anywhere/anytime. The gravy is that nobody else in my family wants to run with me, so it is quite literally the only 30-45 minute window during my week that affords me the luxury of uninterrupted think-time– a precious commodity for mothers of small children. I found an activity that worked for me and didn’t tax my family’s wellness. Once I landed my stride {albeit rather slow}, I began to look forward to my weekly runs, and I entered into the home stretch of Project: Goal Weight.

Clark took this picture of me the morning of my first half-marathon last April.

half marathon photo

Timeline:
September 2011 weight: 186 pounds
April 2012 weight: 145 pounds

My Body Budget maintenance plan looks something like this:

Step 1: Still tracking

Step 2: Still running

Step 3: Still stepping on the scale twice a week {We’re good buds now.}

Step 4: Still eating {with pleasure} the remainder of the Easter candy.

Where are you on the timeline of Project: Love Your Body? My hope in sharing this story with you is that we can encourage each other to enjoy good health at a weight and shape that is comfortable for our individual lifestyles. No obsessions. No self-loathing comparisons. No competitions.

How about you? What has {or hasn’t} worked for you to get and keep your body on a budget?

Project: Sanity 2013

My friends seem to know that something isn’t right when I go AWOL on the blogosphere. All of a sudden my inbox subject lines read, “Had you on my mind” and “just checking in”, and after a few weeks my best friend inevitably asks me, “Why don’t you blog anymore?” I tell her I’m in a funk and she suggests writing my way out of it and I moan something about being afraid of what might actually come out if I start typing and how I ought to take up dog grooming as a hobby instead and whine, whine, whine… so here I am. It’s just that when reality hits you between the eyes and all you see in front of you is a kaleidoscope hail storm of events pelting the heck out of the hood of your LIFE, no amount of disaster insurance, Pinterest therapy, or episodes of Scandal is enough to untangle your headspace. The good news is, my blurry vision as of late is slowly coming into focus. Every once in a while a girl just needs to get reacquainted with those things that make her feel more like herself… not Mommy, Housekeeper, Bookkeeper…ZOOkeeper. Some women make New Year’s Resolutions and post them on their fridge, their bathroom mirror, or their Evernote. Lately, I have felt perhaps a Top 10 list of things that make me feel more like myself entitled Project: Sanity 2013 might be just what I need to get me over this bump.

#10. Running
Bottom Line: Running is cheap therapy.

#9. Nora Ephron
Writer, Director, Producer, and what I like to call Master of the art of everyday dialogue, Nora Ephron wrote and directed some of the most loved romantic comedies of our time such as When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, Something’s Gotta Give, and Julie & Julia. Just for kicks, comment below with your favorite Nora-character quote. Mine would have to be…

(From Sleepless in Seattle)
Sam Baldwin: What is “tiramisu”?
Jay: You’ll find out
Sam Baldwin: Well, what is it?
Jay: You’ll See!
Sam Baldwin: Some woman is gonna to want me to do it to her and I’m not going to know what it is.
Jay: You’ll love it.

#8. British Life
Speaking of brilliant novelists, Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice just turned 200 this week. (I will pause while you do a cartwheel). No really. Whether it is pop/rock music or a hot basket of fish and chips, I for one believe the Brits hold the corner market on all that makes like worth celebrating. They gave us the Beatles, J.K. Rowling, Will and Kate, Antiques Roadshow… should I go on? Who are we kidding really? God Himself speaks in a British accent. Therefore, in an attempt to be more like my Lord and Savior, last week I ordered my Tall Skinny Hazelnut Misto at the Starbucks drive-thru in a British accent. For some, getting out into nature helps them to commune with the Divine. As for me… it is “ma’am and in ‘ham’ not ma’am as in ‘palm’ “.

#7. Anne Lamott
For all those who must laugh to keep from crying. Hilarious, self-pity-less, and wit-wealthy, author Anne Lamott can either make her readers stop feeling sorry for themselves or laugh so hard they forgot what they were upset about in the first place. I recommend her book Operating Instructions to every new mother and mom-to-be. Like I always say, “Put the Baby Wise book down and walk away slooowly.”

#6. My passport
I found it the other day and I gave it a seat at the dinner table. Granted, it is on life-support, but it still bears a faint unexpired pulse and faded ink stamps as proof that one time I travelled far beyond my current 2 mile radius and re-run episodes of Dora the Explorer. Sigh.

#5. The Sopranos
I’m not talking about Tony and Carmella but rather Whitney, Faith, Mariah, Martina, Celine, Kelly, and Christina.  All I have to do is crank one of these vocalists loud enough so I can belt my lungs out without hearing myself and suddenly, I’ve shoved all my inner-angst into a C6 (give or take a few half-steps) and I am waving my chiffon on the bow of the Titanic… near, far, whereEEEVVEERR you are… sing it with me….

#4. Red Velvet Cake

#3. Orange Juice with extra pulp

#2. A bottle of tropical flavored antacids upon consuming large quantities of Red Velvet Cake and Orange Juice with Extra Pulp

…and the #1 Life Line of Project: Sanity 2013:

#1. My Morning Filling Station

morning filling station pic

Trust me when I say, I am Joan Crawford covered in cold cream beating the shower curtain to shreds with a toilet wand yelling “NO WIRE HANGERS!” unless I have my 6AM quiet time… time to read, meditate, caffeinate, and take a deep breath before plunging into the madness of the following 16 hours.

… and if none of the above works to help me feel more like, well… Me, I am hereby hitting the tanning beds and changing my name to Olivia Pope.

Have a great week!

Mind Over Mizunos

Mile 1:  Getting reacquainted

…favorite tunes are pumping, body is falling into stride, feeling good in my skin again as complete thoughts begin to flow. No little voices begging for a juice re-fill? No stopping mid-stride to change a diaper? No spelling the big words? Nope, it’s just me and more me, a rhythmic indulgence of unedited thought… a chance to blow the dust off my adult intellect which, let’s face it, wouldn’t stretch past the first mile anyway, but for now, life is good, I’m a rock star, and brilliance is mine if I can just keep putting one Mizuno in front of the other.

Mile 2: Negotiations
My legs start moaning, “not again” and proceed to rain on my mile 1 parade. My muscles make their best attempt to strike a deal with my mind to stop this madness because everyone knowns that running is pointless unless someone is chasing you and no one will really know if you walked instead because you’re still sporting the iPod arm band that makes you look like a legitimate runner even though you are a complete poser. I hate Mile 2. Mile 2 is the Antichrist.
Mile 3: Confession
My muscles forfeit the battle of wits and turn their dirty work over to an emoti-gland for which medical science has yet to come up with a proper name. Suddenly, I am flooded with the awareness of every horrible thing I have said and done or wanted to do since the last time I rounded the Terrorist Mile 2. The open sky becomes my confession booth and I begin my merciful plead for forgiveness in hopes that once this run is over, I may resume some sense of decency, dignity, and compassion for humanity…if only the humanity dwelling under my same roof .
During yesterday’s open-air confession, I began to rehearse the flood of responses to my last post about Salem’s recent diagnosis. Each one took my breath away. I felt as though you all wrapped your arms around me in some great big cyber-group hug and for the first time in weeks it seemed like everything was really going to be ok even if it wasn’t. You used words like, “courageous”, “brave”, and “strong”. One girlfriend send me a text saying she was proud of me and I had to ask her why on Earth everyone keeps saying that, for the spirit in which I wrote that felt more like an admission of guilt than a fearless war cry. The truth is, I am completely terrified of this Mystery Intruder who recently marched into our family’s life uninvited and unloaded all of its unpredictable baggage. No amount of sleepless nights or online research or Mile 3 Confession Sessions relieve me of thoughts like, “perhaps I should have taken prenatal vitamins,” or “maybe I ate too many tuna fish sandwiches or Malamar cookies when I was pregnant.” “This is because I stood in front of a bass amp that one time I was singing”, or “I knew I shouldn’t have exposed him to all those noisy basement rehearsals when he was an infant”. Too much TV, not enough vegetables. Too much room time, not enough socialization. To borrow a lyric from my favorite British pop-psychologist, it is “guilt on guilt” on “play” repeating–a broken record loop of torture which brings me to….
Mile 4: Talking to Myself
Comprehension has never really been my strong suit. Most of the time I only pretend to know what everyone is talking about when really I don’t have a fat clue, and I have to ask Clark about it after everyone else has gone home. So when I receive the news that my son has ASD, I nod like I know what that means. The therapist could have told me he had Autism or Asthma and it wouldn’t have made a difference in my mind because the truth is, I don’t understand what we are getting into whether we are ready or or not or want to or not. So, yesterday I concluded my mileage by talking to myself in a sort of mock-convo– proof that I too need therapy of a different kind. But perhaps if I can wrap my head around what this is exactly I might be able to explain it to friends and family who are just as foreign to the world of Autism as I am.
Tune in next time to eavesdrop on that admittedly dysfunctional yet surprisingly helpful chit chat with Yours Truly.

Now or Never

Isn’t this greeting card hilarious?!

I  have this quote magnet on my fridge. Which reminds me. Monday marks a new dawn for me {quite literally since I’ll be at it before the sun comes up}. I am going to start running again. I said that I would get back to it when I wasn’t pregnant, when I wasn’t nursing, when the weather cleared next leap year of the lunar eclipse twice removed… you get my point. Tis now or never. I figure if I announce it here, I’ll actually do it. So wish me luck!

I hope your weekend is smokin’!