Archive for the ‘Personal Stories’ Category

Seven Days of…

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

A comment on my last post from my friend Emily who had a baby of her own about a month ago really made me feel better. I was lamenting the fact that I wasn’t doing as well as I had hoped in the exercise department, and she had this to say:

Hang in there! I know I intended to do much of the same in my pregnancy [exercise regularly]. And, like you, had only bits of success. I was way too tired / nauseated for the first trimester and then too uncomfortable in the the third. I did better during the second, but only a bit. I ended up gaining about 40 lbs… and in the month since giving birth I’ve lost 30 lbs and I haven’t done a darn thing to do it. My unsolicited advice is this: everything in moderation. As long as you are healthy and feel good, so does your baby. You’ll lose the weight later… but pamper yourself now. :)

I especially like that bit about pampering myself!

Really, though, I know that I can (and should) do more exercise now than I have been – and I think I’ll feel better both physically and mentally by doing so. My idea is to do something in my air conditioned cocoon to minimize the discomfort by the heat of the summer, and the plan is yoga. I’ve done a little yoga in the past (very little) – a class or two, plus the yoga workout once a week during my 3-month stint doing P90X. I wasn’t great at it, but I didn’t hate it either.

So I did a search on Amazon, reading the customer reviews for a number of prenatal yoga videos, and settled on one that 52 out of 60 reviewers gave 5 stars to: Suzanne Bowen’s Long and Lean Prenatal Workout. It arrived yesterday, and though I haven’t removed the shrink wrap yet, I’m excited to give it a try!

The writer of one of the blogs I frequent, Krissie of Questions for Dessert, has recently issued a challenge to folks to do 7 days of yoga, starting August 1 (tomorrow!). It was just the call I needed to jump start my foray into actually exercising during my pregnancy – and perfect timing since I just got that new video! I’m psyched :)

Anyone else want in on this? It doesn’t have to be yoga, if that’s not your thing. Just commit to doing some sort of workout for 7 days straight. Like Krissie says at the beginning of her post about this, I’m a little worried about successfully carrying out this commitment, so I’m trying to recruit others so that I’m not alone. I find it’s easier to stick to something when you A) tell others about your goal and B) get others to join you. So that’s what I’m doing!

I know it’s short notice, but if you’re going to join me, let me know that you’re on board in the comments and tell me what you’ll be doing! I want to hear about it!

And I’ll let you all know how I do with my 7 days of yoga. Hopefully I like this video and I’m not like the one person out of 60 who gave it 1 star… I’m optimistic about it!

Hotter Than a Match Head

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Last week I had another doctor’s appointment. This one went significantly better than the last one, which began with me breaking down into tears after being weighed (and freaking out my husband with my crazy pregnant lady hormones).

After that ‘rock bottom moment,’ I made a conscious effort to improve my eating habits. I started off with a bang – cooking more & eating out less; eating more vegetables; not eating ice cream for dessert on a daily basis; not eating whenever I damn well felt like it; etc. – and most of that stuck. The cooking has decreased a bit and the vegetables aren’t as plentiful as they should be, but all in all? Not too bad.

The exercise thing in the last five weeks has been better, too, though there is definitely still room for improvement. The heat has been a real hurdle to working out. It’s like all temperatures are amplified: If it’s a little cool, I’m freezing, and if it’s a little hot, I feel like it’s the desert in summer. So when it’s actually hot? I’m completely miserable. The other day I was outside for less than five minutes, and I felt like I was going to pass out. And given my track record with passing out, I was concerned enough to retreat to the sanctuary of my air conditioned cocoon (aka: The Couch). The heat has never made me this uncomfortable before, so I can only attribute it to the growing creature inside of me.

Despite the intense heat of late, I’ve managed to make it to Kung Fu about twice a week, on average. However, it’s so freaking hot in the school that my workouts there are a bit lackluster. (Air conditioner anyone?!) Plus, there’s only so much I can do there anyway: My kicks are little more than knee height because when I kick high my thigh hits my belly and it feels weird; I obviously can’t spar; I refuse to hold body bags for anyone to kick into; I (discreetly) avoid working with people who I feel don’t have good control; I have terrible endurance these days and require frequent breaks; etc. etc.

I’ve walked a few times, but honestly, rarely long enough to consider it an actual workout – more a (reasonably) pleasant way to spend half an hour or an environmentally friendly way to get from one place to another. (I actually really like walking for transportation, but – with this damn heat – by the time I reach my destination I often look and feel like crap. That means I have to be judicious when deciding if this is an option. Hopefully I can do this more when the temps drop a bit – soon, with any luck!)

There have also been occasional one-off bouts of exercise: Lots of volleyball a few weeks back; a kayaking adventure with some friends; a few short hikes. Really though, nothing too crazy. I mean, I know I’m not supposed to do anything crazy, but it would be healthy to increase the frequency and perhaps duration of these exercises.

What I really should be doing is yoga or something similar in my house. That way, I can be in the sweet, sweet air conditioning and still get a good workout in that’s safe for me and the baby. Have I done that though? Even once? I sure haven’t!

Despite all of the things that I could be doing better, I did make improvements between my most recent doctor’s visit and the one before it. And I only gained 4 pounds in that 4-week period. Yay! Still too much, and I still got a well-meaning discourse from my doctor, but I’m making headway.

And I didn’t cry.

I’m a work in progress.

Ready for that Jelly

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

Tell me if this is weird: I’m really anxious to start showing already! I want to get all big in the middle – and (ironically) look like I have a ‘watermelon waistline.’

Right now, my abdomen is bigger, but so is everything else: Arms, legs, boobs (oh boy are my boobs bigger!). This means that my clothes don’t fit right (or at all), and that I don’t feel as good psychologically.

But, if I was very clearly pregnant, I think I would feel better. When I went out in the world I wouldn’t feel the urge to tell strangers that I was pregnant as an explanation for my girth – they would just know. And when I looked in the mirror, I wouldn’t have to tell myself that, either – it would be obvious.

I know that I’ll get more and more uncomfortable the bigger I get, and that I should appreciate this time – especially since it’s summer and the heat and humidity is already sapping my energy – but I’m anxious. At 19 weeks, I feel like it should be obvious that I’m pregnant, but again, I just look like I put on 20 pounds. Annoying.

So, women out there who have been pregnant, I ask you: Is this strange? Did you feel this way too? Some reassurance that I’m not a freak would be great!

I’m Pregnant

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

For the few of you readers out there who don’t actually know me in real life – or for anyone who may have slipped through the cracks – the secret’s out: I’m pregnant!

I’m nearly 19 weeks at this point, with a due date of November 13. My husband and I are very excited, but we’re also terrified, though we’re scared about different things. He’s worried about soft spots and diaper changes and not being able to do anything for the next 18 years – things after the impending baby enters the world. For at least the time being, I’m more concerned with getting through the pregnancy itself – and the whole giving birth bit, but even that isn’t at the forefront of my mind just yet.

I had a miscarriage last year. It sucked.

We moved on: We took some time to recover, tried again, and 6-ish months later, here we are. Obviously, that’s great – one thing we have going for us is that we seem to be reasonably fertile. My heart goes out to those who aren’t so lucky. There’s little sadder than couples who want children but can’t have them.

Given our loss last year, we were obviously a bit anxious at the start of this pregnancy. That was only compounded by a number of various complications in my first trimester. My doctors were equally concerned, so much so that I was told not to exercise.

No exercise?! A few years ago, I never would have imagined that being forbidden from exercising would bother me – hell, a few years ago, nothing would have changed since I didn’t exercise anyway.

But now? That was really tough. For weeks and weeks and weeks, all I could do was walk, and I didn’t even do that much. I had to quit boot camp. I had to take a hiatus from Kung Fu. I haven’t run in months.

I know, I know: It’s a small price to pay for a healthy baby, and nine months isn’t that long. That’s very true, but it doesn’t make it easier! I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up the same level of intensity while pregnant, but I wasn’t ready to be benched completely – especially so early on.

Other than the complications, the first trimester was pretty good – meaning I (thankfully) wasn’t a victim of morning sickness. However, I was tired and hungry. All. The. Time.

It was insane! If I wasn’t sleeping, I was eating. And I’m ashamed to admit that my food choices weren’t always the healthiest. When I ate at home, the problem was portion sizes – and ice cream. But I also ate out a lot. A lot.

So you can imagine my surprise (ahem) when at my last appointment, my doctor informed me that I’ve gained 24 pounds with this pregnancy. Already. That’s as much as I’m supposed to gain in all 40 weeks, and I did it in 18.

Holy. Shit.

Pardon my vulgarity, but seriously, what the hell?! I guess four months of eating as much as you want, sleeping all the time, and not exercising – oh and using your body as an incubator for the next Khan – will do that to a person.

Even though I knew the number on the scale wouldn’t be good, and that I wasn’t being healthy – for me or my baby – I was still shocked when I saw the number (202 – ouch). I was ashamed and embarrassed and angry.

And I cried. Right there in the doctor’s office. Thankfully it was after the nurse left and before the doctor came in, but I think I threw my poor husband into a panic. That or he just thinks I’m a crazy, hormonal, pregnant woman.

The good thing about that emotional breakdown is that I’ve turned a new (old) leaf. Since my appointment on Friday morning, I’ve been a lot better, both with my eating and with exercise (which I’m allowed to do now, with the exception of running, lifting weights, sparring at Kung Fu and overly intense stuff in general – I’ll take it!).

What’s more is that I don’t want the bad stuff anymore – I swear! I threw out all the ice cream I had in the house and I haven’t missed it one bit. I’ve been eating less (but still plenty, don’t worry!), and I don’t feel hungry. I’ve gone out of my way to work exercise into my day – even walking, which I find extremely difficult to do on my own, since I’m always dying to break into a run.

I guess sometimes we need to hit ‘rock bottom’ in order to be motivated to make a positive change in our lives. Whether that’s a change with your health, a relationship that’s run its course, a job that’s no longer a good fit, or something else holding you back.

I’m just glad my rock bottom came after only 24 pounds or I’d probably gain 100 by the time this baby is born!

Making Headway

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Since I wrote the last post about my deviant snacking behavior, I’ve forced myself to be more aware of how frequently I’m eating in the afternoon/early evening. I think just admitting to the world that I have a problem has compelled me to face the issue head-on… and work to fix it.

So far, so good!

There are two main obstacles to escaping my snacking hell: 1) Habit and 2) Boredom.

Eating frequently between lunch and dinner has become a routine for me. For instance, every day around 3 or 4, I leave my office and go downstairs to get myself a cup of tea and a snack. I take them both back up to my office and continue working until about 5 (when I usually get another snack!). This week, I’ve forced myself to either not go downstairs at all, or to stop at the cup of tea and just go back upstairs without getting something to chew on.

I’ve started staying in my office later than usual, too – more like 6pm than my usual 5pm. This is good because it’s less time that I’m bored and looking for something to do with my hands, plus I get more work done and make more money (except when I get sucked in to playing Zuma Blitz on Facebook…)

I will still eat a snack if I’m actually hungry, but I’m pushing myself to first ask myself if I am hungry, or if I just want to eat because it’s habit or I’m bored. The fact of the matter is: I like eating, and I have to be more aware of when I’m eating on autopilot, or I will never reach my goals.

Thank you all for your support and commiseration! It makes me feel more normal, and that goes a long way!


Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Let me tell you (and by ‘you’ I mean the 2 of you who are still reading this): I am STRUGGLING.

In general, I eat well. I cleaned up most of my bad eating habits a few years ago when I decided to make a change with myself and my life. I removed high calorie junk foods, reduced portion sizes, started cooking more, ate more vegetables and whole grains, seriously cut back on snacking, cut out the vast majority of processed foods – and nearly all processed foods containing additives & preservatives (like the dreaded high fructose corn syrup).

I’m still doing great with most of those things.It’s the snacking that’s getting me.

I can’t seem to stop! They’re all healthy snacks, there are just way too many of them. Between the hours of about 3 & 7, I eat.

And eat.

And eat.

And eat.

Each time I eat, I choose a healthy snack, and a reasonable amount of it. But that doesn’t satisfy me. So I pick something else to eat. Still healthy, still a reasonable amount, but another one. And that doesn’t satisfy me, either. So the pattern continues.

Let me give you a specific example: Yesterday, on my way home from a meeting at about 3pm, I ate a granola bar that I happened to still have in my purse from when I was out of town last week. After I got home, I worked until about 5, when I ate a banana, with the teeniest smear of peanut butter and a sprinkling of granola. Fifteen minutes later, I ate the last of some home fries leftover from Sunday’s breakfast. An hour after that, I ate a grapefruit. Not long after that, I had ANOTHER granola bar (different flavor!). Then I went to Kung Fu, so I had a break from food for about 2 hours, at which time I had dinner.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?!

Now, granted, yesterday was worse than usual, but this is not a new thing. I know I wasn’t actually hungry for each of those snacks. So what was I doing? Why was I shoving food in my mouth even though I didn’t actually want it?

I was bored. And I like eating. And that’s all that mattered at that point in time.

I thought I had a better handle on the mental aspect of food and had control of my eating habits. I guess I still have some work to do!

I’m certainly not back at the beginning. At least all of my snacks are healthy now!

It’s so very frustrating though. As I scoured the kitchen for my next snack, I thought about how I wasn’t hungry. That I was just bored. And that this is the exact reason that I’ve been bouncing up and down with my weight, losing and gaining the same 5 pounds for months and months on end.

But did that keep me from eating what I wanted to eat? Not even a little.

Think I need therapy?

Promises, Promises

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

After learning that the weather in Pittsburgh this week would be unseasonably warm, I promised myself I would get out for a run at least once.

Of couse, I’ve made all sorts of excuses, and now it’s Wednesday night, I still haven’t run, and I’m running out of time!

The last time I ran was on Christmas Day, when I ran about 2.5 miles in New Jersey while visiting my in-laws. I’m a little nervous to learn how much of my running endurance I’ve lost, but it’ll never get better if I don’t get back out there, right?! And besides — it’s not like I’m out of shape altogether. In fact, I feel like I’m in reasonably good shape these days, thanks to Boot Camp.

But running is so different from everything else…

Guess I’ll see tomorrow or Friday where I am with all that! I’ll be busy on Saturday — more on that later!

A Funny Thing Happened

Monday, January 31st, 2011

With my main company, Design Intervention, my clients are all professionals, so they are available to meet with me during normal business hours. However, with my wedding invitation division, Purple Wagon Designs, my clients are brides and grooms who generally can’t meet during the day, so I schedule meetings with them on evenings and weekends.

This past Saturday, I had a meeting with a potential client – a lovely young couple – at 11am. Saturday mornings I’m typically at Kung Fu, and the meeting location was only a few blocks away from the school, so it was quite convenient. I brought everything I needed for my meeting with me in the morning: Invitation samples, paper samples, notebook & pen, business cards, change of clothes, etc., and felt very prepared.

But not extremely confident.

You see, I had a meeting scheduled with this same couple last weekend… but I forgot. Completely, irrefutably forgot. It wasn’t until the next day that I realized I missed the meeting, and I quickly got in touch with the bride and apologized profusely. I hoped that since she didn’t call or email they forgot, too, but alas: They did not. They went to the coffee shop. And sat there. Waiting. Drinking coffee which I later learned was not very good.

The bride – in spite of the fact that she was understandably not thrilled – still wanted to meet with me. In her words, though, her future husband “wasn’t quite as forgiving”, but would agree since she wanted him to. Which means I seriously pissed him off.

Clearly I had some work to do to pull myself out of this hole I’ve dug for myself – really turn on the charm, and not mess up again.

When Kung Fu was done at 9:30, and I hung out with my classmates until 10:15 when they went into another class and I took my time freshening up (ie: Tried to make it look like I didn’t just work out). Things were going great until I went to change my shirt – and discovered that what I *thought* was a black sweater, was really a black shrug, and I had nothing to wear under it.

For any men out there who are confused, a shrug is a cropped sweater that MUST be worn over something else, as it doesn’t even come close to covering up your lady parts. In fact, it was the same shrug that I’m wearing in my ‘During’ photo in the corner of this page. Clearly, I couldn’t wear that.

The only other thing I had was my sweaty Kung Fu tee shirt, which I couldn’t wear. With anyone else? Maybe… but to *finally* meet this couple who is already dubious about how reliable I am? No, I don’t think they would find it amusing, and it sure as hell wouldn’t instill confidence in my abilities.

So with the twenty minutes I had between the time I realized my predicament and the time I was scheduled to meet with this couple, I went shopping. I ran into the nearest clothing store, did a quick lap of the place, picked up the first thing I thought was appropriate and that was dark enough to compensate for the black bra I was wearing (I planned on wearing a black sweater!), and tried it on. It fit, so I bought it and asked the cashier to remove the tag for me so I could wear it out. I then ran back in the dressing room to change, shoved my dirty Kung Fu tee in my purse (ew), ran across the street to our scheduled meeting place, and awaited the future bride and groom.

They were a few minutes late (probably putting me in my place) so I started second-guessing myself, thinking that I had the wrong coffee shop and they were a block away sitting in the cafe I always confuse with the one I was in, sure that I was standing them up again.

But I had the right place and – surprisingly – the meeting went great. I think I may have even charmed the fiance’ into liking me… or at least not hating me :)

What’s funny is that a few years ago I never would have been able to fix my clothing mishap like I did. It simply was an impossibility to walk into a random clothes store and – in just a few minutes – pick out something that 1) I liked and 2) that fit. I used to have to shop almost exclusively in plus-size stores, and the few times I did buy something from ‘regular’ stores, I was basically stuck with whatever ugly thing they had in my size.

Just another reminder that life these days is much easier than it used to be.

Sometimes I Forget

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

I don’t often have deep conversations with the other women in my boot camp class, for a few reasons: First and foremost, because we’re working out – there’s not a lot of time for chatting. Also, since I don’t really know them, most of the brief conversations are small talk: About the workout, how early it is, the fact that it’s 2º in the cheerleading gym the class is in, etc. And besides, I take the class with someone that I do know, so any talking I do is usually with her.

But she’s out of town.

And the other day, I had a real conversation with a few of the women.

It started out – typically – with talk about the workout. One of them said to me, “You always do the most advanced versions of everything?” It sounded like a question, so I wasn’t sure how to respond. I said – “If I can, yeah. I try to, at least!”

Then she continued by insisting that I DO always do the most advanced versions of everything, and that I always have perfect form (aw, shucks) and that when she’s confused or forgets what she’s supposed to do she just looks at me. So nice :)

Not long after, her friend said something about how she knows I’m married (probably because I’m always smiling… or because of the ring) but if I wasn’t, she’d set me up with her son.

Seriously – these women were giving me a huge head at this point, lol.

After the workout, we were sitting around stretching and they asked how long I had been taking the class. I told them just for a few months – since sometime in November. It seemed to make them feel bad about where they are fitness-wise, since I do the advanced moves but haven’t been going very long, so then I added that I also do Kung Fu. The first woman said, “No wonder we can’t keep up!” (ha!)

Then they asked if I had always been athletic(!), and I told them truthfully, that no – I definitely wasn’t always athletic (if you can call me that now!). I elaborated at this point and told them about how a few years ago, I was significantly overweight. Like, 90 pounds heavier than I am now. They were surprised and… proud?

It’s always weird for me to tell people that didn’t know me when I was fat that I was fat. How do I bring it up? Should I? It often feels like I’m bragging or sharing too much. Sometimes, though, I think it’s important for the other person to know – as in the case of the boot camp instructor and my new doctor. But sometimes I want to tell people because I want them to know that they CAN do it.

But honestly, sometimes I forget.

I forget how big I used to be. How unhealthy I was. How difficult it was to do the simplest things, like get in and out of the car and bend over to pick something up that had fallen. How I could never cross my legs or wrap a towel around myself after a shower.

They asked if it’s been hard for me to keep the weight off, and the answer is a resounding no. Maybe that’s because I still haven’t gotten to my goal weight so I’m still trying to lose and not thinking about maintenance. But I think it’s more that my life is completely different now – for the better of course.

None of those things are difficult anymore. I can do those things a thousand times a day and not think twice about it. I work out regularly – and when I don’t, I feel anxious and lazy. I eat right – and when I don’t I feel sluggish and gross. I find enjoyment in more adventurous and physical activities instead of always preferring to veg on the couch.

I’m completely different.

The other day I bought a 35-pound bucket of kitty litter, and it was a challenge to carry that beast down to the basement. Then I thought about how I used to carry around more than twice that amount of weight with me all the time and it blew my mind.

Because sometimes I forget.

Full Moon Hike

Friday, January 21st, 2011

My brother, Stephen, and I went on an adventure on Wednesday, as we like to do. This time it was in the form of an evening hike in the snowy hills of Pennsylvania by the light of a full moon. Unfortunately, there was a lot of cloud cover so you couldn’t actually see the moon, but I’m confident it was there.

We went with a group of like-minded people led by Venture Outdoors. We didn’t know how many people to expect, but it was a good-sized group – 21 including the two of us and the hike leaders.

It was cold and a bit windy, but it wasn’t raining or snowing, so it wasn’t so bad. Actually, once we got moving I warmed up pretty quickly! Of course, since there were a lot of us, we had to stop a number of times to regroup. That’s logical and necessary to keep everyone together, but a couple of times the break was a few minutes too long and I got cold again. But it wasn’t long before we were back to hiking and my body temperature rose again.

Prior to the start, I was concerned about my footwear: An old pair of running shoes, vents and all. Can you believe I don’t have a single pair of winter boots? I haven’t since I was a child either. Very strange, considering I have always lived in places that get snow a few months every year. I guess I’ve never gotten outside enough in the winter to find them necessary, but the few times each year I had to borrow some or go without was always annoying. After we decided to do this hike I ordered some boots, but of course they haven’t come in yet. Guess I’ll have to plan some more winter activities once they come in! As it turned out, though, the running shoes held up pretty good, thankfully.

The hike itself was invigorating! We covered 4+miles in just over two hours. There were a few breaks, as I mentioned, but when we were moving, we moved at a good pace. Stephen and I were right up front just behind the leader 95% of the time, and I like to think we helped keep the pace quick and steady.

Incidentally, often when I partake in a physical activity, I am pleasantly surprised at how well I do compared to the rest of the participants. I’m by no means perfect, but I’m a lot more physically fit than I give myself credit for. That makes me happy.

The hike was in Deer Lakes Park in Tarentum, PA, which is quite hilly. The hills were difficult at times, not just because they were steep in places, but also because they were covered in snow… and I was wearing running shoes. Of course, I enjoy challenges, so I liked the hills :) I also want to mention that I didn’t fall at all — quite a feat for the girl who, as a child, was ironically referred to as Grace because she had none.

I’ve never hiked in the snow before — or at night, for that matter. It was a neat way to burn a bunch of calories, and I look forward to doing it again. Next time with my new boots, of course!

The best part was spending quality time with my little brother. Hiking in and of itself is great, but it’s even better when done with people you enjoy being around, and Steve is definitely in that category!

I wonder what our next adventure will be…