Saturday, July 19, 2014

How hating eggs is healing my relationship with food

(To be clear, I understand that food is an inanimate object and, as such, is not capable of sustaining the  aforementioned relationship. Bear with me, this goes somewhere, I promise.)

Just sitting around the homestead this afternoon pounding hardboiled egg and cucumbers for the least-satisfying lunch you could possibly imagine.

We're on day 11 of our latest venture down Paleo row and I have to confess: it's wearing on me. What I'm wearing, however, is falling off me, so I feel I have no choice but to continue this bold adventure into the land of previously unpronounceable vegetables and mineral water. And eggs. Oh so many eggs.

Here's a word to the wiser; if you're going to adopt thee most expensive nutritional lifestyle du jour, be sure you check out your bank account and then cross-reference it with the going rate for grass fed beef in your neck of the notfarmland, because if you don't have a 4 digit grocery budget, you are going to be dwelling for the next month in a special place I'd like to call poultry purgatory. Do you like eggs? You do? That's nice. I bet you like scrambled eggs with a little cheese on top and a side of buttery toast with a nice foamy latte on the side. And maybe even jam.  Now take away the butter, the toast, the jam, and the milk in that latte, and you have a perfectly Paleo breakfast! You could even add some banana-flavored eggs on the side.

Do you get the sense of desperation in my menu? Do you have a good sense for the quiet dread I feel when I step into the grocery store, knowing that for an additional 19 days I'll be circling the perimeter  loading up on meat, raw nuts, coconut milk, green things, and dozens upon dozens of eggs? Let me be clear: Trader Joe's is not any fun right now. Not any fun at all. But just as I was gearing up to write this whiney whine of a post about how much I wanted to chuck this whole experiment and drown my sorrows in a giant glass of prosecco, I decided I'd better do a quick weight and measurement check, just for posterity's sake, you know?

My clothes are definitely fitting looser and I have decidedly more energy in the mornings, which is a nice change from silently begging to be knocked unconscious when Joey busts in at o'dark thirty demanding cereal and cold milk. Always with the cold milk. Never lukewarm. So I hopped on the scale to sneak a peak at what all this paleo-ing and walking has accomplished thus far, and my eyes almost popped out of their sockets.

Because 6.5 lbs. In 11 days. Eating entire fistfuls of guacamole and sides of cows and more almonds and eggs and glugs of olive oil than you could shake a strip of bacon at. (And plenty of that too, by the way) And yet there it was, the irrefutable proof on the digital readout that this is working, and that, hard as it is to admit on a 90-degree day which just begs for a Corona with lime, this is so worth it.

I busted out the tape measure just to see if there was any movement on those numbers too, and behold, my wasted waistline is an entire inch and a half trimmer. In less than 2 weeks. I feel like I could have visibly observed the shrinkage if I had been paying close enough attention. I'm shocked.  Happy shocked, for sure. But also kind of appalled by how simple it really was to finally get that number moving in the right direction. Because for as much of my life as I can remember, I've struggled with my weight.

When I was 120 lbs and swimming competitively in high school, I struggled with my weight. When I was 50 lbs heavier and battling a severe eating disorder and binge drinking every night of the week in college, I struggled with my weight. When I was a healthy 135 and walking down the aisle in my beautiful wedding dress, I struggled with my weight. And when I was a first-time mom riding a desk full-time and pounding cheezits to keep the nausea at bay while close to 60 lbs packed themselves onto my petite frame, I struggled with my weight.

It's been a lifelong struggle, but for me, the real battle hasn't been with my own body or how I happened to be naturally shaped, but with food itself. Food has never been simply a nourishment and a gift, it has always felt more like a curse, like an abusive friendship that offers false comfort and momentary happiness but then talks about you behind your back and maybe steals your boyfriend. I am, and have been, I can now say pretty confidently, addicted to the use of food as a coping mechanism or comforter. I hesitate to say addicted to food itself because, well, it's kind of necessary to survival and intrinsically good. But have I been treating it right? Have I been using it as God designed and intended?

Decidedly, no.

So I'm putting this out there for a couple reasons. Accountability, sure, but also because I want to be able to look back and pinpoint where and when it was that I finally in some infinitesimally small way began to see the light about this. I also don't think I'm alone in this. And while I don't think that the world is populated exclusively by chubby young mothers who bury their feelings of angst and stress in a box of sea-salt almonds and red wine, (disclaimer, I do not drink boxed wine. Only boxed almonds) I do think that there are lots of different people who struggle similarly in their relationship with the inanimate objects in their refrigerators.

I think that there are probably plenty of skinny people who have the same struggle and perhaps just don't wear it as apparently around their waistline. And I think there are lots of perfectly average-sized people who would love to feel control around a buffet table at a party or on a date at a Mexican restaurant while facing down a bottomless chip basket, feeling like that thing in the middle of the table has way more control over them then it should (and, coincidentally, way more of their attention than the person sitting across the table from them.

This Whole30 has been my most successful "diet" attempt in years, and I'm not sure why that is, but I'm so grateful. I'm grateful for the space that has cleared in my head (and yes, around my love handles) and for the growing sense of detachment I'm experimenting at meal times and in-between times, because the only thing more exhausting than chasing around 3 little kids all day while trying to make room for prayer, work, exercise and all else that life demands is to do all that while thinking constantly of the next thing you're going to eat (or not eat) or what you're going to treat yourself with once bedtime rolls around because it was a hard day and you earned it and you ran 3 miles, after all.

With the exception of the mileage logged, none of those circumstances actually have any bearing on what one ought to put in one's mouth next, and yet I've lived for years going from "treat" to "reward" to "indulgence" in a vicious cycle of craving and resisting and giving in, handing over a part of my autonomy and, with it, my dignity for the momentary comfort of a feeling of satiation.

No more.

I'm not pledging my allegiance to a lifelong regimen of hard-boiled eggs because oh my gosh they are sick, cage-free or no.

But I am planting my flag here in this soil and claiming this little bit of peace as mine. And as much as I love the taste of salt and vinegar kettle chips after a long day of teething babies and missed deadlines, the happiness is fleeting and the sense of comfort is short lived, followed by a much deeper sense of shame and regret.

Food is good, and celebrating with food and drink is natural and healthy. Making food the source of goodness, however, and going to it for reward and comfort and distraction, feels more like slavery.

While the self-imposed rules of this month of eating a certain way are constricting, I feel more free within the framework of this Whole30 than I've felt in a very long time, culinarily speaking. Maybe the absence of sugar has killed the strongest of the cravings, or maybe I'm just getting a long-overdue look at what life without food as comforter and reward looks like. And it feels liberating.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

You're my best friend, internet

Well, maybe not the internet per se in its vast, personless impersonality, but you all, gentle readers, are absolutely top notch.

Thank you thank you thank you to to the moon and back for all the comments you left on yesterday's only a little bit pathetic post. Truly made a mother's day. I think yesterday afternoon through tonight were the very finest hours we've spent nursing, Evie and I, because for the first time since she got here, I wasn't worrying about her size and how much she was consuming. It was nice. So thank you for that.

Thank you especially for the side-by-side comparisons of different sized kids from the same families and for kids who switched between breast and formula and didn't cause a blip on the 'ol growth chart. I really didn't want to stop nursing her, but I was starting to wonder if I was causing her to suffer or endangering her future development or compromising her chances of making a good match later in life or...well you get the picture.

Love letter, over and out.

Oh! But I just remembered, I have another reason to smooch the web, and it's because thanks to your savvy suggestions, I asked for and have indeed received promise of a shiny new FitBit. It will be here tomorrow. Much excitement. Many pounds displaced. So technology.

Finally, now that I can be sure it's going to stick, I'm on day 7 of another Whole 30. Remember how the last one ended up? Yeah, we named her Genevieve. (Note: I'm not insinuating that the Whole 30 program leads to pregnancy, only that I happened to discover we were pregnant on about day 11 of our last attempt, and thus crashed and burned in savory flames of Nutella and Italian sour cream and onion Pringles.)

But anyway, day 7. One week in. And it isn't terrible! I mean how can bacon wrapped dates ever be terrible? Okay, the no booze part is kind of terrible, but on the plus side (hopefully not the plus size) I'm so very clear headed and chipper in the mornings now. Do you know how much damage a single (ahem, healthy) glass of red wine in the evening does to a 31-year-old body upon waking the next morning? Lots, it turns out. But I digress.

My goal for this Whole 30 is simple: I want a healthier relationship with food. I want to lose the rest of my "baby weight," and I don't want to wake up every morning wishing to be knocked unconscious.  Also, I may have been tremendously inspired by Heather's transformative efforts in the health and wellness department. Also, I bought some million dollar vitamins from a friend last month and am hoping to boost their magical powers.

With that I'll bid you all a fond adieu and be off to the basement to my newly-relocated treadmill of delight. With this on my Kindle (it's less than $5 right now!), because Jen said so.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Crowd-sourcing a well baby check

Dearest mother bloggers,

I have this little baby girl. And by little, I mean absolutely petite beyond all imagining.

Don't let the food face fool you, she's teeny. Look at those nowhere-near-squeezed-by-the-Bumbo legs.
See? She's a wee little mite of a girl. And yeah yeah, though she be but little, she is fierce, there's just something off-putting to me, her mother, about how very wee she is.

My other two boys are not big kids by any means. I think they're in the 35-50% range for weight and height, and always have been. But Evie Doll, as she is usually called around these parts, is very much the likeness and scale of a living baby doll. Which is of course adorable, but when you're breastfeeding, is a little anxiety-producing as well.
Evie Doll, meet baby doll
Dave thinks I may be barking needlessly up the worry tree when we are, in fact, in a verdant alpine meadow above treeline, but I want a second opinion nevertheless. Of the internet variety. (Please note: her doctor who delivered her and has cared for her since birth has absolutely zero concerns and reassures me at every check up that she is growing perfectly on her own little curve.) And so I turn to you, gentle readership: have any of you had tiny babies? Were they exclusively breastfed? Did you try supplementing with formula to put weight on? Did they simply grow into healthy, petite toddlers and kids?

Here are Evie's stats:
  • Born at 38 weeks 4 days (I'm a lucky girl - 6 lbs, 6 oz and 19 inches long - my smallest by more than 2 lbs and my shortest by 3 inches!
  • Dropped to 5 13 after birth, regained birth weight by one week old
  • 8 lbs, 11 oz at 2 month well baby
  • 11 lbs even at 4 month well baby
  • 13 lbs even at 6 month well baby
  • 13 lbs 6 oz today, on the eve of her 7 month birthday
  • 3% for weight and 5% for height on WHO chart, from birth until today; no change in percentile
  • repeat ultrasounds during pregnancy because she was measuring small (that makes one of us) and for "short femurs" (I didn't even know that was a thing to worry about but, you betcha I got my google on hardcore that night after the tech let that little gem slip from her lips)
Is this normal? Am I crazy? Should I take her to reverse weight watchers and see if they can inject her with some of the fat she left behind in my torso region?

Some other factors which may contribute to her slimness are the presence of a 5 foot tall aunt, her godmother actually, on her paternal side, and the fact that Her Ladyship sleeps 11 hours a night (don't hate me, I earned this one) without a feed. She nurses 6-8 times per day with occasional table food offered as she shows interest. I know breast milk is denser calorically so I'm hesitant to load her up on too much crappy rice cereal, though I have been known to mix some with avocado oil and an avocado, much to her disgust and horror.

An anxious, first time  veteran mother thanks you kindly.

And so does this girl.

Friday, July 11, 2014

7QT: Unaccompanied minors, amazing customer service, and why my hideous redecoration of our little-used living room has me smiling so big

1. You know who's awesome lately? The customer service industry. Or rather, two particular companies (FitBit and Timi & Leslie) which have been completely and utterly surprising in their responsiveness and kindness to a poor customer in need of service.

Exhibit A:
My beautiful diaper bag, purchased in a fit of hormonal indulgence at 37 weeks with Evie. I get compliments on its beauty at least twice a week, and nobody ever suspects it's a diaper bag. But the material is pulling at this one teeny corner of the notleather and I was saddened and surprised. My last T&L bag lasted me 2 years, including one spent trotting back and forth to Italy, with no such signs of stress. I emailed the company, the asked for my receipt and a picture of the offending corner, and bada bing, a brand new bag is coming my way and I get to keep the "old" one. Sadly they have discontinued the color I loved and purchased it for, so it turns out my lucky little sister is probably the one getting a new diaper bag out of this situation, because none of these really struck my fancy. Shhhh.

2. I've also got an email in to the good peeps at FitBit, thanks to your lovely suggestions, and I'm feeling pretty optimistic about that whole situation, too. The week of retail redemption is at hand!

3. I'm getting so excited to meet all my Edel girls in just 2 short weeks! I'm also kind of in denial that I'm going to be getting a weekend "off," albeit with a baby in hand and a mic in the other, but hey, one can't accurately call any sort of trip a vacation once offspring have sprung, am I right?

4. I have gone ballistic decorating and rearranging my house ever since the Nesting Place burned up my Kindle a few weeks back, thanks to Jen's recommendation. Steph says it well when she identified it as a shot of decorating heroin to the vein, or something along those lines.

Anywho, I've got a happy new edition resting comfortably in our living room that goes absolutely not at all with anything decor related, and yet when I behold its ugliness I smile to myself and whisper inaudibly It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful. But what about the opposing corollary, it doesn't have to be beautiful to be perfect? Copyrighting it.
Definitely not feng shui. And yet, perfect...
5. So yeah, I finally pulled my itching trigger finger on a Craigslist treadmill at long last after walking into the feral kid's club at our gym Tuesday morning to retrieve my rat pack and had a few moments during which I could not locate the youngest member. Not in the stroller I'd wheeled in, not in the caretaker's arms...oh, there she is... sitting on the bottom level of the soft play structure IN THE ARMS OF A RANDOM 5-YEAR-OLD GIRL. Just to clarify, my 6 month old daughter, who cannot sit up, was being held by a strange child. The daycare worker happily fetched the baby along with her accompanying brothers while my normally confrontational self stared dumbly, accepted the compromised baby without a word. (Don't worry, I picked my jaw up off the floor and called the front desk after I got home. But still.) Needless to stay, Evie's kid's club days are over until she turns 4 or gains 20 lbs, whichever happens first.

6. I just finished reading C.S. Lewis' Perelandra for perhaps the seventh time, but definitely the first time in several years, and I had forgotten how utterly astonishing it is, how deeply spiritual and how moving, and how very good fiction is for the soul. I'm all about memoirs, DIY manifestos and self-helping manuals, but once it a while it's just so good to get lost in another world. (Thus far in my literary life, only C.S. Lewis and Michael O'Brien have the capacity to move me on a deep spiritual level, but I'm always open to suggestions.) Perelandra is the kind of book that will, quite unassumingly, cause you to set it down and momentarily lose yourself in contemplation of the nature of God. And it is most definitely not what one would traditionally call spiritual reading. It's beautiful, captivating and engaging prose of the first degree.

7. I have a problem with terrible music. The problem is, I like it. The corollary problem is that my 3-year-old son sometimes asks me to sing "every word to the airplane song for me, Mommy." and then I can't. Because adult themes and language. At least he's not into Ke$ha. Yet.

See you at Jen's place?




Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Walk-a-thon: Crushed it

That is, my husband crushed it, dark horse that he is. He knocked me out of the top spot by about 11,000 steps, which is basically an entire day's worth of walking.

How he did it is another matter entirely.

It turns out my sneaky co-competitior was in the habit of, ahem, checking up on me and my step totals for the day, gleaned from a quick glance at my phone on his way out the door to the gym after bedtimes and dishes and the like.  He wasn't technically cheating since lots of days I'd text him my count to mock/motivate him whilst he sat, desk bound, almost powerless to answer my numbers, but it sure was nice for him to have a goal to shoot for and then exceed every day.

So he beat me. But you know what? He felt kind of bad for being kind of unethical in his techniques...so he suggested we split the prize. $50 bucks instead of a hundred? Sounds okay to me. Because the hot pink FitBit Zip was also around $50...and I'd been eyeing it up since about week two when the glamor of sweating all over my iPhone had worn off and I was pretty sure I'd be contracting breast/hip/ovarian cancer in no time from the various places I like to stash the thing.

So thanks to a magnanimous spouse and Amazon prime, this little cutie was in my paws in 2 short days. And then, for another glorious 2 short days, it was mine...and how wonderful those days were! The first day I wore it I got 14,000 steps easily, so motivated was I. The second day was in the 11K range, but still respectable. And then on the third day, well...on the third day, we went to the "beach" at a nearby reservoir and I took it off my waistband and stowed it in the stroller pocket for safekeeping. And then we played, and then we de-sanded, and then we marched back to the car and loaded everything/one up, and then...

well...

Something else got crushed:

Womp, womp.

Not the best way to blow $50.

Now I'm debating replacing it or just leveling up a couple more fifties for a sweet Craigslist treadmill. I love the gym near our house and the price can't be beat...but I don't love putting dainty princess Genevieve in the sometimes Lord of the Flies-esque kids's club. I literally spend my entire workout having mini panic attacks about someone knocking her out of her stroller or an exersaucer ...(crazycrazywho'dbelieveI'mnotafirsttimemom?) so, I think I'd get a better workout in our basement with minions circling me like attention-seeking piraƱas. Yes? No?

And I haven't really lost any more weight since committing to the daily 10K steps, but committed I am, and I think I'm going to see long term results over the coming months because walking 5.5 miles per day is a lot, and I'm a lot more motivated to complete a 'work out' that requires neither immense exertion or specific 60 minute chunks of time. It just works, for now. Plus, my legs look great.

How about you walkers out there? And all you runners who emailed/commented with the secret of the century, which is that walking = weight loss while running only = running. Mind blown. How long have you kept up your routine? And how long before you saw results in the mirror?